Tag Archives: crochet design

Criticize My Submission Proposal!

Blossoming Beauty Sundress

Blossoming Beauty Sundress

Have you always wondered what other designer’s submissions look like? Are you a new designer wanting to submit something somewhere? Are you a seasoned designer, but with a curiosity of how others “do it?” Are you a customer who always wondered what all of this is about? Maybe at some point you have pondered about what this process entails.

I put myself out in the open here, and show and describe one of my first proposals in my career. But first, I wanted to talk a little but about submitting a proposal.

There are many ways to make a proposal when submitting a design. Some companies have their own guidelines. First, just like a job interview, you research the company. I repeat, do your homework. Find out if there is indeed a procedure to follow when submitting. Some companies may have a set file or email that they will pass on to you that spells everything out – what to do, how to do it, and in what order. Some companies, especially yarn companies, can vastly differ in procedures.

Here are some things to think about…

Is there an editorial calender?

Some companies may have what kind of themes they have going for each issue, from projects sought, sometimes right down to the colors. Some companies have no calendar.

Do they want just a swatch, or an entire project?

Some companies, and this seems to be more often lately, want a swatch, but accompanied by a sketch. (More on sketch/swatch proposals this later in this post). It makes sense, that most companies want a sketch (nothing elaborate) of your basic idea. This can be simple stick figure drawings, simple squares, triangles. No need to go to art school. Something basic to convey your idea across.

Anything you send – whether a swatch or a full garment, if you want it back, do include return postage! If anything, to me, in my little opinion regardless whether it is required or not, it is only courtesy. And do not forget your address! The outside box may be tossed upon opening.

So anyway, many companies to request a swatch to be included in your submission. The swatch is for them to see the execution of your design. They most likely are asking many questions whilst examining your swatch:

1. How is the drape? If they are seeking a nice drape, skim-the-body slinky tunic type of garment, and your swatch is in a tight sc stitch, this would most definitely need to be remedied.

2. Is this stitch appropriate for the design? Choosing an open work lace scarf accompanied with the description of it being a warm scarf to protect from the elements would not mesh. Either the stitching would need to change, or the description and practicality of the scarf would need adjustment.

3. Is this fiber appropriate for the design? When making garments for babies and toddlers, think comfortable. Do not choose an itchy wool (unless of course we are talking soakers. Although not always, it is nice for things to be machine washable for these little ones. Is this a bikini to sunbathe in, or to actually swim in? If to swim in, forgo the cotton- unless these are intended for swimming exhibitionists! (Cotton will sag… sag, sag, sag….). If this is a summer top, do not use alpaca! Yes, it is sooo soft, but eh, unless you are looking for a substitute of those losing-weight-sweatin’-space-suits…

4. Not only is the stitch and fiber appropriate for the design, is the stitch and fiber a happy couple? For example, if you are creating cablework, working in a variegated yarn will take away from the stitch detail. If you are aiming for a lacy affect, thinner yarns are more effective than heavier yarns, as well as using a larger hook than usual. If working cables, is this the best fiber to really show the definition?

Will they accept emailed photos?

I think this will soon come to be the norm, or at least accepted simultaneously alongside with snail mailed swatches, especially how everything is going digital and everywhere you go, technology is catching up, or well, people are catching up.


Even freelance designing you have deadlines. Learn their deadlines for submissions if they have them, and respect them. Be on time.


The bottom line is do your research. You will not caught off guard if you know what is expected and you do it, conforming to their wishes. Treat it like any job interview. It is after all, a job, and like in the real world, it is their impression of you – make it a strong one!

Proposal from 2007



This proposal example and this post is NOT a “How to submit a crochet design.” Do NOT not Not NoT think that.

The purpose of this post is for you to think for yourself and to give you the opportunity to compare, and then examine your own procedures, past experiences, and future encounters. You are to actively decide for yourself what you would do, what you would not do… Think about what you would do better, and what you can improve upon.

