Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: The knitting year in review

If I haven't been posting as frequently as usual -- and if you've sent me an email that's been languishing an unusually long time, even for me -- I am hoping to get back into my usual groove soon. This weekend, we fixed the computer snafu that was interfering with my Internet access, not to mention the ability to print. Keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, here's my review of 2007: The Knitting Year That Was. Since my sense of time has completed devolved (I am convinced that things that actually happened two years ago happened two months ago, and vice versa), please cut me a little slack on the timing...

  • Ravelry. Whether you're a rabid user, an impatient wait-lister, or an indifferent observer, there's no doubt about the profound impact this website has had on the knitting world. If you are a loner, you can use the "My Notebook" function to keep track of projects, itemize your stash, make lists of projects you want to try and show off finished items. If you're a social butterfly, you can find every conceivable group to join (and many inconceivable ones), participate in message boards, and make new "friends." Designers can showcase their patterns and yarn-makers can show off their skeins. If you want to make a project but need inspiration, you can surf through other people's projects, finished items, patterns and/or stash. Ravelry is a stroke of genius, beautifully implemented and, unbelievably, free.
  • Facelifts for some industry stalwarts. Have you noticed the new look given to the Lion Brand catalog? Here's a page:

    Sleeker design, more fashion-conscious patterns, better photography.

    And how about Berroco? Updated styling continues in the leaflets and print ads, as the super-talented Norah Gaughan continues to make her mark.

  • In the litigation chronicles, it seems the court battle over who "owns" S-N-B continues to drag on, although with talk of settlement but no major developments. Ptooey.
  • Continued interest in non-novelty yarns, all-natural fibers and skinnier weights. Classic Elite introduced Classic 150, Alpaca Sox and Silky Alpaca Lace; Berroco added Ultra Alpaca Lite and Jasper; Reynolds added Soft Sea Wool Worsted to their Soft Sea Wool and Whiskey all-naturals; Nashua added undyed Ecologie Wool and Ecologie Cotton; RYC added an all-bamboo; I've noticed that even Lion Brand has added organic cotton and pure wool yarns to their line-up. We saw more and more sock and laceweight yarns, including yarns that incorporated newer fibers, like sea cell and chitin (derived from shrimp and crab shells).

  • A greater selection of fresh and innovative crochet patterns. Interweave Crochet became a regular magazine to which one can subscribe (instead of an occasional "special issue"), and editor Kim Werker is filling it with cool patterns like Kathy Merrick's Babette blanket,

    helping push thoughts of past acrylic ignominies out of our collective memory. We also saw more choices in stylish crochet books, including Sasha Kagan's Crochet Inspiration; Kim Werker's Crochet Me: Designs to Fuel the Crochet Revolution; Teva Durham's Loop-d-Loop Crochetand Doris Chan's Everyday Crochet.
  • Great offerings from some of my favorite designers: Kaffe Fassett designed the colors for a wonderful line of Regia sock yarns, then updated some of his best-loved patterns in Kaffe Knits Again. Kristin Nicholas released Kristin Knits, giving us fresh inspiration for color. Veronik Avery released her first book, Knitting Classic Style. Alice Starmore published a pattern in Vogue Knitting, after a long hiatus from the magazines.
  • A new look for Interweave Knits, including photo shoots in Philly. Okay, I'm a tad prejudiced, but Philadelphia is an underrated and lovely city with plenty of atmosphere. Us Philaphiles are thrilled IK has figured that out. Now we just need to work on IK's new "look," tweaking the photography, choppy layout, and other stylistic changes that rocked our worlds with the most recent issues.

