About Submission Calls
The idea for this post came a few months ago. Originally, the intention was to go through this topic in a podcast, but we've yet to sit down and record our first episode. (The day will come, I promise.)
We got the idea from knitwear designer Sari Nordlund's podcast. Sari, whose designs you've seen on our pages as well, contemplated how knitwear publications choose the patterns, and how it feels when your design isn't chosen. This is an important topic that got us thinking about our processes. That's why we'd like to tell you how the submission process goes here at Laine.
I don't know about other publications, but we're approached by around two hundred designers per each submission call. Many designers send us more than one design, so we go through about 300 ideas each time. That's what we've been doing this week when we chose the patterns for our issue 7, which will be released in February. However, we got so many beautiful suggestions that we ended up choosing nearly all of the patterns for all three 2019 issues.
For each submission call we put up a mood board, which gives a sense of the colours and mood we're going for. The designers then create patterns inspired by the mood board. Want to hear a hot tip? A well-presented, coherent and beautiful PDF file gets our attention better than a hand drawn picture on a graph paper. Because the number of submissions is so big, it's only natural that a submission containing pictures of swatches, a detailed description of the techniques used and some ideas about yarn choices will have a greater chance to get chosen. We do – of course – carefully go through each and every submission, but we get the best overall idea from the most detailed pattern suggestions. If something leaves us wondering or we'd like to know more, we'll send the designer an email asking to give us more details. This time around, for instance, we asked many to send us a picture of the pattern repeat or of the colourwork chart.
This being said, there will still be dozens of these detailed, well-presented submissions – well over a hundred this time – so ultimately, it's the content that counts. We take great care in making sure each issue is versatile, featuring sweaters, cardigans, scarves and other accessories, as well as showcasing both complicated, intriguing patterns and more straightforward designs. Getting chosen, then, results from a combination of things. And on the other hand, not being chosen doesn't mean that your design wouldn't be good enough – on the contrary! There were again plenty of great alternatives that we were heartbroken to let go. It all comes down to which patterns best fit the overall vision. We always choose a greater number of sweaters and cardigans than we do socks, for instance, so you could say that those have a higher chance of being chosen. Then again, we don't get as many submissions with sock patterns, so if you're a passionate sock designer, don't hesitate to send us your design next time round. (Another hot tip!)
We always choose the designs according to our own preferences (so far as they fit the above guidelines). We don't, however, feel like our opinion is the ultimate truth, and that's why we don't feel that comfortable giving the designers specific feedback on how to change or improve their designs. There are as many tastes as there are knitters, and it's impossible to appeal to everyone. But we always send a message to everyone – no matter if the submission was chosen or not – so you aren't left guessing. We'd love to be able to offer longer responses but there are only two of us taking part in this process. We work long hours and receive hundreds, probably thousands of emails each month. If the situation ever changes, we'll do our best to offer more precise feedback if it is called for.
And what happens with the chosen designs? We go carefully through every aspect, have a look at the yarn choices and colours and discuss the best ease (in our humble opinion) for the design. Sometimes we ask the designer to make minor changes to the design or suggest different colours, depending on the location and time of year of the photo shoot as well as the overall colour scheme of the issue. We might suggest a little more positive ease for the garment, or ask whether the seamless construction could be replaced with a 3-needle bind off for the shoulders, which gives a better structure particularly for a garment made with superwash yarn. Overall you could say that we tend to go for looser, more relaxed garments and rustic yarns – even though there's certainly a place for drapey wool-silk blends and fluffy mohair knits. It all comes down to what kinds of feelings and thoughts the design evokes in us and whether we can see ourselves or our friends wearing it. We also know that each knitter is able to see beyond our colour choices if they aren't as keen on our beloved greys as we are. ;-)
Our heartfelt thanks to all the designers who have sent their designs for us, and also to each and every one of you knitters. Nothing makes us happier than to see our magazine come to life on your needles!