This is the last part in a three-part blog series on test knitting. Check out parts 1 and 2 below.
Part 1: How Do You Become a Test Knitter? (June 22, 2018)
Part 2: 5 Top Tips for Test Knitters (July 27, 2018)
Part 3: Interview with Tineke of Yarnpond (this post)
Today I'm chatting with Tineke Corin, the creator and founder behind Yarnpond. Yarnpond was launched in June 2018, and it brings together knit and crochet pattern designers with test knitters and crocheters. The aim of the site is to provide knit and crochet pattern designers better tools to manage their pattern testing process. Me: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your crafting background? Tineke: I've always been a crafter: as a kid I did a lot of embroidery, sewing, and a little bit of knitting. My mum knit quite a lot but I mostly sewed, and stayed a very keen sewist into my teens and twenties. Then I lived in London for a few years and didn't really have the space for a sewing machine. This was the early 2000s and the knitting revival was kicking off, so I picked up some needles and yarn, and took advantage of all the information that was flooding the internet at that time. Knitting quickly took over as my main craft — I could take it on the bus or the tube, and it didn't take up a lot of space in my small apartment.
Me: How did you come up with the idea for Yarnpond? Tineke: In 2016 I built Kniterator, an online pattern generator for top-down raglans. I needed a few test knitters to test the patterns it generated, and found the test knitting process so frustrating! Finding testers was a challenge in itself: the threads I posted in the Ravelry testing group quickly disappeared because of the volume of activity in there. I ended up managing the process in multiple places — on Ravelry, on Facebook, and by email. And I didn't like the feeling that I was nagging my testers through the test period. I felt like an all-in-one platform could really help streamline the process and ease some of those pain points — and in the long run save the designer some of their precious time. I discussed it with some designers and ran a survey, and I got a really positive response to the idea. Me: What benefits does Yarnpond offer to designers? Tineke: For new designers, one of the most important benefits is having access to a big pool of eager test knitters/crocheters. Finding testers, when you're not already a well-known designer, can be one of the most difficult steps. If you're a designer who already has a pool of great testers, you can import their email addresses into Yarnpond and start managing your pool from within the system. Once you've found your testers, Yarnpond formalizes the process: it guides both the designer and the testers through the steps. You can see all the applicants for your test (including the ratings they've received from other designers) so when you come to select testers you have some background about them to guide your decisions. Once the test is running you have a dedicated chat room that is exclusive to that test, and accessible only by the designer and the selected testers. If you like, you can define "milestones" in the testing process so that your testers can mark off their progress and you know exactly how far each tester has gotten. Yarnpond will send email reminders to testers if a milestone or deadline goes by without them marking it off — you don’t need to nag them yourself! At the end of the test, the tester uploads a photo of their finished object and you can have them fill in a feedback form (that you can set up yourself). After a tester has provided the photo and feedback they can give the designer a rating. As a designer you can also rate and keep notes about the testers in your pool so you can remember who has done a great job for you in the past.
Me: What benefits does Yarnpond offer to knitters and crocheters? Tineke: For knitters and crocheters who love to do pattern tests, Yarnpond is a great way to find new tests that need doing. You can find your favorite designers and join their testing pools, and discover new designers who you'd like to test for as well. As you participate in tests and build up your rating, it should open up more test opportunities for you. The whole pattern test process is based on trust: the designer trusts that a tester won't sign up for something that they don't intend to deliver, and the tester trusts that the designer is going to take their feedback on board, and provide them whatever reward or compensation they promised for doing the test. My hope is that Yarnpond provides a way to build trust from both sides of the process.
Me: What is next in store for Yarnpond? Where do you see the platform going in the future? Tineke: I have so many ideas for the platform! In the near future I want to add an option for designers and dyers to advertise paid test knitting and sample knitting opportunities, so for a tester who builds up a good reputation it could open up a path to paid knitting jobs. Yarnpond could also be a good place for hosting KALs and CALs, especially for cases where you want to see evidence of an FO in order to put participants in the draw for a prize. To the base test knitting process I'd like to add document management so you can host your pattern PDF on the site and the testers would receive a notification if the designer uploads an updated version. I'd also like to make the tester pool management more powerful, with the ability to split your pool of testers into different groups (for example for having a priority list, or for splitting the pool into a knit group and a crochet group). There are definitely more ideas than there are hours in the day to implement them!
Thank you so much for the interview, Tineke! It was really informative and inspirational.
Want to hear more about Yarnpond? Check out Episode 3 of the Mythical Makers podcast: Interview with Tineke Corin of YarnPond.
If you're on the fence about signing up for Yarnpond — don't be! The site is free to join, and it's free to use for knitters and crocheters. (Running a test as a designer will cost $5 per test.)
To celebrate Yarnpond's launch this summer, they're having a great launch giveaway to everyone who joins the site before the end of August 2018. There are lots of prizes: project bags, patterns, yarn... check out all the prizes here at Yarnpond.
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