Submission: Christmas Ornaments to Creative Knitting, and a Kerfuffle

A couple o’ weeks ago, I submitted a proposal to Creative Knitting magazine for their 60+ Christmas Knit Ornaments issue that’s scheduled for publication in August 2015.

That’s not a magazine I normally buy, mostly because I’m never excited enough about a design to give an issue shelf space in my collection.

Although if that were a strict rule, I would cancel my subscription to Vogue Knitting.

These sweaters are so sedate, VK had to shoot them on city streets just to give them life.

But as I’ve said before, I don’t have to love a magazine to design for it. And this special issue sounded interesting (in spite of all the exclamation points in their call for submissions).

There was, however, a kerfuffle in the Ravelry Designers forum about this call because Creative Knitting buys all rights, meaning they own the pattern forever and you won’t get the rights back after a year or two so you can sell it yourself, which is fairly standard in the industry. Some designers also thought that the pay range of $35–$75 per ornament (depending on complexity) was rather low, especially in light of the unfair rights situation.

Oh brother.

First*, even if you did get the rights back, there are so many free and adorable ornament patterns out there, you would have to be the Yarn Harlot or Jared Flood to get any money for yours.

See? Cute and free.

And unless you’re the Yarn Harlot or Jared Flood, you probably wouldn’t be able to charge more than $1.00 for the pattern. And unless you’re the Yarn Harlot or Jared Flood^, you would be lucky to find 35 people to buy it.

So after you deduct all the fees to Ravelry and PayPal, you won’t even have enough money to buy yourself a small bottle of Crown Royal.

Only on the rocks.

One designer commented on the low compensation, and the editor who had posted the call said it’s because ‘on small items, there is less time spent on creating/designing/pattern writing compared to designing a garment, and only one size is required which means grading the pattern (i.e., doing brain-frying maths for all the sizes) isn’t necessary.’

Well, yes and no. It’s true that grading a pattern requires a lot more time and effort, which takes a lot of time and is therefore worth a lot more money, but writing a pattern for a small item is the same amount of trouble whether it’s a hat, a shawl, or a Christmas ornament—especially if the item has shaping or uses multiple colors or needs to be charted, which are all pretty much givens for an ornament—and Creative Knitting probably pays a lot more money for a hat.

Another complaint was about their contract procedures, but this post is getting too long (and possibly boring for my non-knitting readers), so I won’t go into it except to say that it does kind of suck, but Creative Knitting has been publishing 4–5 magazines a year since 2007, so everyone should stop acting like you have to promise your first-born to them.

So, after two weeks of ignoring daily reminders fired at me by my online calendar, I ignored the good opinions of other knitters, and through the magic of editing, turned some rejected lavender sachets into colorful Christmas ornaments and submitted them in the nick of time.

The way I see it, Creative Knitting needs 60+ patterns for this issue, so I have a decent chance of being accepted, made even better by the fact that at least three designers have no intention of submitting their ideas to these lowballing, rights-hoarding, secretive dirtbags who are going to send them free yarn and a check for the full amount; professionally photograph their ornament; and then publish it in an international magazine.

Pretty much the only thing no one complained about is that they don’t let you know if you’ve been rejected. The way it works is that if you don’t hear from them after 45 days, you just assume they don’t want your pattern.

That sucks.

Plus, I like that they’re calling it a Christmas issue rather than a Holiday issue.

*There is no second.

^And if you’re the Yarn Harlot or Jared Flood, you probably didn’t even read this call for submissions (or this blog post).

Knitty’s pay range is $75–$100 per item and your pattern is available to everyone in the world—including those Russian websites that have no respect for intellectual property—for free until the end of time. And I bet most of those complainers have responded to every single one of their calls for submission with nary a whimper about rights or compensation.

To Ponder: If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise. |-Anais Nin-|


Knit WIP: Inspira Cowl

Yes, I should be working on The Sweater.

Yes, I should be knitting inventory to sell at the farmer’s market.

Yes, I should be creating new designs to self-publish or submit to magazines.

Yes, I should be getting my yarn stash under control.

But all of those shoulds are boring and they would take time away from my new obsession: binge-watching CSI and knitting an Inspira Cowl.

Truly one of a kind.

I favorited this free pattern on Ravelry a while back, but didn’t have the right yarn for it. Given the size of my stash, you might think I was pulling your leg, but this pattern calls for—and needs—a gradient yarn, and I tend to favor solid colors.

I love multi-colored yarns in the skein, but I they never live up to their promise when knitted, so I just stay away from them.

