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Test Knitting: How I Choose Testers

Last week in the Anyfest KAL, we talked about experiences in knitting that can leave us feeling left out. One thing that came up repeatedly? Getting passed over again and again for test knitting.

This is Sarah, from Sarah Karine Knits, who just finished her Gone to Seed test knit. I love, love, love how radiant and joyful she looks in this photo!

What is test knitting?

Independent designers often will solicit a group of knitters to test a pattern before release. The pattern should be tech edited and in final draft form. The goal of test knitting is to see if there are places where the language could be clearer or to surface any fit issues. Although not within the official scope of testing a pattern, test knitters often share photos of their finished objects to help other knitters choose a size or envision the pattern on a variety of body shapes. Test knitting is done on a volunteer basis, and in exchange, the designer provides a fun, friendly and safe environment that resembles a knitalong. In the best scenarios, the designer is available to help knitters learn new techniques, finesse their fit, and credits the work of testers.

What is not test knitting?

Sometimes, designers will add other elements to the test – such as requiring photos for marketing purposes, forbidding fit modifications, or forgoing tech editing and relying on test knitters to surface all errata. My stance is that these sorts of requirements are outside of the scope of testing. Knitters can still choose to participate in ‘tests’ like these, but at its heart, testing is just that: testing the pattern.

Building a test team

When I’m choosing testers, I have several goals:

  1. Sufficient experience to complete the project, with modest help from myself or other testers from time to time.

  2. A track record of finishing projects.

  3. Participants who will help me maintain a testing environment free from fatphobia, homo & transphobia, racism, ableism, etc.

  4. Representation of a wide variety of identities and backgrounds, including testers of different racial backgrounds, gender identities and neurodivergence.

  5. Yarns from a variety of different budget points.