Wednesday, May 16, 2012

First-Time Tester

Back in February, I signed up to be a test-knitter on the Free Pattern Testers group.  The pattern was a big bulky cowl and it looked fantastic.  The pattern was released to testers the last week in February, and due on March 9.

This was my first time test-knitting a pattern and I’ll admit to being a little nervous about it.  Somehow, I think I was equating test-knitting to being difficult.  Luckily, this pattern was nothing of the kind! 

I purchased three skeins of Cascade Soft Spun in West Point Blue Heather.  The sample we were shown was in a soft gray and I wanted something a little different, but that still showed off the stitch pattern.  I am naturally attracted to darker colors and I just kept worrying that the stitches would get lost when photographed.  My next inclination was to pick something gray and heathery – but that was just like what was already knit and if nothing else, I tend to swerve away from what’s already been done. 

So I picked a lovely, soft, heathery blue.  Light enough for stitch definition, but a color I liked and found pretty.  I’m a bit disappointed, though, because the blue actually can give off a strikingly gray color depending on the light.  I still love the pattern and think the effect is wonderful, but I’m wishing I’d gone with my gut and chosen something I naturally gravitated towards.
The pattern calls for 8 repeats.  I initially did 7 repeats and bound off.  But I wasn’t happy with the height and my bind off was too tight.  So I tinked back the bind-off, added an extra repeat (using almost all my yarn – perhaps 15-20g remain?) and bound off “in pattern” and with needles 2 sizes larger.  I’m so much happier!  (Binding off “in pattern” means that you follow what the stitches were doing on the row ahead of the bind-off row – knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.)
As much as I enjoyed knitting the pattern and as lovely as the yarn is, I decided this wasn’t a knit for me.  I put the cowl on and took it off.  I put it on, rearranged it a bit, and took it off.  I put it on, stared in the mirror, and took it off again.  I don’t know what the deal was, but it just wasn’t calling my name.  So it has moved on to a new home, to a friend who will appreciate it more! 
A note about Soft Spun…the yarn is very lightly spun (hence the name) and very lofty.  Too much tension and your yarn will quickly pull apart.  Several times I had to tink back a few stitches, felt ends together, and start again.  I don’t know if it’s the yarn, or me.  I have a feeling a bit of both.  While easily fixed, it was agitating after the first few times it happened….  So here are my suggestions – don’t keep really tight tension on the yarn.  Hold it softly, but with a little resistance so your stitches don’t go wonky.  Second, if you choose to wind it into center-pull ball…do not pull from the center, instead pull from the outside.  I think between the tension in my hands, and the tension in the ball, there was too much pressure being applied to the fiber and so it kept breaking.  Those are my two cents. 

I would consider this experience successful.  I tried something new by test-knitting, I knit with a new yarn, and I ended up with a gift for a friend.  I’d do pattern testing again, but I’d try to do it when I have less going on.  The designer I was testing for was laid-back, but someone with more questions may have been harder to keep up with.  


  1. I love test knitting but with Little Man around, my time to just do my regular knitting is limited. So, I haven't done any testing since last fall :(

    As for the cowl, I think it looks lovely......but I just don't "get" cowls. I mean, I understand what they're for, but I think it's because I look so silly in them that I don't understand the appeal that others have for it.

    Maybe I'm just weird.

  2. This came out so well! Great tip on this kind of yarn.

  3. I forgot to mention (okay, I didn't forget but this is the most recent of your blog posts): I nominated you for the Sunshine Blog award :)

    It should be in my Year of Projects update for this week (once I'm finished writing it).