You should not be reading this post passively as though it is the grail to proposals, absorbing each and every word through osmosis! Be critical. Say it how it is. What is wrong? What is right? If you have never submitted before, what would you definitely not do?  There are things knowing what I know now, I would change. Some things I would keep, others not. Be an active reader in this, and criticize not only me, but be critical of yourself (in a constructive way).

Ok… so here is one of my submissions that I just happened to find last night and took some photos of this morning. Not that I was looking for it.. my place is in a disarray, as usual, and I looked down and there it was. A little beaten up, but still functional for tonight’s purpose :)

Submission Background Info: This was my second submission, ever. I never had any advice how to submit a proposal, what to include, etc. My first submission proposal was similar to this.

This submission was to a magazine, and it was one of I think 2 in the same package. One submission was accepted, with this one being held onto for a possible future publication. Eventually, this dress was sent back to me with the nice rejection letter, but with another design chosen in its stead.

As you see, I have numbers scattered all over the place. Here is a little synopsis of each area that I included.

The size of paper I chose for this was about the size of 2 standard sheets of paper. It was a poster board weight.

#1: Stapled unstitched samples of yarn to proposal page

#1 Samples of yarn attached to proposal

#1 Samples of yarn attached to proposal

What I would do again:

I would give swatches of the yarn again of what I used in my example. When not stitched, the editor can see (and you know, all us creative types feel with our hands) it in its lone state. He/she can study the yarn, in case he/she would like to substitute. And, I think it just looks nice and professional. Most likely, the editor is familiar with the yarn your swatching with, but to me, it never hurts to be a little detailed.

What I would not do again, or do differently:

Instead of stapling it to the paper, I think I would staple it to an index card, and then tie that to the garment/swatch, and then write on the index card the yardage, weight, color(s), etc. But then again, maybe not, I do not see this as being a detriment if this were to go on the proposal itself.

#2 Wrote down material properties & size of model

Yarn proposed/used in swatch, size

Yarn proposed/used in swatch, size

Here you see I wrote down the name of the yarn I used, the amount in yards and grams per ball, and the size of the model. You may not have a model size, as most often, a swatch and a sketch will be sent. But sometimes, you may have the model complete, for whatever reason, and I would include this information.

What I would do again:

I would definitely give the information on the ball/skein, such as the amount of yards and grams. I would also definitely include the size of the model (s).

What I would not do again, or do differently:

To include next time

To include next time

Looks messy to me :) I think I would just present it in a more concise manner. For example, underlining “Sample Size” as I did to the name of the yarn. I would also maybe make a list such as what is shown to the right.

I am thinking maybe more along the lines the feel of a real pattern already in the making, but not. As you know, patterns at the beginning list the materials, sizes, etc. So I would think it would be best (unless otherwise instructed to you by a company) to include vital information, and then some.

Why? Well, it could be that I am highly detail oriented so much that I can be anal retentive this way… And it could very well be my tendency to be a perfectionist. But I think about if I did the accepting and rejecting. I would want to know some information. I would want to know the designer is intimate with his/her project. I think this also conveys confidence, and a willingness to get things right. If anything, what can it hurt? Maybe that last line is a copout – but only for the quick and hasty who just “want to get it done.”

#3 Wrote down color number of each yarn used, usage, written directly below corresponding to yarn sample.

Color numbers, amounts used

Color numbers, amounts used

What I would do again:

If I had the project completed, I would definitely write down the amount of yarn used. If I only had a sample, I would give an estimate, if I felt confident. If anything, a range of an estimate. In one of my publications of another source, they took into account the amount it would cost the consumer to make the project. In the end, they chose a different yarn to be more budget-friendly. This is not always the case. If anything, it gives an editor an idea of the amount needed, for whatever reason- and hopefully ordering reasons! :)

What I would not do again, or do differently:

If I could, I would estimate the amount needed for other sizes.. but then this would be pushing it, and is not really needed.

