Knitty Magazine Conflict Of Interest?
August 10, 2011 2:25 PM   Subscribe

My wife wants to take a class about how to get a knitting pattern published in Knitty, a huge online knitting magazine. She's tempted to take the class but is rubbed the wrong way because the class is done by Amy Singer who is the the owner of -- Knitty! It's not a "How to get your pattern published" class, it's a "How to get your pattern published in Knitty" class - run by Knitty.

When she told me about this workshop and how it was run by the owner of the magazine, I was quite taken aback. I voiced my problems with it and she then told me it "rubbed her the wrong way too" but said she really wants to have her pattern in Knitty. I told her that's the whole problem with it and she agreed. It would be like Doubleday holding workshops on "How To Be Published by Doubleday." I know that wouldn't go over well.

Her problems are two-fold:

1.) The obvious. The owner of is offering paid classes on how to get your pattern published in the magazine that she owns.

2.) Preferential treatment to pattern designers who take her class? Let's say a slot came down to two patterns. But, one of the patterns is by a designer that has paid for a class on how to be published in her magazine. Even with the best intentions, would she not likely - even subconsciously - favor the person who has already paid her money?

My wife loves Knitty. But this bothers her and after our discussion, I thought I would throw this one to AskMe. Does this sound like a racket? Does it pass the smell test? Are we the only ones that find the whole idea of this just.....well....just wrong?
posted by Gerard Sorme to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (42 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Look at it from the perspective of Amy Singer. I'm sure she gets an ocean of submissions, and needs some way to reduce the quantity of submissions while improving their quality. A workshop with a nominal fee accomplishes this nicely. If the fee's not exorbitant, I'd suggest that it's functioning more as a gatekeeper than a revenue stream unto itself.
posted by Nahum Tate at 2:32 PM on August 10, 2011 [5 favorites]

Knitty's been around for a long, long time, with plenty of ups and downs and mini-dramas, but Amy's good peeps and not out to be sketchy. I understand her motivation for doing this; improving submission quality is a tricky thing.

I suggest that your wife check out the designer boards on Ravelry and maybe figure out if other people have found it helpful. There will be lots of free resources there, too—I've posted there extensively about building good submissions for my titles, as have other knitting magazine editors, and there's tons of information exchange.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:36 PM on August 10, 2011 [6 favorites]

it sounds sketchy to me, but i checked the best knitting board out there, Raverly, and they seem really excited about the class. she seems to have a great reputation. maybe your wife can go to one of her other talks or classes and see if its her cup of tea before going to the "how to submit" one?
posted by nadawi at 2:38 PM on August 10, 2011

How much is the class? What does it cover? Is it in-person or online? Does Amy Singer have relevant credentials that might add value besides her editorial authority? Can you find reviews of the class anywhere?

Basically if the class has some intrinsic worth - if it will make your wife's ability to put together a publication-quality pattern better for knitting publications in general - and that worth seems more or less equivalent to the price, then it's not an outright pay-to-play scam. But it definitely warrants a bunch of further research to make sure that it isn't a ninety-minute diatribe on the editor's preferred fonts.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:38 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also—I do find it a little bit strange. But I feel like maybe there are some details missing here—is this, like, a class or workshop as part of a larger knitting event? Because that makes a lot more sense. In that larger market context, it doesn't feel sketchy at all.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:41 PM on August 10, 2011

It does sound sketchy. If the fee for the course is very low, just enough to cover cost then give it a try. If not I would say it sounds like a scam
posted by WizKid at 2:44 PM on August 10, 2011

from Ravelry, the description of the class (that seems to just be an instore appearance)

Making the Next Monkey, Mr. Greenjeans or Mrs. Beeton In this class, Knitty editor Amy Singer will share some of Knitty’s secrets with you so your submissions will stand out from the crowd..

We’ll talk about what makes a pattern stand out among the hundreds submitted to Knitty every year, what makes a good pattern, pattern-writing techniques that make a difference, what makes a pattern go viral, the five things you can do to ensure you have the best possible chance of being published, and the five things you can do that will blow it for you.

