Creating a knitting magazine isn't just about finding great designs and taking pictures of them. This series takes you behind the scenes from mood board to publication. You can find all the posts in this series, here.  

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In the last post, we talked about creating the mood board to go along with our calls for submissions. We give designers approximately a month to get back to us. We try to schedule submissions to be due at a time that is not completely bonkers. Ideally, we want to review new submissions during the lull when designers are knitting patterns for the upcoming edition.

We don't start looking at submissions until the deadline has passed at which point I take all the PDFs people have sent in, and put them together into PDFs of around 40 submissions each. Every submission gets a unique ID number, for ease of tracking.

organizing submissions in indesign
Compiling PDFs in InDesign.
This is Sandi Rosner's submission for Sanderling

Our review team is generally about 5-6 people. We create a spreadsheet with every submission, listed by ID number and the team goes in and marks the submissions they like most, any thoughts they have about what makes the proposal special and any questions they might have for the designer.

We use Google Docs to track and discuss submissions.
Color coding helps us visually narrow the list

During this time, the team is careful to consider whether the designs they like are seasonally appropriate, likely to sell well, suitable for a wide range of body sizes, and sufficiently different from other designs we have to offer. It's not uncommon for us to absolutely love a design but be unable to take it because it closely resembles something scheduled to be published in the next edition. Great minds think alike, right?

From this spreadsheet, Kate assembles the "short list." The short list can be just a few more projects than needed to fill an edition or be half the submissions we receive. There is no set number for the first round on the short list. Items that really catch our attention land on the short list by merit of being fantastic, alone.

Based on the mood board, Kate divides up her kitchen wall into her mood board themes, or sometimes into color stories. She prints out the short list and starts assembling projects by theme and style. We try to come at the process as methodically as we can. Do we have enough great socks to do an entire sock shoot? How about shawls? Do we have a nice variety of construction methods, stitch patterns and styles or are we seeing a lot of the same thing?

This is a really challenging part of the process. The success of the edition hinges on choosing about 35 projects from several hundred, and making sure we don't overlook something great just because a person's drawing skills may not be top notch. Inevitably, we have to cut items from the list that we love, simply because we can't publish everything.

But eventually we do narrow the list down and we spend a couple days contacting everyone who was kind enough to send us a submission. I have to admit, I'm always sad to have to send people email telling them they weren't accepted. I hate rejections as much as the next person. It's always a little thrill to me when we are able to accept a design from someone whose submissions we've had to decline in the past.

choosing yarns
Kate's kitchen: submissions on the wall and color cards everywhere

The final step in the submissions process is yarn assignment.

As part of our submission requirements, we ask people to describe the characteristics of the yarn they want to use. Many people will provide a list of recommended yarns which helps as well. We work with yarn companies who help support the magazine, and we're lucky that the companies that do so, offer such a wide variety of gorgeous options. We try to assign hand dyers first, to socks, shawls and other garments that look good in hand dyed yarns, then we move on to the rest of the garments, being careful to find the best yarn in the color most suited to both the garment and the shoot we intend to put the garment in.

choosing yarns
More spreadsheets! This one for assigning yarn and tracking shipments

Assigning yarn can sometimes feel like an IQ test. One yarn might be perfect for two different projects, so which one gets the yarn? Or another yarn may be wonderful for a pair of socks but only comes in 1000 yard skeins. In the end, we may need to make a couple minor compromises but we like to think we're always able to find a good match.