Confessions of a Test Knitter

May 8, 2020

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  • Perfectly stated. It’s a wonderful balance between giving, sharing and self-care.not to mention being first to see some wonderful new designs.

    • thanks so much. Yes — for sure — love seeing designs before they’re released.

  • That poncho is spectacular! Back when I was writing books I depended on my group of testknitters to help me meet my deadlines, and working with a group of wonderful talented knitters was a highlight of the process!

    • Thanks for having testknitters! I love hearing that!!

  • Ditto what MarthaAC said. This post was a joy. And answered my in-the -back-of-my-mind question of what was a test knitter like exactly. Answer: a delight.

    • thanks Chloe!

  • I am in awe of anyone who can knit on a tight deadline of finishing! And your knitting is exquisite. Thank you for sharing your lovely insights about this sort of creativity! I hope to hear more from you here.

    • Thanks. My knitting is getting better and better and testknitting is helping me get out of my comfort zone to learn new skills all the time.

  • Test knitting is something I love for exactly the same reasons. It’s an adventure, a mystery, and a motivator all rolled into one. The adventure is that there are no other projects to refer to when starting, the mystery is a new knit that I can influence and the motivator is the deadline and a new piece to wear that hasn’t been done or seen 100 times before. It takes patience (you are testing a pattern, you may find mistakes or ambiguities), perseverance (the deadline is WHEN??), and a sense of humor (oh, the designer meant *that*, not *this*). I *almost* always feel appreciated and have a fun new knit when it’s done.

    p.s. to Wendy – I have a shelf full of your books – it’s how I rekindled my love of sock knitting many years ago.

    • yea! thanks Lisa. I love the mystery and adventure as well. I’ve been so amazed how designers are pulling us in to collective learn from each other. It’s been a wonderful gift for me.

  • I want to say how much I appreciate test knitters. I came to knitting late in life and am not the most confident knitter. I really appreciate the effort that goes into testing these patterns and giving the feedback to the designer to correct any mistakes in the pattern. It allows me to be able to choose a pattern with more confidence if I know that it has been thoroughly tested. I’m not a very fast knitter and I admire that you can do these in a timely manner also.

    • Thanks Gerri! It also makes me soo appreciate of all the work that designers put into a release of a pattern. It’s incredible actually to get a behind the scene look.

  • Thank you HyeSook for articulating this so beautifully.
    I’ve been a test knitter for about 2 years now. I started off slowly (I am so grateful for the designer who took me on as a newbie test knitter!) and over time I am doing more and more test knits. My circle of test knitting friends and designers is expanding.
    Aside from the challenge and excitement of being one of the first so see a new pattern, and the actual process of knitting, I think what I love most is the kinship and shared passion amongst the test knit group. Ravelry Test forums and IG chats allow us to instantly share our yarn choices (Oh look what I found in my stash! But wait, maybe this would be better!?), WIP photos, troubleshoot pattern corrections, and simply get almost immediate feedback from all over the world. While many of us are more physically isolated than we have ever been, I feel like I have more close friends than ever.
    One of the test knits that I worked on last year was the Sorrel sweater by the the design duo who collaborate as WoolAndPine. Imagine my delight when I learned that their sweater was one of the incredible designs that was selected for MDK March Mayhem! I feel honoured and thrilled to have been a tiny part of the success of such a beautiful pattern.
    Test knitting may not be for everyone, however It certainly is a great source of joy for me.

    • Love that you testknitted the Sorrel sweater! And don’t know love having fiber friends ALL of the world!

      • Having knitting friends all over the world is so heartwarming and always inspiring.

      • Hyesook,

        I have test knit as well. Like you and the others, it truly is all of the things each of you describe. The deadline is both the best and worst. Previously it kept me on task. At the moment, I’m not able to do that so I haven’t signed up for any testing in a while. I also love the fact that you are learning these wonderful new tidbits about the craft and being with knitters who love it as much as you.

        No one understands that except another advanced or test knitter. Thank you. Lynn

    • Excellent article HyeSook, Kay and Ann! It’s a beautiful poncho and great positive perspective on test knitting! Thank you!

      • Thanks so much Amy!

