What To Expect
This is the first part of our new “Pattern Testing Series” that covers what you need to know about pattern testing – both as a designer and as a tester.
Being a pattern tester can be a great way to better get to know a designer, to try out a new pattern and to increase your skills as a maker. But what exactly does this role include and what can you as a tester expect from the designer throughout (and after) the process?
For those of you who are thinking about taking that next step to become a pattern tester; this Q&A is for you.
What is a pattern tester?
Simply put; it is someone who is willing to help a designer work through a pattern in order to find, check and correct any errors and unclarities. It is a crucial part of a crochet pattern as every designer wishes to put out a well-written, easy to understand, beautifully designed and error free pattern.
What is in it for me?
Usually you'll get:
- the gratefulness from the designer
- a beautiful crocheted thing
- a finished pdf pattern
You'll also get the opportunity to:
- learn new skills and techniques
- build new relationships
- help someone launch their pattern and cheer them on
- learn about the pattern making progress
- get some publicity through mentioning or shout outs by the designer
And sometimes you even get:
- paid and/or yarn to carry out the testing
What skills do I have to have?
Don’t be afraid to have too little experience or knowledge. We all start somewhere and you don’t have to be an experienced crocheter to apply as a pattern tester.
Usually designers are looking for people with different skill levels; from new beginners to more advanced crocheters. This helps them to determine the difficulty level for their design and let them know how to best edit it to suit the skill level they are writing it for.
However, you should know some basics as to; read a pattern, follow instructions, work on a deadline and give constructive feedback.
What will I need?
Usually you’ll need:
- the material specified by the designer, i.e. suitable yarn and hook
- something to take pictures with (camera or your phone)
And sometimes you’ll also need:
- a specified social media account such as Instagram/Facebook/Ravelry/LoveCrochet etc.
The reason why some designers has this as a requirement such as an open social media account is due to the fact that they wish to use your pics and makes as marketing for their pattern. To show how their design can look with different colors, yarns etc. It also gives the designer an opportunity to see your work and the kind of pictures you take.
How do I become a pattern tester?
What usually works is to follow those designers whose work you enjoy on social media platforms and then simply answer any calls for help. If there is anyone you’d really love to work with; contact them and let them know. Some designers have special groups and list you can apply through on their pages for future patterns to come.
There are also groups for pattern testers on platforms such as Ravelry and Facebook that you can join and apply through.
What patterns do I apply for?
The ones that speak to you, those that you want to do even if not chosen as a tester.
Also, you should only apply for those that you will be able to finish; this includes considering your time, the cost (for supplies) and skill level.
For example, making a blanket is a huge project that will take lots of time and is costly since it requires more yarn to finish. A blanket doesn’t need to be more difficult than say an amigurumi, it can be quite the opposite. But always keep in mind that if you have never done an amigurumi before please be up front with it. It may be so that the designer is looking for beginners so this might not be a hinder, however he/she needs to know.
How do I know if I’ve been chosen to be a tester?
The designer will contact you through email or message; letting you know that you have been chosen and provide you with more information on the process before sending you the pattern.
How long is the testing period?
This differs vastly depending on the size of the project. Smaller projects takes lesser time and vice versa. It can be 1-2 weeks, or 1-2 months. Always make sure to know when you are expected to be finished and to hand in you final notes.
Can I make changes to the design during the testing?
No, no, no! You are not allowed to make modifications to the pattern during this phase. The designer needs to get the pattern tested with accordance to the stipulated facts to make sure his/hers design is ready to be sold. It is therefore very important that you maintain the original style of the pattern and crochet it as “it is”. By doing unapproved editing you are making your test invalid.
If you wish to try another yarn etc please do so after the pattern test has been finished.
How do I communicate during the testing period?
This should be stipulated by the designer from the very start. Usually the conversation is held through email and/or social media chat rooms.
What if I don’t understand something in the pattern, nor find any faults?
Stop crocheting, double-check it, take notes and then contact the designer right away so they can look it up and inform the other testers, this will help everyone save time.
If it’s something small as to the stitch count being off, there is a spelling mistake or there is missing a stitch in the pattern then you can carry on crocheting. But if there is something bigger, please don’t try to “fix it yourself” cause you can and/or wish to finish. The designer might ask you to show them and ask questions so always wait until you hear back from them.
Nightmare scenario 1; what if I find plenty of faults?
Well this may happen. Remember that you are there to help and to leave things out just because you think you have found plenty already is not a solution. Constructive criticism is healthy and necessary, and makes for better designers. So keep it in a nice tone and if possible; give suggestions on how to correct it.
Nightmare scenario 2; what if I can't find any faults?
Haha yes this might also happen. Sometimes patterns just are that very well written and gone through. It’s like finding a unicorn! So just let the designer know what you think about the pattern, that it looks good and the steps were easy to follow, enjoy your make and be happy.
Do I post/share pictures during the testing period?
This varies between designers; some allow (and encourage) it and some want you to wait until after the release. Please always check before you do!
What if something unexpected comes up and I cannot longer meet the deadline?
Things might happen as one can never plan for life. If it makes you not being able to meet the deadline in any possible way; please let the designer know as soon as possible.
In conclusion, the biggest thing about being a tester is not that you will get a “free pattern” (cause nothing is ever free which we also will address later on) or getting it before everyone else. It’s about being part of the process. It can be so much fun seeing the behind the scenes, learning new things and see just how much work it goes into producing a pattern, and of course the joy of getting to know someone new.
Best of luck!
Tess and Kay