Welcome back! I’m so glad that you are here following along with the Crochet Design Series. We are halfway through the series. So far, we’ve covered design inspiration and the writing of the pattern. Now we move on to the testing phase. I wonder what these designers do when and if they need to test a pattern. Let’s find out!
Series 3, Crochet Designing, the Testing Phase
Welcome, designers! I want to once again thank you for sharing your time and your knowledge to help others in their journey to designing crochet patterns. Your input is valuable. 🙂
Whew… we’ve made it and completed the writing process of the pattern and we’ve got a sample, perhaps, of the pattern all worked up. Now, it’s time to possibly test the pattern to see if it all flows and transferred from your mind to the paper.
If you do test your patterns, how do you decide if it needs testing? What are specific things do you look for when testing from your testers? I know some of you have established testing groups. What best practices tips do you have for designers wanting to recruit testers?
I usually make a second prototype to test the pattern myself. Then if I think it works I’ll send it to a tester for the final few edits if needed.
I love it when a tester can follow the pattern explicitly so they can give me any necessary feedback on things that others may not understand. If they work it up as they think I wrote it, that make leave holes in the pattern where someone picking it up won’t understand. They have to be able to put aside their expertise and let me know if the pattern doesn’t flow easily. However, they have to be good enough to continue through the pattern flaws, writing out the problems, and getting it done in a timely way.
Test all testers before deciding on who to use. Make sure they understand deadlines and what they need to provide to you before you move forward with anyone. It will save a lot of time to test and establish guidelines right up front.
Pattern testers are awesome! They really are! I provide a pattern to them and then they create it again for me, checking it over for errors, offering up their valuable time and resources to help me. How great is that? Yes, I am part of a testing group which has rules in place and I also set my own rules for testers. At the start of each testing call I state what is needed which includes skill level, materials, things like the ability to take photos and, seeing as my avenue for sales is currently Ravelry, my testers must be able to upload and create a project page of their work. I also allocate a time frame for completion and set how many testers I will take. Testing really is fantastic and I’m always grateful for their feedback (compliments and criticisms) and getting to see my design through their eyes.
Testing…oh this is one of the tough areas of designing. I have had just as many bad apples as I have had good ones. But, it’s still very important that you weed through and find at least a couple of good reliable people to help look over your patterns and test the results.
When I first started out I used testers and I had so many unreliable people that I stopped doing it all together. This is something I am paying for now. I have been updating all of my original patterns and I have been having them tested (or re-tested) and there are lots of errors in a few of them. Thankfully I am able to get them fixed, but I do feel a little embarrassed that those patterns were even published to begin with. I thought I could do it on my own and testers were just a luxury, but I couldn’t and they’re not. They are a necessity.
In this episode of the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show, I share 8 tips for organizing your first pattern test. I don’t generally rely on testers to edit my patterns, but rather to create additional samples for photography, share feedback on pattern format, or to create “social proof” that a pattern “works” by linking up to it on Ravelry.
Because crochet isn’t my main income, I’m often rushing to release a pattern when I have the time. For that reason, I rely more heavily on my tech editor. She has a great eye and catches mistakes. She also shares suggestions about phrasing things more clearly. And, best of all, she can usually get back to me in a few days rather than in a few weeks.
ALL patterns need testing period.
I look for testers that can catch errors, are good proof readers, take excellent photos, receive feedback well, and are willing communicate clearly.
Some designers take testers on a referral only basis, I will give most anyone at least one shot though.
I test all of my paid patterns and some of my free patterns. If it is a straight forward pattern, or includes a stitch pattern I have used many times before than I do not have the pattern tested. If it is a garment, a new stitch pattern or something that has some difficulty than I will have it tested prior to publishing.
I have a group of trusted testers who I vetted out prior to accepting them into my tester group. Some of the members started out as fans, some are colleagues who enjoy testing for other designers still and some came from a “casting call”.