  • You stated this so well. Knitting is a passion. For me has been a great way to feel a part of a community, especially in times like these when community is more valuable than ever. I have test knit for several years now, and like you took it up to re-energize my knitting. I don’t knit as much as you, but the high, the learning of new techniques, the feeling of satisfaction and comradery are exactly the same.❤️

    • Thanks so much Judy! And so glad you’ve been testknitting! And I haven’t met anyone who knits as much as I do! LOL

  • I love this article! It’s funny, when people find out I’m doing a test knit, they invariably say “oh, you get paid for that?” When I say no, then they say “well they give you the yarn?” Not usually, almost never, in fact. THEN they act like I’m being taken advantage of, all that hard work for nothing! (Well, sometimes for another free pattern from the designer ❤️)

    I’ve been hard pressed to explain why I like doing it so much – yes, the deadline, the other knitters, the fun of helping a designer get the pattern right … it’s FUN!

    So thank you for this article, now I can just point them at it and say, “this is why!”

    • LOL — I’m laughing so hard. YES!!! I’ve had the same conversations!

    • Yes and Yes! I have had those conversations also! It really is fun!

    • I remember when women went to work, I wondered how designers were going to get patterns out when female relatives no longer had time to knit. And I’m one of those people who wonder why people are doing it for free. This explains a lot and it is beautifully explained. You’re efforts support us all. Thank you.

      • Thanks Patty! A very small way of supporting small businesses and the design process. Believe me –I get SOOO much more from the process than the designers.

    • Oh, I have had that EXACT conversation so many times.
      Muggles just don’t understand.

      • Yes — those darn Muggles. They will never understand!

    • I just finished a test knit and had the exact same conversation with a friend! I just said, I have the yarn, I like the pattern, I would make it eventually ANYWAYS and it would still be for me too, and the deadline is a motivator! What’s not to love? The bonus is that there are other people who may be anxiously awaiting for pictures of your process and finished creation, and their genuine enthusiasm keeps me as warm and cozy as the actual sweater does as well.

  • Anything that helps you parent teens is a win! (I still have scars!)

    • RIGHT!!! WE are all becoming the best kind of coach potatoes together!

  • What a delightful, informative article
    I hope you write more

    • Thanks so much. Knitting has been everything for me. Happy to share a little of why I love it!

  • I’ve always wondered what it’s like to be a test knitter, thanks for providing a glimpse into that world!

    • If you ever want to try it yourself, you should check out Fiberly! I love helping designers connect with testers.

  • You’re a gem! I’m so glad you’re test-knitting with conviction and joy. I feel so much more confident that good knitting designs will be released into the world, knowing that you’re on the job. Heartfelt thanks from a knitter who declines any project that involves a deadline. 😉 Knit on!

    • LOL — I would imagine strict deadlines wouldn’t work for everyone.

  • A perfect assessment of what it means to be a test knitter. I love the challenge of new stitches and expanding my understanding of this art.

    • Right! Love trying to explain to complicated stitches. It’s a language in itself.

  • Love this post. I did my first test a long time ago. I love the community it builds and helping to think about the best way to say things so lots of people understand them. The wardrobe addition is just an added bonus!

    • wholeheartedly agree! so glad you got to testknit!

  • What is test knitters? How to qualify?

    • Great question — Designers often request test knitters using their Ravelry page or the social media platforms. Each designer has a different process they engage in choosing their test knitters. I would highly recommended checking out the different designers you want to test knit for to see what their process is like and check out different forums on Ravelry. Good luck!

    • You can also find open test knit calls on my website, Fiberly. I help connect designers with talented Knitters.

      • Thank you! that’s a great suggestion!

  • This was a wonderful peek into a world I’d never considered. So interesting! Your knitting is beautiful.
    Knit designers must be delighted to have you on their teams,

    • Thanks so much Carol — I’ve really enjoyed it this past year. Its suits my type A + social work background. LOL.

  • This poncho looks wonderful on you. What you said about finishing test knits but not your own knitting reminded me of how I finish library books because there is a due date and delay reading what I have purchased. Maybe I should test knit, so I would finish my projects.

    • loving how you think! it might help you get to the finish line and have more FO! It did for me!

  • Amen! I’m also an avid test knitter, mostly hats, accessories, & children’s garments. It’s impossible to resist a pattern with something a little different, something that stretches my skills. And the high when a project comes together perfectly is just as you describe. It’s some of the most rewarding knitting that I do.

    • Wholeheartedly agree! There’s nothing quite like it!

  • HyeSook, your productivity and your knitting skills are amazing! As a slow knitter, I loved reading about your knitting reality and how you met your own preferences while exploring designers’ ideas. Thank you for a great article.

    • Thanks Dorothy. Knitting has been a real source of comfort for me. AND I used to be a very slow knitter. That didn’t stop me.

  • I used to test knit all the time. I would be humbled when my project would be on the feature page! I should start again.

