Submission: Sweaters to Interweave Knits

Yesterday was the deadline for Interweave Knits Winter 2016 issue.

From the call for submissions:

For the Winter issue, we want to see traditional, iconic sweaters. That is the theme. Give us your best Arans, Fair Isle pullovers, ganseys, Nordic ski sweaters, Icelandic yokes, Bohus yokes, and more.

I’ve been hankering for a big colorwork design, so I started a new one from scratch. I had the idea for an Icelandic pullover, but it turned into a Norwegian sort of design, which I then rolled back over to Icelandic.

I was specifically designing the lopapeysa style of Icelandic sweater, which has long jaggedy graphics in the yoke. The Norwegian graphics are smaller and tighter, and tend toward snowflake-type motifs.

How about a picture?

Worth 1,000 words.

My design uses three colors, sometimes in the same row, which, I tell you, was quite the challenge until I got the hang of it. It wasn’t the knitting so much as the stranding, and just to make sure I could do it, I knit a full-size yoke.

Wrong side showing some decent stranding, if I do say so.

Interweave Knits has changed their submission process, having you email a proposal with photos rather than the actual swatch, which has sent this procrastinator over the moon.

So, I submitted my Icelandic sweater.

And then I did something really dumb gutsy and submitted The Sweater. (Knitscene didn’t want it.)

I’m not sure I want IK to accept both sweaters* as I would have to finish designing and then knit two major projects on deadline.

*Just kidding. Of course I want to have two designs in the same issue of Interweave Knits. Please send up good thoughts and prayers.

To Ponder: We all start off looking for love, attention…to achieve in music, make a contribution, make a million bucks. These are all great and honorable things. They’re great. But while you’re working for them, you have to set your own goals to work your ass off. All the time. Every time. |-David Lee Roth-|

Diamond Dave workin’ it.



Submission: The Sweater to Knitscene

No, The Sweater isn’t finished, but it’s close enough to make me confident that I can finish it for Knitscene if they want it.

This is for their Winter 2015 issue, and their call had a very simple description:

That first nip of cold weather is a signal to knitters everywhere to break out the woolens and warm layers. We’re seeking submissions for our Winter Essentials collection—perfect items to knit for women and men that play on the traditional winter wardrobe staples. Use texture, color, and clever twists on basic silhouettes in must-knit garment and accessory designs.

There’s no specific colorwork or cable or style icon story, so it seems like anything goes.

Knitscene is part of Interweave Press, so they want you to send an actual knitted swatch via snail mail. I thought I was going to submit something else, but that didn’t come together in time, which means that by the time I decided to submit The Sweater, it was almost the last minute.

My sweater is probably a wee bit advanced for Knitscene’s target knitters, which are beginner to intermediate, but they’ve published a few challenging patterns:

Skill builders.                                                                                                |Photos (c)Knitscene|

If you must know, I almost didn’t submit this sweater for the silliest reason. If they accept your proposal, they keep the swatch, presumably to compare it to your finished item to make sure you didn’t pull a switcheroo. I had knit a serious swatch for this sweater, and, well, I wanted to keep it.*

A new take on a traditional staple.

But Knitscene can’t accept what I don’t send, so I packaged it up and mailed it off.

*I told you it was a silly reason.

To Ponder: A successful individual typically sets his next goal somewhat but not too much above his last achievement. |-Kurt Lewin-|

Inspired to Knit: Simple Shawls

The other day at the farmer’s market, a woman who came up to my stand was wearing one of my knitted scarves. She had bought it last year and was looking for something similar. “I just love it,” she said. “I wear it all the time.”

When someone gives me a compliment like that, I think I should be knitting more of whatever it is that earned it. I didn’t recognize it, though, because she had it tucked into her jacket. She took it off to show me, and I was surprised for the second time by that little thing.

It was a prototype shawlette I had knit up to propose to Knit Picks for one of their calls for submission. It had an architectural stair-step design in both the pattern stitch:

and the construction:

And I had knit it in KP’s Comfy Fingering, a cotton/acrylic blend, in Blackberry.

Sounds cool, right?

But Knit Picks didn’t think so, and the design eventually became my Fallingwater Scarf.

I do love fringe.

So, getting back to the surprises. Last year was the first time I had a stand at the farmer’s market, and the prototype thing got scooped up with all the fully formed hats, fingerless mitts, and scarves I could affix a pricetag to.

This beloved scarf wasn’t even a finished object as far as I was concerned. The yarn was too drapey for the sharp angles of the construction, and it wasn’t a full-sized anything. I had stopped knitting when I understood the pattern enough to propose it to KP, so it was really just a big swatch.