And then fabric.com had a serious sale on the very yarn Inspira calls for—Lion Brand Amazing—and I spent an entire morning looking at projects on Ravelry, assessing and comparing the various color combinations other knitters had used, adding skeins to my cart until I had enough to get free shipping and knit a few Inspiras.

For my first cowl, I chose the Mesa and Arcadia colorways.

They look more complementary in person.

The whole thing is staggered bands of corrugated ribbing, knitting two stitches with one color and purling two with the other. The cool thing about this cowl, and what keeps you knitting for, say, five consecutive hours on a Friday night, is watching the color changes and seeing how they work together in each band.

And you can’t judge the whole by the parts, or I would have frogged it after that rasta band showed up.

You just have to keep on knitting, which helps you deal with all the story lines they never tie up on CSI.

To Ponder: We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about. |-Charles Kingsley-|


Adios #23 Sleeveless Top

After three false starts and 35 hours of working round after round after ever-lovin’ round of stockinette on the sleeveless top that led me to discover a wine glass that holds an entire bottle of Pinot Noir—the top that was about 90% done and around which I had created an entire outfit to wear to my volunteer shift at the library—it took only nine minutes to frog the whole thing straight onto my ball winder.

Like it never existed.

Here’s what I would like to say happened: I’m on a strict yarn diet and cannot bring any more yarn into my house for any reason (not even if WEBS has a two-month-long anniversary sale, which they did, and I resisted, but just barely), but I’m working on a new design that requires yarn I don’t have in my stash (I know, I can’t believe it either), so I made the sacrifice and reclaimed the yarn so I wouldn’t have to buy more.

Here’s what really happened: With 1/4 of the yoke to go, I ran out of yarn.

I didn’t even take a picture of how far I’d gotten, because why take a picture of something that’s 90% finished on Thursday when I can take a picture of it 100% finished on Friday?

I also expunged the project record from Ravelry. There’s a “Frogged” status you can use, but what’s the point? As a mocking reminder of my inability to calculate yardage?

For me, if it’s not a WIP or an FO, it’s gone.


p.s. Not only do I still listen to CDs, I have a cassette player.

p.p.s. I love that one of the South African national news sites has a section devoted to Horses.


Master Knitter

There’s an organization called The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) that…well, I’m not really sure what they do. They don’t say exactly what they’re about on their home page, so I assume that they assume that you know what brought you there. Clearly it’s focused on knitting, and there are conferences and “correspondence courses,” but, oh wait, if you click the Join Today button, you see:

TKGA, with over* 10,000 members, is the largest knitting association in America and a starting point for knitters searching for new ideas, products, markets, patterns and fellow knitters who share the excitement of knitting.

*Should be more than 10,000 members because 10,000 is a countable quantity.

So, TKGA was the original Ravelry, but they now seem irrelevant except for their Master Knitting Program:

The Master Hand Knitting Program was announced in the Fall 1987 issue of Cast On as a way for members of The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) to have their knitting evaluated using specific criteria and guidelines. It was designed as an educational process, not a competition or contest.

I think that experience and ability are more important than a “degree” in knitting, but I have thought about enrolling in this program because I like recognition of achievement. Wearing something I knit is recognition of achievement by my friends. Publishing a knitwear pattern is recognition of achievement by other knitters. And the designation of Master Knitter (by someone other than myself) would be recognition by everyone throughout the land.

Also, I like school. A lot. I also like homework. And knitting homework? It could be made better only by having Keanu Reeves as my model, mannequin, and idea bouncer-offer.

Keanu as Johnny Utah with the eff-bee-eye in Point Break.

Upon completion of the program, you’re given a lapel pin that you can wear to Wurstfest or bunco night, but let us consider this choice of lagniappe for a moment. Knitters put pins in their knitting only when blocking. I would have to be threatened with a clown coming to my house with a box of hungry moths to ever stick a pin in a sweater I spent months knitting, never mind getting it near something as delicate as a lace shawl. (Which might be why some of the knitters look a little distressed in the pictures of the pinning ceremony. Yes, there’s a ceremony.) A ceramic yarn ball bowl or rosewood needles engraved with the Master Knitter’s name and designation would be a more appropriate and usable commemoration.