    • YES you should! It also helped improve my skills! Hope to see you in the groups soon.

  • I enjoyed reading about you as a test knitter.The. poncho is beautiful, love to hear mire about your love of knitting and test knitting you do

    • Thanks Linda. So grateful to Kay and Ann for having this forum where we can share.

  • 27 projects in two months??!!! You are a super knitter indeed! I would turn out more “product” I suppose if I didn’t have a habit of frogging everything and redoing it because “I can do better.” You obviously don’t need to do that. I am in awe. Thanks for educating us on why we should appreciate test knitters more.

    • Susan — I was also a perfectionist and used to frog until I defined it perfect. But what I have accepted and learned is that blocking is key!!! and that knitting a handmade garment comes with the beauty of personalizing aka imperfections. I accept them all now. Keep knitting!!!

  • I hope to get back to test knitting soon. I have really enjoyed doing this but got bogged down in some urgent personal projects and am just getting so I can see some time available for testing later this year. I’ve learned a lot and have definitely found some favorite designers. Writing instructions is a whole separate skill from designing pretty things; being able to combine the two is a special skill!

    • Thanks MDK for this topic! Hyesook, I took up test knitting to use up stash. That was ok, then I found I like testing enough to buy yarn for sweaters I probably won’t wear. And I usually test the XL or XXL sizes. Lots of knitting there. If not for me, I find someone who’ll model the sweater for photos, and they get to keep the sweater. I make the pattern first in any yarn of the correct tension to make mistakes, then another often in new yarn for a correct version after the test discussion has brought out errors or changes. When test knitting I follow the instructions to the letter, but have recreational knitting on the go for a change of pace. I knit a lot … Whether we design, test, or just enjoy using the final patterns in test knitting we all win!

    • yea!!! Look forward to seeing you test knit again Connie.

  • What I timely article; I am test knitting my very first pattern for a designer and I *love* the process! I know what you mean about the high, I made some pattern notes and suggestions and she took ALL of them and applied them to the pattern! How great of a feeling is that!?

    • that is so great to hear Kathryn! It is a great feeling when you’ve contributed in that way.

  • I loved your essay. And such a lovely piece in your photos, too!

    I’m doing my first-ever test knit this month. Even though I have only been knitting about 4-1/2 years, it is amazing to realize how much I know. And it’s great that I can contribute to the creative process with my own skill set.

    • And how much you will grow as a knitter. That’s great you are test knitting. See you in the groups!!!

  • Thank you for sharing. I am a “casual” test knitter. Not as much or on the scale as you, but I do get the same rush when it all finally clicks together. I have forced myself to test patterns outside of my comfort zone. This results in my focussing on the pattern a bit more. I really didn’t understand the draw, until you put it into words. And I really like the connection with other like minded Knitters. I shared it his with my husband, and he says he understands now
    ( Except the deadline thing. That’s never been an issue with me.)
    Happy knitting

    • yea. so glad Diane! That’s one thing that was a surprise — while test knitting I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and learned new skills. I used to be a much more “safe” knitter but love challenging myself in this way! Happy knitting!!!

  • My aunt was a test knitter in the 70’s and 80’s. Her favorite patterns were anything incorporating cables. She taught me to knit after I had my first child. I now belong to two knitting groups where I continue to learn and meet new friends. I am very thankful for her patience in helping me join this great community of knitters.

    • At the moment my obsession is colorwork but cables are my 2nd fav. That’s so great you were to learn go knit from her. So glad you are part of the knitting community.

  • Great post! I can share this to explain why I enjoy test knitting. For me, I like getting that peek into the design process and being one of the first to knit new designs. Was not aware of online community for test knitters, will have to check it out. Thanks!

    • totally agree! getting that sneak peak is a lot of fun!! I’m sure there’s groups out there.

  • I am relatively new to test knitting. I have just completed my third. But if I had to say what I love about it, I would echo your words. Thank you for expressing it so beautifully.

    • That’s GREAT. So glad you’re enjoying test knitting!

  • How do one be a test knitter I dont have a degree in knitting but I get such a high when I’m knitting for gkids babys and myself I know I’m not a perfectionist but I think the beautiful designers need a non perfect knitter to show if the patterns are clear enough for the many knitters who require a help with directions it is an art to design but also an art to portray what the designer is refcting to a knitter I just luv it all

    • Julie — you don’t have to be a perfectionist to be a test knitter! Check out Ravelry and the different designers that have a open call for test knits. good luck!

  • How do you become a test knitter? It sounds like something I would love as it would make me to knit daily (which is something I need for my mental health right now).