Heaven knows I have more than my share of bad hair days...welcome my newest solution, Damsel! I've been busy getting some things completed to prep for download. I've worked this slouchy Aran hat design in a few different yarns now - currently I'm finishing up my final test #3. I like to do multiple test knits myself for a number of reasons. The first being my scratch draft, where I of course anticipate some typos and errors in calculation, etc. (I have my quirky little ways, but they work for me.) This gives me the ability to compare gauge and specific likes/dislikes and rework to my satisfaction, not only on paper, but as a physical piece. It never hurts to see it for yourself. Working a few of the same pattern may seem tedious, but it's a great way to educate yourself about the different properties of individual fibers while working out all the kinks for the final copy...not to mention you get a variety pack of hats to pick from when all is said and done! Oh yeah, that's a plus!

So here are some of my findings amongst the 3.  Test #1 was worked in the lovely tosh dk and probably my favorite, but a bit on the pricey side for my frugal ways. (This one was shown in a previous post as Ireland.) Fantastic stitch definition, glorious coloring and spot on elasticity. A fabulous fiber choice for all noggin covers...I'll definitely use this again when finances permit. Test #2 was knit in black using Caron SS. I added some length to the body and lessened the stitch count a tad. (more slouch suits this style) I use this yarn for pretty much everything...it's very soft and versatile for an acrylic, but the down side in this situation is the lack of springiness. It's very minimal in comparison to any wool blend. It's usable, but not my first choice for this project - mainly because the ribbing suffers here and blocking is useless. I need to trust that my hat's going to stay on my head. Using an even smaller rib needle than the pattern calls for helps a little, but the longevity is questionable. You could opt to strand with some elastic thread, but why hassle when it's less troublesome to just use a resilient fiber. Lastly there's my bold & cheerful Test #3, currently being stitched up in Malabrigo remnants...a spectacular yarn for everything under the sun, this being no exception. Third time is a charm...luscious color, superb elasticity, and a real joy to work with! Softy surprise! I used this yarn for my Buttercup Scarflet and thought it would be a great to have a hat to pair it with, so I gave it a go. I'm especially crazy about the thick & thin variations of this worsted yarn and how it flatters the cable stitch pattern. This is perfect hat yarn! Love it, love it, LOVE IT! Hats off to you Malabrigo! ;) Hehe! I need to hit up my LYS and test out some of your sock yarn that I've heard wonderful things about. 

Granted, on a larger scale such as a pullover, working multiple projects isn't a realistic approach. This is a circumstance where I would invest in professional size grading, tech editing and pattern testing. Don't get me wrong, I think free patterns should be combed over just as, if not more thoroughly as a sale pattern, but for freebies it isn't always cost effective to do so. This is a big reason why I release patterns at a snail's pace. Quality control...I know I'd kick myself if I was pushing things out when they weren't yet ready. Opinions differ here, but I think free has many advantages. As an independent designer or pattern writer your audience is generally few. By offering a free sample of your work you're inviting folks to get a feel for how you format, style, write, edit, etc. You may feel you're being short-changed by giving away your hard work, but essentially you're advertising yourself to new audiences that otherwise may very well turn away at an unknown. Giving your free patterns nothing short of your best effort is important...display yourself proudly! Feedback is a priceless tool and a personal favorite of mine as well, especially when it's shared with others. The old "try before you buy" is a wonderful way to help build a name for yourself while at the same time learning, improving and giving would be buyers a chance to sample your goods. I'm a huge supporter of the freebie! Just a few of my many thoughts...yap yap yap, I've got work to do!