In order for this class to be a success, at least 4 participants need to bring design proposals for evaluation. Please ensure the participants that my comments will be encouraging and kind, as well as practical.

if it were a scam, i wouldn't think amy singer would be spoken as highly of as she is - her reputation seems to support this.
posted by nadawi at 2:45 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

after taking such a class, i don't know if she'll get published in knitty, but she'll be able to write a pattern to knitty's standards, presumably.

writing a pattern for yourself is easy (depending on the pattern, i suppose). making it understandable to other knitters can be trickier.
posted by JBD at 2:53 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Knitty submission guidelines are pretty extensive. What abbreviations to use, how to get sufficiently-good photos, what kind of designs they're looking for for different seasons' issues; how to size a pattern up and down; what colors, textures and styles of sweater they want for the winter issue; cardigans good, fingerless mittens bad; no novelty yarns; few kids' patterns; etc. There is a hell of a lot of information there. I can imagine that an in-person presentation would go over much of the same material.

From the description nadawi posted, it sounds like the presentation might also focus on what the editor thinks of the designs people have brought in - which are unique and appealing vs. being cliched. Those issues are hinted at on the submission guideline page, but she would still probably have more useful stuff to say in person. As long as the class isn't too expensive I think it would be worth it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:55 PM on August 10, 2011

Does Amy Singer have relevant credentials that might add value besides her editorial authority?

Well, she's a very good knitter... (Not snark; there are very few credentials for most crafts. An MFA in fibre arts does not in any way suggest you can turn a sock.)

Anyway, Gerard, if this is the Making the Next Monkey class, it is the same (paid) class offered at (paid) conferences and is consistently well-reviewed. I don't think it is a conflict of interest; you'd have to cross-reference everyone who ever attended with every submission. As registration is with the individual venues, not with Amy Singer, I would be stunned if she even had a list for each gig. I mean, I'm not Amy Singer but I do not get class lists for the courses or speaking engagements I do at venues akin to the local knitting shop.

She's a real, contactable person, fwiw - you can email her and ask, see what she says.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:55 PM on August 10, 2011

Thanks for the answers so far. My wife's on Ravelry (all the time) and knows of Amy's reputation, etc. The answers from many of you is why I asked if it was just us that this seems to bother. Think of the publishing industry - I know that something like this would be scandalous. Why should it be any different for knitting patterns? I'm not sure Amy would be out to be sketchy as to just not have really thought through the way this whole thing might look. There's been PM talk at Ravelry according to my wife, but none of the designers want to risk their relationship with Knitty by voicing their concerns.

Peachfuzz: These are in-store appearances by Amy alone telling how to be published in Amy's magazine. It just seems strange. Oh, my wife said she also taught the class at Sock Summit and Knit Nation, which would be like you were talking about in the larger knitting event. But the solo workshops (about $50 per person - and LOTS of people go) seem really odd. A general "How To Be Published" class seems fine, but the "insider tips" on how to be published by her magazine still strikes me (no matter who seems to accept it) as being simply okay "because it's Amy."

It might be worth it. I don't know. But, think of it, know it would be 'worth it' to take a class from The Atlantic on "How To Get Published In The Atlantic" - but would it be accepted by the literary community as acceptable? I have enough experience with that to know there's no way.

My wife loves Interweave Knits, for example....I can't see them out doing classes on how to improve your chances at getting published in Interweave Knits. They just seem too professional for that.

Interesting discussion all. Thanks!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 2:59 PM on August 10, 2011

Knitty is a huge publication, and welcomes submissions from the public, so it's often the first place aspiring designers try. Whenever I come up with a knit design that I think has potential, my first (and only) thought is "I might be able to get this in Knitty!"

Given that, and given the class description above, and given the volume of submissions Amy's received over the years, it might as well be a general "how to get published" class.

Knitty and Amy do have a great reputation, and if someone scams or pisses off the knitting community, word gets around fast. If Amy were running some sort of pay-to-play thing, Knitty's readership would plummet.

