What is the Difference between Pattern Samples and Pattern Tests?
Sample knit vs test knit. Sample crochet vs test crochet. The terms “sample” and “test” get confused a lot when it comes to working pattern gigs. A lot of designers use these terms interchangeably, but each has very specific meanings.
Sample Knit or Crochet Defined
A sample knit/crochet is a pattern that is worked as an example. The final sample project is used by the designer, yarn shop or indie dyer as a marketing or display tool.
The knitter/crocheter DOES NOT keep the final project when they are done.
Typically, a sample knitter/crocheter is paid per yard of the project and yarn is provided to them. When the project is complete it is mailed back, or dropped off.
Sample knitters/crocheters are expected to complete projects that are nearly error free and match the dimensions given in the pattern. Sample knitters/crocheters may or may not be expected to give feedback on the pattern. Many sample projects use patterns that have already been tested and published, and therefore the patterns should be error free.
Why are Sample Knitters/Crocheters Needed?
Designers, yarn shops, and indie dyers often use sample knitters/crocheters because, fiber arts can be time consuming. They might be preparing for a show or catalog/book photoshoot and do not have enough time (and physical endurance) to complete all of the samples needed by the deadline. Instead, they hire talented crafters to work the patterns.
Test Knit or Crochet Defined
A test knit/crochet is a pattern that is worked to catch errors and check sizing. The purpose of pattern tests is to ensure that all of the instructions are correct.
The knitter/crocheter DOES keep the final project when they are done.
Typically, a test knitter/crocheter is compensated with free patterns, yarn, and/or shop coupons. When the project is complete, the pattern testers is free to use the final product as they wish. They can wear it, rip it out, gift it, give it away, etc.
Some designers may require pattern testers to post their projects on Ravelry or social media.
There is a lot more leeway in pattern tests when it comes to errors. If you accidentally purl a row you should have knit or crochet a section in the wrong color, you are the one who has to live with it. As long as the error doesn’t impact the overall project, it is ok to have a final project with mistakes.
Pattern testers can also make modifications, within reason. Most designers won’t have a problem with you making a sweater longer or adding an embellishment. Again, as long as it doesn’t impact your ability to catch errors or provide good feedback to the designer.
Of course, you should always discuss deviations with your designer, so there are no surprises.
Why are Test Knitters/Crocheters Needed?
It is impossible for a designer to catch every error, or work every size before publishing a pattern. Instead, they rely on test knitters and crocheters to work pattern tests and give feedback. Feedback can cover everything: instructions, sizing, pattern organization, charts, photos, etc. In addition to feedback, a designer may not have enough time (and, again, physical endurance) to work every size in a reasonable timeframe.
So, What is the Difference between Sample and Test?
The biggest difference is if you get to keep it. With a sample knit/crochet, you do not get to keep the final project and for a test knit/crochet you do get to keep it.
Remember, that each pattern job is different. Always read the entire listing before jumping in. And ask questions if things are not clear.
Some pattern tests pay cash. Some sample projects are volunteer. Some pattern tests require you to use a specific yarn. And some sample projects get sent back to you after they have been photographed.
It all depends on the terms that the designer has set.
Become a Pattern Tester Today!
Work directly with designers to test knit and crochet patterns, while learning new skills and getting a sneak peek at awesome patterns before they are released.