Wanna know all the tips and tricks to become an awesome crochet pattern tester? Keep reading…
When I first send a newsletter to my list and asked if someone wanted to pattern test for me, I got a lot of emails asking me what is a pattern tester. Something that was so obvious to me and encountered in my everyday life, wasn’t the same at all for many people.
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I replied back to everyone with explanations and thought that it was worth writing a blog post about pattern testing, since that many people who actually know a lot about the craft, aren’t familiar with.
This post will also clarify many things about pattern testing and will benefit even people who have already become pattern testers before. Let’s get into specifics.
What is pattern testing?
When designers come up with new crochet/knitting patterns they usually sent a free copy of the unpublished pattern to a group of people. What designers are trying to see is a number of things: if the pattern is clear enough for the maker, if the all parts are explained well, if the measurements/yardage used are correct and finally if the fit is as described if the item is something wearable.
There are many reasons why we, as designers, must use pattern testers. It’s a great way to see how your pattern looks in someone else’s eyes. Does it make sense? Is it something that people like? Are all techniques well known to the general public/specific skill level or more explanations need to occur?
Designing is a delicate process and bringing someone into this can be scary. It’s actually a sneak peek of how we do/write/say things, and organize our business. But I believe it’s worth it if we want to deliver error free patterns to the world.
What is a crochet pattern tester?
In this post I will refer mostly to crochet but the same exact things apply to knitting as well. A crochet pattern tester is someone that typically is responsible to make the project, check for errors, grammatical or count errors, see it the pattern can be read and understood easily. Check the fit and measurements of the final project.
As you will read below on the tech editor, most of the things I mention above for the pattern tester is actually a job for the tech editor. Why is that? There is some amount of overlapping on those two jobs but they are actually totally separate. Most designers use only one of the categories. Either a tech editor or a pattern tester.
Ideally, a designer should use both of them but it isn’t always easy. That’s why there is sometimes an overlapping of duties. Having said that, I believe that the more eyes look at a specific pattern the more are the chances of delivering the best pattern we can provide to the world.
What is a tech editor?
A tech editor (technical editor) isn’t the same as a pattern tester. The tech editor won’t make the project given to them. It will only scan the pattern very meticulously and check for count and grammatical errors, formatting errors and if the pattern does what is set to do. The tech editor is paid for their work.
I am not using a tech editor at the moment but I would love to be able to afford one in the future.
In general, as tech editor doesn’t make the item and cheks for errors and the pattern tester makes the item and check things like fit and measurements, and how the pattern looks from a makers point of view.
Let’s see some common FAQs:
Do crochet pattern testers get paid?
Usually, the tester does not get paid in money to make the item. The tester will receive a free copy of the pattern they are making and most designers I know give another free pattern as a gift at the end of each pattern test.
I haven’t used their services -yet- but Fiberly mentions in their website that some designers are paying their testers. You can register for free and see for yourself, either as a designer or a pattern tester.
Who is responsible for the materials?
The pattern tester is responsible to have (buy) all the materials needed to complete a pattern test. I know that it comes with a cost and in some cases a big one, especially if you are making a garment, but it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it.
Some designers may have a coupon code for yarn to give to pattern testers if they are working with an indie dyer or a large company, but that’s not always the case. Most designers pay for their own yarn and don’t accept sponsorships from large companies. The designer will let you know if something like that applies in each test.
What is expected from the designer?
– The designer must provide the pattern for free.
– The designer must be available to answer questions in a timely manner considering the different timezones.
– The designer must send to all testers that have completed the test a corrected pdf of the pattern tested.
– The designer must keep an open mind when the testers are making suggestions.
– The designer must acknowledge somehow the work of the pattern testers
– The designer must be open to constructive criticism.
What is expected from the pattern tester?
– To make the item keeping the deadline.
– To follow the pattern without any deviation.
– To make a gauge swatch.
– To provide good, high-resolution photos of the item made, preferably in natural lighting.
– To provide all the materials needed for the pattern, unless there is a different aggreement with the designer.
– To provide feedback in a timely manner and kind way.
Can I sell items from a pattern test?
Each designer has it’s own regulations about this. Some let you sell the item(s) you pattern tested and some will say that it’s for personal use only. Always check with the designer you are working with and respect their wishes.
Is there a deadline for pattern tests?
Yes, there is always a deadline depending how big or small the project you are taking upon is. The designer must let you know before you apply for each test.
Can I share photos of the finished item or a wip (work in progress) photo in my social media account?
Again, this will differ in each occasion. Usually designers love it when you want to share their work, but some projects are secret until a certain period of time. The designer must give these information before you apply and it’s the pattern testers duty to oblige.
Why should I become a pattern tester?
It seems like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Yes, and it is! In some cases we are talking about a month or two of unpaid work. Why should you do it? Well, there may be a number of reasons:
– You love the specific pattern and you were going to buy it anyway.
– You have a lot of free time and you don’t mind helping a person out while you do what you love.
– You will probably learn some new tricks and techniques on your favorite craft.
– You will get a peek of what’s like to design a pattern from the inside.
– You will meet new people with whom you share common interests.