#4 What is included in set, sizes, skill lvl, uniqueness, versatility

Information about project

What's included, sizes, skill lvl, uniqueness, versatility

What I would do again:

Include all the information. I do like how I underlined certain words, to bring attention to them.  Just as in example #2, I would make a list, underline, or somehow bring emphasis to the title (such as Sizes, Skill, etc) in a list form, and then fill in the information.

One thing that I really like and ALWAYS do is include versatility of the garment, and what makes it unique.

Unique: I firmly believe this is so important! Ask yourself this, what makes your project different. What makes it stand out. What did you do that is clever, catchy, or off the beaten path per se? That I know will catch the eye of all editors. A common theme I have seen, is they want something different. And this does not necessarily mean something crazy and totally off the wall (though it could), but basically, what makes your design not a “run of the mill” design?

Versatility: When it comes to getting published, or anything in life, flexibility.. with adaptability is the key. What I try and do with my projects whenever possible, is include how the pattern can be changed. Whether it is the sizes included, the number of colors used (for example – This pattern colorwork can use any multiple of number of colors except for 3 – Such as was the case with my Borealis pattern).

What I would not do again, or do differently:

Make it neater, and more organized.

#5 Swatch

Here, I stapled a swatch. Always include a swatch. For this, I included a finished flower applique in addition for examination. Since it was small, I wanted it affixed to the proposal. I think this worked just fine, but would not with a larger swatch, as it would make handling the proposal paper bulky and thus awkward. Some may omit this and assume just a swatch of the main stitch is enough, but for me, I like to go that little extra mile, if at all possible.

#6 Extra Info

Additional Info

Additional Info

Here I included extra information such asthe dress can be worn many seasons, a sundress in the summer, and a jumper with a top underneath in the fall. The button straps make it adjustable (another plus).  The band of flowers around the dress match the band of flowers around the hat…

What I would do again:

I would include all all of this information

What I would not do again, or do differently:

I do like how I underlined many key words – “adjustable,” “match,” “jumper.” But, I think I would again, make it flower better and organize it. Some of these could be included in the section on what makes this pattern stand out, what makes it unique.. what are its highlights… I guess one thing I had going was the columns?

#7 Include sketches

Sketch of purse/bag

Sketch of purse/bag

When you do not have the entire garment/project made, do include a sketch. We are talking basic shapes. Many may even look at this little sketch of mine, and theirs will either pale in comparison, or blow mine out of the water. Now this I do know.. ask any editor – they are not grading artwork! They just want a basic idea of what you are proposing.

What I would do again:

Always include sketches

What I would not do again or do differently:

Draw the sketch bigger.

#8 Include contact info

Contact info

Contact info

Include your name, address, and email. I used one of those address labels, and then added in my email addy. Include as much contact info as you wish, but I definitely do recommend at least an email, and then definitely an address if you want your proposal back!

#9 Model in action

Printed photos

Printed photos

I have no idea if this is a standard, but this is what I did. I included photos (I printed off my printer) of a model in the dress and hat. I thought it would help to see the fit, see the sizing, to see the model live. To get it all to fit on one paper, I stapled it like a booklet, but binding on opposite side (I got creative:)) Now, this most definitely will not be possible with designs that are not complete. But, if you have a prototype of a hat, or mittens, or even a scarf, I would put it on someone and take a photo. This is just my opinion and something I did for an added factor to the proposal.


I am sure most companies would want a proposal on a regular 8 X 11 sheet of paper. Again, this was one of my first submissions. It is nice though to go back, and analyze it, and think about what I would do differently… What I would do again. If anything, it folded nicely, and opened like a book! I thought at the time that was pretty creative!

You may have learned a lot. You may have learned nothing. Your proposals may have blown mine away. There are some general characteristics that good proposals include.. but really- you are the true authority. What???? You may be saying…

Ultimately, who sends in that proposal? You.

You need to research. There is no fail-safe-fill-in-the-blank template for you to make the perfect proposal. What one editor prefers can be the complement to what another despises!