The first surprise was that someone bought it, and the second was to hear that the buyer loved it so much she wanted another one.

Now, do you think I came home and started knitting one?


I got a hankering to knit a shawl for myself, even though I never wear them. I also don’t enjoy knitting them because they’re usually made with laceweight or cobweb weight yarn on needles the girth of bicycle spokes, and have intricate lace designs that are easy to mess up. They have their own subset of knitting techniques, like nupps and garter tab cast-on, advise you to “block aggressively,” and have instructions like this:

540 stitches! 11 times!

Granted, not all shawls are lace, and some are knit on reasonably sized needles. Por ejemplo:

Not a yarn-over in sight.

1. Eyre of Romance Jane Shawl by Kay Meadors

2. #13 Ruffled Edge Wrap by Lisa Daehlin

3. Twisted Edge Shawlette by Cayenne DaBell

4. Citron by Hilary Smith Callis, which is what I cast on.

201 stitches on the needles.

To Ponder: Who begins too much accomplishes little. |-German Proverb-|

Two Black Fridays

No, not marathon shopping among crowds of bargain hunters under torturous conditions. I haven’t done that since I wore makeup every day and drove a Mercedes.

A shiny money pit.

I’m talking about rejections.

Last Friday, I received back the swatch for my kerchief thing I submitted to Interweave Knits for their Summer 2015 issue. This thing is so cute, with its bobbles and eyelet details, I thought for sure they would want it.

This was a lot of work.

My second rejection came from Knit Picks. I had submitted two cabled items for their Fall 2015 call for submissions—a cabled capelet and The Sweater.

I knit up a swatch for the capelet, which turned out beautiful and interesting if I do say, and submitted a PDF to them.

The main cable.

I debated whether to submit The Sweater because the pattern deadline was pretty quick and this design is taking for-e-vah and if Knit Picks accepted the capelet I would have two complex cabled patterns due at the same time. But I’m close to done with it, and I figured I could jam on the pattern if I had to, so I submitted it the day of the deadline. I didn’t have time to create a schematic, so I skipped it, hoping they would love the design so much they wouldn’t even notice.

The Friday before last, I got two rejections in a single email.

On the bright side:

  • I can submit the kerchief thing somewhere else.
  • I can sell the little kerchief swatch at the farmer’s market to a little flower child.
  • I can reuse the cables for the capelet on another design.

To Ponder: Anti-social behaviour is a trait of intelligence in a world full of conformists. |Nikola Tesla|

Submission: Kerchief to Interweave Knits

I dashed off another submission this week. This one to Interweave Knits for their Summer 2015 issue.

Magazines published by Interweave Press (Interweave Knits, Knitscene, knit.wear) use the same old-school submission form. You print it out, then hand write your proposal, including any schematics or sketches. Sounds easy enough, right? But look at how much room you have to tell them everything they need to know.

I’m getting good at writing small.

There’s space for four proposed items on the sheet, so you have to be concise. I’ve learned to type out everything first, then copy the info to the form. Still, I usually write all the way across the page, trespassing into one of the other proposal blocks.

It’s hard to describe this item I’m submitting. It’s part kerchief and part something else, so I knit up a mini version of what I’m proposing to help them envision and fall in love with it. I did more work on this swatch than I normally do, and I’m glad I did. I was able to work out some decrease issues that would have baffled me in a few weeks if the editor accepts it.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought of a good name for it, but it happened in the middle of the night. Whether I dreamt it or I came up with it during one of the squillion times I wake up to my mind skimming across the lake of my life, the name was perfect. I don’t, however, recall what it was.

It had something to do with Greek mythology and started with a C, but now, in the bright light of a late summer day, I can think of only two names.

One is Cassandra, who was fated by Apollo to prophesy the truth but no one would believe her (and was also the name of a character in later seasons of the X-Files who suffered the same fate), but even if I were dreaming, I wouldn’t have thought Cassandra was the perfect name for a kerchief.

The second is Cassiopeia, but I wouldn’t inflict five syllables on any knitter.

The constellation.

I even keep a pencil and paper on my nightstand to write down these brilliant nighttime cerebrations, but never pick them up because I always believe my ideas to be so sterling, there’s no chance I’ll forget them.

So, I did what I usually do, which is turn to the thesaurus. I quickly came up with Kermis Kerchief (I do adore alliteration), then packaged up the proposal and popped it over to the post office.

And, dang it, I didn’t take a picture of it. The design was rather involved, so I know I’m going to be sorry—unless I knit another one right away. Do you think I will?

I should hear yay or nay from Interweave Knits in a month or so. Please send up prayers and good thoughts that it’s a yay, okay?

