Designing 101: The Importance of Test-Knitters

In today's article, I am touching upon an essential stage of the knitwear design process that I don't think gets a lot of attention. Test knitters. They are so valuable that I'm dedicating an entire chapter on them in my upcoming book. 

I see so many talented designers release their work without having gone through this step and it’s such a shame because there are so many things that test knitters bring to the table that is essential for a successful pattern release. While the test knit process does delay your pattern release (I'll be writing another article later about timing your pattern releases) and you may be so excited to immediately release your creation to the world, here are three reasons why you should consider getting a small group of test knitters.

Fixing Mistakes and Brushing Up 

This should be a no-brainer. Test knitters can double check the math, make suggestions for clearer instructions, find mistakes in the pattern (which happens to me a lot). They basically take away a good source of your headaches by dealing with the areas that could cause for customer complaints. While they can’t catch everything and you may still run into a knitter would doesn’t understand what “CO” means, you are essentially ensuring the buyer that the product has been tested, fixed up, and that it checks out. Especially if you are a newer designer and people aren't familiar with your work, they want to make sure that the $5 they are paying for your pattern isn't going to be a waste of their time and effort.

More Samples, the Better!

The more testers you have, the more projects you will be able to display on your pattern page. To knitters: the more projects, the better the pattern is. For example, have you seen how many projects there are for Hitofude? There is a reason why it’s always on Ravelry’s Hot Page - because people can see how it looks in different sizes, in different colors, with modifications, with different yarns and notes and helpful tips about the pattern. And this spirals into more projects as knitters new to the design know that it is a good pattern. 

When knitters can see and read the notes from test knitters about ease of modification, yarn choice, sizing and colors, it reassures them that if they needed to make those adjustments as well, the project will still come out looking nicely.

Free Exposure

This may be one aspect that newer designers don’t consider about test knitting. Knitters love posting WIPs or showing off their FOs on Instagram, Facebook, take it to knit nights, talk about it on their blog or podcast. This spreads your reach and introduces other people who may not have heard of you to your work. It also gets them excited for the upcoming pattern release when they can read that the test knitter is really enjoying the project and can't wait to finish it.

It is also a great way to create “user-generated” content - posting their work on your social media not only makes them feel great, but it serves as a form of mini-advertising for your pattern and gets people wondering how they can get their FOs on your page (they do enjoy a few minutes in the limelight!).

What other benefits do test knitters bring to the table that I didn't touch upon? What are your experiences with them? Share your thoughts in the comments below! If you know an aspiring designer who currently isn't using test knitters, send this article their way! Hopefully it will convince them to consider sending out a call for testers for their next design!