Posts Tagged ‘Knotions’

Guest Blogger – Carol Sulcoski

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
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When I posted a couple of weeks back about the loss of our friend Jamie, I was touched by the outpouring of lovely comments and emails from so many of you.  Thank you for keeping us and more importantly our friends in your thoughts.  I will be forever grateful to all of you.

One person who emailed me was the lovely Carol Sulcoski – you know, faboo designer, rockstar author and creator of Black Bunny Fibers.  She asked what she could do – offered to write a blog post for me.  I readily agreed.  During our exchanges she mentioned her dad was undergoing some tests.  I wished her well, thanked her for helping me out and went about doing what I could to help Sarah, JP and Peyton.  What I didn’t know was that Carol was dealing with a crisis of her own – her father was diagnosed with end-stage pancreatic cancer and died last week.

I am so grateful for her support and so sorry for her loss.  I only hope I can find a way to help her, the way she has helped me.  Here is Carol’s post:

I’m honored to be guest-blogging for Kathy today, and I know that everyone is thinking about her and her family, and wishing them peace this holiday season.

Every December, when a new year  is right around the corner, I start to think about the year that is coming to a close.  I read all the articles with titles like “2009: A Look Back” and “The Year In Review,” and somewhere along the line it became a tradition with me to do a retrospective look at the knitting world, too.  So without further ado, I present “2009:  A Knitter’s Look Back.”

The economy.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think back over the past twelve months is the profound impact of the American and global economic recession.  The struggling economy was a topic on everyone’s mind, and it had tangible impact on  the knitting world.  It seems to me that people became much more mindful about their fiber pursuits:  purchasing less, yes, but also reshaping their attitudes.  Knitters and crocheters  went back and fell in love with their stashes.  They seemed to delay purchasing items, waiting for sales or saving up for special events and fiber festivals.

It seems to me, too, that the economy pushed a lot of folks into fiber-related commerce. Etsy and Ravelry made it easy to sell handdyed yarn or fiber, handcrafted items like stitch markers and knitting bags, and knitting patterns, and people faced with cuts in their pay or hours, or who were laid off, began trying to leverage their passion for fiber into a means of generating some income.  It seemed as though the number of vendors selling fiber-related items, whether stitch markers, handsewn project bags or yarn and wool, went through the roof.  My suspicion is that, as the economy starts to improve (we hope), the sheer number of vendors will start to decrease.

2010 will likely be a tight financial year for many of us, and we’ll no doubt see some signs of budget-tightening in the fiber world. Expect to see fewer new yarns, more discontinued colors and yarns, and a renewed focus on the workhorse yarns, staples like Cascade220 and perennial favorites like Noro and Malabrigo.  We may see more emphasis on small-gauge projects and more intricate styles of knitting, like colorwork and lace, given that these projects take longer and thus provide knitters with more hours of knitting relative to the cost.  We may also see a focus on one-skein projects, providing a relatively inexpensive way for knitters to treat themselves to a new project to try a new yarn.

The continued growth of the PDF and self-publishing.
Pattern sales became as easy as point and click once the internet facilitated the use of the PDF document.  While there is still a sizeable contingent of knitters and crocheters who want hard copies of their patterns, the growth in PDF patterns continued throughout 2009, aided by sites like Patternfish and Ravelry, as more designs, old and new, were put on the market in digital form.  Websites like Patternfish continued to add to impressive collections – including archived designs  from venerable pattern companies like Classic Elite – and major magazines  and yarn companies began offering their own PDF delivery, or expanded their existing offerings.  One interesting  sidelight of this is the effect on knitting designers.  PDF publishing rights took center stage in negotiating contracts, and many designers started insisting that they have the option of retaining future publishing rights, instead of signing away all publication rights forever.

Another interesting development that I’ve just noticed:  offering magazine subscriptions in either traditional print or digital formats.  European magazine Verena offers subscribers a choice of digital delivery or traditional print, as does Yarn Forward, a UK-based magazine.  We’ll have to see if any of the big American magazines follow suit in 2010.

Self-publishing pattern collections (as opposed to individual, single patterns) has also continued to  grow. We saw some excellent, high quality offerings from designers who decided to forgo the traditional publishing companies in order to retain more control over the end product and receive a higher rate of return for their work.  Risky, yes, because the designer has to pay for the production and printing process herself, but if the book or booklet is successful, the designer doesn’t have  to share the profits with anyone.  Top quality offerings we saw from the self-publishing world include Janel Laidman’s The Enchanted Sole; Chrissy Gardiner’s Toe-Up!; and Grace Anna Farrow’s The Fine Line.