It's a smidge odd, and if it were a large fee or a publication that didn't have such a wide following and open submissions, I'd find it sketchy. But in this case I fall on the side of legit, and probably quite educational and interesting.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:01 PM on August 10, 2011

I think this is pretty standard and I think as long as she is disclosing all the facts- that it is fair enough. Crafters need to make money as best they can and I am pretty sure Knitty is a free online magazine? I once took a knitting class at a local community adult ed place and part of the description of said class was a "visit to a knitting store" it turned out that the owner of said store was the teacher of the class and that wasn't disclosed in the description- that upset me. I have had other experiences at adult ed places that the people teaching are really there to market their other business. But I think as long as there is full disclosure then it is ok.
posted by momochan at 3:03 PM on August 10, 2011

One more thing: would it be hinky if the event was titled "Q&A with Amy Singer"? Those sorts of things sometimes have fees. And I'd bet most of the Qs would be about getting published in Knitty.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:07 PM on August 10, 2011

I work in kind of a similar industry, where people sometimes/often contribute their creative work for us to use in a professional capacity. We spend a LOT of time trying to get people to understand the best way to submit things and what format we need the things to be in for us to be able to use it.

We don't even get into things like "colorful patterns are cuter" and "we like yarn that is blue" or whatever the knitting equivalent would be. It's more like "send us your Christmas stuff in October, because that's when we're working on Christmas" and "make the thing this shape otherwise it won't fit with all the other things."

Again, this has NOTHING to do with content. It's all format, minutia, and paper-pushing, but people don't know it to begin with and they need to. AND most of our advice is applicable across our industry and similar industries- stuff like "don't send your skirt pattern to Socks Monthly." So a person could take our advice, were we inclined to sell it, and use it to their advantage in a bunch of other places.

This sounds like the same thing to me- "Here is what we, at Big Knitting Mag, look for in patterns. We have the same standards as other knitting mags, so do this stuff and you improve your shot." You're not only paying for access to the Knitty editor, but for the understanding of what lots of knitting editors look for, which probably has at least broad similarities to what crochet or embroidery or whatever editors look for.

And the thing is, we make these standards available to everyone, but oftentimes people don't pay attention, don't find the standards, can't figure out how to implement the standards, or just assume the standards don't apply to them. One way to shortcircuit that last one is to make people pay for the standards, because people place more value on something they pay for (and maybe hear in gentle wording from a nice lady) than they do on a bunch of bullet points on a website they accessed for free.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:09 PM on August 10, 2011

Okay, I can see the 'pay-to-play' angle may be stretching it. But, remember, I said the problem is two-fold and I still have a problem with:

.1.) The obvious. The owner of is offering paid classes on how to get your pattern published in the magazine that she owns.

I'm waiting for someone to say that if is she has a problem with it, then just don't take the class. Which is a fair response to her personally, but on the issue itself (point number one above) it just seems an anomaly to accepted norms for other things, like the literary publisher example.

The above answers are all thought provoking. Maybe it's just the chutzpah of the whole thing. To those who say it "seems standard," to the the contrary, it seems like it's not standard at all for owners of magazines to hold paid classes on how to get published by their magazine. Even if the magazine is free (as Knitty is - it's online)...Amy still makes some big bucks from the advertisers.

While I understand some of the answers, it sounds like Amy is getting a free pass to do something that wouldn't be acceptable in most other situations one might compare it to.

Again, all good answers and I appreciate the responses.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 3:15 PM on August 10, 2011

Heh. I am the editor of Interweave Knits. And you're right, I probably would not do a class like this that people had to pay to get into. But I have frequently given a lot of the same kind of information for free both online and in person at conference lectures and shop appearances; I don't think it's inherently unprofessional to have this kind of dialogue with anyone who wants to contribute. It helps everyone, especially in a market where the designers and authors aren't typically professional freelancers.

Perhaps this is rubbing you the wrong way because it's framed as a "getting into knitty" class as opposed to a more generic "getting your knitting published" class? I guarantee that the information the class imparts will be as much in the second category as the first (and will probably be very useful). She may bill it as a "getting into knitty" class because it's weird to speak for other editors.
posted by peachfuzz at 3:17 PM on August 10, 2011 [35 favorites]

I'm going to answer this from a different perspective.