There are three program levels, but the requirements are listed on the TKGA website only for the first level, which tests a knitter’s ability to:

  • Look critically at your own work – How will they know if I furrow my brow or squinch my mouth when I assess my scarf or mittens?
  • Research different techniques – Research makes me happy.
  • Accurately follow directions and patterns – So overrated, but I could do it.
  • Accurately measure gauge – Gauge is as mercurial as a Gemini, which means that the gauge I get when I measure at home will be completely different from the gauge the judge gets after the item has traveled to Zanesville, OH. We’ll both be accurate, but we won’t be the same.
  • Understand the importance of gauge – It’s more important to understand that gauge lies like a four-year-old.
  • Knit garter, rib, stockinette, seed, and reverse stockinette stitch patterns with even tension – I knit seed stitch for breakfast.
  • Space increases evenly – Ah, a math word problem: if you have 100 stitches and you want to increase to 110 stitches, how often do you increase one stitch to space them evenly? Answer: k5, (m1, k10) 9 times, m1, k5.
  • Mirror increases – M1R, M1L
  • Mirror decreases – SSK, K2tog
  • Make yarnovers – I.e., make intentional holes in your knitting. I can do that.
  • Knit simple cables – I could knit the Celtic braids from Ragna while shucking oysters if they wanted me to.
  • Change colors – What does this mean? Stripes? Stranded colorwork? Imitating the blueberry girl from Willie Wonka?
  • Weave in yarn tails properly – “Properly” means different things to different people. I tie knots in my knitting, which crosses the border into heretical and would probably get my stash confiscated and me booted out of the program.
  • Write a simple pattern – I have a portfolio of patterns, none of them simple, but they might be accepted.
  • Knit a simple hat in the round – I’m choking on the “simple” part, but I could do it.
  • Properly block swatches – Again that word “properly.”
  • Discuss blocking techniques and care of knitted items – “Hand wash in cold water. Lay flat to dry. Don’t loan it to your little sister.”

The thing about a program like this is that knitting has more opinions than a German sausage maker. There are as many people who say “always” as say “never” as say “it depends.” Where the TKGA judge comes down on a particular knitting topic brings subjectivity to something that needs objectivity.

Whether in knitting or in life, I would want to know more about the person judging me. How does she weave in her ends? Is her tension even? Does she always knit a gauge swatch? If she doesn’t get gauge, does she start her project anyway? Does she let her little sister borrow her sweaters and get them back with pins in them?

Still, I might sign up one of these days.

Put Keanu on notice.

Take 25% Off My Irene Adler Pillow 4/20/14–4/30/14

My surprise hit pattern, the Irene Adler Pillow, is 25% off through the end of the month. Regularly $3.99, the discount drops it to $2.99 when purchased through Ravelry. Enter code 221B25 at checkout.

Double-cross cables inspired by The Woman

Why this pattern at this moment? Someone posted about it in the 221B (Sherlock) group on Ravelry. That’s it.

Plus, unlike a wool sweater, you don’t have to wait for fall to enjoy it. Throw it on your bed when you’re done and it’s in use immediately.

How a Morning Gets Gone

Last Saturday, I read photographer Gale Zucker’s post on her clever, creative video for an Etsy shop that sells handknit Cowichan-type sweaters from vintage patterns.

That led me to the Etsy website for her customer, Camp Kitschy Knits. (I’m glad someone likes to knit intarsia.)

Which rekindled my interest in these graphic sweaters that were popularized by the Canadian yarn companies Mary Maxim and White Buffalo in the 50s and 60s.

Mary Maxim took liberties with motifs.

White Buffalo offered traditional motifs.

Which led me to poking around on Etsy for other Cowichan sweaters, the prices of which making me think I should just suck it up and knit my own. (They’re knit with bulky yarn on big needles, so the pain of intarsia wouldn’t last too long.)

Which made me sad that I sold my copy of Salish Indian Sweaters by Patricia Gibson Roberts. (I needed the money.)

Which made me look for the book on half.com, the prices of which making me wish I had gotten more for the copy I sold.

Then I wondered if any bloggers had documented the knitting of such a sweater, and I found this completely unhelpful post on eHow that not only doesn’t give yarn amounts or charts, it doesn’t even show a picture of a Cowichan sweater in the post.

Then I did a search on Pinterest and got overwhelmed by all the motif possibilities, so I tried to narrow down my own options on Ravelry, and came across one of my favorites knit by Grumperina.


Then I tried to find this particular buffalo pattern, but couldn’t, so I closed all my browswer tabs and made a ginger-blackberry-banana smoothie.

Do your mornings ever go this way?

Organizing 134 Knitting Magazines

A couple of years out of college and into my “career” in the 90s, I had lost interest in knitting, so (it still makes me queasy to think about this), I gave away all of the needles, magazines, and yarn I had accumulated since the early 80s.

And it wasn’t even to a knitting friend. I didn’t have any at the time. I threw everything into bags and dumped them at a thrift store. Yes, years’ worth of now-vintage Vogue Knitting.