Comings and goings
As always, during the past year we made new friends and lost some old ones.  I was particularly said to see Knotions, a great on-line knitting magazine, cease publication at the end of the year.  Knotions’ motto was “Knit smarter,” and contained lots of technical information as well as free patterns.  However, the patterns will remain archived for the foreseeable future.  Several  other of the new e-zines also discontinued publication, including Metapostmodern Knitting (on hiatus; not clear if it will be permanent or return) and Black Purl.  Is the on-line knitting magazine model is harder to sustain than we thought, is it a function of the struggling economy or some combination of both? In a slight twist (or do I mean “slightly twisted”?), parody site Regretsy burst forth in late 2009, showcasing handcrafted items of dubious distinction taken from Etsy, and combining them with trenchant captions.

When it comes to yarn companies, although Westminster Fibers apparently is folding its RYC label into Rowan,  selling under one name in the future, and while the large conglomerate Coats got rid of its Moda Dea brand,  I’m not aware of any other yarn companies or major brands going out of business.  On the other hand, an exciting addition to the field is St-Denis Yarns, a company headed by fabulous designer Véronik Avery.  Avery’s first yarn offering, released this past fall, was Nordique, a vintage-feeling wool that is categorized as a sportweight,but is versatile enough to be knit at many gauges.  Nordique’s palette begs for stranded knitting, and Avery’s first St-Denis magazine received rave reviews.  Look for a second yarn and another pattern magazine this spring.

Another brilliant 2009 debut was the Spud and Chloe line, from Blue Sky.  Spud and Chloe took an interesting approach, giving us three basic yarns: fingering-weight wool Fine, wool-cotton worsted-weight Sweater, and thick wool Outer. Pattern support is strong, and everything about the Spud and Chloe line is stylish and appealing, including the patterns’ paper envelopes reminiscent of sewing patterns.   This is another new line that I expect exciting things from.

When it comes to people, Shannon Okey left the helm of Yarn Forward, lovely Tanis Gray left Vogue/Soho Publishing; and Véronik Avery left JCA/Reynolds; Cathy Payson joined JCA/Reynolds; Michael “Tricky Tricot” DelVecchio joined Universal Yarns; WEBS’ own Cirilia Rose joined Berroco and produced a lovely collection of teen/tweener designs for girls, as well as several other designs for Berroco’s strong fall collection.  Jared “Brooklyn Tweed” Flood released  his first collection, “Made in Brooklyn,” in conjunction with Classic Elite – and a knockout collection it was.

Knitting Get-togethers
If you didn’t hear about the first Sock Summit, a gathering of sock-knitters that took place this past summer in Portland, Oregon, you must live under a rock.  The Sock Summit brought together an amazing assortment of the sock-knitterati, providing classes, networking opportunities and a large vendor’s market.

2009 also saw an expansion in the number of knitting-themed travel options, as  all sorts of workshops, cruises and retreats were planned for locations like Tuscany, southern France, Morocco, the Carribbean and many other locations in the US and elsewhere.   We’ll see if this trend continues given the current economic climate.

Books
Last but not least, knitting publishing remained strong, producing perhaps fewer titles overall, but lots of high-quality and mouth-watering choices for the book-loving knitter.  In addition to the self-published titles mentioned earlier, sock knitters got  to enjoy Cookie A’s  Sock Innovations; blogger Wendy Johnson’s  Socks From The Toe Up;  and my own Knitting Socks in Handpainted Yarns.  Three books with eastern themes were released:  Haiku Knits, by Tanya Alpert, Japanese-Inspired Knits, by Mariane Isager, and Knitted Socks East & West, by Judy Sumner.

Some other top-notch titles released this past year:
•    Clara Parkes’ The Knitter’s  Book of Wool;

•    Color by Kristin, by Kristin Nicholas;

•    Green Mountain Spinnery’s 99 Yarns and Counting;

•    French Girl Knits, by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes;

•    Classic Knits, and Inca Knits, also by the very talented Mariane Isager (what a fabulous trifecta of titles for one designer in a single year!); and

•    Vintage Baby Knits by Kristen Rengren.

Alice Starmore fans were thrilled to see her seminal Book of Fair Isle Knitting finally republished and updated; and crochet fans rejoiced when they saw the spectacular Crochet In Color, by Kathy Merrick.  Spinners got to enjoy an updated All-New Homespun Handknit; Amy King’s Spin Control; and Respect the Spindle, by Abby Franquemont, among others.