I teach knitting. For money. Inside a yarn store, as well as with private clients.

One of the biggest problems with my job is patterns. Specifically patterns that have clarity problems. I've been knitting for 25 of my 30 years, so if I can't grok what a pattern writer means, either I need lunch or the pattern has issues.

Because patterns are the biggest obstacle in my job (ok, that's maybe an exaggeration, it's really that we don't have unlimited space in the shop to stock 2 bags of every color of every yarn ever produced. sigh), I really wish that every pattern writer on the planet could have access to a class like this. Having the eyeballs of a group of knitters on a pattern makes catching problems more likely. Not guaranteed, just more likely. Also, having an understanding of pattern writing conventions makes free blog patterns easier to follow. And I would give my left arm to never see an ambiguous string of knitting abbreviations again in my life.

As far as the $50 registration fee, knowing what it costs to get a speaker to a shop, that's pretty reasonable. In fact, that's a bargain. (Shops are almost always on the hook for transporting, storing and sometimes feeding the speaker. And then the speaker wants to earn a living, so there's usually a fee on top of that.) Add to this fact, Knitty is free. Yes, I know that they make money on the advertisements, but let me warn you that the knitters in my life (maybe not a representative sample of the world of knitters) are harder on knitty patterns than they seem to be on Interweave or other paid publications. I don't know why that is, but Amy seems to take a lot of pride in the quality of things that end up in her magazine, and I'm glad to see that she's found a way to help newer designers understand some of the more subtle nuances of pattern writing.

Also, as a knitting instructor I have first hand experience with the various learning modalities. It's what makes me so good at this job. You can't accomplish all of the modalities in writing, and some people really do much better hearing information, or seeing it in person. Other people learn by doing. Not everybody is able to synthesize information they've read as well as writers would like. This makes Knitty's online publishing guidelines more helpful to some than others. Frankly, a lot of people just need to hear a real live person tell them something, and they need to ask questions in person rather than writing them in an email. People with voices have so much more authority than words on a screen. And frankly, sending the Knitty intern on a tour would not have the same impact as Amy herself. Because of the appeal to authority, after all, who has more of that than her at this one publication?

I don't think there's anything hinky about her offering advice about getting into the publication she owns. She's not qualified to offer specific advice on getting into Interweave. She doesn't know what their developing story line is for Next Spring. She doesn't know what color pallets KnitSimple prefers. She doesn't know how many cardigan patterns with lace panels have already been accepted to Knitting. But she is intimately familiar with what comes through the submissions of Knitty.
posted by bilabial at 3:21 PM on August 10, 2011 [7 favorites]

I think the difference between this, and say, a Doubleday editor doing the same thing, is the scope you're talking about. Knitty accepts unagented submissions from any rando who feels like it -- and many of the patterns they publish are from precisely those randos. Part of their scope is helping new designers get published.

These classes are an extension of that practice, and they help those new designers make that first step more likely to happen.

Knitty also gives away a ton of this information in their guidelines, on the Rav groups for aspiring designers, etc, etc. That people have to pay for a class with Amy speaks mostly to the fact that having one very in demand person impart information to a small group of people is an expensive undertaking. If your wife is the sort who could synthesize this information from the tonnes of info that's already out there about getting published in Knitty, then she can have it for free. If she wants to get it all summarized and taught to her locally by the world's greatest expert on being published in Knitty, well, then she's gonna have to pay for that.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:23 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I will add, however, that Amy Singer is the only "celebrity" I have ever recognized in public. Take from that what you will about how skewed my view of her might be.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:24 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

oh. Hi Eunny! Didn't want to out you here.

I had another thought.

If your wife were not interested in publishing patterns, and paid to go to a shop presentation that was "Q and A with Amy Singer" that turned out to be 90% questions about getting into Knitty, would she be upset?