To Ponder: A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. |Winston Churchill|

Submission: Petal Tank to knit.wear

A fairly new magazine called knit.wear put out a call for submissions for their Spring/Summer 2015 issue. This is the sister magazine to Interweave Knits and Knitscene, and while it premiered only three years ago, it acts more like the serious, sophisticated elder sister who’s recently returned from boarding school than the ecstatic baby of the family.

The garments in the first issue struck me as classic and sedate, and just this side of boring. The styling of the items and the starkness of the photos may have contributed to my opinion, but there were a few drapey, shapeless sweaters and more than one asymmetrical cardigan, so I didn’t have many good reasons to subscribe.

Designs for pale, skinny girls.

I kept watching it, hoping that like Verena, it would get better, but I never fell in love with it. I favorited a couple of things in more recent issues, but not enough to justify giving the magazine some shelf space on my magazine bookcase.

Fortunately, feelings and subscriptions are irrelevant when you’re submitting.

I saw this call very close to the deadline and had only the weekend to come up with something, so I combined two rejects: the stitch pattern for a hat that a book didn’t want and the tank top shape I developed for the Adelante Tank. Then I knit up a swatch in some light pink cotton yarn, named it Petal Tank, wrote a proposal for their Ribs & Welts story, then mailed everything to Colorado.

My dislike of cotton yarn has been chomping my hind end lately, and all I had was some ‘I Love this Cotton’ yarn from Hobby Lobby. It’s a nice enough yarn and the swatch looks good, but I’m a little embarrassed to propose it to a national magazine. It’s not a cheap yarn, but it has a cheap reputation (which is not helped by its name).

I’m hoping the editor of knit.wear will be able to ignore the yarn and focus on the design, and then suggest a better yarn when she accepts it.

I think I’m finally done with submissions for a little while and I can get back to designing The Sweater.

To Ponder: Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating. |Simone Weil|

Submission and Rejection: Tee to Knit Picks

Here’s another there-and-gone design I didn’t blog about in real time: a t-shirt I submitted to Knit Picks for their Spring 2015 Garment Collection. Their mood board included a bunch of striped, shapeless, lacey beach-type wear in boring color combinations.

Texas beaches are too hot for sweaters.

But their color board had hints of excitement.

Actual color.

I don’t like stripes and I don’t like shapeless and I don’t like lace, so I already had a hat trick of strikes against me. But I do love a challenge, so I went to my stitch dictionaries and found a lace design that I could tolerate liked (only because it was a combination of two patterns, one of which was a solid band of ribbing).

I should know by now that Knit Picks almost never publishes garments in exciting colors. The mix of beige, cream, and grey represented by the color putty is what they prefer. (The color equivalent of George Michael’s girlfriend Ann on Arrested Development.) Nevertheless, I decided on Clementine and Cosmopolitan.

The first swatch I knit didn’t look like the picture in the book, and I had knit a couple of the lace sections, so I knew it wasn’t me. So after I held my mouth a certain way, I finally figured out that there were two rows missing in the published stitch pattern. (Sheesh!) So I knit a new swatch with the two rows and everything looked good. I also changed the ribbing a little while I was at it.

I first had the idea to submit an oversized tunic with 3/4 sleeves, alternating the colors of the lace and ribbing to make it striped. I even went so far as to create a schematic.

This took forever to create in Paint.

But I don’t like 3/4 sleeves. Plus, in the time it took to knit an oversized sweater in a sport weight yarn, little Prince George would be enthroned. But if I went with a heavier weight yarn to make it go faster, lace or no lace, the whole thing would weigh too much. Plus, knitting something that heavy in cotton, yoga or no yoga, would kill my hands and shoulders.

So I decided to submit a semi-fitted t-shirt instead. (There was one on their mood board, so I wasn’t completely going free range.) I created another schematic, without the color this time, wrote up the proposal, photographed the swatch, named it Padre Island Tee, and submitted it three weeks before the deadline.

A week after the deadline, Knit Picks sent me a very short email.

On the bright side:

  • I have another pattern to self-publish.
  • Knit Picks will probably accept it for their Independent Designer Program, and
  • they’ll send me free yarn with which to knit it.

Submission and Rejection: Tank Top for Knitscene

I’ve been making so many submissions lately, I don’t think I blogged about a cabled tank top I submitted in May to Knitscene for their Spring 2015 issue. One of the stories in their call for submissions was for big, drapey cables. Not my favorite type of cable, but I’m not one to pass up a chance for fame and glory, so I went into my briar patch of stitch dictionaries and found one with an unusual construction.

