Evaluating Patterns - Other Knitters' Projects
This is the last installment of a three-part series. In part one, we talked about evaluating the fit of a pattern on the model. In part two, we covered evaluating all the information provided by the designer, with a special focus on the schematic. Today is all about evaluating those finished object photos and reviews. As always, if you have thoughts, hit me up in the comments!
As more users decline to use Ravelry, seeing other knitter’s projects can be increasingly difficult. But even on Rav, as a knitter, I’ve long despaired over poorly lit and ill-described finished object photos from other knitters. How to make sense of a sea of such projects to know if I’ll be able to create the sweater I want? Or conversely, how to evaluate sparse tester projects if a designer is little known or a pattern has just been released?
I'll use myself as an example - how unhelpful is this finished object photo I left for Leaving, by Anne Hanson, when I finished it in 2014? I did not put down yarn, size, how it fit, or any other thoughts about the pattern. But looking at it, I can clearly see that something wacky is going on with my neckline, and it's telling that in comparison to some of my other projects, this one only has one photo.
Note - the thing that's wacky is the fit - I needed to choose a size based on my shoulder width, not my full bust. When my body was this shape and size, my cup size was larger than that predicted for my frame - which meant that the neckline was way too wide for me. And I still had to struggle to keep those buttons closed! Just so we're clear that the fault is not the pattern. Oh, and I also used a beautiful but scratchy yarn - I didn't yet know what I needed to do to meet my sensory needs (more on that here).
Evaluating Tester Patterns
Testing is a process where volunteers knit a finished pattern before publication. The pattern that testers receive should be tech-edited and accurate. The point of testing is to make sure that what looks good on paper works well on the needle, to provide feedback on clarity and whether additional resources are needed, and to make sure that all the instructions work well to create the item described by the pattern. Often, testing includes an element of fit testing - at least to the extent that any single tester's body matches the designer's size chart.
What testing shouldn't be: a marketing scheme by the designer to get free labor to promote their design.
And that can be messy, right? Many testers love to share their work and are driven to do this work because they want to give to the knitting community. From the knitter's perspective (especially those at the top of the size range), tester projects can provide very valuable information about the fit and grading of sweaters in their size. And of course, designers definitely benefit when testers are comfortable sharing photos of their work.