– You will gain more experience and confidence in your crochet/knitting skills.
– You will probably gain social media exposure by the designer.
Can I apply if I am a beginner?
Most designers usually like to work with all skill levels because they want to see how their pattern can cater to anyone. There are times or designers who don’t work with beginners only because their patterns are advanced and not geared towards beginners anyway.
What if I don’t get accepted?
Don’t take it personally. There are a number of reasons why you might not get accepted to pattern test for a designer. Apply again for the same or different designer at a later date and if you think you are perfect for the job but didn’t get accepted don’t hesitate to ask. Most designers will let you know what they are looking for in a crochet pattern tester.
How to get chosen as crochet pattern tester time and time again
- Have great photos. The designer would love to show this off.
- Keep good communication. Whatever happens, just talk, ask questions.
- Give great notes. Constructive feedback and even personal experience from using, wearing the item you made can go a long way.
- Don’t take the pattern and run. Just don’t. Don’t be that person for a free pattern.
The best advice I can give to crochet pattern testers
- Read the pattern as it is your first time reading a pattern.
- Don’t assume things because you know how they should be. If it’s not written it’s either a mistake or an omission.
- Keep good communication with the designer.
- Keep the deadline.
- Deliver the best outcome you can.
- Deliver the best photos you can.
- Be willing to learn new things.
- Be willing to accept that your suggestion may not be accepted by the designer.
- I know things can go sideways in life sometimes and you may not be able to complete a test. Communicate with your designer. Let them know as soon as you can. This is very important. The designer actually counts on you to deliver stuff.
- Be as detailed as you can in your feedback. Be kind. This is someone else’s baby that you are toying with.
My own experience in pattern testing
I have had some wonderful and some not so wonderful experiences when testing my patterns. The overall experience has been good so far with a few exceptions of people that took my pattern and I have never heard of them since. Not the nicest of things.
Let me explain the process of how I choose my pattern testers. I have a general form that people sign up for. In this form, I gather from you all the information I need to decide if we are a good fit. You can find the form and apply if you like here, but please, keep reading first.
From time to time I go into this form and sort things out. I will choose the people that I believe are going to do a good job and send them a welcome email. This means that are in my tester pool and they will get an email from me every time I need something tested.
In the form I ask about your skill level. This is something that you know better and I trust you with the truth. If you lie, I will know. It’s so easy to find out.
I always accept testers of all skill levels and I really don’t mind if you are a beginner or if it’s your first time pattern testing. Some times the fresh eyes that only a beginner can have is very valuable to me.
My patterns are usually beginner friendly, so it’s great to be reminded the things that someone just staring out may or may not know.
I also ask you about your Instagram and Ravelry usernames. I don’t do this to be snoopy. It’s a way for me to see your work. I don’t use Facebook so I won’t be bothered with it.
I also gauge your enthusiasm with this. If you really like what you do, you must have a place for showing your work. If you just want to crochet and show it to no one, that’s fine, too, but don’t expect to be a pattern tester if I can’t see your work.
I understand that Instagram isn’t for everyone and Ravelry can be not so user-friendly, but if you are serious about this you have to have one of those so I can see what projects have you attempted.
I am not the best at uploading my project on Ravelry either, but I intend to be better at this. Ravelry is a place just for knitters and crocheters and can be such a beautiful tool, even just for yourself.
You can write notes on the patterns you are working on, about the crochet hooks you chose, the yarn you used. You can also add the date you started and finished a project. It’s like a personal diary, but for patterns!
I love it when my testers are able to upload the projects they made from my patterns. If you see it from a customers perspective, it’s so useful to see that other people made the same item. That it won’t dissapoint them. To see the fit on a body that looks more like their body. That the yarn someone chose for their project -that might be different from what I used- is highly accessible to them.
I see Ravelry as a way of helping my customer feel better about the decision to buy -or not- my pattern. The information that are provided by my testers can be immensely valuable to someone else out there.
In the past I have chosen people that had an Instagram account and a Ravelry page and they ghosted me. And I have chosen people that had a private Instagram account and it was one of the best testers I ever had. I know I was pretty lucky with that choice, I don’t do this anymore.
I know that everybody is different, but the best tests I ‘ve ever had were the ones that we had good communication. Where the testers asked questions. I don’t expect everyone to give me an update every day and if they got to work on the pattern or not. But once in a while, just to ease my mind is fine. Testing patterns can be very stressful for the designer.
The best testers I have ever worked with were the ones that cared enough to make my pattern better and the best it could be, for all the rest that would follow. They asked questions and made suggestions, in a polite way. They took measurements again and again. They frogged their work, one or more times.
I am in awe and so thankful for these people that cared so much about something I created. I am so thankful for those who asked when I was going to release the pattern so they could promote it as well.
Promoting my pattern isn’t something that I ask my testers to do. But, it’s so wonderful when they volunteer because they liked the pattern and want to help out. Again, this is not obligatory, at least for me as a designer.
That’s about all I know about pattern testing at the moment. If you would like to test crochet or knitting patterns for me, just click here to apply.
If you have any questions or more info about pattern testing that you would like to share I would love to hear it in the comments below.
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