Have you heard of test knitting? It is where a pattern designer (knit or crochet) sends her pattern to other people so they can knit it. Why would she give the pattern away? The information from the test knit can help her make the pattern clear and understandable. It also provides feedback on how well other yarns do or don't work for this pattern, and even what needle size to suggest.
Each designer is different, as are their reasons for testing. One example I know of an item that needed to be tested comes from my mom. It was a pattern for a quilt she found in a magazine. It gave a template for the pieces, and told you how to sew them together. Sounds simple right? My mom has made her own templates and sewn quilts from just pictures, this should have been a breeze. Except the pieces didn't fit together. The sides that were sown together were different sizes. This would have been easy to spot if someone had just sent the pattern to another quilter and asked them to make just one block.
Not every test is going to show up such glaring flaws in a pattern, but even the little things like treating a double Yo as one stitch or two on the next row can help make a pattern clear and fun to knit. It gives you a real knitter point of view. This is very important if you are just starting out designing. Even if you are a designer with hundreds of patterns, having someone else read and knit the pattern is the best way to ensure other people will be able to knit a project they love.
So why should you test knit? It is fun! Kristen Rettig wrote a blog post on why she test knits, and what she loves about it. Andi recently blogged about her experience test knitting, and gives tips if you want to become a test knitter.
My favorite part about test knitting is working directly with the designer to make the pattern as user friendly as possible. I have quite a bit of knitting experience, but the way things are worded can make them more complicated then they need to be. Or you can have that tricky knitting that a explanation or photo tells you you can do it! Every time I test knit I learn something new. How to make closed loop cables, how to strand knit, how to avoid an awkward start to a granny square round. Or just a new wording that makes you see how you can improve your knitting.
Obviously you can learn all this by knitting a variety of projects from a variety of designers on your own. But having the structure of a deadline, and analyzing a pattern to give feed back means you will see things you might have missed otherwise.
This is #9 square from A Celtic Quilt #2, currently in testing. My project page will also be linked to the pattern when it is released. The celtic quilt link above takes you to the designers project page, Impeccable Knits adds new blocks as they are getting tested. You can also find Celtic Quilt #1.
Watch for a future post on how to be a good tester. Tips on what feedback they need, and how to have an enjoyable test knit.
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