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  • How we select designs for an upcoming issue

    April 19, 2023 5 min read

    Hello lovely Collective members,

    long time no see! I am SO sorry that I just dropped off the face of the earth - February suddenly became very, very full with my travels to Unravel, and then March was around with the launch of Issue 9, and then all of a sudden it was April.

    I am back today to make up for the absence with a blog post that takes you to the heart of our magazine:I'd love to share with you how we select designs for an upcoming issue.

    For every issue, we get about 150 to 200 submissions from knitwear designers from all over the world, and ranging from very new designers to long-time ones.

    Step 1: Sight the submissions

    Whenever a submission arrives in my inbox, I send a quick confirmation email, and then file it away in a folder. I really, really try to not look at it before the submission period is over because I don't want to get hung up on a specific design just yet!

    When the submission period is done, I set aside half a day to look through all the submissions. I open each email and PDF, and take it all in. The first look isn't about the details for me, it's about getting a feeling for the submission and teasing out the gut feeling that I have about it.

    For a handful of designs in each issue, it's a "hell yeah" at that point. I read through the rest of it, make sure there are no red flags, and then move them into a "yes" folder.

    Marina Skua's submission for Issue 11 - a beautiful cabled cardigan!

    If it's not a "hell yeah", I also read through the submission carefully, also on the lookout for red flags. What are those, you ask? Well, there are a couple things that we reference specifically in our Call for Submissions and when I check a submission, I want to see that the designer has taken them into account (or at least doesn't ignore them / counteract them):

    Sizing:

    Every Call for Submissions we publish has an overview of core measurements of our standard sizing in it. I do this because I want the designer to check that their stitch pattern idea works with our sizes, and to make sure that they're comfortable grading to a set of measurements provided by someone else.

    Knitwear designers will have their own set of measurements that they're grading their self-published patterns to, but for us, it's important that every pattern is graded to our sizing guide so that the patterns are comparable and consistent across issues.

    If a submission mentions a smaller set of sizes, it's automatically a "no". Size inclusivity is really important to us, and it also tells me the designer didn't read the Call for Submissions carefully enough. Same goes for the measurements - if the sizes mentioned are to different measurements, and it's not mentioned why (like, perhaps the stitch pattern isn't super flexible), I will put the submission into a "no" folder.

    Sustainability:

    It's important to me that the designers we work with understand - and, ideally - share our ethos to work with sustainably produced yarns. I also want to see that they understand how core this is to us. One way to show this in a submission is to use a non-superwash, no-nylon yarn in the swatch. Another one is to provide a few different yarn suggestions from yarn partners we've worked with in the past, or new ones who produce sustainable yarns.

    If I only see superwash yarns in a submission, and it's not mentioned anywhere that we're about sustainability, it tells me that the designer doesn't really know what we're about, and the submission gets moved into the "no" folder.

    I move through the stack of submissions this way, filing them into "yes", "no" and "maybe" folders - "maybe" are all the ones that I could see in the collection, but am not super sure about yet.

    Step 2: Create a Pinterest board

    When I've gone through all the submissions once, it's time to pull out one of my favorite tools: Pinterest! I'm a really visual person, and so it's much easier for me to see whether a collection makes sense and is cohesive if I can see all of the patterns at one glance.

    I start with the "yes" submissions and take screenshots of the sketches (and sometimes swatches) and put them onto a brand-new Pinterest board.

    A glimpse at the Pinterest board for Issue 11

    Then, I work my way through the "maybe" folder once more. At this point, there will always be a few submissions that will move into the "no" folder - after having seen all the submissions, I usually get a good gut feeling for the type of design we're still missing, and so the ones that wouldn't fill that spot are moved out of the "maybe" folder.

    For the rest, I start taking screenshots and put them onto the Pinterest board as well to see which ones work best with the rest. At this point, I usually narrow it down to about 15 to 16 designs.

    Step 3: Pull it all together

    The last step in the design selection process is, honestly, the hardest. I need to go from 15 to 16 to a maximum of 12 designs, and all of the ones that I have at this point are really, really good and would fit the collection really well.

    I pick out the ones that I am not 10000% sure about, and read through the submission once more. My goal at this point is to make the collection balanced and interesting, so I'm looking for types of garments or accessories we might be missing, complimentary construction methods, different stitch patterns, and the like.

    An example: I am realizing that we only have one neck accessory in the "absolute yes" folder, but I would really like to have two. There's one shawl in the "not so sure about yet" folder, so I decide to definitely have that in the collection.

    Another example would be to give preference to the top-down raglan sweater over the drop-shoulder sweater in the "not so sure about yet" folder as we already have one drop-shoulder sweater.

    This way, I put together the final 12 patterns. At the end, they're all on their Pinterest board - and I'm ready to tackle the yarn selection! (For which we'll have another blog post coming up!)

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