As I was collecting information from my Instagram audience about their perspectives and opinions on test knitting and tech editing, I received several responses from test knitters for what they wanted to share with knit and crochet pattern designers who are running test knits. There were so many responses that I decided to create a blog post just with their feedback!
#1: Test Knitters' Biggest Issue with Your Test Knit is the Deadline
By far, the biggest complaint that test knitters have about test knits is that the test knitting deadlines are too short. They need to have plenty of time to order yarn, swatch, and knit the project; often while working around family and work duties.
I followed up my survey with the timelines that I give my test knitters, and the majority of test knitters felt like these timelines were reasonable for test knitting. (So feel free to steal them!)
2 weeks for dishcloths
4 weeks for small accessories such as hats, mittens, headbands, and cowls
6 weeks for shawls* and socks
*Two people shared that they'd like to have 8 weeks for test knitting fingering weight shawls that are large or have a lot of texture.
At the time that I am writing this post, I haven't designed any sweaters, cardigans, pullovers, or vests. I know test knitters like to have more than 8 weeks for knitting sweaters, and it is extremely important to give plenty of time for test knitters to make the larger sizes in your pattern. One designer responded to my Instagram polls sharing that she gives 3 to 4 months for her sweater test knits.
#2: Test Knitters' Second Complaint is that You Need to Communicate Better
As they say, "communication is always key." (And actually, that's what one person responding to my survey said.)
Specifically, test knitters are getting frustrated when test knits are lacking:
a clear deadline -- and if you're using Instagram to host they test, they want to see the deadline in the chat title
access to yardage and needle information prior to applying for the test knit
a schematic of the design
Good communication is key to any successful communication, and I figure it's better to over-communicate than to leave something unclear. Plus, this is what you want to receive from your test knitters so you aren't running into issues *after* they've finished test knitting because they made assumptions about directions that were unclear.
#3: Test Knitters Want to See Clearer Expectations From You
Ok, in my opinion this also falls under "communication," but there were enough specific comments about needing clear expectations that I decided it was important to make this point really clear.
If there's something that you expect of your test knitters, you need to communicate with them. Do they need to complete the full project or just through a certain point? Do they need to share photos of their progress? Do they need to post finished object photos somewhere? Do they need to create a Ravelry project page linked to your pattern? Do they need to share photos on Instagram?
Test knitters want to see all of the expectations clearly laid out in a list (Yarnpond actually gives you a section to share expectations!), including deadlines, required social media posts, hashtags to use, photo requirements, and more. They also want to see clear expectations throughout the test knitting process and after the pattern release.
Include a progress calendar for when each stage should be completed by (helps set goals).
#4: Test Knitters Want to Be Part of a Community
If you've read my blog post, you know I recommend Yarnpond for new pattern designers that are feeling intimidated by the idea of hosting a test knit. And, if you use Yarnpond (or any platform that allows for group discussions, like Discord, Ravelry, or an Instagram group chat), that should take care of most of your issues around testers wanting to be a part of a community for the test knit.
Based on the feedback in my survey, test knitters are wanting you to create "good community" via interactive group chat threads where test knitters don't feel alone and are welcome to share/discuss questions, concerns, and feedback. They also like to connect with each other and chat about their knitting, yarn, progress, and even a bit about everyday life.
Note: If you're using email to host a test knit, it's suggested that you keep all of the details in one email thread. It'll also make it a lot easier for you to manage if your test knitters keep to that email thread as well!
#5: Additional Comments from Test Knitters
There were a few more comments that didn't fall into the four categories above, so I'll share those here:
Test knitters want you to get your pattern tech edited prior to test knitting, because it can be frustrating for them to deal with errors in your pattern (and, remember, they're generally test knitting for free!). Not sure what the difference is between test knitting and tech editing? Read this post, "Knitting Tech Editor vs Test Knitters: Why Do I Need Both for My Knitting Patterns?"
Test knitters are worried that designers are choosing test knitters based off "only aesthetically pleasing & purely knitting based" Instagram accounts. If that's you, they want you to stop that immediately.
Test knitters want to remind you to share a copy of the finished pattern as a thank you for them test knitting the pattern. And I'll add to that: I recommend gifting at least one additional pattern to test knitters. They put a lot of effort into helping you!