Testing for Lovely by Lee

Lovely by Lee, I want to test for you!  Will you pick me?

Before each testing call, I am usually swarmed with messages asking for requirements, materials and a request to be put on the testing call list.  Usually the specific questions are, “Do you still need a __ size? How much yardage? What yarn?  When is the deadline?” (almost specifically in one long message and in that order). Sometimes I have the time to respond with a tidbit of details, but usually, my response will include where and when they will find the testing call.  I’ve had some bluntly tell me that they’re not interested in applying in the way that I request because they’re too busy. *Ahem*, and almost demand a testing spot or testing details.  Oy! Well…I am busy too and doing my best.  That’s why I create testing calls with ALL the details, so I don’t have to single-handedly message each person that is interested in making my design.  

I am writing this blog post to be preventative from the behavior above, and I hope to explain why it is important to apply in the manner that I request.  For those that aren’t familiar with the pattern testing process, here is a quick Q&A to what I am referring:

What is testing?

Testing includes a designer selecting crafters of which the pattern is written to “test” or make his/her pattern.  Testers make sure the pattern translates to the make, is correctly written (or makes sense to the maker), that row/round and stitch counts are accurate and that the garment fits as intended. 

Why be a tester?

There are a handful of reasons to be a tester.  If a maker is hoping to promote his/herself, testing is a great way to do so!  As the designer promotes their design and pattern release – it is likely that the tester’s make will be shared too.  Testing is a great way to establish friends and connections in the maker world – as most tests are done in small groups of those with similar hobbies.  One can build on his/her business or brand by receiving views from a similar audience or following. Last but not least, testing is a fun process, like a make-a-long, and it is a way to receive the pattern months before the release. 

Is testing all fun and rosy?

No, sadly!  Much like any job, even if volunteer, it is work.  There are requirements to be met, and the designer is counting on the tester(s).  While not all testers are paid – they usually receive a free pattern in compensation – plus the free promotion of their social media account (see above – Why be a tester?). Being a tester is much more than just knitting the pattern and posting some photos.  It is actually doing the work and counting of stitches. It is reading through the ENTIRE pattern for errors, typos and grammar mistakes.  Testing involves math, measurements, gauge swatching, blocking and helping to perfect the pattern/design. Communication and participation is needed, as is bringing a helpful and positive attitude to the testing group. It includes effort in taking good photographs and following through with the promoting of the pattern for the release. 

How will the tester know the requirements?

Most designers list requirements in their testing calls.  I think all the requirements should be posted before the tester is to apply, as all designers’ requirements differ. If requirements are not clear, a tester should ask BEFORE committing to the project, please. I post all of my requirements in my testing calls, right below the deadline and materials needed, so please read them. 

So what do you look for specifically when selecting testers?

My answer is going to lap-over what I prefer in testers, but there are differences in what I look for before choosing a tester, and what I actually consider makes a GREAT tester.   

First of all, I am very strict on whether a tester applies correctly.  If a tester does not apply correctly, it shows a lack of attention to detail, and that is a RED FLAG!  I have had to get really tough on this one, as I used to politely nudge applicants to re-read the requirements and application process.  Now I just breeze over those types of applicants without even a reply (which my testing call will state, in preparation).  Does that seem rude?  Maybe…but I don’t owe my extra time.  When somebody doesn’t apply correctly, it likely means I will be babysitting them through the entire process.  In other words, most that lack the attention to detail in the application will also skip important parts of the requirements or when making the pattern. No thank you!  That has often turned into more hassle than necessary, and I have absolutely regretted my choice in letting some testers join my team (for that test). It is a boundary I have set that I truly feel is necessary.

Secondly, I make sure that the tester is committed to finishing projects.  I do this by looking at the applicant’s posts and projects on his/her social media and Ravelry account.  I look at timelines in which the person has started/finished crafts, and I look at the quality of the work. Similarly and importantly, I look at how a maker photographs his/her crafts. 

©Lissa from @mayaphotog4 wearing her Illusionist Sweater

That segways into a tester’s photography, which is something that is a huge consideration factor. I need good photos!  There, it is that simple.  I need photos that will help promote my design, and tester’s should respect all of the hard work with high quality photos in order to promote his/her work too. They’ve worked hard, and I love to see that confidence in showing it off! What is a high quality photo?  It starts with good lighting.  Make sure photos are taken in daytime or in natural lighting.  Outside photographs are usually best (though be cautious of gloomy light, sun glaring in the background and/or shadows). If photos cannot be taken outside, they should be taken by a window or in a studio/room with appropriate lighting. Modeled photos are REQUIRED when testing for me.  The garment needs to be worn so that others can see how the different sizes will wear/fit.  Again, good lighting is necessary, but so is styling the project.  I am drawn to those that take care of showing off their hard work.  A messy bathroom selfie? I won’t deny that it ultimately disappoints me.  Do I need professionally modeled shots? Not at all, but creativity styling, a decent backdrop and confidence are always winning shots. I know some are shy about showing their faces and/or bodies, but I love seeing poise and self-assuredness. I want photos that I want to share on my grid, in my promotions and in my blog posts (wink, wink).  