Before I accept a tester I make sure they can obtain and provide clear proof of gauge. It does no one any good if your tester cannot get correct gauge down. I also make sure they have the ability to provide clear and clean photos. Part of the reason I have items tested is so that my testers can send me photos to use for my pattern listings.
If you are looking for testers, I’d recommend asking in one of the facebook crochet groups you belong to and then giving the applicants a simple test. Choose your testers from there. Do not be afraid to provide feedback if they are not providing exactly what you need and don’t feel obligated to keep them on if they aren’t able to meet your standards.
I test my patterns as I go along. The whole “writing as you work” process, you know. Once the pattern is written up, I’ll do another project using only my written instructions to see if I can understand it. If I can make sense of it, off it goes to my testers.
I have a couple of very special friends who test my patterns for me. Both are very experienced in reading a pattern. My first pattern I wrote myself was… interesting. One of my testers and I spent a couple of hours trying to make heads or tails of what I wrote, and then trying to get it written so that everyone could understand it. We got there in the end, but it took a while!
One of my testers has a daughter, at the “novice” level of crochet. When my tester has the pattern down pat, she gives it to her daughter to try. If she can make the project, then we’re good for publishing!
Try to have a good range of testers, from “novice” to “expert” levels. They’ll all read your pattern differently, and all have their own interpretation of it. You may have to adjust your pattern several times until most (if not all) of them interpret it correctly. Make sure you inform your testers of any changes you’ve made to the pattern as you make them. (If you have them all on Facebook, group chat works wonders for this.)
I know some designers that don’t release anything without having it tested while others have it tested depending on the level of skill required for the pattern or if the pattern is free. Whether you choose one way or the other isn’t wrong or right…just your preference.
I am one that decides the skill level. If I have a pattern that is fairly straight forward using the basic stitches, I may have someone look over it for clarity and precision in the written portion but not necessarily for pattern correctness. I’ve also asked my testers to create a smaller version of the pattern too just to make sure there aren’t any errors with the design itself.
If it’s a complex pattern where I feel there are parts in there that could be confusing to the reader, or I need help writing something out, I definitely will use testers and have them make the complete pattern and show me pictures. Am I wrong for not using them all the time? I don’t think so. My latest designs haven’t been crucial in obtaining gauge so that can make a big difference in the finished product when using a pattern.
I do have a few more complex pieces that I will be making in the future such as garments and will most definitely use testers and/or have the pattern sent to a professional technical editor. Can you see the difference in what I’m talking about? It wouldn’t matter if a shawl was 2 inches off or even four, but it certainly would make the difference in a sweater or top right? That’s where as a designer, you have to decide what is best for you and your brand.
But…let me say that if I did receive negative feedback consistently regarding my patterns, I would definitely change the way I did my testing phase and probably have my patterns tested every time.
All my patterns go through testing. I look for experience and skill level when choosing testers. My testers range from beginners to advanced. Because I offer patterns across the whole range, I like to have different skill levels looking at my patterns. Hmmm…tips for recruiting testers. I have a Google Form that is an application for people who want to test for me. You can see it here: http://goo.gl/forms/IdBYy0ZE4B. I also have a testing agreement through Google Forms that clearly lays out my expectations and then for the actual testing I require a picture of the finished item and I have another Google Form for tester feedback. I do my testing document of the pattern through Google Docs as well so that any notes or questions can be addressed directly on the document. I am planning on making a blog post about how I do pattern testing at some point, if life ever slows down a bit!
Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed reading these responses. There are definitely different reasons for testing patterns. There doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong answer to this. You just do what you feel is necessary as a designer.
This portion of the series came as a great time for me as I want to open the doors to having testers as my designing comes along. I also suggest listening to the podcast by Marie at Underground Crafter|Creative Yarn Entrepreneur. She really details several reasons on why designers choose to test their patterns.
I am a tester for two designers who are participating in the Crochet Design Series, and I personally love it. I’ve learned a whole lot and continue to do so.
Thanks for reading!
Happy Hooking and Much Love,