Are you dreaming of being a crochet or knitwear designer and having your patterns published in crochet or knitting magazines but you are not sure where to start and how the whole process works? Are you wondering where to even find open calls and what to include in your submission?
In this article, I am going to share what I have learnt when having my proposals accepted (and rejected!) and published in numerous crochet magazines and collaborating with yarn companies. If you are thinking of self-publishing your patterns as an independent designer, I will cover this in another article in the future.
So you enjoy crochet or knitting beyond the joy of buying yarn and following a pattern in a magazine. You often make additional changes to the patterns you are following and customise it with your own take on it. You have many design ideas that you would love to share with other crocheters or knitters and perhaps make some additional money in the process. Or you just want to share your creativity with others and yarn is your favourite medium to do just that.
Before we take a deep dive in the process, please consider whether you are happy with not only making the sample, but in many cases also creating accompanying documents, arranging technical editing, testing and/or taking pictures (all of which may take the same amount or more time than making of the actual sample). In some instances, believe me or not, you are not required to make the sample for the pattern but only provide pattern documents!
Therefore, if you think that you enjoy the process of crocheting or knitting but the idea of spending hours writing up the pattern, working out the math on spreadsheets, creating charts and schematics seems rather repelling, you may consider creating video tutorials or teaching instead. Alternatively, there are also options to use your talents and skills as a sample maker or test crocheter/ knitter.
So before getting into the nitty-gritty of the design submission process we need to look at several ways craft magazines work.
So you may ask, what is a submission call anyway?
A short definition of a submission call
Submission call is an announcement from a magazine or yarn company letting designers know that they are looking for design ideas for a particular magazine issue, special issue, collection or an article. These can be item specific, such as sweaters or accessories, or a bit of everything, so they may be looking for anything from blankets, through accessories, garments for adults and kids to home decor and amigurumi. These may be in a specific colour or colour combination/ theme, yarn type and weight, construction, season or for a special issue, such as for Christmas or Easter.
Different ways magazines and yarn companies announce their submission calls
Let’s start with the first step, which is looking for and finding open submission calls. Magazines and yarn companies don’t have uniform way to do that. Here are some of the ways they use to let designers know that they are looking for new design ideas for their future issues or collections:
- They can put out submission calls on their website or blog. Crochet Now and Happily Hooked Magazine (together with Pattern Pack Pro ) work in this way, as well as Knitty, Knotions, Pompom, Your Crochet and Knitting, Laine, Knit Now, and Making. It is worth bookmarking their websites and checking them periodically to make sure you don’t miss out on an opportunity.
- You can find open calls on Ravelry in Designers group. Some magazines and companies that post their calls on Ravelry are Interweave, I Like Crochet, I Like Kitting, We Crochet, Knit Picks, Hudson and West, Brooklyn Tweed and many other yarn companies.
- You can subscribe to submission call email list and you would periodically get information about submission calls directly to your inbox. You can sign up to be on the designer list either via a form on website/blog or contacting the editor directly. Magazines that have their own internal designer lists are: Inside Crochet, Simply Crochet, Pompom, I Like Crochet, Like Knitting, Vogue Knitting, Crochet World, Crochet!, Crochet Foundry, We Crochet, Amirisu.
- Some occasionally advertise their submission calls on social media, such as Instagram and these are Moorit, Happily Hooked Magazine, Brooklyn Tweed, and independent bloggers that are looking for host designers for their blogs (I will elaborate on this more at a later point).
- There are magazines, such as Yarnologie that do not have submission calls per se, but you can contact them directly with already published pattern to see whether they would like to have it in their issue.
- Others, such as Mollie Makes, Noro Magazine or Koel again don’t have specific calls but you can contact the editor and pitch an idea to them to see whether it would work for their future issues.
As you can see, some of the names are mentioned several times, which means that they use variety of ways to advertise their submission calls. If you are unsure about anything, it is always worth finding out who the editor in a particular magazine is and sending them an email to find out what the processes are.
Bear in mind, they are usually very busy and they may not reply immediately or sometimes not at all. It is not personal, however they receive dozens and dozens of emails ranging all kind of queries and issues so what you think is a burning question may not be their priority on that day.