If the answer is yes, let me tell you, it's a good thing Amy is up front about what this is. Because among her many amazing talents, Knitty is what she is famous for. Getting into Knitty is, for better or worse, what a lot of people want to bend her ear about. Having this on her list of speaking engagements will make it clear that other events may not be the appropriate time to ask "How do I get into Knitty?" Or at least make it easier to keep those events from being the "Getting into Knitty Hour."
posted by bilabial at 3:26 PM on August 10, 2011

1.) The obvious. The owner of is offering paid classes on how to get your pattern published in the magazine that she owns.

I don't understand what's inherently wrong with this. I understand from you that this is not done in literary circles, and you seem to be implying that there's some obvious problem with this by itself that I just don't see. You've just said that it rubs you the wrong way and it's not standard, etc... you even use the word "scandalous", but I don't get why this is so. What if Doubleday ran a class on how to get published in Doubleday? Why would that be a bad thing? As someone completely outside the industry, I just don't see a problem with it, unless, I guess, it leads to your number 2:

2.) Preferential treatment to pattern designers who take her class?

This would involve Amy Singer what... memorizing every name of every person who came to the (as you point out, not super-rare) classes and comparing them to the names on the submissions? Comparing to a list (which of course would be not subconscious but deliberate)? And, frankly, so what if it does? Why is this a problem?

I guess I just don't see what could be wrong with this, it doesn't give me bad feelings at all, and I don't really understand why it does you.
posted by brainmouse at 3:29 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Heh. I am the editor of Interweave Knits.

You've got to be kidding. Wait until my wife hears that I have been discussing this with you! She absolutely loves Interweave Knits. File this into the category of, "What are the odds of..."

Yes, you are correct, it is the whole how to get into Knitty (insider tips for a price) that is troublesome. A general class would be fine.

The editor of Interweave Knits? (Cue up The Twilight Zone music)...Seriously, what are the odds I would ask this question and within 15 minutes hear from the editor of my wife's favorite knitting magazine? I would think, with the Internet as large as it is, these odds are astronomical. But what a pleasure to be able to tell her. Thank you for your participation here.

Maybe my wife and I are both all wrong about this. I certainly appreciate all of the responses (and some in such detail).
posted by Gerard Sorme at 3:31 PM on August 10, 2011

There's a tremendous problem in literary circles with scammers convincing aspiring authors that the only way to get published is to pay them money. This is emphatically not the case (and I can't think of a publisher that puts out a remotely good-quality product that has anything like this setup - note that I'm not talking about printing services like Lulu.) It seems to me that that background is what is giving the OP and his wife the wiggins.

That said, there are tons of panels at pay-to-attend conferences (particularly in the genre world, at least) where editors talk about how to get published. Certainly they're all speaking for their own publications - and in general the content seems to be more broadly applicable than "paper manuscripts in 12-point Helvetica to Tor, RTF files in a serif font to Baen." So I think that's a reasonable parallel to draw - assuming, again, that this is a good-quality panel with good-quality info and doesn't have any sort of weird pay-to-play fallout in the long run (and it seems like this person's rep is good enough that that's unlikely.)
posted by restless_nomad at 3:39 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

2.) Preferential treatment to pattern designers who take her class?

Thinking more about this, I wonder what is nagging you about the idea of the class is the fear that the class is a necessary prerequisite to be published in Knitty- a bribe, essentially, wherein even the most elegant and beautifully-explained pattern would not appear in Knitty if its author didn't pay the $50 "Grease Amy's Palm Er We Mean 'Learn More About Our Submissions Policy'" fee. That would be truly hinky.

I doubt very much that that is the case, both because it's wrong and because keeping track of who paid their bribe would be logistically quite difficult. I think the more obvious explanation is the "Q&A with Amy Singer" frequently became "How to Get Into Knitty With Amy Singer," so she decided to separate the two, and she still needs to eat.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:40 PM on August 10, 2011

ok so having thought about this and read the class description and discovered how extensive knitty's (freely available) sub guidelines have become—I *really* don't think there's anything wrong here. I had no qualms about Amy's ethics anyway, but honestly I very seriously doubt that this is insider tips for $$—rather, think of it like the tips that are available free elsewhere being presented in a different format, with the benefit of being able to see them applied to specific submissions. Worth the money, IMO.