©Natalie from @silver.pixie wearing her Illusionist Sweater

Thirdly, meet the requirements. Specifically, meet requirements without needing me to hound with reminders.  It is very simple.  See a list of my typical requirements on a post coming soon (stay tuned). Those that check off the tasks on the list without needing a nudge are superstars!  

Fourth on my list is finishing the test.  Just finish the test.  PLEASE.  Even if the deadline was not met, finish the design, promote it and just FINISH.  I think it is respectful and gracious to pay for the pattern, should the test not be finished, because agreeing to the requirements and being selected takes a spot away from a tester that would have finished the project.  

Photo credit top (left to right – @justbuttsastitch, @ragingpurlwind, @carol_hladik_designs, @katey_stolhammer), bottom (left to right – @novagryphon, @shariwagnerofficial, @hopeful_making, @yarnontheprairie)

Equally important to finishing the test is communication.  Please communicate all difficulties during the test (whether something has come up that interferes with meeting the deadline or challenges with actually making the project itself). Partake in testing banter, help others with the test and provide constructive feedback.  I have had silent testers that meet all the requirements, but he/she never conversed with the group nor provided any help on the actual test.  Some have just knit the knit, posted photos and felt like a ghost. I do not like that. Period. I mean, it is pleasant, but helpfullllll….eh?

Lastly, eagerness to test and being part of the team is definitely alluring to me.  I appreciate those that follow me and take interest in my designs and business.  Those that show support and an appreciation for my designs typically do a terrific job on the test.  I also encourage those to be each other cheerleaders in the group.  I may not always be able to respond to a question right away, but those that feel free to jump in and offer advice or support make my heart happy.  Now, is following me necessary?  No…but I want to feel excited about working with a tester, and I want to feel like they are excited to work with me too.  If I don’t feel that a person feels eager to work with me, it does make me cautious about selecting that person.  To get noticed before applying for one of my tests, engage with me!  Build a rapport with me and establish a pre-working relationship.  When I recognize a name/face on my applications, it is good news for both of us!

©Shanna from @smckinzie2003 wearing Flutter Me Fancy Top in Lion Brand Coboo

So there is my list of what I look for when selecting testers.  Yes, I have a base of what stands out to me, and yes, sometimes I choose testers that don’t deliver what is expected.  I learn from that and try to improve my next test to avoid such issues. Why?  Because it causes stress and frustration.  Do I seem strict? Yup.  Am I strict? Yup (are some of my former testers laughing at me right now for calling myself strict?). Okay, I’m understanding, actually. I love to meet new testers and work with familiar faces. I get that life happens, and life happens to ME too. Can I be disappointed in some tests/testers? Yup to that too. Can I be elated and blown away by some tests/testers. Definitely, and I usually am impressed by a handful each round too! What does it take for me to be in awe?  All of the above. 

Where are your testing calls?

New testing applicants can find my testing calls in Pattern Testers Facebook Group, in my links on my website and on my Instagram.  I won’t give all of the details on my Instagram posts, but they will be listed on my application.

Do testers have to have a Facebook account to test?

NO!! This is not updated, as my tests used to be done on Facebook. Now my tests are done on Slack app…so do testers need to download the Slack app and create an account to test? YESSSSS! Many designers are now moving to Slack, so I recommend going through the hassle (yes, it’s a bit of a pain to setup) before applying.

Last question, please?  Do all testers have to apply the same way, even if they have tested before?  

Great question. 

I do expect all testers to apply with the application form for every test. As my tester pool grows, sadly, I am not always able to select everyone, even former testers. If we work well together, is there a good chance a tester will be selected for each test in which they apply, most likely! You’ll see I have a lot of repeat testers, as we have learned that we just work well together. Through tests I have developed close friendships with some testers. We have mutual respect for each other! These return testers like the way I host my tests, and I am very appreciative of their feedback and hard work.

I always try to create my testing team with a mix of trusted testers that have previously tested (as the familiarity and trust is there) with new and eager testers! Sometimes, I have to say, “not this time” to former testers. Maybe I found we didn’t work well together or requirements weren’t met on a previous test. Sometimes, I feel a former tester may be preoccupied or unwilling to give the same “ooomph” they had previous, and then it is time to find someone else that seems ecstatic about the test! Ultimately, it just depends and each tester selection is considerate of the applicants.

If a tester is interested in the knit, please apply! If a tester is excited to work with me, please apply! If a tester loves just one thing about testing or 20 things, please apply! If you have enjoyed testing for other designers, please apply! If you’ve been disappointed in testing for other designers, please apply! But please be sure you’re committed and WANT to do it.

Thank you!

Lovely by Lee is my full-time job and income. Small businesses are hard work, a lot of which is often done unpaid. So some of my links may include affiliate links. If you click the link and complete a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you!

Published by LovelybyLee

Amanda Lee is the Knitting Pixie (designer, dyer, knitter and owner) behind Lovely by Lee.

2 thoughts on “Testing for Lovely by Lee

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