When I picked up knitting again—on a trip to Monterrey, Mexico of all things—I had to rebuild my stash and library. And since I had money and an eBay account, it happened pretty quickly. According to my Ravelry library, I have 134 magazines, which seems like a low count compared to what I can see on my shelves.

Eventually there came a time that I needed to organize them, which was on January 6th, apparently, because that’s when Amazon says I bought eight of these magazine files—with two-day shipping because I was motivated. But the files have been sitting on the floor of my studio since January 8th because I’m not sure how to go about organizing them.

By publication, in issue order is the obvious answer, but that’s not how I like to use my magazines. Sometimes I’ll grab a bunch of fall and winter issues and look through the designs, or I’ll want to compare Vogue Knitting‘s spring designs with the spring designs of Interweave Knits. (I don’t know why; I just do.)

So, do I break them up into seasons? Or split them into two types: warm weather, which includes the spring and summer issues, and cold weather, which includes fall, winter, and holiday. How do I handle all the different publications I have? I own one or two copies of other magazines, like Knitscene, Knit Simple, Rowan, etc. Do they get their own magazine file or do I mix them in with the big ones? And what about all those kitschy vintage leaflets?

I also have to consider that I’ll have to put them back where they came from after I use them, so I need a system that allows me to do that easily or I won’t do it and I’ll be back to the same mess I have now.

I looked online to see what other people had done, but it appears that no one but me has this problem. I had a glimmer of hope when I found this post about organizing magazines by month, but these are for home arts magazines that offer seasonal ideas, so in that case, it would be helpful to have every July magazine filed together when it’s time to plan a picinic for the 4th.

After much thinking and mulling, considering and rejecting, and a glass or two of merlot, here’s how I finally decided to file them: by publication, in issue order. Yep, the obvious answer. It’s really the best way, because of how I use them most of the time. I’ll do a pattern search on Ravelry, looking for, say, pullovers with cables in worsted weight yarn, and choose the option to show me patterns in my library. So, chronological order is what’s going to work best when I go hunting for the magazine.

After purging almost every vintage leaflet and several of the magazines that I know I’ll never use, the onsie-twosies are lumped together in one magazine file. Rowan gets its own section because its size demands it. And Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits each have their own shelf.

On the bottom shelf, notice that Vogue Knitting changed from colored spines to white around the year 2007.

My Ravelry library is now accurate, reflecting 150 magazines. (I hadn’t added absolutely everything to the database, apparently.)

How do you organize your magazines?

A Knitted Poem

My BFF turned half a century old this month, and I wanted to do something special for her. I don’t have a lot of money, so I couldn’t subsribe her to a pickle-of-the-month club. She would have loved it, though. In college, whenever we stopped at a convenience store on a road trip, I bought a can of Tab and a yellow bag of peanut M&Ms, and she got a Diet Pepsi and a pickle. They would fish it out of a big barrel of pickles that had been sitting on the counter since before Texas joined the union.

I have a lot of yarn and a lot of patience, so I knitted a scarf for her. But not just any scarf. It’s a scarf of her life thus far. It’s based on the My Favourite Things infinity scarf. I included her name and date of birth, her kids’ names and nicknames, life themes, and inside jokes.


This took forever.

I charted or recharted everything in Excel, then knit from my charts. I started with the dice, which worked out to 92 stitches, then split each designed into two “sides” to fit 46 stitches. If I did this again, I would cast on a number that had more multiples to make designing easier. Pretty much nothing divides evenly into 46 or 92, and any border patterns I use were interrupted.

This scarf got heavy and unwieldy toward the end, and the final notebook paper motif was quite a bit tighter than the the first dice motif. If I made this scarf again, I would probably knit a few motifs at a time, then kitchener the sections together.

Because there are two distinct sides to this scarf, I decided not to join it into an infinity scarf. I did a three-needle bindoff at the ends and left it flat. It means that half the motifs are upside down when worn, but that would happen with an infinity scarf.

All yarn is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes worsted. Love this yarn. I make a lot of my designs in this yarn, so I have a bunch of colors. Sometimes it took me longer to choose the color combo than to knit the section.

The scarf would look better if I wet blocked it to even out the stitches, but I was afraid the colors would run and ruin it, which would be the end of me after all that work. So, I steam blocked it with my iron. It looks fine.

Ravelers can go to my project page to see more pictures and project details, including a list of the charts I used.

I mailed it in time for her to open it on the day of her birth, but thanks to the Polar Vortex of 2014, delivery was delayed and she didn’t get it until the next day.

She was gobsmacked.