How do I go about getting more knitting work?
May 25, 2009 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Seeking tips on finding more pattern testing and sample knitting opportunities (preferably compensated in money or goods).

I'm an experienced hand knitter. Currently, I occasionally test patterns/knit samples for an online yarn store, who gives me free yarn in return for my work. I will be reducing my work schedule soon at my job and will have more time to knit. Some of this time is going to be devoted to starting to design my own patterns, but I would love to get more testing and sample knitting jobs to either make a little money or to get free yarn/supplies to use while working on developing my own designs.
An unpaid gig would be worthwhile if it was for a magazine, book, or designer that would look especially good on my knitting "resume." Otherwise, I would really only be willing to do compensated work since I already have experience doing so.

Ravelry has given me some tips (which is where I found the business that I currently knit for sometimes), but I haven't come up with many ways other than knowing pattern designers personally or being a quasi-well known craft blogger/designer. I don't think the local yarn shops are seeking any testers because their samples all seem to come from the major yarn companies, not in-house knitters. (In case anyone was going to suggest any crochet-related advice, I can't crochet at all beyond trimming knits).

Does anyone have any tips for getting more opportunities in pattern testing and sample knitting?
posted by ishotjr to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
have you thought of attempting a masterpiece for show and then getting publicity that way. Your best personal effort will count more than a commissioned piece. Make for yourself, then let yourself make you money.
posted by parmanparman at 3:29 PM on May 25, 2009

Okay, this is going to sound really weird... but advertise to some of the fetish communities. I'm serious. I worked in a yarn shop for three years, and during that time I met two angora fetishists who paid us hundreds of dollars to have things knitted for them. I blogged about it, and some of my posts were then linked on a "fluffy" forum. (That's what the angora fetishists call themselves.) I've had several comments from people saying they wish they had someone to knit them angora sweaters too. (Examples: my first encounter, the second guy, more comments, etc.)

Less controversial advice: You should still give your details to your LYS, regardless of whether they knit their own test garments. They probably get customers all the time asking for stuff to be knitted. They may have knitters on the books, or they may be able to just refer people straight to you. You might also contact any film or theater groups in your area. They often need things knitted for costumes. (I know a couple people in Sydney who knit and crochet for Opera Australia, for example.)

Good luck!
posted by web-goddess at 5:55 PM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

You're looking for tech editing jobs, if you didn't know the term. I've tech edited a few books of knitting patterns, and other craft books. My contacts have been the managing editors or crafts editors at book companies or magazines. You could call the publishing companies and ask for the names of those editors, then e-mail them the usual resume, etc.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:00 PM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have done this work in crochet and in my experience, while some pattern testing includes some tech editing (like checking stitch count and gauge), pattern testing and tech editing are two very different things. The work I have done has been directly for the designers, who pay me in money, not goods. You can buy the supplies you want, you should be receiving money for this work--it's not easy and if you calculate it hourly, pays well below minimum. Though, as you said, it has other compensations.

You might also contact or join TKGA (The Knitting Guild of America). It is through their sister group, the CGOA, that I found much of the work I have gotten. Also, local guild chapters and online forums other than Ravelry (though Ravelry is a good one, too, of course).

I agree that you should contact publishers directly and if they are no help, ask if they'll pass your resume along to their knitting book writers--start with the publishers of the big name knit designers, Nicki Epstein, Melissa Leapman, Lily Chin, etc. You should know, though, that they often have favorite pattern testers that they use first, but they also need to keep a back up list, so you may have a shot there.

One other area to try would be contacting yarn companies directly. They often send samples for the yarn stores to use and might have a need for pattern testers, especially the larger companies that also offer pattern collections and free patterns on their websites, like Berocco and Lion Brand. Though I might want to start with higher-end yarns first...

Good luck!
posted by altobarb at 6:17 PM on May 25, 2009

If you're simply looking for a way to help support yourself while building your business, you might give Etsy a look. You might solicit commissions (which I would totally go for, once my mom is no longer able to knit for me), or try out your new patterns and potentially build a bit of a following and some supporters who might be able to help promote your business or render other types of assistance down the road.
posted by DrGail at 6:27 PM on May 25, 2009

I work at a yarn shop, and we always have four or five sample knitters that we can call when we need help. Many, many customers don't like to do their own finishing, and don't mind paying someone to do it. We also get commissions, where someone buys the pattern and the yarn but pays someone else to knit. Bring a few samples of your work when you go to the LYS, and let them know that you're available for commissions or for samples.
posted by OLechat at 4:38 AM on May 26, 2009

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