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A Yarn About Crochet/Knit Pattern Testing
What is pattern test? Why should I care about pattern tests? HOW DOES A PATTERN TEST WORK? What are the requirements for a pattern test? WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FROM DESIGNERS? WHAT RIGHTS DO PATTERN TESTERS AND DESIGNERS HAVE? IS THERE A PATTERN TESTING CHECKLIST? How do I find out about pattern tests?
Welcome to the world of yarn! Today, I’ve been gathering wool on the topic of crochet & knit pattern testing. A couple weeks ago, I made a post on Instagram and Facebook about being a good pattern tester and a good designer. It was a great recap and short overview of what designers look for in pattern testers as well as what pattern testers should be able to expect from designers, but I thought a longer, more detailed version could be beneficial, especially for those new to pattern testing–whether a tester or a designer!
WHAT IS A PATTERN TEST?
In short, a pattern test is a dry-run of a pattern to check for typos, continuity errors, readability, wording and phrasing, ease-of-making, clarity of directions, math errors, sizing and dimensions issues, and overall use of a pattern prior to releasing it for sale.
A pattern test provides a designer with much needed feedback regarding the formatting and layout of a pattern, the clarity of directions and tutorials, the versatility of the pattern when used with different yarns, as well as helping confirm yardage amounts, dimensions, and gauge.
Pattern tests are a cost effective way for designers to get extra eyes on the pattern and check that it works as designed. Tech editors are another option, but not all designers can afford a tech editor right off the bat. Some designers choose to have both a tech editor and testers. Some designers choose to have neither a tech editor or testers.
WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT PATTERN TESTS?
SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES
If you are part of the fiber arts community, you know how important support for small fiber arts businesses is! Pattern tests are another way you can show support for designers and fiber artists. Whether you test the pattern, share the test with friends who may be interested in testing, help promote the test on social media, or just like/comment on the testing calls, you provide a very valuable gift for the designer: views and engagement!
CONNECTION & COMMUNITY
In addition to support for a designer, pattern tests give you the opportunity to meet and engage more closely with designers and other pattern testers. There are many opportunities that can come from making such connections, both for designers and pattern testers! Personally, many of my steadfast testers have become friends who I dearly love! It’s a community and support network I never would have had without testing!
EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS
Pattern tests can be a great way to try something new! It’s how I got into mosaic overlay crochet, amigurumi, and garments. While I may not make any of those things regularly, I do enjoy them and know how fun they can be!
HOW DOES A PATTERN TEST WORK?
The general flow of a pattern test is
1. Testing call
2. Testers chosen & notified
3. Tester chat set up
4. Test begins
5. Testers provide feedback, designer provides assistance as needed
6. Test concludes
7. Designer finalizes a pattern for release
8. Pattern is released
9. Testers are provided with a complete final copy of the pattern
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR PATTERN TESTERS?
Requirements for pattern testers can vary depending on the designer. There are some overall requirements that tend to be the same. More importantly than requirements, though, are the qualities of a good tester!
QUALITIES OF A GOOD TESTER
If you saw my Instagram & Facebook posts about qualities of a tester, this will be familiar! Some of the following are detailed out a little bit more, but there is a lot of the same content from those posts!
RESPECTFUL & honest
If you encounter an issue with the deadline, getting your yarn,
or the pattern, please let the designer know right away so they
can work with you. Don’t ghost them. Most designers are
willing to work with you if you’re upfront about any issues.
DO NOT make changes to any pattern WITHOUT talking to the
Organized & Detail-oriented
- Meet the deadline
- Check for typos, formatting issues, miscalculations, or other
- Provide detailed notes on any errors, yarn used, yardage used,
hook size, and any problems you encountered during the test
- Quality Photos:
- Well-lit, uncluttered background
- Modeled photos of wearable items are always appreciated
Public Instagram Account
If your account is private, designers cannot see what previous
projects you’ve worked on, nor share any posts you create of the test.
Read Testing Calls Thoroughly
- Make sure you understand the requirements of the test before applying, such as the yarn needed and when the deadline is. If it’s a 4 week deadline and you have to order yarn that will take 2 weeks to get to you, then this test probably isn’t for you.
- As designers, we are not designing for everyone. Some people will be more interested in certain designs than others (such as preferring to make afghans rather than wearable designs). We understand that and don’t expect you to apply to test just to show support. It’s completely okay to only apply for tests you’re really interested in!
Supporting the Designer
Sharing the testing call post even if you don’t apply or are not part of the testing group tells designers that you support them, are interested in their work and helps them reach a wider audience. We know and remember the people who engage with our content and share it regularly versus those who just appear for testing calls!
Designer Specific Requirements
**These examples are my specific requirements.
- MUST follow me on Instagram (if you don’t, I tend to assume you just want a free pattern)
- Create a Ravelry Project Page
- Join and communicate in an Instagram Tester Chat
- Finish test by the deadline
- Provide detailed feedback regarding the pattern by the deadline through the provided feedback form
- MUST test their gauge and meet gauge. This is vital for nearly all of my designs.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FROM DESIGNERS?
As a tester, there are definitely things I look for in a designer before deciding to test for them. As a designer, these are all qualities I strive to have to make my tests fun as well as beneficial for both myself and the testers!
QUALITIES OF A GREAT DESIGNER
- Respect your testers’ lives outside of the pattern test. Life doesn’t stop for them just because they’re testing a design for you. Testers are providing you an amazing service and offering their time, skills, and energy to HELP you. Don’t abuse that gift.