On preview—thanks!
posted by peachfuzz at 3:44 PM on August 10, 2011


Ahem. Apart from that sudden burst of worlds-colliding-awesomeness: I can see your point and your wife's, and I think there would be some industries where this is sketchy. I don't think this is in that category though.

I think, given the opportunities afforded by Ravelry and other online forums, there would be a lot of discontented murmurs if the only people getting published were the ones who'd attended the course. In a community where word of mouth and trust are important currencies, if there was an issue of shonkiness it would surface.

I suspect Amy not only gets loads of submissions for Knitty, but gets loads of emails and Rav contacts and blog comments from people asking the same questions about how to get their patterns into Knitty. Answering them would take up a lot of time and not answering them could potentially be perceived as rude, unapproachable, snotty, etc. I think the class is probably a neat way of communicating those messages to a wider audience en masse, and giving them the opportunity of asking questions all at once, rather than trying to deal with them one at a time. The $50 is a way of covering costs and time and effort.
posted by andraste at 4:59 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ha. I met Amy once - we both had blogs on Diaryland. I remember her loosing her job, I think, and talking about starting an online knitting magazine. I looked at it when it first started (was it really that long ago? Jeez) and thought it was interesting, but wondered who would read it. So cool to see that she's a knitting celebrity. Way to go!

Also, I don't see a conflict...don't publishers like Harlequin hold seminars on how to write a Harlequin romance? How would this be different?
posted by Badmichelle at 5:27 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

So she takes a class, submits a pattern, it gets accepted and then what? Besides being happy about the accomplishment, does she get paid for the pattern? I guess I don't see the logic in paying for a class that teaches me how to work for free.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:36 PM on August 10, 2011

Ideefixe, the designers do receive a small honorarium. But Knitty is a huge deal in the knitting world. Having a pattern in Knitty pretty much guarantees that you write good patterns, and that widespread attention will be paid to your other designs, some of which you may be charging for. If a design is taken up by a large chunk of the knitting world it can be financially as well as personally satisfying.

If you take someone like Ysolda Teague, for example - I'm pretty sure her first online design was a freebie on Knitty in 2005, and now her Ishbel shawl alone has been knitted at least 10,000 times at $6 a pop. Even accounting for some repeat knits, that's still a great earner for a knitting pattern designer.
posted by andraste at 8:01 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Um, wow.

Yeah, it's me -- the Amy you're talking about. I want to thank you all for your input, and especially those of you who have guessed (educated guesses, I think) quite correctly why I do this class and why I don't think it's hinky to teach it.

History: This class was created out of the brain of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, when she asked me to teach it at the first Sock Summit in 2009. She even named the class "Making the Next Monkey". That woman has a way with words. I hadn't thought about teaching a class like this, but Stephanie thought it was something I should teach, and it seemed fine by me. The fact that the classes filled, and that the content I had to convey was useful to the first batch of students in 2009 encouraged me to add it to my list of classes available to yarn shops and guilds everywhere.

Let me back up a little: Knitty's history is based on ANYONE being eligible to be published, no matter what previous experience they have, including having none at all. Our publishing model requires designers to send in a complete submission, and in that way, we can evaluate the work of the designer and trust what we have in our hands. If it's good, we can publish it. And that's why we've been able to publish socks by a grade 9 student...because they were good enough! (Other magazines work on the traditional pitch model, where they accept sketches of the item and knitted swatches, and then get approval to proceed, which requires the designer to be a trusted partner in the publication process. If they don't deliver, that's a big headache for the publication.)

So yes, we have a HUGE Submission Guidelines document, and if one were to read it thoroughly and act on all suggestions and recommendations, they'd be 60% of the way there. The rest is completely based on the talent of the designer, when it comes to their design and how they photograph it, and ultimately how well their design fits into the Knitty aesthetic.

My goal in teaching this class is to help people in a more personal way understand what they need to do to get published in my magazine. I can't speak for other magazines, though some of my recommendations about professionalism probably would be welcomed by any publication. The rest is tailored to our process, to help the student understand what we're looking for and to do the best job they can to get in. Because we have helped launch the careers of many current design stars, and we're damned proud of that. And we want to keep discovering the next new design stars.

