TEST KNITTING HELP: 101
Whether you're looking for test knitters, or are applying to be one, here are some great tips to help you both out!
IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR TEST KNITTERS
Today is the day! You've finished your pattern and are ready for the test knitting phase. Now what?
1. Put out a call for your test knitters with a specific call to action. Whether that's on your social media pages, to your local yarn shop, yarnie knit night friends or whatever. Get the word out, and start searching for your test knitters. Make sure to include what you want them to do next. Do you want them to send you an email? Call? DM? Give them the next step to get a hold of you. Set them up for success! Note: If they can't even do step one in the order you've requested- red flag and move on. You will want someone who follows directions!
2. Ask Questions. Put on your detective hat and start asking away! I'm a firm believer in the more you know the better. Plus, its fun to learn more about the people in our community. In all my applications I like them to answer these questions: Their name, how long they have been knitting for, how experienced of a knitter do they think they are, have they test knit before (and for whom if they have!), what are their social media handle(s), and can they get the project done in the time I have allotted. Ask any other questions you can may need to know as well - such as what size they want to test knit if you have sizes, measurements etc.
3. Assess, assess, assess. Read every answer carefully, and take into consideration the weight you are putting on each of your questions. These people are doing a job for you, so you want to hire the right ones - not just your friends that want a free pattern and won't give you great notes. I like to look for an assortment of experienced levels to see if beginners can understand my patterns, as well as experienced knitters. Outside of skills (which is what I'm basically looking for) I also heavily weight the applicants social media feeds. I want to build the hype of my pattern release, so having people with beautiful photos and feeds boosts my confidence that they will share what they are making. In turn hopefully their followers will purchase my pattern!
4. Set Expectations. Make sure that once your testers are chosen that you set expectations for them. Include what you want them to check and test, the timeline, and any other requests you can think of. Do you want them to give you notes at the end? Or do you want them to contact you troughout the proccess? Do you want notificiation right away if something goes wrong, etc. The more communication the better, and if you set expectations it means you both have guidelines you need to follow.
5. Check in during the process. Be open and helpful and answer any questions you can! This step is to help your pattern become better than what it first was. Do all you can to make sure that it's a positive experience that creates positive outcome. I like to create an Instagram conversation thread so all the testers can get to know one other, see each others progress and relay quick notes to the group in one swoop.
6. Be open to criticism. Sending out a pattern to be tested can be very scary. You are sending out your baby to openly scrutinized, criticized and picked apart. Remember it's all for the greater good and the benefit of your pattern. Be open and gracious when told your pattern is wrong or incorrect. We all make mistakes, and that's why we are having things tested!
Note: If at any point your gut say's "no", listen to it. These people are doing you a favor, but you're also giving them something for free. Make sure you are choosing someone you want to work with. If they don't follow any of your instructions, I suggest to shy away. When looking for a test knitter you want obedience - sounds awful, but it's true. You don't want them to vary at all. They must follow your pattern - otherwise it isn't worth it for you to have them test knit it at all!
HOW TO BE THE BEST TEST KNITTER EVA!
You're scrolling on insta and see a call for a test knitter on a pattern that is just divine, now what?
1. Ask yourself some questions. Pattern testing involves quite a bit of work, so are you ready to take on this workload and stick to their timeline? Is it your style? Will you wear it? Do you have the skills to do this project? Are you a detail oriented person who likes to find mistakes? Are you comfortable telling people they have made mistakes? Can you make their deadline? Can you afford the material costs for this project? Don't put yourself in a situation where you are either pressuring yourself or are uncomfortable.
2. Make sure to read everything! Emails and applications are easy to glance through when we're excited. Make sure you apply how they want you to apply as well as answer all of their questions. The more detailed you can get, the easier it is for them to pick you! Be sure to read through their whole email, and the entirety of the pattern first before starting to knit. It would suck to get halfway through a piece and then have to rip out because a sentence was missed and you forgot to gauge or cast on a specific way.
3. Over communicate. The more you ask them, the better the designer can help you. In turn the better the pattern will become! Don't be afraid to speak your mind and say when something is wrong, or to ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question. If you have that question, chances are 10 others will too! If a designer is getting frustrated with you because of how many questions you ask - I give you permission to politely tell them that they asked for your help, and that is what you are trying to do. They hired you for your help so give it to em'.
4. Make notes throughout the project. Jot down everything that you have trouble with right away as you work on the pattern and relay it to the designer. We are all hella busy and our brains can't remember everything we put in there, so make it easy on yourself and make notes as you go. At the end, send your notes off to the designer and be ready to explain and work through any of the trouble points. A good way to do this is to print the pattern out right away and then scan it back with all your hand written notes! Remember: Your word is their lifeline.
5. Do not deviate from the pattern. Do not alter or change the pattern in any way, shape or form to work it towards yourself. They are asking you to knit it the exact way they wrote it - so you don't get the authority to play around. Do not change ANYTHING unless you have spoken to them first, or unless it's needle size to get their gauge. That includes length, width etc. If you do want to change anything just ask first. They are in control of their pattern and can give you the yay or nay. By just going ahead and changing something you may be causing them one hell of a headache down the road. If something seems off, is a mistake or you have an idea to make it better - send em' a message! If you don't like it or the fit at the end, you can always frog it and make your own adjustments.
5. Share it on social media! Show your followers what you are up to. Just this step alone will make the pattern designers world since you are not only mentioning their name, but also showing photos of what the item looks like made by other knitters. That is INVALUABLE! Hopefully they will reciprocate and repost your post and you'll get some fans too! Share the love!
Note: This has to be a symbiotic relationship for you too. As much as they are hiring you, you are hiring them. If you get a bad vibe, walk away. Don't force yourself into a situation where you don't feel comfortable. If you can't meet their expectations, or they are too high, there is nothing wrong with politely declining or not applying.
Have you ever test knit or looked for pattern testers before? How was your experience!? Let me know in the comments.