I've never really worked from a knitting pattern. My grandmother Marion taught me how to make her mittens using demonstrated instructions that I later wrote down in a way that made sense to me.
When I first released a pattern for thumbless mini mittens, I wrote the pattern in "my" language. But most knitters are accustomed to reading patterns in a certain format. I knew I needed to do some research into that language, as well as have someone check my work. Otherwise, my patterns would just lead to frustration for other people.
Getting Started with Pattern Writing
The Craft Yarn Council provides a lot of information about pattern terms, abbreviations, and style. It was valuable to me as I learned the language of knitting.
Ravelry, a community for knitters and crocheters, offers several options for pattern testers. There are lots of experienced crafters who are willing to help.
The Ravelry Pattern Testing Process
I opted for the free pattern testers group. The process is quite rigid and there are many rules to follow, both for submitting patterns for testing and for being a test knitter. The system that's in place protects both pattern creators and knitters from wasting their time.
There are several steps in the process including submitting a request for testing and having it approved, selecting testers, reviewing their feedback, and updating the pattern.
Each test pattern has its own forum discussion. Here are the ones I submitted:
Working with Pattern Testers
All of my testers were great and provided excellent feedback to help improve the patterns for future knitters. It was fun to see their creativity - one used stripes, one altered the scarf to be longer, another added contrasting cuffs.
The pattern testers helped me learn about gauge and further refine the way I wrote my patterns so they are easily interpreted by any maker.
I'm thinking about trying a crochet pattern next. I've had a lot of fun designing striped baby afghans and would love to share my ideas.