Updated: May 4
Check out my article and pattern in the Handwoven Magazine, May-June 2023 issue! Here are a few images from the issue and some thoughts about the process of submitting an article and/or pattern to a print publication.
Calls for Submission — First, you'll want to be on the email list of upcoming issue calls for submissions. All of the major fiberarts magazines solicit articles and designs that work within a chosen issue's theme, color palette, and possibly other elements (technique, type of loom, type of fiber, etc.). These calls go out almost a year in advance of actual publication. This issue's theme was Color and Weave, and the color palette included a wide range of hues to work with. I knew I wanted to submit an article plus a pattern in Deflected Doubleweave (DDW) in two colors, and to use a widely available, feltable yarn for my project. Brown Sheep's Nature Spun had colors that were very close to those in the palette for this issue.
Design and Writing — You'll need to create an original article and/or design with a written pattern. Publications can and will edit, but they want something that's well written, easy to understand and covers all the steps needed. Long Thread Media, the publisher of Handwoven, has submission guidelines on their website. (Insider tip—I was told that they get a lot of 8 harness patterns and would like to see more for 4 harness looms). You need to submit drafts, yarn requirements, and details about sett, number of pieces your warp will weave and finishing details.
Refining your Design — I made samples, lots of samples, testing my written steps over and over. Technical writing about fiber crafting processes is really different from doing. As weavers, we have knowledge in our hands, and don't always need to think in step-by-step form. Pattern writing has to be extremely clear and specific. Techniques that are less familiar to some weavers, such as DDW will need special issues carefully explained. In this case, my clarifications covered non-standard techniques that I had developed for these pieces: knitting yarn preparation, securing ends without hemstitching, using waste yarn, "shuttle diving" and felting a woven textile.
Photos — Reasonably good, well lit photos are essential for your proposal. The magazines will use their own photographers to take final images for the actual issue, but you really want to show off your work in the best possible way. I don't have a "real" camera, but the iPhone did an adequate job. These photos are by Matt Graves, from the magazine.
Deadlines and working with editors — Print publication deadlines are always firm. You need to have your article if not completely written, at least well fleshed out well before the final deadline. You will be working within a specific word count. For my initial proposal, I submitted an outline of the article and a few photos of both the rugs and the smaller samples.
Editors have the final say, of course. The only thing that was changed in my article was the term "felted". In textiles, traditionally "fulling" is used for woven or knit fabrics finished using heat and agitation and "felting" is used for fabrics made with fiber that has not previously been made into fabric. I felt (see what I did there), that the term felting was much more accurate for my work, as it indicates degree (amount of shrinking). However, this distinction isn't that important in the big picture, and I will continue to use "felted" to describe my rugs.
Compensation — Let's just say that money isn't the reason any of us gets into weaving! I worked full time on this project (pattern and article) for a solid month. I am happy to have the exposure that publication in a fabulous magazine like Handwoven brings. Everyone at Handwoven was great to work with, and I hope to get the opportunity to do this again!