I swatched it up using yarn left over from the hat Interweave Knits is going to publish in their Winter 2014 issue, wrote up the proposal, named it Adelante, and mailed it to them. (I make it sound like all that happened in about five minutes, but it took a few hours over a few days). Knitscene notifies in 2–4 weeks for an acceptance, which comes via email, and 4–6 weeks for a rejection, which is your original swatch in the mail.

After six weeks, I still hadn’t heard from them, and I was hoping they were behind with acceptances because they were dealing with the tumult of moving offices, but apparently they were behind with rejections because yesterday, the postman delivered my swatch.

Here’s a glimpse of the cable.

A nice drapey cable.

In the meantime, I was avoiding working on my cabled sweater design so sure that Knitscene would want it, I knit up a prototype in the only other DK weight yarn I had enough of, which was some Knit Picks CotLin, a 70/30 cotton/linen blend in a beautiful dark teal color called Planetarium.

I washed and dried the tank top like you’re supposed to because linen softens the more you launder it, and this is what was waiting in my lint trap.

Half my tank top and all the color.

The tank looks like I wore it while swimmming in the Gulf of Mexico every day for the past three summers.

On the bright side:

  • My dryer works.
  • The tank did get softer.
  • I have new beachwear.

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.

The Thing About Ideas

A few weeks ago, when I finished up the pattern for my hat for Knitscene, I told myself that I wasn’t going to work on any submissions to publications for a while. I wanted to focus on my own patterns, which, ha, are my patterns regardless of who I design them for, but my reasoning was that I didn’t want to be constrained by someone else’s creativity. I wanted to embark rather than respond.

So I took the first step toward a thousand on my Aran sweater journey.

But I keep getting a notification from my online calendar [Mozilla’s Sunbird, which I love, but it looks like they’ve taken to calling it Lightning (sic)] that the deadline for submission for Knitscene’s Spring 2015 issue is coming up May 2nd. (And it’s actually a little before that because I have to USPS mail the swatch and proposal, and Knitscene isn’t clear about whether it needs to arrive by the due date or just wear the postmark.)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll get to it.

I hadn’t intended to submit anything because a) as stated, I’m done with submissions for a while, and b) spring and summer (and most of fall and some of winter) in south Texas are hotter’n the devil’s barbeque grill (ha, I just made that up), which doesn’t inspire me. Typically, these warm-weather designs are either lace, which all looks the same to me; or knit at a small gauge, which is fun only if you’re machine knitting; or made from cotton, which kills my hands to knit. So, I knit and design cold-weather items in wool at a reasonable gauge year-round.

I could have dismissed the notification and never seen it again, but I kept snoozing it for one day, and another day, and one more day, and after about a week, after I still hadn’t dismissed it already, I figured I better do something about it.

One of the “stories” for this issue is drapey cables.

I like my hair, not my clothes, to look like this.

Not my favorite kind of cable, but at least it’s a cable, and at least Knitscene gave designers a more concrete directive than “going seamless” to work toward. It’s hard to succeed with something like that because it’s open to interpretation. I mean, a swatch is seamless, but a publication would report you to the knitting police for submitting such a non-design. Oh, wait….

I also looked at other spring issues of the magazine and saw that they allowed wool garments, so at the end of the day, I skipped finishing Ken Kesey’s earthly delight of a novel Sometimes a Great Notion, and let my bedstand light shine on a couple of stitch dictionaries. I found one I liked, drapey, but not too, then went to sleep.

I woke up with an idea starting to form, so I began swatching. I thought it would be a quick swatch, which is ridonculous and I need to stop thinking that anything having to do with designing is quick, because the cable kept talking to me, as cables do, telling me what it wanted to be, and it was something much richer and complex than I thought I had stuck my fork in.

I ripped and reknit four times, which isn’t all that much compared to other ideas that haven’t known what they wanted to be and we had to figure it out together. After six hours or so, the cable was happy and I was happy.

Knitscene wants only a swatch and a sketch with your proposal, which makes for a quick submission, but I don’t like submitting ideas. I’ve seen too many of them do a 180 to entirely trust them. Usually the new direction the idea takes is better, bionic even, which is one of the great things about any right-brain endeavor, but when a publication buys your idea, you pretty much have to produce what you said you would.

An ambigram, not a 180, but you get the idea.

I much prefer submitting something I’ve already knit up because by then, all the things that make you want to forget about designing knitwear and get a job at a truck stop little challenges that come up with a design have been handled, but because I snoozed that alarm so many times and because I’m more than a few steps into my Aran sweater design and because I’m a slow knitter and designer, I have to either submit an idea or not submit anything at all. And even though not submitting was the idea I started with, that too has done a 180.

That’s the thing about ideas.