Shiraz. A Test Knit

Recently I mentioned I was going to take part in a test knit. Well, the time has finally come to begin and I’m rather excited. One of the reasons for the big push to finish my Coraline (and thank you for so many lovely comments!) was so that I could get started on this test knit ASAP.

You see, I think, and I might be wrong, that I’m the only southern hemisphere knitter participating in this exercise. Everyone else will be knitting their cardigans in preparation for autumn and winter up north. Me, I want to knit it now so that I can get some wear out of it before the days warm up again. Given we reached the Winter Solstice this week, the days will indeed start to warm up, although not really for a while.

So I have time. But I’m impatient to begin. Let me tell you what I’m doing. I’ve checked with the designer about what it’s ok to say or not say and it seems I’m allowed to talk about all the good stuff and not the bad, which sounds fair enough to me!

First up, the yarn. Awkwardly lit Cascade 220 Heathers in Mallard. Six skeins of. Purchased not for this project but fortuitously, just after it arrived, the test knit details did too and I knew what I was going to do with it.

Cascade 220

The designer is Thea Colman of BabyCocktails. Thea designed the Golden Vintage cardigan I finished a few months ago and we first had contact when I discovered a small numerical error in the pattern and wrote to her to ask for advice/support. After that, Thea thought perhaps I might be a good candidate for her test knitter team and I said sure!

And here we are.

What I can tell you is that the pattern is a cardigan called Shiraz (so fitting for a winter knit for me, no?) and there’s an hourglassish theme happening in some of the details. It’s pretty, but ultimately a very good go-everywhere kind of cardigan pattern, I think. It’s top down, and after the fine gauge of Coraline, I have to say I’m thinking this’ll be a doddle, time-wise. If Coraline was a six-week knit, on 3.5mm needles, then I think a worsted weight top down is gonna fly by.

Not that it’s a race. This is a test knit after all. I’m helping get something ready for eventual release as a pattern for sale. It’s got to be right. But if I get excited and race through it, that’s a good thing for me isn’t it? A new winter weight cardigan in winter!

So all of this is by way of saying that I’m really interested in what this test knitting process is like and I’ve read and thought about it, mulling over the intricacies of pattern development, and I hope to share them as I go in what will hopefully be an illuminating way!

In the meantime, I’m curious to hear what you think are the things to be mindful of when test knitting. I found that once I started thinking about it, the issues were a little more complex than I first thought.

Stay tuned. I’m off to knit a square.


ps I had the pleasure of submitting a guest post here. English blogger Rachel Cotterill has gone to Iceland and she wanted guest posters to keep her blog ticking over for the month. Long time readers might recognise the post as it’s an old one I recycled. I thought it was a good chance to give an old favourite post a new audience.


19 thoughts on “Shiraz. A Test Knit

  1. Pingback: So about that testing knitting…. « Bellsknits

  2. Have fun with the test knitting! I was so grateful that a friend of mine test knit some of my designs. I hope to return the favour at some point.

    I look forward to seeing the results

  3. Oh that’s so cool, Bells!

    As someone who’s designed patterns of my own a fair bit (but never had the luxury of test knitters), I’d want to know were the instructions clear enough, were all the numbers accurate, was any instruction missed out or difficult to grasp, and did anything else come to mind that I should have included (like size variations, design variations, extra details etc).

    I look forward to seeing how the final design comes out, when the time is right 😀

  4. Hi there! Thanks for your very honest and interesting post on Rachel’s blog which I’ve just read. I couldn’t help but think you’d really enjoy the book I’m reading right now – ‘The Gifted Adult’ by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen. =)

    I understand what you mean about things feeling overwhelming under certain circumstances. There are some things I wonder if I’ll ever do again, but I think perhaps I will one day. Depends…!!=)

    I’ve been interested in writing since I was a child too and have had mutiple goes at writing stories, but I think I may have more success with non-fiction – I can get passionate enough about something I know well enough to want to write a book to help others that I may even finish it.=)

    Keep up the good work. Greetings from Taiwan.

  5. I like the new blog template!

    I’ve not been a test knitter before, but to me, test knitting seems to be about the numbers and letters – that the numbers are right and the instructions make sense.

    Am looking forward to hearing about your experience as a test knitter.

  6. Love the new template, and loved your guest blog on Rachel Cotterill. I’m surprised that we don’t recognise each other from our ANU days. I did an English minor when you must have been there…

  7. Interesting project! I think MadMad’s right and it depends if the designer has specific questions, but otherwise I think it’s a matter of making sure the pattern is clear and understandable while also proofing for typo-style mistakes. I’d think you’d be great at both of those tasks!

  8. I like the clean new template. (I’m a fan of minimal design). I don’t think I am a good enough knitter to be a test knitter. Not that I can’t knit a beautiful piece, I know I can. I just don’t think I have the technical skills to spot errors or problems, which I think is supposed to be part of the process. I’ll be interested to watch you go through this and hear your thoughts on the process. (and the color is beautiful)

  9. I have test knit a few things and I love it. Keeping things secret until the designer is ready to release the pattern is fun, but hard!
    The color you are using is fabulous. I might have to go to my lys and get some (after I deplete more of my stash)

  10. A new template! Test knitting! Very busy days! I will be so interested to hear what you think of test-knitting, and how it differs from regular knitting – does the designer have specific questions she wants answered, or is it more of a “knit this and tell me what you think/see if you can find any mistakes/clarity issues” kind of thing? Can’t wait to read about it and see your sweater in that pretty blue!

  11. All those exciting things going on – thanks to knitting and blogging online community – good to see you getting a bit back since yuou’ve given so much to’s very well deserved..

  12. what fun to get stuck into a brand new project, sounds like a lovely design. i await progresss with baited breath …

  13. I love the idea of being a test knitter and I’m interested to hear your perspective on the experience. I’m such a slow knitter that I think I’d only be good for baby patterns – but there’s something mysterious and detetctive like about the whole experience of trying something new, suggesting edits and creating at the same time! Have fun!

  14. heh, the new template was the first thing I noticed too!

    I love that colour too, just fabulous! And I am just a little bit in love with c220, you can’t go wrong with it!

    I’m excited to see this new project and read about the process of test-knitting. For what its worth, I think the purpose of the test knit is to knit the pattern exactly as specified by the designer, to pick up any errors and to make relevant suggestions to the designer about possible changes or improvements to the pattern.

    Good luck!

  15. mmmm mallard. so glad its being put to use now, and for a worthwhile cause. it will be very exciting to discover this new design as you do, and to hear about your adventures in test knitting, and then to know you have contributed so the rest of us can knit it safely! and is this a new blog template i see? lots of experimentation going on here today.

    have i mentioned how totally amazing that colour is?

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