test knitting, and why I love it

July 03, 2013

I love to test knit sweaters.  I've been asked how it works so I'll let you know my experience with independent designers.

When the designer has a finished and workable knitting project and pattern she (or he) is ready to have a few people knit it to give it a try.  She may give it to a tech editor and then send it out to test knitters or may bypass the tech editor all together.  Before receiving the pattern, the designer will tell the test knitter how she wants you to proceed.  She may ask you to use a specific type of yarn or not.  She may send you the yarn or ask you to provide your own.  She may ask the test knitter to stick to gauge and make no modifications, or she may not.  Designers know that most knitters will modify their pattern somewhat, if not for fit, then for style, perhaps changing sleeve length or omitting or adding a design element.  The designer will make it clear what they think is acceptable.  If I do any modifications, I ask first, but if I'm knitting a sample then there are no modifications.  You may get paid, but you probably won't.  Some designers require a contract and they will always ask for discretion in sharing their design before the pattern is published for sale and also prefer that you have the project finished prior to being published.  Start your test knit experience clearly knowing what is expected of you and you will have a very fun time.

The test knitter provides feedback on the clarity and accuracy of the pattern.  I jot down notes and email them back to the designer as I move along though the project.  I always give test knits top priority above all my other projects.  There are obvious benefits to both sides, the designer has an experienced pattern reader and knitter help work out any possible bugs, and the knitter has the fun of being first in line for a popular pattern from a well know designer, OR the joy of working with a brand new designer.  Working with both new and seasoned designers has been fun for me.  Another benefit for the designer is after publishing, wham, several knitters post their finished sweaters to Ravelry, Facebook and blogs creating a buzz over the new pattern which helps to spread the word for the designer.

I am test knitting two patterns now, both by seasoned designers, Thea Colman of Baby Cocktails and Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting.  One is a V neck pullover in Rowan Felted Tweed DK and the other is a hooded coat in Rowan Felted Tweed Aran.  I am very excited about both patterns and know they will both be well received.  That they are both being knit in Felted Tweed is just a happy coincidence as it is a favorite yarn of mine.   Felted Tweed is naturally beautiful and doesn't require the knitter to do too much to make a beautiful fabric.  FT is a very traditional tweed with a unique felty way of filling up the holes with bloomy bits.  Hard to explain, really, but soft and springy and lovely.  I've made many sweaters in the DK weight, it's beautiful in cables and eyelets and wears beautifully.

How do you become a test knitter?  You just ask!  I let a designer know when I am available, and if it's a pattern that I think I will enjoy and will look good on me, then I jump in.  I love test knitting and have had nothing but positive experiences!

Both these patterns will be published late summer and I'll let you know about them that very day!

For my American readers, have a happy and safe Independence Day!


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  1. Thanks for the information, it was very helpful to know a little bit of etiquette when testing for a designer.


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