So You Think You Want to be a Pattern Tester?

Testing? Testing!! Is this thing on??

I’ve never been a fan of tests.  They suck.  Even when you’ve studied! BUT!!!  I have found a test that I quite enjoy taking, even when it’s hard! I know it just sounds wrong but trust me, you might be surprised.

Let me introduce myself.  I am Izola.  I am a person of many layers (like an onion, just less smelly most days).  I am a wife (of 21 years) to an awesome guy who is learning how to be fully retired after 30 years in the Air Force.

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I am a mommy to 4 wonderful kids (the two oldest are my bonus boys, age 30 and 29 respectively, and I have a 24-year-old son and an 18-year-old daughter) and two grandkids (thanks to the oldest son).

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My Crew

I have worked for the Air Force for the most of 25 years and we lived most of my husband’s career in Okinawa, Japan. Whew! And trust me that was only the top few layers!  I am quite an interesting person!  Ha! HA! HA!

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One of my favorite layers is the fact that I am a crocheter. And despite what spell check says, CROCHETER is a word! I learned to crochet when I was about 5. My mother and I spent a lot of time on the road from Detroit to New Mexico and, to let my mom tell it, I talked A LOT.  So to keep me busy I learned to read quite well by 4 and to crochet by 5.  She showed me how to make bookmarks for all of the “big girl” books she had bought me.  I had to count and I had to pay attention to my yarn…….which meant, I wasn’t talking!

Never learning to read a pattern I often just made things up.  I made clothes for my Barbie’s, then my bigger dolls, and then I did scarves!  And trust me, my extended family was big and I figured EVERYONE needed a scarf.

Into my teen years, I fell into things that seemed way more important and only crocheted sporadically.  It wasn’t until I was older and went through some life things that I decided to pick up my hooks again. Check out my blog post on How Crochet can Heal.

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Having never learned to read a pattern and being almost desperate to make bigger and better things as gifts I was stumped.  So I did what anyone out there would do!  I GOOGLED it!  Which led me to YouTube.  While that was a great place to start I wanted more.  I found, in the lovely land of Instagram, many people designing and writing up patterns.  I NEEDED to know them and how to be a part of the crochet world.  Long story short, or kinda short, I learned to read patterns and started building a pattern library.

“What does all of this have to do with taking tests and why is it fun?” you might be asking yourself. I’ll tell you. One day, whilst surfing the Gram (that’s what the cool kids call it), I saw a post that said: “testers needed!” So I DM’d (the cool kid’s say that too in lieu of sent a message!) that person and asked what she meant by “tester.”  She nicely took the time to explain testing and what it provided her as a designer. She then asked me why I thought I would be a good tester. I thought about this long and hard and I will share with you the list that what I came up with for her.

Why I am a perfect candidate to be a tester:

1. I am honest. Some days to a fault.  I am a novice and if you are writing for someone with minimal knowledge I am that girl!
 
2. I can sometimes be a grammar snob.  This is much needed when being a tester.  I am POSITIVE that I am not alone in hating poor grammar!
 
3. I love to learn.
 
4. I am not afraid to ask questions.
 
5. I am not afraid to fail.
 
6. I am really good at following directions.
 
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She liked my answers and I was suddenly an official tester! And at that moment I was horrified and excited all at the same time.  Let me tell you, that first test was quite the eye-opener.  If you want to dive into testing I have a few (well more than a few) words of advice for you.

As a tester (a really good tester) there are some things one must understand.

First! Let’s talk money!

For some, patterns are a part of their livelihood.  Often patterns are sold and this income is part of sustaining a household. Some patterns are free but they may lead to other avenues of income.  It may just be a pattern to you but to someone else, it could end up being food on the table. So if you are not going to be cognizant of this, you shouldn’t consider being a tester.

“Time is money” Deadlines are a big deal.

