Before we started publishing the MDK Field Guides, the world of test knitting was a mystery to us. Neither of us had ever been a test knitter, and we were fascinated by the knitters who offered their time and skill to support designers they may never have met. Test knitters are the knitting world’s special forces. Today, we welcome one of these elite knitters, HyeSook Chung, to our pages, to share why she test knits.
—Kay and Ann
In the first two months of this year, I finished eleven knitting projects. Five of them—four sweaters and one poncho—were test knits. I have three more test knits in the works, with fast approaching deadlines. I find myself pursing test knit opportunities as if my mental health depended on it.
My latest test knit was Tenderwood, a poncho by Karel of KC Knitting Co. It was a super fun and fast knit. The entire time, I had this image of wearing it everywhere, as the perfect spring layering piece.
Which is exactly what happened—Tenderwood, With its snuggly neck, is the perfect layering piece for early spring.
There is something addictive about being part of a team of test knitters. And more than ever, I am so appreciative of this hobby to keep me focused and hopeful during these trying times.
In the MDK Shop
Why I’m Hooked
The love affair. If I am going to spend hours working on a project and rushing to the finish line, I have to love the pattern and want to wear it.
Tenderwood was truly love at first sight. It had colorwork, my current passion. It was in DK weight, my favorite. Most important, Karel is a relatively new designer; I jumped at the chance to work with her. I quickly joined her team of test knitters.
The power of a deadline. If you need an extra push to get a project to the finish line, test knitting is perfect for you. I love that there is a start date and end date. Like a typical type A project manager, I crave the pressure to finish by a deadline. While I sometimes had a hard time finishing my own projects, I found the deadline pressure of test knitting to be highly motivating. And I have a lot more sweaters as a result.
The learning. I have had a hard time explaining to non-knitting friends the high I get from test knitting. After 21 years, my knitting needed a jumpstart. When I starting test knitting colorwork sweaters, I felt like I was on a different playing field. Seeing my understanding of techniques, patterns and all the knitting acronyms coming together was an unbelievable feeling, like a runner’s high. It’s hard to explain, but I hope all knitters get to experience their knitter’s high.
The team. I love chatting with like-minded knitters while we are all working on a new design at the same time. Having this on-line meet up via online spaces like Ravelry groups or Slack has been one of the best perks of being part of the test knit community. We instant message about pattern notes, new techniques, color choices, mistakes we’ve made, and everything about knitting and life. This access to other passionate knitters cuts down on a lot of one-sided conversations with my teens, who do not seem to care that I lost count after stitch 272. It is always knitting time somewhere in the world. Thanks to my fiber friends in South Africa and London, who are online when I need them most, I am truly a much happier knitter and parent of teens.
The FO. Until I started test-knitting, most of my knits were for gifts; now I’m testing garments for me. Knitting for myself rekindled my love of this wonderful craft. I value my knitting time more. It’s self-care time, fueling my type A personality and forcing me to be still while creating something beautiful. A win-win.
The gratitude. I love this wonderful community of test knitters I have met over the past year. I’m most grateful for the designers who partner with knitters in their design process, and let us preview their newest releases. I cannot wait until my next test knit!