WIPs 'N Chains

Kim Guzman, Crochet and Knit Design

Designing

On my former blog, I discussed many things about designing which I wanted to salvage here. In addition, I recently did a Google search to find as many submission guidelines as I could with regard to crochet publications. These are out-of-date, of course. But, they should give you an idea of what to look for, and where to look.

Crochet World magazine:
http://www.crochet-world.com/designer_guidelines.php

Crochet! magazine:
http://www.crochetmagazine.com/designer_guidelines.php

Maggie’s Crochet:
http://www.maggiescrochet.com/page.html?id=7

Interweave Crochet:
http://www.interweavecrochet.com/submission.asp

Crafts ‘n Things:
http://www.craftsnthings.com/Guidelines.aspx

Leisure Arts:
http://leisurearts.com/CustomerService/FAQ.aspx

DRG publications in general
http://fiberartcalls.blogspot.com/2007/11/drg-crochet-publications.html

Coats & Clark:
http://fiberartcalls.blogspot.com/2008/10/deadline-ongoing-coats-clark-design.html

Just a mad jumble:
http://fiberartcalls.blogspot.com/search/label/Crochet

Some of them may not be completely current but perhaps accurate enough to get you going.

And, recently, I discovered this page on Mary Nolfi’s site:

http://crochetasylum.com/cart/page.html?chapter=0&id=10

The following are duplicates of entries of interest in my former blog.

Originally posted on August 29, 2005:

When I design something, I usually try to crochet the entire thing.  I know that it’s probably easier to send in a swatch of the design.  But, honestly, I can’t come up with a border to an afghan without having the entire thing in front of me!  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I’ve done it a couple of times, but I’m really not good at it.

So, I’m still working on the sky blue baby afghan I started last week.  It’s about half there.  I took a three-day break to work on something else.  I needed to test a pattern before sending in the final version.  Now, that’s done and I can start working on the afghan again.

I thought I would tell you about some of my experiences.  These procedures may have changed.  But, this will give you an idea of what you might expect when submitting to companies.

I’ve sold a whopping three items to Leisure Arts.  I had just broken into the world of designing when they were only about a year away from discontinuing Crochet with Heart magazine.  So, I haven’t submitted much to them since.  But, although they’ve discontinued the magazine, I know that they still publish crochet patterns and I plan on submitting something to them in the near future.  Watch out, Leisure Arts!

So, I’ve sold the following to LA:  Thread Treeskirt, Picturesque Posies Afghan and a Black afghan with pastel flowers (no name as far as I know).

For the Thread Treeskirt, I submitted a completed item.  It was white.  I had carried gold metallic quilting thread with the crochet thread and used a gold ribbon for closure in the back and an accent around the edge.  Although it was very pretty, when the design was published, it had red ribbon and no gold quilting thread.  This was one of my first published designs.  I had no idea that the gold metallic thread would not show up in photography!

Lesson learned:  Even though your design is beautiful, always remember that it has to be photographed!  If the colors don’t show, it may not be accepted!  (I am currently re-stitching something in different colors for this very reason as well!)

Next, I sold an afghan to LA called Picturesque Posies.  Oh, it was gorgeous!  Absolutely stunning!   LA didn’t change anything.  They photographed it in the same colors I had chosen.  Since the time it was published in Crochet with Heart, it has also been published in one of their Year of Afghans books.

The last item was a floral as well.  There is no specific name for it.  I submitted it in a swatch.  This means that you do just a portion of the afghan; say about 12″ x 12″.  I did the afghan with a black outline and border and a lovely pink tangerine color flower.  Really pretty.  When it was published, it was a really beautiful black afghan with about three different colors of flowers strewn throughout.  Really, really pretty.

Now, in all three instances, my original work was returned to me.  (Not all publishers return your work to you.  Sometimes it is purchased along with your designing fee.)  So, I received the Treeskirt, Posies and black floral back (although, as I said, the black floral was just a swatch).

Leisure Arts purchased the designs outright.  This means I no longer hold the copyright.

In addition to the designing fee, I also received complimentary copies of the books/magazines/leaflets in which these items were published.  There was another benefit that I had no idea about, though.  When the Posies afghan was published again, in a later book, I received a copy of THAT book from LA as well.  (Yes, it felt like Christmas.)

Several years’ ago, when I was working with LA, I knew that they restitched EVERYTHING prior to publication.  They may choose the same colors you used; they may not.

I have never had any problems with LA and I highly recommend them for your design submissions!

