Patten testing is one of those invisible parts of the craft we love. An error in a pattern can throw of a whole project, and we casually curse out careless designers, without really considering the amount of work that goes into the simplest pattern.
As well as pattern testing, professional knitwear designers also use tech editors, who will read over the pattern line by line and unravel it on paper. Testing a knitting or crochet pattern is basically knitting or crocheting the pattern. You get to try out a pattern before it’s published, and give something back to the crafty community. All you need to do is when you think, “Oh, they must have meant this,” is pass that note on.
I follow Rachel (another Rachel!) on instagram, and had been admiring her hat pattern for a while. So when I saw she was looking for testers, I jumped at the chance!
Can you see why? How great does the hat look on?
Owl in the Bush has a clever, dramatic owl face peaking out from the lace pattern. I’d been quietly hoping Rachel would release the pattern so I could get my hands on it.
I have a loose knitting gauge, and routinely size down needles and yarn. 111 stitches in DK yarn would be closer to a jumper than a hat for me! So I cast on with a sport weight from my stash: Sugar Baby Alpaca in Martini Grey from Wool and the Gang. I love the shine and the drape of this yarn, but if I were to knit this exact pattern again, I’d probably pick something a little crisper.
For a week or two, I picked at the deep ribbing, so I could work on the lace during a longish-train journey. I didn’t tuck any other craft in my purse, and was prepared to spend the entire time working on the hat…. Then I realised I had forgotten my needles!
Lace is typically worked at a looser gauge than ribbing. Ribbing is meant to be dense, stretchy and springy. Lace is meant to be more open and drape-y. I did consider knitting with the ribbing needles, but thought the better of it! No pattern testing for me – I played some dumb game on my phone instead. Luckily, I had two more longish train trips in the following two weekends and raced through the lace chart.
It turned out quite long, but I like the drama of it, and the warmth of the ribbing. You can’t tell from the sunshine, but the wind was biting!
Owl in the Bush is unusual as it has pattern stitches worked on every round. Instead of every second round being a plain stockinette, it has a simple bramble pattern, which keeps things interesting.
I found one minor error and relayed my general feedback to Rachel. She improved the pattern (however incrementally – the error I spotted in pattern testing was inconsequential) and I got a lovely new hat before anyone else!
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