I have been meaning to write a post about this for a long time but struggled to find the right words. There are many posts out there about how to get into test knitting, how to be a good tester, and what designers generally look for. What most of those posts do not address are the “unspoken” guidelines. Whether you're a designer or a tester—and I have been on both sides of the coin— the responsibilities are different. Very. Different.
Pattern testing can be a fun process, but a test knit is a real responsibility. When I apply for a test and am chosen, I consider it a privilege. Many independent designers are not able to compensate for yarns used in a test knit, but we are there every step of the way to answer any questions that may come up within the pattern. You’ll never have more support and direct contact with the designer than during a test knit. It is a job in return to provide the necessary feedback to the designer.
So, let's rip the band-aid off and get to those unspoken rules. I realize that some of these points are things I have zero control over, and that is where I rely on the integrity and honesty of the tester.
What I look for in testers:
* A public profile on Instagram to share your work.
* The ability to complete the project in a timely manner (before the due date) and submit notes/ feedback ASAP. Use the questions and format that was given. (Please don’t send back a simple statement saying everything is good.)
* Keep the designer informed about progress. (In other words, don't take on a test and disappear until release day. If you're having trouble, we want to know! If you can’t finish, we also NEED to know.)
* Have good photography (bright, clear, and visible details). Can be flat lays, although modeled photos are very welcomed.
* Preferably, you do not have more than 2-3 tests at any one time.
* Preferably not have more than one release in a day. (I always put the release date in my tester calls and I believe every designer should do the same!)
* Ideally, the person has previously made one of my patterns successfully. (I have a free one through The Dizzy Knitter here.)
* Will read instructions thoroughly, within the pattern and also email communications.
* Will follow said instructions
* Will not change the pattern in any way unless approved by the designer prior. The goal is to give feedback on the current pattern, not to change it to a tester’s liking.
* Know how to use hashtags appropriately and also use the right one for the pattern.
* Consistently tag designers and products on photos posted on social media.
* Be respectful to the designer and other testers by showing support for fellow testers (means liking their post, being encouraging and kind).
* Must have been following me on social media for a while. If I recognize your name, the likelihood of being chosen increases because I know you engage. (I do not choose brand new followers who just followed to test the pattern - been there, done that, fail.)
What testing is NOT:
* Not a time to try something brand new and super challenging for you.
* Not a time to rate and review the pattern yet.
* Not a time to share other patterns, whether it's something you've made or currently testing in the test group/ chat.
Please know that all of the above is meant to help us publish the best possible pattern for other knitters out there! You’re helping to do a service and it is a volunteer job. We know that and we appreciate you.
Testing is also a way to build community, find new friends, discuss and learn alternative ways to do something, learn more about yarns and fibers, and best of all WHY something is done. It is an excellent way to improve your knitting game. All games have rules, and I am grateful to you for wanting to get in the testing game! Happy knitting!
Well written Jenny. I have read lots of blogs from the tester’s perspective so it is nice to read one from the designer. As a tester we jump in wanting to knit but are a little blind as to what is expected and it is good to know so Thank you
Fabulous blog, Jenny! I’ve learned so much from test knitting and I appreciate all the time and expertise that goes into designing. I’m always honoured to be chosen for a test knit (and I admit a do a little happy dance) – it shows a designer is willing to trust me with their work, so I’m going to do my best for them.
I love that you included that it’s important to read and actually follow the instructions in the pattern AND in the email. As a teacher, it’s so frustrating to prepare materials just to have them ignored or to have someone assume they know what they’re supposed to do.
Keep being you, Jenny :)
Well said! Testing is an honor and a privilege.