I had thought this morning that I would write about different publishing company experiences.  But, as it turns out, this one took longer than I thought.  I will write about my experiences with another company later.  Stay tuned!

Originally posted on August 30, 2005:

After I made the entry last week about my son taking over ownership of my tape measure, I got to thinking about other tools important to me when designing.  Here is a list of my most important tools.

1)  Yarn, of course!  I’m a yarn person since I don’t really do much designing with thread.  I’ll take yarn of all different sizes.  I prefer cool colors; purples, blues, greens.  You can’t always design with only your favorite colors, but it really helps to have some around for inspiration.

2) Crochet hooks.  My favorites are Clover.  I have my crochet hooks in all different sizes.  I also have a full set of afghan hooks and double-end afghan hooks and even Easy Tunisian and MoEZ hooks.

3) Inspiration.  I usually browse through current women’s clothing catalogs and knitting magazines for inspiration.  I never know what exactly is inpiring me, whether the colors or the styles of clothing.  But, at some point, something starts forming in my mind.  Another BIG source of inspiration is books with different knitting stitch patterns.  I *love* looking at all the different variations in knit and the aran combinations are absolutely amazing!

4) MS Paint program.  I use this program to draw out the schematic for my garment.  If I’m making an afghan that needs pieces of a certain color put in certain places, I will use this program to draw it out.

5)  MS Word program.  I use MS Word to write out all my patterns.

6) Jasc Paint Shop Pro program.  I use this program to manipulate photos or graphs to place in my finished pattern.

7) MS Excel program.  I use this program to determine the number of rows and increases in my designs, especially when writing out patterns for sleeves.

8 ) Sometimes, I will use crochet designing software like FrauComp or Filet Designing software.  I am currently testing a demo for another crochet designing software.

9) To determine sizing, I have a grading book put out by Fashiondex.  It cost more than your average book, but it has more than made up for that cost in the many times I have used it.

10)  Tape Measure (!).  You really have to be careful about gauge when you’re a designer.  And, of course, you have to accurately measure afghans and other finished pieces when you’re writing out the pattern.

11) Yarn needles.  Sewing pieces together and weaving loose strands.

12) Scissors.  (No explanation necessary)

13) Optional.  Buttons.  It’s always nice to have some buttons lying around.  I like to buy them in sets of at least 4, but I prefer 6.

14) Optional.  Beads.  Just like buttons, it’s nice to have a selection of beads.  And, a good friend, Janet Rehfeldt, has a way to turn beads into shank buttons at Knitted Threads.

15)  Optional.  Elastic.  You may want to use elastic in places where gathers are needed.

Originally posted on August 31, 2005:

Imagine my surprise when I received a contract in the mail, my very first contract, and Annie’s Attic wanted to purchase all four of my thread treeskirt designs I had submitted to them!  It was my first submissions to Annie’s Attic.  I was jumping up and down all over the house.  It was so exciting!  I couldn’t believe it when my first submissions actually turned into a leaflet!  After the leaflet was published, I received the treeskirts back.  That was fun too!  And, then I proceeded to give them to my family members.  What an exciting Christmas gift to everyone!  A treeskirt AND the leaflet it was published in!

Being new, I didn’t know how to handle the next calls regarding the treeskirts.  With one of the treeskirts, I had included a stocking.  I was asked to design stockings to match the other treeskirts as well.  Designing “on demand” isn’t really my strong suit, I have to admit.  But, I did it!  So very exciting!  Next, I got another call.  “We used the angel treeskirt in another leaflet.  Can you make another treeskirt?”  I said “Sure!”  And, I proceeded to have a good friend restitch the angel treeskirt for me.  Of course, this wasn’t at ALL what they wanted!  They wanted another DESIGN!  LOL  So, that is when I designed the filet Silver Bells Treeskirt for the leaflet.  Boy, I was in heaven!

I had a few things published after that.  Clothing designs.  But, it wasn’t until when I went to a local trade show and Annie’s Attic had a look at my swatches for my Tunisian projects that I really felt like this is my career and not my hobby.  AA purchased 13 of my Tunisian afghan designs, to be placed in three different leaflets.  Of course, I had about two months to finish them all!  I had to send these out to some very talented friends to stitch the models for the photography.  This was all very hectic, what with getting the yarn to them and waiting for the models to come in.  But, oh, with each new afghan arriving in my home, I was thrilled!

For these Tunisian projects, AA purchased the afghans from me as well.  So, I didn’t get them back after publication.  Can you imagine?  If I had received those 13 afghans back, I would have been overloaded!  Yikes!

