Testing times at the Woolly Alliance (Part 2)

Disclaimer: some of the links in this blog post will bring you to the right page only if you’re already logged in to your Ravelry account. If you don’t have one, have a look at the end of this post for more information


(Continued from previous post:  And how can I do this…..the power of the internet but mostly, the power of …

Ravelry’s facility of allowing designers to produce and sell downloadable patterns via their marketplace has opened up many opportunities which in the past has made self-publication for ‘small fish’ impossible.  Printing costs and restrictions are removed completely, allowing the designer  to provide as much information to the customer as they choose.  This information can include charts, diagrams, sketches and tutorial links to the web or your own blog. In addition, with an increasing number of people accessing from a tablet, iPad or laptop, the knitter also has the option of working directly from their screen or to print the pattern (or specific pages), at home. Brilliant!

Random brain activity

With our combined experience in retail, teaching workshops and knitting, Aurelie and I feel strongly that any pattern we publish, should be clear and well written. And, until recently, we relied only on each other for help, advice, checking and technical editing.  (Due to my random brain activity, this involves a lot more work for Aurelie, than it does for myself!!)


'Jewel' ©mswannie

‘Jewel’ ©mswannie

And so the story unfolds…I first dipped my toe into the testing arena after meeting many lovely knitters during the making of Aurelie’s blanket. First on board was Margaret (mswannie) who has become slightly obsessed with my Wee Black Faced Sheep. (Margaret, I do hope you don’t mind me telling everyone?) I think Margaret has made 10 now – almost a whole flock!)


Ramsay MacSporran©mswannie


In December 2013, while participating in the Indie Designers Group Gift-a-long,  I met Jeanc, an enthusiastic toy knitter from Australia, both ladies agreed to test knit RudolphRamdeer who was due for release. They were fantastic pattern testers and clicked away in the background ensuring a successful publication.                                                                                                                                      [Since then, along with my old school chum Gillian (gillianmlee),  Margaret has also tested, the rather tricky, Ramsay MacSporran]

Words of Wisdom

When March 2014 came along, Aurelie suggested a new ravelry adventure (My dear friend overflows with good ideas which she often has to repeat several times before I actually listen….sorry Aurelie x).



For Aurelie this adventure was the Testing Pool group and her lovely cloche hat Apolline and for myself it was the Free Pattern Testers group and my latest release, Trio of Shadow Pillows.

Trio of Shadow Knit Pillows

Trio of Shadow Knit Pillows


Incase you are wondering how the testing groups work, here is a brief synopsis of the process:

1. The designer posts pictures and information about the project that requires testing. This information includes the desired amount of testers, an overview of techniques, deadlines, yarn, etc.

2. Testing group members look through the deigns on offer, choose a design they would like to test and ask the designer if there are any free slots.

3. The designers notifies the testers whom he/she would like to join the test and off we go!  Testers and designer can then chat amongst each other on the relevant thread, providing  feedback, progress photos, advice, etc.

The outcome of this adventure was that we were both pretty blown away! It has been  fantastic fun. And, with publication we have had the added security of knowing that all instructions, diagrams and charts have been checked and knitted numerous times by different knitters with differing skill levels. Testers gave great feedback, suggestions and tips. And, all this hard work was done ‘for the love of knitting’!

[An official Auld Woolly Alliance thank you now follows: gillianmlee, jeanc, mswannie, petried, kristysnowedin, strickleserl, wizard, hreow, knithemiptera, Heidi197, Christine07, MissOrangina, janefrogged, theobald, Carriegoon….your skills were much appreciated and we hope we can work with you all again soon.]

By testing through ravelry an independent designer can take time to produce work that is from the heart. Unspoiled by print restrictions, cost restrictions, unrealistic deadlines and design briefs. It gives us the opportunity to design whatever we want. Now that is something!

I continue to wish there were 48 hours in a day and 120 minutes in an hour as my head has too many ideas for my brain and hands to handle. But I now look forward in 2014 knowing I can develop design ideas and projects (no matter how ridiculous) without any restrictions. As Mel Gibson would say………I have FREEDOM!!!


*About Ravelry: Ravelry is the social network for knitters / crocheters / fibre artists from all over the world. It is a fantastic tool to browse for patterns or yarn, organise your projects, drool over other people’s project, dream about what you’re going to knit / crochet / create next, share knowledge (or just chat) with thousands of other crafters who have the same interest in knitting, crocheting or crafting. Joining Ravelry is free, and it’s a wonderful place.


This entry was posted in Child, Christmas, Design, Festive, Knitting, Scotland, Toddler, Toy, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Testing times at the Woolly Alliance (Part 2)

  1. thecrazysheeplady says:


  2. Gillian says:

    Testing for you and Aurelie is a delight. Love your designs, your patterns , your enthusiasm, helpfulness and good humour xx

    • whippety says:

      Ditto Gillian! It has been so nice chatting with you again after many years of little contact. Who would have thought that it would be knitting that would rekindle our friendship x

    • spinnygonzalez says:

      Thank you Gillian! I certainly look forward to meeting you in person soon. xx

  3. Margaret says:

    That was an excellent article ( and I am obsessed….)

  4. spinnygonzalez says:

    You are so right. Freedom is the key. And all the lovely knitters who are kind enough to test for us are not only helping us in producing error-free designs, they are also giving us some invaluable feedback, and reassurance, and confidence that we are doing the right thing by designing what we like, outwith the boundaries of briefs, restrictions, etc.

    And you know, your “random brain” works quite well in my opinion, and produces very clever and fun designs! I am with you on the request for more hours in the day, though…

  5. LQM says:

    I am lucky enough to have one of Margaret’s/Mswannie’s Sheep – called Bertram! He is gorgeous! And muchly prized ☺ 😀

    • whippety says:

      Oh, lucky you!
      My own poor wee sheep spends much time in my wool drawer, only coming out on occasion for a modelling shoot.

      • Margaret says:

        Freedom for Sheep! He is too cute to be stuck in a drawer….

      • spinnygonzalez says:

        And mine has been “borrowed” by the Little Man and is currently buried under the cushions on the sofa, squeezed between Teddy, your own Scotty Dog, a giraffe, two monkeys, and your James the Galway Sheep. Your creations are definitely much loved in our home!

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