Eighty Stitches of Nothing. Yet.

[Not a valid template]Sketches and swatches

Design images float free

Leaving me at sea.

My head and my sketch pad are positively volcanic explosions of ideas! I can’t show any of them as it wouldn’t be proper etiquette, according to the considered opinion of other knitwear designers. What I can do is speak in general terms about the submission process and – at least for me – the difficulty of translating visual ingenuity into a workable written pattern.

Most publications want 3 things: a sketch, a swatch, and a story describing the design and why someone would be compelled to knit or crochet your creation. Sounds simple enough, right? Yes and no. If you think the 15 days between the time the request for submissions is announced and the day the design is due is just about sketching and swatching, you’re in for a rude awakening.

Test swatches also require you to figure out the placement and rate of increases and decreases. Easy enough if your fabric is straight stocking or garter stitch. Oh, you’ve designed a beautiful 16-row, 20-stitch lace repeat into your garment? Your design life just became substantially more complicated unless you can easily answer the question of how you plan on incorporating increases in pattern, as well as matching any construction requirements of the garment to the stitch pattern.

This is why it’s wise to plan a two-pronged attack when it comes to submission deadlines. Why? Suppose your design is selected. Congratulations! You’ll have to make up a sample for the publisher using your pattern. Oh, you don’t have a pattern? If you’ve successfully sold your vision without at least the shell of a pattern and copious notes to back it up, you may have just stalled out your budding career as a designer. The publisher is counting on you and you’ve just put them – and yourself – behind schedule. No one wants to scramble at the last minute because you failed to plan appropriately.

You have a few of choices if this is your first time shopping this design around:

  • Ratchet back some of the fantastic design features, especially if you need to create unusual fabric patterning from scratch.
  • Give yourself time to the let the design (and your skills) mature so that you might come closer to matching your unique vision to a workable reality.
  • Work off your own timeline and go the self-publishing route.

I’ve done a half-dozen or so patterns so I have a small taste of the difficulty inherent to creating repeatable, consistent instructions. However, as much as I wish it were so, design for professional submission requires more than pretty pictures. It also requires dedication, skill, and vision. It wouldn’t hurt to grow a thick skin to bear up under inevitable rejection, either. Despite all of this, I knit and crochet on. Hopeful.

How do you manage to meet the demands of the design process? Perhaps I’ve overlooked something. I’d be grateful if you’re willing to share your insight.

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