What magazine to choose
The best way to find out whether you would like to submit to a particular magazine is to first have a look at some of their already published patterns or whole issues to see whether your personal style and what you like to design is a good fit for the magazine. You don’t necessarily have to go and buy issues of each magazine to find out their style.
In this day and age, most magazines and yarn companies publish pictures of their designs on social media, their websites, blogs and Ravelry, so you only need to “spend” some time looking through their past posts.
Equally, if you mostly design blankets, these would not be suitable for some magazines that focus on garments and accessories. Unless, of course you decide to widen your portfolio of designs and learn how to design these. If you are in any doubt, again, write an email to the editor confirming what kind of designs are they looking for in the current open call of the items are not specifically listed.
The same stands for techniques used. If you are really into mosaic crochet for example, it is worth double checking with the editor that they would consider this. It is no point of drawing up the perfect proposal and working an amazing swatch if this is not a technique they would consider publishing.
The next step is to carefully read through the terms and conditions of a call to make sure that you are happy with these and are entirely clear on what is expected of you as a designer.
Perparing design proposal for a submission call
So, you finally decided which magazine or yarn company you would like to submit your design ideas to. What is next? Well, it depends on whether this is an open submission call or not. When it comes to open submission calls, there is again wide range of ways magazines approach these. It is critical to read through a call several times so that you fully understand what is the editor looking for (ask me how I know!).
Some are very specific down to the fiber type, colours, and garment construction, for example they say they are looking for designs for summer lace tank top in red and cotton. They may give you a few pictures to go with it to show what they have in mind.
Others create mood boards with some garment inspiration, and colour palettes. In this case you can figure out from the mood board that they are most likely looking for chunky weight designs with cables in neutral colours if this is the overarching theme of the moodboard.
Some magazines create moodboards with artwork for inspiration; including colours and perhaps some textures and they let you use your imagination and creativity to come up with something that fits the story for their issue.
Some submission calls are very general and only state type of items they are looking for, for example winter hats, sweaters and shawls.
Others only give you a topic, for example architecture, lace or raglan sweaters.
Yarn companies usually speficially state which yarns from their range they would like you to use for that particular collection.
As you can see, even this process is not standardised and you can choose to prepare design proposals for magazines that have calls that work for your level of creativity. Again, as I mentioned above, if you are in doubt about anything, you can always contact the editor.
Submission calls always state where proposals need to be sent (snail mail is rarely if at all used these days), when it the deadline, what a specific design proposal needs to contain and what format it needs to be in.
Some magazines go as far as stating that if your proposal is not in a required format and content they would not consider the idea at all. They also state whether multiple proposals should be sent as one document, several documents or several individual emails. Please make sure that you are clear on all of this, so that you don’t get surprised on the day you are planning to submit wondering how to convert Word document to PDF or innundating the editor with multiple emails for the same call.
Another important information is about the level of compensation; this can be a range of how much they are offering to pay for a design and about the rights to your pattern. Some magazines buy the rights for several months, years or buy the rights to the pattern out right. This effectively means that you will not be able to sell your pattern on your own or distribute it in any way for a specific period of time or indefinitely.
Another important information in the call is whether the magazine provides you with yarn support. Some do and some don’t. If the magazine doesn’t provide yarn support, make sure that the compesation for the pattern is something you are happy with considering added expense for purchasing your own yarn.
Submission calls also often state when the final project deadline is, and you need to consider this in case you have multiple submissions accepted as you wouldn’t want to damage your reputation for not being able to meet your commitments because you overbooked yourself with too many commissions.
Some editors are happy to work with you and move deadlines in case you have multiple designs accepted for their issue(s). But more on this a bit later when we will talk about what to do after your design idea have been accepted.
The last but not least is the information stating whether you will be expected to make a sample to go along with the design documents. Believe it or not, but some yarn companies and magazines have their own sample crocheters/ knitters that also test crochet/knit for the company, so the yarn you would receive if for you to keep for making your own sample.
If you are residing in a country outside of where the magazine is based, you need to take into consideration whether you will be able to make the sample and ship it out for it to be received by the deadline. International shipping can get pricey, so another consideration need to be made whether the compensation is worth it.
I hope the information so far answered some of your questions about finding and preparing design submissions for submission calls.
If you are interested in what to include in your design proposal, keep your eyes peeled for par 2.
In the meantime, you can also explore other websites, blogs and podcasts that I found very useful on my journey:
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