My Experiences Testing Crochet Patterns

Hey! I’m Sarra, the maker behind Yaya’s Hook N Yarn. I am still trying to figure this whole -blogging- thing out so bear with me while I struggle for a little bit. For a while now (literal years), I have wanted to start a blog. Mainly to post about what I love to do most, crochet. I figured that my first blog post would be about me and my story etc, etc. However, I decided, approximately 1 minute ago, that I’d rather write about something I’m more passionate about–pattern testing. Because let’s face it, I don’t think anyone really loves talking about themselves, well, at least not this introvert.

My First Pattern Test

The first time I ever tested a pattern was for the maker Fantasy Sprites on Instagram and it was for her first top pattern the Nonstop Crochet Top’torial Pattern. I absolutely loved it. At the time, I had just started making crochet tops and this pattern had a huge appeal–no sewing! Since this was my first time testing, I was ecstatic to be chosen as a tester, and honestly didn’t really know what to expect. The entire process was so much fun and if you haven’t tried pattern testing I definitely recommend you try it!

What Designers Look for in Testers

So speaking from experience in being both a pattern tester & designer (beginner designer), I have a pretty good idea of what qualities a designer is looking for with potential testers.

The first thing that comes to mind is that you have a dedicated public Instagram for your crochet/knit pieces. Here’s why that’s important… an Instagram page filled with your crochet or knit pieces serves as a sort of portfolio of your work. With a glance a designer can see your style, if you have clean quality photos, the types of pieces you typically make, and your level of experience. For instance, if I click on someone’s crochet Instagram I instantly know oh, she makes mostly amigurumi, or oh, he makes mainly wearable pieces.

So you have a dedicated Instagram for crochet, now what? It really catches a designer’s eye if you have pretty, quality photos.

You may be thinking.. I don’t have a great camera or photoshop so how am I supposed to have such great photos? I’ll let you in on a little secret, I take all of my photos on my iPhone and edit them with a free app (VSCO). It’s true! For a photo to be quality it does not need to be taken professionally. Here, take a look at my feed. They may not be professional but I do try hard with my photos.

Here’s an example of a photo on my feed! I took this photo on my iPhone with a Lightbox and edited it with VSCO, so not super duper professional- but kinda fancy

What Designers Want From Testers

Alright, so you’ve been selected to test a pattern, now what? Some designers give you a direct list of feedback they’re looking for and specific details that they want checked. Others are just kind of like “send me notes!” so it differs for everyone. Below I will copy & paste the exact wording of what I wanted in tester notes in my email to testers. This is a pretty big list, I know. However, I find it easier as a tester to write notes when I have kind of a format to go off of.

Things I’m looking for in tester notes:

  • What yarn you used?
  • Did you use a different hook size?
  • If you used the gauge and if that worked for you?
  • Are there are any grammar/spelling errors or stitch count errors?
  • If the pattern layout made sense and if you liked all of the photos? 
  • Was it easy to follow?
  •  Did any sections confuse you or did you need any extra explanations?
  • Were there any parts that you thought needed more or less photos?
  •  Do you have any other notes or feedback?

Designers also typically expect nice quality clear photos along with your notes, and a post to your feed tagging them is always great! Progress photos of you making the item are great as well, and lots of promo on the release date! In addition, when designers give a deadline for notes/testing, make sure that you can meet the deadline before applying. Many designers will charge the full price of the pattern to you if feedback is not received by the date specified, so keep that in mind.

What Makes a Tester Helpful?

I am starting to read through tester notes from my newest pattern the Valley Beanie, and one of my tester’s notes struck me. I thought to myself “this is exactly what I needed.” The tester nit-picked every single aspect. Every teeny typo she caught, every confusing wording, every unhelpful photo, every slight inconsistency. These were by-far one of the best tester notes I’ve received, and it was her first time testing! As a designer, I was pretty sure my pattern looked great, I noticed a mistake or two but this tester went above and beyond and went through my pattern with a fine toothed comb to pick out every detail and small flaw. And I am so grateful for her!

I would much rather have someone who will tell me every tiny flaw rather than someone who says “Looks great! I didn’t see anything wrong!” Even if there are no noticeable typos, there’s always something that will be obvious to a designer but unclear to someone reading the pattern, or sections where a designer thinks makes so much sense but rings zero bells for another crocheter. A helpful tester is someone who isn’t afraid to give pattern designers the criticism and feedback they need to make a pattern the best it can be.

While you may feel like you want to just praise the designer because you could follow the pattern easily, that’s not what they’re looking for. At least in my experience, what a designer really wants is someone detail oriented who will carefully inspect every aspect of the pattern.

Some of My Favorite Pattern Tests!

Pattern testing has opened a whole new realm to crochet for me, it has helped me become a better pattern designer, meet other makers, and make things out of my comfort zone!

Some of my favorite patterns I’ve tested are:

The most intricate crochet color work I have ever done, and my pattern test for LadyJayCrochet, one of my favorite pattern designers!

12 thoughts on “My Experiences Testing Crochet Patterns”

  1. Michelle Micheli

    This is such great information! Definitely helpful for me as I am just diving into pattern testing! Can’t wait to read the next blog post!

  2. Love this post! I have been wanting to try out pattern testing for a while now and after reading this I definitely feel more prepared to start!

  3. As a designer, I cannot stress enough how important it is to be in communication with the designer you’re testing for. Personally, my first pattern I had 5 testers. 2 completed. The second and third time 10 testers and only 1 (!) finished. People who choose to pattern test have no idea the let down they cause the designer when they get the pattern for free then don’t test it. I’ve since stopped designing.

    1. sarrasue7@gmail.com

      Oh my goodness! That’s horrible! Maybe you should try creating an application form through google with clear terms, especially stressing if they don’t provide notes and pictures that they will be charged the price of the pattern. Applications tend to discourage those who are just looking for a free pattern. I hope you continue designing! Some big designers such as Taylor from Taylor Lynn Crochet have had this same problem 🙁

  4. Some designers do not appreciate the criticism. I’ve run into a few lately. Very frustrating and makes me not want to test anymore. Or they expect a $20+ investment into a hat for a kid..

    1. sarrasue7@gmail.com

      In my experience most designers want a detail oriented tester to find out each mistake or place that needs more clarity, that’s the main reason for having testers! However everyone is different, and I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than a few dollars in yarn for a child’s hat! $20 is steep!

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