- If there is an issue, talk with the tester, offer assistance and solutions to resolve any issues.
- NEVER ghost your testers. They will remember. It will affect how they talk about you to other potential testers.
- Going to be unavailable for a period of time? Tell your testers. Don’t leave them wondering if you’ve ghosted the test.
- Routinely check in with your testers. Make sure they are on track, haven’t encountered any issues, or see if they need any support or assistance with the test.
- Utilize a group chat of some sort. Group chats are a fantastic way to encourage good communication and friendship among your testers. Many times, other testers while jump in and assist while you are unavailable.
RECEPTIVE OF FEEDBACK & CRITICISM
- Don’t take any feedback or criticism personally.
- Be accepting of all feedback. If you shut down specific kinds of feedback, people will notice and stop providing the detailed feedback that is most beneficial to you as a designer.
- Ask questions about feedback. Questions help provide clarity. Clarity helps you provide the best design possible!
- Why do they recommend a change that was suggested?
- What was confusing about the wording or directions?
- How would more photos or a video tutorial help?
- Is their suggestion a personal preference for them or a do most of the testers agree with the suggestion?
ORGANIZED & DETAIL-ORIENTED
Prior to putting a testing call out, a great designer will:
- have finalized the pattern, including most of the graphics, tutorials, and written instructions
- have completed an initial edit to look for typos, formatting errors, copy-paste errors (my most common error haha!), or missing info
During the testing call, a great designer will provide as many details as possible:
- a realistic due date that allows enough time to acquire the yarn and complete the project
- Testers have lives outside of the test. You may be able to complete a 60″ x 60″ afghan in 2 days. Your testers cannot. Give them plenty of time to finish the project!
- a list of what you will need for the test (yarn, how much, and hook size)
- a list of expectations for the testers (AKA REALISTIC TESTER EXPECTATIONS)
- Social Media Posts- asking for a WIP photo or two and a finalized photo is fine. Don’t ask them to post daily. They’re not your social media team!
- Don’t require specific yarn or expensive yarn (unless it’s for a collaboration). Not everyone can drop $100 on yarn for a test!
- Accept substitutions for yarn and be prepared to suggest some suitable alternatives if needed
- a list of what feedback they need from you during the test
- whether there will be a dedicated chat or email thread for communication (I tend to use Instagram chat as well as having one email with all of the pertinent test info.)
- a method to apply for the test (I use Google Forms.)
You, as a designer, are a business. Make sure your Instagram account is public. Testers want to see your previous designs before applying to test just like you want to see their previous work before accepting them as testers.
If you require your testers to follow you, follow them back! You want to share their test photos of your design and to be able to thank them for testing!
Share your testers’ posts and photos! Exposure is good for both of you!!
Tell your testers how much you appreciate them! Show it with an extra free pattern or two from your designs, listing them in an appreciation post, noting them in the pattern, or even doing all three!
WHAT RIGHTS DO PATTERN TESTERS & DESIGNERS HAVE?
Testers and designers do have rights throughout the test (detailed below). One thing that neither testers nor designers have the right to do, however, is completely annihilate one another on any social media platform. It’s uncalled for to bash someone for a bad experience. Always give the benefit of the doubt. Testers and designers have bad days/testing experiences. This thing called life affects us all!
If you do have a bad experience, whether as a tester or a designer, talk to the other person. Sometimes, it’s a misperception or miscommunication. If it is bigger than that, considering messaging the admins of the group your found the tester/designer in (most Facebook groups for tests have fantastic admins who take these issues very seriously and will assist however they can!) or making note for yourself that you do not want to work with X designer or tester again in the future.
That being said, testers and designers do have the right to be honest about their testing experience with someone…but it a nice way. You can nicely say that you prefer not to test for X designer again because of XYZ if someone asks. Designers can nicely say they prefer not to work with X tester because of XYZ when asked their opinion. Don’t seek to bash a designer or a tester publicly. A bash post is uncalled for and can cause more harm than good. The internet does not forget and is not very forgiving!
Designers have the right:
- to make their own requirements for a test
- to set their deadline whenever they choose
- to choose which testers they want or don’t want for the test
- to not choose certain testers based on past experiences
- to expect communication and feedback from testers
- to expect testers to follow the pattern exactly, without change, unless discussed prior to the change being made
Testers have the right:
- to expect communication and assistance from the designer
- to choose NOT to test for certain designers based on past experiences
- to choose which tests they want to apply for
- to choose which designers they want to apply to test for
- to express interest in becoming a tester for their favorite designers
- to share their experience testing with designers–good or bad–in a kind manner
IS THERE A PATTERN TESTING CHECKLIST?
I’ve provided a sample checklist that is more specific to my requirements of tests below as a reference. Since each designer has their own requirements, a standard checklist doesn’t always work, but this is a great jumping off point!
You can save the checklist photo to your phone for future reference too!
HOW TO FIND PATTERN TESTS
- Hashtags to follow:
- Follow your favorite designers
There are groups designated just for crochet testers, knit testers, crochet/knit testers, and even groups specific to designers!
If you like a specific designer and don’t want to miss their testing calls, get on their email list. Many send an early testing call to their email subscribers prior to making a public post.
There are pages & groups on Ravelry dedicated to pattern tests.
Thanks for reading! I know there is a lot of information here and I appreciate you sticking it out to the end!