How to Submit a Pattern to a Publisher

How to Submit a Pattern to a Publisher: Tips for new and aspiring designers

I have had the good fortune to sit on both sides of the pattern submission table. As a pattern writer, I have published designs in various styles: self-publishing, print publishing, third party publishing and online publishing. I have had patterns both accepted and rejected in all formats! As an editorial assistant, I have reviewed submissions as a part of a team, and had the opportunity to see what those design submissions look like from an editor's perspective. I thought you might enjoy some tips I have gleaned from this experience. For a visual, I have provided a simple outline which I submitted to Rhythm of the Home Magazine for my most recently published pattern, the Christopher Robin Pullover:

How to Submit a Pattern to a Publisher
1) Read and submission guidelines and follow them. I know this seems obvious, but each publisher has their own style and requirements: contact info, submission preferences (print or digital), do they request a description, yarn suggestions, or inspiration? Please include all requested details. 

2) Keep it simple. One page is ideal. If you look at my outline above, you will see that I have a detailed description, mood board, yarn color and style, swatch, and model snapshot all on one page. If you want to sell your design idea to a busy editor who is going through 85 submissions, be sure they can "get" your vision in about 15 seconds. No need for folders, posterboard, excessive paper clips, extra pages of inspiration sources, or long essays. One Page. One publisher I freelance for keeps submissions organized in clear 9 x 12 ziptop bags. Anything larger than an 8 1/2 x 11 page does not fit easily into the bags is therefore awkward to manage.

3) Never underestimate the Swatch. This is key, perhaps one of the most important parts of your submission. Use a yarn that is ideal for your design, the correct gauge, weight, ply, fiber content, and color. I keep my leftover tidbits of yarn near the desk in my studio so I have good yarn on hand for swatching. It is very confusing to receive a submission for fingering-weight silk socks when the swatch is sport-weight shetland wool. Take time to make a nice swatch. A little tip: I like to attach the yarn label to my swatch with a little loop of yarn and use it as a tag, I include my name, email address, and the title of my submission and the publication I am submitting to. You can imagine how a swatch could get separated from the submission sheet and it is great to have identifying info on the swatch itself. Using the yarn label is helpful as it provides specific yarn info to the editors as they work out color stories, textures, yarn sourcing, etc.

4) Don't skimp your Sketch. Next to the swatch, this is also very important. Mind you, it does not need to be overly detailed or elaborate. Rather, it only needs to clearly demonstrate the style, silhouette, and construction of your submission. There are some great tools out there if you need help in this area, for example, Fashionary has some excellent fashion designer sketchbooks available for this purpose.

photo courtesy of Fashionary

5) A good idea answers the submission call. Perhaps this is overstating the obvious, but be sure that your design submission answers the submission call. If the publisher asks for a list of possible ideas, and one of them is fancy knee-high lace socks, don't overlook the obvious! Submit your interpretation of what they are asking for. A great idea may be rejected simply because it isn't a match for the editor's vision for that publication. Take the submission call as a jumping off point for your ideas and creativity.

I hope these tips are helpful to you... they are things I wish I knew when I started writing and submitting knitting patterns a few years ago. What would you add? Any other helpful tips for new and aspiring designers?


Christopher Robin Pullover

The Christopher Robin Pullover is my newest knitting pattern. 

Our fabulous photographer, Christa Tippmann, captured these wonderful photos of our youngest child last spring. I am especially enjoying all of the lovely and lively green, as our little neighborhood is presently blanketed in bright snow.

I used Amy Butler's Belle Organic Aran for this pattern, which is a lovely squishy cotton and wool blend. It knit up beautifully.

This pattern is the simplest kind of sweater I could think of: a front and a back, each "T" shaped, joined at the edges with single crochet. It is just one step up from knitting a dishcloth, so if you have always wanted to try knitting a sweater but have felt intimidated-- this is a great first sweater!

It is worked in a simple Quaker Ridging stitch pattern, which is very fun to do and adds a great texture and line to the sweater.

It has a nice large and open neckline so there is no worry about tugging too-tight-neck sweaters over large heads. That is very important when knitting for children!

I love that our preschooler is presently in love with "Winnimee The Pooh" as he calls our beloved Edward Bear. The boots, umbrella, and outdoor spring are a wonderful hint to the cherished adventured of Christopher Robin.

Happy Knitting!


Keeping a Design Notebook

I discovered this mew book, Knit Notes, at our local craft store a few weeks ago. It is a newly published title from Sixth and Spring books, and is changing my design work in wonderful ways. 

For a few months, I have tried designing directly on the computer, with zero success. I have finally accepted the fact that I am a messy scribbler; I love brainstorming, scratching, fiddling with numbers, and doodling on odd bits of paper, labels, and cardstock. I write most of my designs on battered index cards, and keep a large jar of yarn labels and swatches in my studio closet. 

I know. Sad, right?

Enter Knit Notes:
- a place to secure a swatch, yarn labels, and yarn
- detailed list prompts of yarn quantity, gauge, needle sizes, notions, and notes
- graph paper for sketching, grading, and sizing
- blank pages for pattern stitches, photos, and yes, doodling!

So instead of this, which is only nice if you are in a "rummage sale" kind of mood:

I now have this, which is lovely, and just "scrambly" enough to keep this scribbler organized:

This is a recent page, and includes yarn, a swatch, rough sketch, sizing ideas, and a few snippets from my mood board. It is for a brand new pattern that will be published next week, I can't wait to share it with you!


Fiber Fun Fest, a photo diary

Our 4-H Extension office plans an amazing Fiber Fair each year out at the county fairgrounds. It is a wonderful event for children and adults to learn new crafts, visit with other artisans, and purchase yarn, kits, patterns, fiber, and fabric. A variety of classes on knitting, crochet, weaving, sewing and dyeing are offered throughout the day. It is our daughter's favorite day of the year!

Yo-yo Necklace class

Sheep shearing

Cricket Looms set up in the classroom

Spinners from our local guild

I came home with some beautiful merino from the Milkweed Designs booth. I can't wait to take it "out for a spin" this week!


Facing my UFOs (UnFinished Objects)

Inspired by Anne's "Finish Fifty" project over at Flax and Twine, I decided to take some time to be honest with myself about the status of my ufos. I knew it was time- that I had hit a saturation point. The thought of buying yarn, starting a new pattern, reading a new magazine... it just made me feel weary, and I knew it was time to do some inner knitterly housekeeping. Here is a dossier of what I found, with Ravelry links:

3. Atlier
6. Mystery Lace Pattern wip?

I need a plan. My husband asked me if I could just only work on these until they are all done, but I don't know... I have three contracted designs in the pipeline, and they are due before I could ever possibly finish all of these projects. So I decided to take a "two steps forward, one step back" approach. Before I cast on one new project, I need to finish two existing projects. I think that is reasonable, and a good motivation to move some of these sleepers along. My hope is that by the end of winter, I will have half a dozen or so wrapped up, and renew that knitterly spring in my step!