Some designers have contracts with yarn companies and magazines or that may be their goal. When you are considering being a tester you have to ALWAYS ensure that you will have the time in your life to allow for testing.  DO NOT AGREE with a timeline if you cannot be sure you can have it complete in the allotted time. Not only is it rude to ignore a deadline it will quickly get you kicked off of a testing team. With that said, designers know that life happens.  People get sick, work interrupts, kids and significant others demand more from you. In these instances, it is ALWAYS best, to be honest.

This leads me to my next point of being a good tester. Honesty is big, no, it is HUGE on multiple levels.  Be honest if you have gotten in too deep (time wise or level of difficulty) with a pattern.  Worst case scenario, you don’t finish the test and you have to pay for the pattern (which is usually put out there by the designer when doing a tester call).  There is nothing worse than getting picked for a pattern test and then not being able to complete it.  Been there, done that.  And it was one of the hardest emails I had to write.  I paid for the pattern and completed it later. She was kind enough to even help me when I got stuck. It is simply RUDE to just disappear.

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Another aspect of the honesty rule is being able to tell the designer when something is wrong with their design.  While I am sure it would be great to hear “it’s perfect” that is not what they want OR NEED.  They need you to go line by line. To check for spelling errors, to check for grammatical errors, to check for punctuation and to really look at the end product.  I print out the pattern that I am testing and my FIRST step is the line by line with a colorful pen. I circle and underline the initial mistakes I come across.  Then I read through it, and with another color, I circle and make notes of things that just don’t read right.  THEN I start the actual project.  It is then I take notes on whether or not I understand something or if I just can’t figure something out.  It seems harsh and extensive, but I promise it is truly appreciated! I have had more than one designer tell me that they appreciate my thoroughness when I scan and send them my notes.

Testing benefits all involved.

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When done right and cohesively it is a super score!

Designer Benefits

Recognition

There is a lot of time and energy in pattern writing and it’s NOT easy. Not only do you have to pull the idea out of the beautiful space of their brain, but they have to create a pattern that will effectively communicate how to build something. They also get recognized in the community for their designs when a tester shows their work via social media or in basic conversations.
 

Gains knowledge

They learn how different people receive information, learn, and in turn how to present to the masses versus one type of crocheter/ knitter. Constant perfection of the craft.
 

Confidence and Validation

The designer gets the validation that the hard work is paying off and this helps them gain the confidence to create more.  Which is GREAT for the makers too!!
 
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Tester Benefits

Recognition

We as testers enjoy recognition as well.  Trust me, there is nothing neater than a shout out from a designer on their social media platforms and hearing from a friend “How can I become a regular tester for _________?”
 

Gains knowledge

testing is ALL ABOUT LEARNING.  And who doesn’t love learning something new about something they enjoy making!?
 

Confidence and Validation

The tester gets validation in being able to replicate something beautiful from words brought from the mind to the paper.  And when done properly there is a validation of skill!
 

There is the occasion when a tester may know of an easier or more convenient way of doing something.  I say “Don’t hesitate to say it out loud to a designer when testing.” Often it is happily received.  BUT, be prepared to occasionally get a “Thanks, but no thanks.  Don’t be offended.  Just remember, you can always change it when you make your own.

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One of the biggest benefits is getting to know someone else that loves the craft as much as you do.  I have not met any of the people that I have tested for but I don’t doubt for a moment that if I showed up in their town that we would have a BLAST of coffee and shopping for yarn.  And not to be outshined, is the benefit of being among the first to have eyes on something new and amazing!

So, with all of that said…….I’ll leave you with one last benefit.  If you are a person that has a house full of yarn testing is a great way to put them to go use!!

If you’re thinking about being a tester, stop thinking and put yourself out there!  You’ll be amazed at the fun you’ll have!!

Thanks for reading! If you have the time swing by and say hello 👋🏽I can be found on Instagram @thirteenfrogscreations or on my blog ThroughMyEyez13!

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