4 signs to look for as a crochet pattern tester

If you’re new to testing or are curious what this process means, you might want to know what to look for as a crochet pattern tester, especially in terms of what you have to give and what you get in return.

In this article I go into detail in what pattern tests are, why you’d want to sign up for one, how to find a test, what to look for when deciding to apply to one, what your responsibilities are as a tester and even what happens if you are not selected to test.

If you have suggestions on more items to add to these lists I’ve compiled based on my own experience as designer and crochet pattern tester, let me know in the comments.

What’s a pattern test?

A pattern test is similar to a crochet along (CAL), but it happens before the pattern is published to a large audience.

It is a way of ensuring that potential future users of the pattern will have an easy time following the instructions within and that the final result conforms with the expected shape and function of the design.

Unlike the tech editing process, which can take a few hours and which is done usually by one professional tech editor who has specific things they look for, pattern tests are open to anyone, of any experience level.

In fact, it is recommended that for a beginner level pattern, at least a few testers are beginners, as they can give very useful feedback on things that a designer with a lot of experience in the craft might not even be aware can be an issue.

The pattern test usually happens in a group setting online, where all testers meet virtually and share their progress, feedback and finished projects.

They encourage each other and can even help each other get through more challenging parts of a pattern, when the designer isn’t available due to time differences.

Testing can also happen on a one-on-one basis, where the tester communicates directly with the designer.

Testing is not intended to replace tech editing, which should be done before testers receive the pattern.

As a tester, all you have to do is follow the pattern as is and make the project, giving the designer information that they can use to update the pattern to make it user-friendly or better fitting.

Testing is also different from sample making. You keep your project, unlike the sample maker, who needs to send their sample to the designer/publisher who commissioned them.

Advantages of signing up to be a pattern tester

If you are not sure why anyone would want to be a pattern tester (and believe me, there are many folks out there wondering the same thing), here are some advantages:

  • You get access to a new pattern early on. Some designers have a very strong fan base that wants to make anything they design, but pattern design takes time, so by testing you have early access to work that would not be published sometimes for months.
  • You contribute to making patterns more accessible and user-friendly for fellow makers. Your feedback can make a huge difference in the quality of a pattern.
  • You get to meet fellow creatives who love similar things to you. You might even become friends.
  • You get coupons from the designer. Testing is usually a process that is not compensated by the designer, but some designers who work with yarn brands can offer you deals or even yarn support for testing.

What to look for as a crochet pattern tester

As a new crochet pattern tester, you probably don’t already have experience with working with different designers and different types of patterns.

I will assume first that you are searching for a pattern test, and then I’ll assume you’ve found one and are looking to decide whether to sign up.

How to find pattern tests

What do you like to make? The projects you are interested in and the type of yarn you have in your stash or have easy access to will influence this greatly.

If you like amigurumi, there’s no point in looking at tests by designers who design home décor or wearables.

You probably already have some of your favorite designers. Check if they have public testing calls, either on their websites or as a special type of email update.

Some designers have a separate email list for testers, some have a Facebook group, some publish testing calls only on Instagram (I’d stay away from these) and some publish testing calls in special groups set up for tests.

There’s Yarnpond, a group on Facebook and probably many others if you search, a couple of groups on Ravelry, like Free Pattern Testers and The Testing Pool.

I personally send out testing calls to my email subscribers first, then if there are still spots open, I publish the call on social media and in relevant groups where people know me.

How to apply to test crochet patterns

Each designer has their own testing system, including the application.

The most common is a Google form that you fill in your information and you get contacted by the designer on the designated day.

Some have direct applications, where you just send the designer a message or an email.

Either way, you should receive a message on the day the designer designated as the day to send testers the pattern. This information should be in the testing call (see below).

How to decide whether to sign up as a crochet pattern tester

There are many things to look out for when applying to a testing call.

Even if the design seems wonderful and something you’d really want to make right this moment, keep these things in mind:

1. Clear timeline

The test is structured and all deadlines are communicated clearly. There’s

  • an application deadline;
  • a date on which the testers will be contacted and the pattern will be sent;
  • a deadline for submission of feedback/photos;
  • optionally – a date when the pattern is intended to be published.

This last point isn’t as crucial as the rest, since some designers may test early or may extend deadlines based on tester feedback.

2. Enough time to complete the project

The designer gives enough time for finding/buying the suitable yarn, swatching where applicable (most projects that are not amigurumi), making the project and communicating.

This means in practice at least 2 weeks, even for small or simple projects, since sometimes you really can’t find the right yarn in your stash and need to buy or order it.

The designer needs to also take into account that you test in your free time, so one-two hours per day on average, maximum.

A rule of thumb for me when setting up tests is to give 4 weeks for 400-500 meters of sock weight yarn in a given project.

For something that requires 1000 meters of size 2 yarn, an 8 week minimum testing window is offered.

3. Information about yarn and other required materials

Not just name brand and number of skeins.

They should include:

  • the yarn weight per length – size 2 or 3 is not sufficient, they should mention things like how many meters or yards per 50 grams or other similar weight;
  • fiber composition in percentages – for example 100% cotton, or 50% wool and 50% alpaca, or any other combination;
  • colors – if multiple colors required, they should have required quantity per color;
  • hook size and other accessories, like stuffing, buttons, etc., should be included too.

This way you can plan your project and check if you can actually test, if you have access to the required yarn in the needed quantities.