I’ve done so many projects for AA in the past 6 or 7 years that I can’t write about each and every one of them.  But, one story comes to mind that was pretty funny.  I was contacted by AA and asked whether I could make a pineapple thread bedspread.  It just so happened that I had just finished a pineapple square which I planned on using in an afghan design.  So, I said “Sure!”  Since I already had it basically designed, I stitched it in thread that same day and mailed it the next.  I COMPLETELY forgot that, if accepted, I would have to stitch a bedspread!  A project that big, I could never force on someone else.  I am thrilled to no end that I got the project, though.  I would NEVER have dreamed I would have done something like that.  And, I now have a beautiful family heirloom.  But, boy, it took me 5-1/2 months to stitch.  Whew!  (And, now you know why I don’t do much thread work.)

One year, I made a doily (from a Magic Crochet magazine, I believe) in sewing thread.  Yes, sewing thread.  What is that, a size 70?  Yikes!  It wasn’t as difficult as it sounds, though.  It was a pretty blue and I gave it as a gift to one of my mentors and my good friend, Brenda Stratton.  It was so dainty that it fit easily into a regular envelope for mailing!

All of my published designs can be seen in the Portfolio section of my website, if you would like to take a look.  I think one of my favorite designs is the Pinstripe Cro-Hook afghan.  The colors were absolutely stunning and the afghan turned out with the most beautiful drape and feel.  All of the Tunisian afghans were done with Red Heart Soft yarn.  And, I have just recently heard that this yarn has been brought back into circulation by Red Heart.  So exciting!  It had been my favorite yarn and I’ve been deprived of it for about two years.  But, it’s BACK!

Originally posted on January 6, 2006:

There was a time when I met with two people from Annie’s Attic and someone from Coats & Clark.  We sat at a large round table and I showed them some of the work I had been doing.  I had, hmmm probably about 50 different swatches and sketches to show.  Again, swatching is so easy and fun!  (Keep in mind that I had NEVER met these people before and was scared half out of my mind!)

The thing that really stood out the most was some Tunisian pieces I had.  I believe there were six of them.  I had taught myself to do Tunisian crochet, after learning cro-hooking first.  I tried many times to do the “purl” stitch.  I just didn’t think I was doing it correctly.  It was so awkward.  For those of you who know the purl stitch…you will understand.  So, I did it a little differently.  It looked great.  Just like a purl should look.  So, I used this stitch when designing these afghans.  I figured they were right and there you go.

Now, when the folks at Annie’s Attic and Coats & Clark saw them,  they were very excited and asked me how I had done it!   Wait a minute.  These folks had been doing this for years and years.  Surely they knew how to do the purl stitch, right?  OMG!  During the meeting, there I am.  What had I done?  How could I have done it WRONG??!!  Fortunately, I just sort of skimmed over HOW I had done it since I figured I had done it WAAAAYYYYYY wrong!

The moral of this story is that there is no WRONG!  I thought I had been doing a purl, but I had really been doing something else.  It took me weeks to find a book that held the stitch I had been using.  In that particular book, it is called a Reverse Afghan Stitch.  But, it was printed in 1904!  I couldn’t find the stitch anywhere else.  Angela Grabowski of Chez Crochet had also discovered the stitch (I later found out), but in the books she located, the stitch is considered to be a purl.  Whew!  I wasn’t that far off after all!

This stitch produced a really great dimensional project.  I’ve used it many, many times since I was able to sell those 13 afghans to Annie’s Attic based on those few swatches!  You can see it in use in my Reversible Scarf, Shades of Sage Afghan, Diagonal Ribbed Sweater, and Tunisian Throw Pillows.

You can also visit my Professional Portfolio pages to see the following designs which use this stitch:  A Dozen And One Tunisian Dishcloths, Baby Doll Tank Top, So Soft Vest, Pinstripe Afghan on the Double, Afghan Stitch Afghans, Tunisian Baby Afghans, Tunisian Sampler Afghan and Pinstripe Kitchen Set.

So, always remember.  You aren’t doing it WRONG!  It’s a unique design element that you haven’t decided what to name yet! 

Originally posted on June 30, 2006:

I was emailed this question by another potential designer this morning…

Why have I decided to self-publish?

There are actually several reasons.