  • We bid a sad adieu to Jaeger. I'm still disappointed that this line of yarns from Westminster Fibers was discontinued, although I understand the rationale behind it.
  • A new special issue of Interweave devoted to felting was released. Felting offers great possibilities for creativity, but I sense that the uncertainties involved in it -- i.e., little control over the rate of shrinkage, variabilities in the tendencies of different yarns to felt -- scare away some knitters from playing around with it more. We'll see if felting catches on as one of The Next Big Things...
  • All sorts of musical chairs in the industry. Pam Allen takes the helm at Classic Elite Yarns, while Eunny Jang becomes editor of Interweave Knits. Trisha Malcolm steps down as editor of Vogue Knitting, and Adina Klein is named editor of VK (as well as retaining her spot as editor of Vogue's Knit.1). Have I forgotten anyone?
  • The digital dilemma. If Ravelry has revolutionized the on-line knitting world , then don't forget the rise of the PDF. It's pretty common now for designers to have their own websites where they can offer their own patterns via PDF. But what about patterns that have already been featured in a knitting magazine or other publication? Is it fair for knitting publishers to expect designers to sign away all rights to a pattern -- including digital ones -- for the same compensation as, say, first North American rights? Is it reasonable to expect designers to lose control over whether their patterns are, after a magazine goes out of print or is sold out, given away for free on the publisher's website? Or to be precluded from offering their patterns from their own websites due to exclusivity or non-compete clauses?

    There are no easy answers to questions like these, but if you want to know more, try reading some good posts here and here. The internet continues to change the knitting world in ways we haven't quite muddled through yet. I daresay we'll be grappling with issues of fair compensation and copyright control, as well as others that haven't even surfaced yet, for some time.
  • Big anniversaries. Spin-Off magazine turned 30; Vogue Knitting celebrated its 25th anniversary; IK released a "Best Of" book to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

  • The passing on to that great yarn shop in the sky of knitters Gail McHugh, moderator of the original Knit Design list and KnitU moderator; Mary Walker Phillips, knitting writer, teacher and artist; Sidna Farley, teacher, writer and designer.

Next post I'll take a look at my personal knitting year in review, but overall, I'm pretty sanguine about the future of the craft. The internet continues to draw in and keep knitters connected, and is providing new ways for knitters to interact with each other in terms of sharing inspiration, selling and buying patterns and yarns, and educating each other.


Anonymous said...

There's that Babette thing again.
Who knew it'd have such legs?
Not me, that's for sure.
Thanks for the shout out, toots.

As far as the give-it-away designer controversy goes,
Babette may just be a good example.
It has been, dare I say, wildly popular.
I got paid handsomely for it.
I have no intention of selling the pattern myself.
Why shouldn't Interweave?
They pay well, they are honest and helpful and organized.

AND you don't have to sign the contract that gives them the extra rights.
You can say no thanks.

Happy New Year, galumpka!

Anonymous said...

Such a renaissance woman you are! What a wonderful recap!

I believe that this was also the year of Etsy too! Etsy is giving lots of artisans a way to have a voice in a world that is becoming more corporate and homogenized by the second...

Anonymous said...

Ravelry, Etsy, podcasts of several kinds, audiobooks, and the death of novelty yarns are all improvements that warm this kitter's heart and give me hope for the future. Now if we can only fix the rest of the world!

Lynne E. said...

Thanks to your blog entry today, I knew immediately what had happened when a new VK arrived today, sporting a creepy cover with two models of indeterminate sex. Inside, there isn't a single item that I'd care to knit, even though there are designs by Paden, Gaughan, Newton, and others who rarely disappoint. Too bad for me that Adina Klein was named editor of VK, because I've never cared for Knit.1 . Definitely I won't be renewing VK, if this issue is representative of what we can expect in the future.

Anonymous said...

No one should have to sell his/her rights to the profits of his/her hard work and ingenuity just to make money in perpetuity for "the man," no matter who "the man" may be.

It's the same issue the Hollywood writers are striking over. I wish all creators of original art, whatever its form, much success in controlling their creations and, by extension, their own artistic fates.

Happy 2008!

Franklin said...

Thank you for this :-)

Anonymous said...

Your personal knitting year in review was very interesting, and I've enjoyed reading everyone's scattered about the internet. But thank you for putting together this restrospective on the craft in general this year, it really puts things in perspective.

Yarn or Death said...

Wow, it is a good time to be a fiber artist. Thanks for the very informational writeup, especially the crochet section!

Sally said...

Thanks for this recap Carol. Let's not forget the passing of Barbara Albright (did she leave us in 2007 or 2006?), author of The Natural Knitter. And thank you thank you thank you for a NICE write-up about crochet. What a pleasure to see.

Rob said...

Only one transition escaped you, and that's Nancy Thomas moving from Tahki-Stacy Charles over to Red Heart. Not Coats, mind you, but Red Heart.