As the review DarlingBri linked to states, one significant aspect of this class is that students can bring in patterns and have me evaluate them on the spot. This does several gets students -- everyone in attendance, not just the designer -- looking critically at the piece based on the content we've discussed in class and seeing how it measures up. I talk about what's good about the item and what could use improvement; what makes it suit the Knitty aesthetic, and what might make it not suitable (i.e. novelty yarn). And usually 1 or 2 times per class, I find a gem that I want to publish, and let the designer know that right then and there. Everyone applauds. It's kind of awesome.

There are often more patterns that might work for us, if the designer takes what they've learned from the class and applies it to their submission, and those people I encourage to do just that and submit the pattern when it's ready.

And as uncomfortable as it can be for me, there are some that are so completely wrong for Knitty and it's my job to find the good in the design and encourage that while delicately stating what doesn't work for us and what might be improved. I'm not in the business of hurting feelings.

It has never occurred to me until reading this thread that some people might perceive this as pay-to-play. As strongly as I possibly can, let me assure you that this is not the case. If so, I'd accept everything from every student that took this class, and that's not even peripherally close to reality. These designers, like the 4 or 5 that had real winner patterns at the most recent Sock Summit, still need to send in a full submission that follows our guidelines, and the pattern has to be solid and knittable in order for us to publish. So even my very positive nod in class is no guarantee of publication.

In fact, after Sock Summit 2009, several people sent in designs I'd encouraged them to submit, and they ended up not being suitable for us, so they were rejected. Taking the class, as you can see, guarantees nothing except that you took the class. Do I feel sick when I say no to someone after I strongly encouraged them to send me their work? You bet. But I am not swayed by their attendance in my class. I hate to say no, but it's my job. I suck it up. It's your work that gets you published in Knitty, and nothing else. We have never been paid to publish any pattern, period.

As a designer, if you carefully examine what we publish at Knitty and what each pattern looks like when published (the kinds of photos, the kinds of items we feature, how things are styled, etc), and carefully follow our Submission Guidelines, you will get much of what I teach in this class on your own. Why do I charge to teach the class? This is my day job, being the editor of Knitty. Travel is expensive, and I really enjoy the opportunity to meet knitters all over the world (!), but I have to make a living. It's as simple as that. If I could afford to do it for free, I would.

It's late and I'm starting to fade, but wanted to answer the OP and clarify a few points. What have I missed? What do you want to ask me?
posted by amyknitty at 9:59 PM on August 10, 2011 [21 favorites]

Awesome. Good to see you here! As you can see, you are totally beloved at MeFi :)
posted by peachfuzz at 10:22 PM on August 10, 2011

Sorry to threadjack (although I think this question has been resolved?) but can I just say, probably on behalf of most of the knitters on Mefi:



posted by like_neon at 2:25 AM on August 11, 2011 [5 favorites]

Ohhh man, wait until Mrs. Sorme sees this. Eunny and Amy, together in one thread!

Thanks for all you guys have done for knitting, and I promise not to use the MeFi secret handshake if I ever get my act together and submit a pattern.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:15 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was wondering if and when Peachfuzz would out herself...hi, Eunny! And hi, Amy! Chiming in because I have also edited a knitting magazine (the UK mag formerly known as Yarn Forward) and I've known Amy for what? A decade now? I only *wish* I'd had the chance to teach a class like this, it would have improved our submissions immensely and made my job a lot easier. And, let's just say it, YF was nowhere near the powerhouse Knitty is, so I can only imagine what sort of stuff is landing in Amy's inbox.

(Instead I ended up writing a book about the business of professional knitwear design, because I have stories that would make your hair curl. Imagine if an author writing for Doubleday sent their galley back and said "I don't like the paper this is printed on! You can't publish my book now!" Except the designer didn't like the yarn they were contracted to use and threw a snit instead, leaving a hole in the magazine right before deadline. True story!)