4. Clear expectations

The designer need to specify clearly what they expect from you.

Some reasonable expectations include:

  • Following the instructions as written and communicating when instructions don’t seem to make sense (sometimes it’s the designer, sometimes it’s you, but communication is key).
  • Finishing the project within the given timeline (assuming the timeline is decent).
  • Using recommended yarn weight/type.
  • Providing photos of your work during the test and photos of your finished work.
  • Providing information about final measurements of the project, quantities of materials used and other general feedback regarding the pattern.
  • Timely communication if something goes wrong and you need to back out of the test.

These are some requirements that I personally deem unreasonable, but to each their own:

  • Expecting you to use a specific brand of yarn that may not be accessible to you (financially or geographically).
  • Expecting you to pay for the pattern if, for any reasons, you are unable to complete the test.
  • Expecting promotion on social media, with specific number of posts/tags.
  • Following the designer on specific social media sites.
  • Providing professional-level photography and video of your project (if you can, go for it, but it should not be an expectation).
  • Providing tech editing, such as making sure the text is all in the same style, correcting grammar and syntax errors, math errors and such (again, if you have the skills and like to offer such feedback, go for it, but it should not be an expectation from the designer).

What happens when you get chosen to test

This section is about your responsibilities as a tester or how to be a great pattern tester once you apply and are selected.

1. Confirm your participation as tester

Once you are confirmed as a tester, write back to let the designer know you’re in.

Things can change between an application and the start of the test and you are allowed to back out if you no longer want to test or can no longer test for any reason. So if you can’t test, let them know.

After this confirmation, you should receive access to the testing file.

2. Mark the dates of the test in your calendar

I know it seems exciting in the beginning, starting a new project with nice yarn, but you will forget things. So start by marking the deadline and two weeks before the deadline, with one more reminder one week before the deadline.

This way, if you’re like me and easily distracted after a few weeks, you can make sure you complete the test in time.

Even if you are more organized and work on your project diligently every day, it’s still good to have this info in your calendar, so you can send your feedback and finished photos as the deadline approaches.

3. Write up information about your project

If you have a project notebook, write down the brand of yarn, length per weight, fiber content, yarn weight (in grams or other measurement unit), colors with color codes and dye lot numbers.

You can also make a digital document, like a note in a notes app or a Google doc, with the same information.

Sometimes it’s easier to take a photo of the yarn band, but make sure you photograph the entire band, not just one half. Make a note of the date when you took the photo, so you can find it easily later. Or insert it into the document.

You’ll need this information at the end of the testing process.

4. Read all the text in the pattern

Notes are there for your benefit. You might feel like skipping the wall of text before the instructions, but notes or observations usually include crucial information you might need later on.

If you contact the designer about at thing that is written about in the notes that you skipped and the designer needs to tell you to read the notes, you’ll both feel bad.

5. Keep the communication flowing

Communicate often, even if it’s just a simple update “I’ve made 10 more rows”. It’s good for the designer to know there are no issues in the pattern preventing progress. I find once a week or every second week a good frequency for simple updates.

If you do run into issues, first check if it’s user error (it happens, we skip stitches, we make mistakes, sometimes we have to unravel hours of work).

If it’s not user error and you followed the pattern to the letter, let the designer know and stop until they respond. If you know the solution, especially if it’s a typo, keep going, but let the designer know of your solution.

6. Do not modify the pattern unless given permission

If you want to add something to the pattern or change the shape of a part of the pattern, ask the designer first. Many times you’ll get a positive response, if the changes are clear and communicated.

If your changes alter the entire project, keep those in mind for a second project that will not be a test.

After all, once you’re done with the project for the test, you can make as many items as you want from the pattern, including with as many modifications as you like.

7. Check your gauge as you work

Especially for wearables, gauge can change dramatically from one week to the next. Check your gauge as you work on the project, to make sure the final project will respect the measurements set out in the pattern.

If your gauge is on point, but the measurements are not close to those in the pattern, let the designer know as soon as you find this out.

Mistakes happen, especially when grading multiple sizes in a pattern, so it’s better to know and fix them early.

8. Keep in mind the designer’s requests about social sharing

Some patterns stay secret until the launch day.

Before the launch day, only post online about your testing project if given permission by the designer. Ask before posting, if it wasn’t mentioned in the application.

What happens when you don’t get chosen to test

Don’t worry if you don’t get an email or message on the day that the designer is supposed to contact all testers.

Sometimes emails or messages get lost. Wait a couple of days and contact the designer. Whether you were chosen to test or not, they should let you know.

Some designers only contact those testers they selected, but I prefer to contact everyone to let them know that there will be a future test and they should sign up for that one.

Final thoughts about testing crochet patterns

If you made it this far, you must know most of the pitfalls to avoid when signing up to become a crochet pattern tester.

If you want to test any of my upcoming patterns, make sure you sign up to my email updates, as I send the testing call to everyone, in the weekly email.

If you want to share your experience in testing for crochet pattern designers, please do so in the comments, maybe I can add to these lists.

If you want to try out some of my patterns, here are the free crochet patterns on the blog and here are the free Tunisian crochet patterns also on the blog.

I hope to see you around with more useful articles!



Sign up to Yarnandy email updates and get the Kizilkaya shawl pattern. Click here to sign up. Image of bias shawl with rows of eyelets, draped on a vintage coat hanger.

Leave a Comment