It was an eventful year in the fiber world, and you’d best buckle your seatbelts, for who knows what a new year and a new decade will bring…

Carol Sulcoski

********************

Thanks so much Carol!  It has been such a strange December.  So much sadness in the air.  The Yarn Harlot has something going on with her family, Annie Modesitt has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and our lovely town of Northampton has been rocked by a string of 11 fires this past Saturday night that destroyed several homes and cars and killed two people.

I normally love this time of year, but I cannot get my tree down fast enough, get the decorations packed away and move on.  That’s not to say that 2009 hasn’t been a lovely year for us overall or that the past decade hasn’t been equally wonderful.  I just hope that whatever is misaligned in the universe gets itself straightened out.

Thanks to all of you for reading my blog, listening to our podcast and for shopping with us.  I also want to say a big “thanks” to our team who have kept things moving along these past couple of weeks (and all year long for that matter) and have allowed us the time and space to be with our friends.

I hope you all have a very Happy New Year.

Kathy

Thoughts from Cape Cod

Thursday, August 7th, 2008
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We are wrapping up our week here at the Cape and it has been a great vacation. The trip has not been the reason I haven’t blogged. The blog was locked down by Blogger late last week. Their software identified a bunch of blogs as potential “spammers”. It was fixed within a day or so, but I didn’t realize this. It was posted here on “Blogger Buzz”, but I was waiting for an email response to my request for a “review” of my blog. Oh well, we are on vacation after all so it’s not as if I would have been posting everyday.

Unfortunately, I am now late to the party with a few important happenings and such.
1. Last Friday, the much anticipated Twist Collective went live. Twist Collective is a new on-line magazine that was developed by Kate Gilbert and a trio of very talented friends. The premise was to bring together talented designers and writers and provide them with not only a platform for their work, but also provide them with more flexibility with usage of their work. I interviewed Kate on Ready, Set, Knit, last week and we had a great conversation about her new venture. Overall, I love Twist Collective. I think the format is fresh, the designs are terrific and the content is well done. Twist Collective will be published quarterly and will have smaller updates in between. If you haven’t already checked it out, you should take a few minutes to do so.
2. On Monday, another new on-line knitting magazine went live – Knotions.com, published by Jody Pirello. Jody’s take is all about knitting smarter. She has made the patterns printer friendly, charts that are clickable and easy to enlarge. She offers technique tutorials along with interesting articles. I especially liked the Fall ’08 color trends story. Jody will be our guest on this week’s podcast, so be sure to check that out on Saturday, 8/9!
3. WEBS’ August Sale is in full swing! Amazing savings on yarns for knitters and weavers!
4. Stitches Midwest is only two weeks away! The show will be held at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center in Schaumburg, IL. This is a new location for the show and we are pretty excited about it! Not that we didn’t like Rosemont, but in Schaumburg, the convention center only hosts one event at a time plus the facility is pretty new, so it should be a lovely knitting extravaganza! We will be there in booths 513-618 with all of our Valley Yarns, Berroco, including all of the new fall yarns, pattern books and many, many, many of the actual model garments for you to see! Plus, we’ll have some other fabulous yarns along with some great closeout deals. If you are planning to come to the show be sure to stop by!
5. I forgot to mention that WEBS Beads is participating in our August Sale as well! They will be having weekly specials throughout August. If you live in the area or plan to be during August, be sure to stop by and see what they’ve got on special! This week we’re offering 15% off all findings and stringing materials. Savings in-store only!
6. Our Fall Class Schedule is posted on-line! We have an incredible selection of classes for knitters, crocheters, weavers, spinners, dyers and more! We’ve got some great guest teachers coming as well. Clara Parkes, Kristen Nicholas, Susanna Hansson and Galina Khmeleva will all be at WEBS this fall! What is sure to be “the” event of the season happens on September 17th, when Norah Gaughan returns to WEBS! This is a rare chance to spend time with Norah, discuss the new fall yarns and designs with her, learn how they came to be and try on all of the amazing garments! Be sure to check out all of the classes and events and get yourself signed up!
7. I am working hard on the Staghorn Cable Tunic, which is our current KAL on Ready, Set, Knit!. I am a slow knitter, but I am loving this pattern and the entire design in general. It really is not difficult at all, which is why it’s a perfect summer project. Yes, it’s working with wool, but it’s really not that bad to work with, even in the heat. It’s going to be a great layering piece all fall and winter long. Speaking of Valley Yarns patterns, all of our new fall patterns that will be featured in the next catalog, are already up on-line!
Well, I think that covers everything! Back to vacation!

Kathy