Now that I am publishing knitting books for a living instead, you could level this same complaint against me, really, for my online "get published" class, which is more or less a class teaching people how to submit craft-specific (and usually knit-specific) books. Do I have a vested interest in it from an earning-a-living perspective? Sure. But the craft book world doesn't use agents as much as the "regular" publishing world, and someone has to help these people clean up their submissions to a pro standard!
posted by at 5:41 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

(A note to any non-knitters who are reading this thread: Someone just asked a basketball question and Michael Jordan answered, then Magic Johnson added something, then LeBron stepped in to clarify one of Magic's points. I'm dying over here.)

A thing I think is faulty about the analogy to the editor of the Atlantic doing this is that Knitty is a really, really specific market. The editor of the Atlantic could give a workshop called "getting published in popular print literary magazines" where he could do exactly the thing that Amy just described, and it might also apply to the New Yorker or Believer or other ones I'm sure are out there. If Amy gave a workshop called "getting published in popular online free non-genre knitting magazines", knitters would laugh and say "Okay, Knitty and who else?" Because who else is there? So no, even before reading Amy's reply it wouldn't have left a bad taste in my mouth.

I'm someone who's written some knitting patterns and have been figuring out how it works entirely on my own. I'd take that class in a second, I wouldn't be worried it was a pay-to-play, and I'm sure that the information would give me an interesting inside view as to how the overall knitting publishing world works and would maybe improve my designing and pattern-writing for all venues.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:58 AM on August 11, 2011 [9 favorites]

Wait, am I the LeBron? As a Clevelander, I am highly offended, tchemgrrl! ;)

tchemgrrl's right, though -- it is such a specific market (and it's not like you can go to school for it, there are very few formal educational outlets for those who want to go into handknitting design, so the majority of designers are self-taught), that any information presented by anyone with any semblance of authority is not only incredibly welcome, but also helps develop up-and-coming talents in the field.

There's even a Ravelry group -- again, for the non-knitters, Ravelry is a Facebookish site for knitters, with over a million members -- called Almost Knitty. It has 2800+ members. Its sole purpose for existing is to discuss patterns that haven't made it into Knitty, and to help its members improve their work for the next time they submit. This should give you another perspective on how valuable Knitty is to the overall design world in terms of wanting-to-get-in.

In addition, Knitty is, and has been for years, an absolute powerhouse in terms of championing new designers, launching successful design careers, and in general being PETD (People for the Ethical Treatment of Designers...which is only sad-funny when you know about some of the other stuff that's gone on in this business) not to mention improving standards (More plus sizes, readily available? Thank Knitty for that!).

All of that rests squarely on Amy.

p.s. if you really want to be in on the secret handshake, there's a Metafilter group on Ravelry, too.
posted by at 7:57 AM on August 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

(Hi, Eunny! Thank you and everyone else who shared their thoughts on this topic.)

An interesting and lively discussion with my husband this morning has me continuing to evaluate how I want to handle this class in the future.

One thing that seems necessary is that I need to remove the "How to get published in Knitty" subtitle from the class description. It's been an easy way to label this class in a soundbite, but it's not really accurate, and is likely a key contributor to misunderstanding the purpose of the class.

Second, I think it's important that I add a clear statement to the class description to the effect that "Participation in this class does not ensure publication in Knitty; the purpose of this class is to help designers create their best work and present it in the best way possible." Suggestions on wording welcome here.

More coffee, please.
posted by amyknitty at 9:57 AM on August 11, 2011 [6 favorites]

Chiming in because I have also edited a knitting magazine (the UK mag formerly known as Yarn Forward)

Ah, has it changed its name? I'm a bit frightened of knitting but I know others speak of it highly.
posted by mippy at 5:19 AM on August 12, 2011

Yes, mippy, it's called KNIT now thanks to some depressingly hideous 1997esque website called Yarn Forward raising a fuss -- you can get digi copies online here on Yudu, ditto back copies of YF. But as you're in the UK, you should have a much easier time finding it on newsstands than we do here!
posted by at 7:11 AM on August 12, 2011

[I know everyone's excited about our rockstar visitors, but this needs to not become a general-purpose discussion thread. Thanks! ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:27 AM on August 12, 2011

« Older I'm Gonna Like Me!   |   Business cards + Stickers Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.