First, I have four Tunisian crochet leaflets and waiting for a fifth published with Annie’s Attic.  Tunisian crochet patterns are difficult to find.  And, now that I designed the patterns and got the leaflets available, what happens?  After two years, most of them go out of print.  It’s just a matter of business.  A publisher can’t be expected to retain leaflets to sell indefinitely.  Some patterns will resurface in other publications, but others may not be available again.  So, there are some designs that I really want to be made available to people for as long as I can sell them.

Second, there are some patterns that require more instruction than the publishers are willing to give.  For instance, the Tunisian Cables afghan I just self-published through Lulu.  I wanted to have the regular written instructions and two pages of illustrated photos and instructions on making the cable.  When I sell a pattern to a publisher, I know that they have space constraints that I don’t have when self-publishing.

Another instance will be the next leaflet of men’s sweaters.  There is one sweater in the leaflet that is very easy, but the stitch repeat is so subtle that it’s difficult to find your place, especially with the sleeves, while increasing and color changing at the same time.  When writing the pattern, I will have a graph of the sleeve in all four sizes showing exactly where the stitches go and the color and increases.  It won’t be a fancy graph, but it was invaluable to me in stitching the sleeve for the model and will avoid a lot of frustration for the crocheter who purchases it as well.  This is something that could never be published in a traditional fashion because of space constraints.

Third, I want to teach some of the techniques.  Again, the Tunisian Cables afghan.  I would like to be able to teach this technique.  Since I’m self-publishing, I can print out this pattern myself and give it to my students without buying several copies of it because it is my copyright alone.

And, don’t get me wrong….I’m still selling my designs to publishers.  In the last two months, I’ve sold almost a dozen patterns and I’ve submitted half a dozen more.  So, I’m not using the self-publishing solely.  It is only those patterns that I believe would be more helpful to the crocheter if they are self-published.

There are other reasons as well.  Those are the top three for me.  Those other reasons are things like, well, The Crochet Dude is doing it.  Why can’t I?  And, hey, what if I can start my own publishing company and “Kimane” starts to get a name like “Annie”?  I would like to “leave something” to my kids.  And, I just wanted to have a real-life, hold-in-your-hand leaflet that I did all by myself.  When that leaflet comes in the mail to me in a couple of days, I can say “I did this!”  “I did it all by myself.”  And, by golly, I’m going to do it again!

12 thoughts on “Designing

  1. Thank you for putting this on here. I am just getting ready to send my first design. This has been so very helpful.

  2. I am very grateful for the info on submitting for publication. I have several original crochet patterns to put out there and need some guidance. Thank you.

  3. Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so, Excellent post!

  4. Hi Kim
    I was wondering what do you mean by self publishing? where did you find someone to help you self publish? I have the same feeling that i would like to preserve some of my patterns in a book…do I look online or do i look locally for someone?
    thanks for any helps
    sandy

    • Self-publishing is doing more of the work yourself than you would do if you were to sell your rights to a publisher. The easiest form of self-publishing is making e-books or PDFs. This is what I have done with my patterns available on my website. I write the patterns, photograph the projects, do the layout, while hiring someone else to draw my stitch diagrams and tech editing. Then I sell the downloaded product.

      You can also send your book to a company who puts together the books. I’ve not done that. But, I know some designers who do. Myra Wood taught a class at a CGOA conference teaching how to put together books in this manner since she has done the big books. She may still be teaching the class somewhere.

      There is also a very easy way to make books and that’s through Lulu.com You submit your material and once you have a sale, Lulu prints it for your customer. You are basically charged a book at a time. Or, you can purchase a lot yourself and distribute them yourself.

      There are so many different forms and methods to self-publishing. There are probably books on it available as well.

  5. Thanks Kim, your information about your experiences publishing your designs. I want to get started designing and I was wondering what to expect.

  6. This is not related to this topic but I couldn’t find any other place to get in touch, re this blog!
    The recipes section, up at the top, cannot be reached by mouse, getting anywhere near it only pulls up the Tunisian topic. (not that there is anything wrong with that, but I like to look at recipes! The HTML is overlapping??? or something…
    Marilyn Safier

    • See if it works for you now. I changed the name of this page to reduce its size. For me, they now fit cleanly across. But, this is a really big monitor and I’m not sure that it will automatically adjust for you. Let me know. :-)

  7. Found your site while searching for guidelines tonight. Thanks for all the information you are sharing!

    • They’re out-dated, of course. But, should give you a place to start. Also, be sure to look into the CGOA Mentor program. You can apply for it through CGOA and you’re assigned a designer/mentor, which will help quite a bit.

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