Testing, Testing, One Two Three

I think the time has come to explain a bit about the testing process and how I approach it.  I’m doing this in part because I’m still new at this and would love to find out more about how more experienced designers do it and in part because I have gotten a few messages that seem to indicate that there are some hurt feelings when I don’t pick someone to test for me.

I find testers in a few places.  Some of my testers are people who have knit my other patterns and told me they particularly enjoyed them.  Some are people who left comments about the sock in progress and volunteered to test them.  The majority of my testers come from the testing forums on Ravelry.

I post the call for testers in the testing forum along with information about the project.  I ask people who are interested to get in touch and to provide me with some information about their sock and test knitting experience.  Then I wait to see who volunteers.  Much to my delight, I usually have lots of volunteers.  I find it very gratifying that so many people are willing to help me with my patterns.  The only downside, is that I have to make some difficult choices.  I generally only need two to four testers.  That is usually plenty to check for errors.  Working with any more than that just presents too many organizational challenges.

So how do I pick?  Well, I generally give first priority to people with whom I’ve worked before.  Next, I look at the volunteers and see who might be a good fit.  I tend to pick people who answered my question about their previous experience over those who didn’t.  I tend to pick people who have lots of projects posted in their Ravelry notebooks over those who don’t.  I try to be sure that at least half of the testers are native English speakers, though I am perfectly happy to have non-native English speakers as well.  Basically, the more I know about a person’s knitting experience, either from the messages they send me or the work they show on Ravelry or their websites, the more likely I am to pick them as a tester.  Even with those sorting methods, I still tend to have at least five times as many volunteers as I can use, which means I have to say ‘not this time’ to some people.

So what do you do if you really really really want to test?  Well, give me lots of information to use when I’m making a choice.  Knit lots of socks and be sure you’ve got them listed on your Ravelry notebook.  Take and post lots of pictures of your projects.  Tell me about any other testing experience you have or why your past knitting experience makes the current sock a good match for you.  Our communication will be in writing, and I’m asking you to check something I’ve written, so try to show me that you can express yourself clearly when you write.  Finally, if you see I’m working on something you just love beyond all reason, let me know while I’m still working on it, and we may be able to work something out.

I never mean to hurt anyone’s feelings when I pick someone else.  I’m always flattered when people offer to use their knitting time and their yarn to help me improve my patterns.  I just can’t take everyone.  I do, however, have every intention of designing more socks, so if it doesn’t work out this time please come back next time!