I am not an authority on proposals. Who is? Is it the editor behind the desk? Sure, but remember she/she is only privy to her company’s procedures (all the more reason to find if a company has such guidelines in existence). Another company may accept or reject that very same submission for completely different reasons! A time this is crucial is when this editor is the particular company you are sending your submission to! Definitely follow their guidelines if they have them.

Is the authority that designer friend who has been published and rejected a thousand times whom you have put upon a pedestal? He/she will have valuable experience to offer that you most definitely should listen to, but when it comes down to it, that individual will never know why he/she was accepted or rejected, unless specifically told by the specific editor, for that specific project, at that specific time. See what I am getting at?

Many many variables play into a project being accepted or rejected. Timing. Project (too many thongs already for this issue!). Project compatibility (we like toilet paper toppers, not padded bikini toppers)… trend is ending (no more fun fur please). Too many to list! A fantastic proposal can result in acceptance, as well as rejection. There is really no way to know, unless the person responsible for the fate of your submission sits down and tells you exactly why you were rejected.

No, this does not mean a proposal does not matter.. It is not just what is in the proposal, but it is also how it is presented. It is a reflection of you, your style, your carelessness or lack thereof, your haste or attention to detail, etc. Your effort…

I am also not saying there are no rules to follow or tips to take into account. There are things one should definitely do. And there are things one should not do that range from the most blatant to the absurd.

I am not saying to decline taking advice either, quite the contrary. Take all the advice you can. Especially from established designers and editors!  Just do not rely upon once source. If there is a guide from a company, follow that, and then where needed fill in the gaps based on what you have learned. Do your homework and compare your notes… then develop your own proposal style; be active, not passive.

PS, this is the Blossoming Beauty Sundress that was recently published a few months ago :)

PSS, And unlike me who write this in one shot and is going to sleep and not looking over this post until I have visited dreamland, do check over your proposal and check for spelling errors! Niters all… 1 am dreams call! Hope I have frazzled at least one mind with this post.

Lace, anyone? Dragonfly

Ice on a bush by driveway

Ice on a bush by driveway, ice storm 12/19/08

My mind has been going in numerous directions this past week. First, I need a new sketch book. Last one is now filled… I am being cheap though, and so a 10 cent spiral notebook will have to suffice. The ideas blasted me so much that my once white, pristine sketchbook is now laden with pencil drawings and scattered notes, rampant with eraser smudges.

Everyone grows, changes, adapts as careers continue… after designing that Dragonfly Shawl, it happened. I can feel the fire within, just like it has at times before. That’s the it – in essence, the slight loss of control. You see, often I go off on tangents… especially when the “new idea” comes. On a side note, I can still hear my brother saying to me when we were little “Oh no… another one of Lisa and her big ideas…” with the roll of the eyes and a swift walk the other away. I think it was that loneliness coupled with my unelected solitude in grade school that in some way formed some crazy “idea” neuropathways…. I can always remember doing something, somewhat insane.

So this past week was a sudden surge, almost implosion of ideas. After working with that lace weight, I am in love…. The Dragonfly was my first time working with a lace yarn. Now, as stated previously, I have worked with size 10 thread, even size 30 thread before. But lace weight yarn is a whole new breed….

The magic is in the blocking… I now have a set of nifty blocking wires. Once opened, will get a photo for you. Oh, the things I want to design with more lace weight.. Must, must get my hands on more. I have now been searching at all the different types of lace yarn out there… Which to try next? I want to try them all…

So please… Lend me your thoughts or observations… What should I try? What do you like? Is there anything particular that you have come across?

Since I do not have access to lace weight in town, I cannot go out and pet some lace weight… It will have to be ordered, so if you have any ideas, let me know! In the meantime I will continue my hunt of which lace weight to try next. Will let you know what it is!

Well, it is midnight… Sorry so short! Happy Friday everyone…

I leave you one of my new workout songs of ’09! Don’t know about you, but this song always puts a smile on my face and gets me dancing in the living room……..

Song on YouTube.

PS, here are a few more photos of that ice storm we had right before the holiday, and a video… Ice storms, so incredible, yet so destructible. (Clickable twice)