Twist Collective & Knitting magazine publication models

If you haven’t seen the first issue of the Twist Collective, you should definitely look at it. There are some absolutely lovely items. The articles are all free and almost all the patterns cost $6 or $7, so unless I am about to make one of them, I won’t be acquiring the patterns. The publication is trying a new publishing model, with a major goal to fairly compensate designers.

Alternative web serial publications models are an interest of mine. Yes, I do realize I will probably go against the name of the blog, but I will stay focused on knitting publications. The different knitting magazines I look at have distinctly different approaches to the web.

1) Knitter’s Magazine is a traditional print publication. They do a good job of showing current and past patterns in their gallery. Other than that, their online presence is pretty dull.

2) Vogue Knitting is a traditional print publication with a website that has some added content, including web exclusives. They have charts for many patterns on their site. It makes little use of previews or of images from past issues. Last winter, they redid their site and tried to add more interactive features, KALs etc. but what I really want is pictures of all the patterns in the current (and past!) issues with the yarn requirements. No one does this, but it is what I want.

3) Knitty is completely free, but is structured much like a traditional publication. It has had some of the most popular patterns in the knitting blog world, probably in part because they are free and therefore so easily accessible to everyone. And of course because they had had some really good patterns. (The 4 patterns listed first in Ravelry as the most popular all come from Knitty – Fetching, Monkey, Calorimetry and Clapotis). I have made several things from Knitty, but if they weren’t free, I’m not sure how many I would have made.

4) Interweave Knits has images of current and past issues (at least of the ones in stock). They include additional pictures of garments, but these aren’t easy to get to for past issues. They have also added Knitting Daily, a blog/email newsletter with chatty and instructive information. One interesting feature is the gallery where a few garments from an issue of IK are modeled on Interweave staff members, with comments about how the garments should be altered for their body type. They have also begun selling individual patterns from out of print issues. This is great for the consumer, but I think it might not have been great for the designers. I don’t know what kind of rights agreement people sign, but I have the impression that once Interweave has paid a designer, it is Interweave’s forever, to publish (or not) in a compilation or as an individual download. With the web, some patterns become runaway success stories and the designers don’t seem to receive any additional compensation for a blockbuster pattern.

5) Twist Collective has free articles but the patterns cost money. They seem to cost more than the IK patterns, which I find interesting (especially since you can buy all the IK patterns in one issue or in a book for far less money than it would take to buy everything in a TC issue). The designers/authors also retain rights to their patterns/articles to republish in the future or work into longer articles. I really like this bit (SPARC and all that). The cost per article idea is OK, like buying one song. However, one song generally costs about a dollar, which means buying a whole CDs worth of songs costs about the same as a CD. In this case, one pattern from the TC costs almost as much as one whole issue of a magazine. I realize that individual patterns are often priced at a similar price to the TC (or even more), but I am having a hard time getting my head fully around this model since it is a magazine. If it was a website with really cool patterns you could buy, I don’t think it would bother me as much, so I think it is semantics and mostly my problem. The group of designers for the first issue is fabulous–I wonder if they’ll be able to keep up the momentum?

It will be interesting to see how all this looks in a year.


Interweave Knits, Fall 2008

My fall 2008 IK finally arrived. L mentioned at dinner on Friday that she had gotten hers the day before. I haven’t finished reading it (despite being on vacation at home) but I have made a good start!

So, what do you like in the issue? I want to look at the book Inspired to Knit, as well as Poems of color and Everday knitting. (I have wanted to look at Selbuvotter for some time now.). I thought Yarnmarket impressionistic palette was interesting, seeing how different designers interpret the same painting in yarn.

I like the Dumpling bags, the Fresco Fair Isle mitts, and the Winter twilight mitts, but I’m not sure I’d make either. The Knotty or Knice socks are OK, but I have quite list of socks to make but 20 or 30 pairs from now, maybe I’d be interested… I like the Estes vest and might even make it if I decide it is something I need. There are aspects of the Backstage tweed jacket that I like, but I really dislike the way it closes in front. That’s about it. Not much really grabbed me this time.

Review: Shear Spirit

I really enjoyed reading Shear spirit : ten fiber farms, twenty patterns, and miles of yarn 9780307394033, by Joan Tapper with photography by Gale Zucker. The pictures are great and there is very interesting text about the different farms. It is clear that in all cases the people love the land and the animals, but otherwise are quite different. The farms are from across the US with a variety of fiber animals. The owners have a widely different backgrounds. The farms generally emphasize local foods and products. The patterns in the book are OK but what I liked best about them was seeing the yarns in use.

Meadowcroft Farm in Washington Maine, run by a single mom, which has Polwarth sheep, She dyes the yarn using sea water and solar power, called Seacolors.

Tregellys Fiber Farm in Hawley, Massachusetts has a wide variety of animals including Karakul, Soay, Shetland, Icelandic, Navajo-Churro and Jacob sheep, Bactrian camels, emu and yak, The yak have created a connection to Tibet and Nepal. Dyeing is done by Botanical Shades. The former Cornish fisherman weaves with the fiber.

Autumn House Farm in Rochester Mills, Pennsylvania has Karakul rams crossed with Border Leicester ewes. The fibers are dyed and carded on the farm. They are very self sufficient, even including natural gas from wells on the farm.

Misty Meadow Icelandics Farm, a small hobby farm in Minnestrista, Minnesota raises Icelandic sheep. Felting is a major textile activity here.

Kai Ranch in Blue, Texas has angora goats. The owner dyes the fiber and also raises colored angora goats, which are quite rare. She uses the yarn primarily in weaving.

Victory Ranch in Mora, New Mexico has alpaca. The owners grew up on the south side of Chicago so have had to learn everything as they went along.

Lazy J Diamond Ranch in Rocky Ridge, Arizona has a Churro flock. The yarn is dyed and woven by the Navajo family.

Thirteen Mile Farm in Belgrade, Montana raise sheep in a predator friendly manner. They use solar panels to power their picker, carder and spinning frame. They also dye the fiber.

Goat Knoll Farm in Dallas, Oregon raises cashmere goats. Their mid-life hobby farm quickly turned into a business.

Old Mill Farm in Mendocino, California raise Cheviot-Karakul crosses. The sheep are only part of the farm and fiber was not the original goal.

Rating: 3.8

Review: Natural Knitter

The natural knitter : how to choose, use, and knit natural fibers from alpaca to yak 9781400053520by Barbara Albright has been out for a year now. I had glanced at it but hadn’t really taken the time to look at it until a couple days ago. It is a really nice book. In many ways it is similar to the Knitter’s book of yarn. It covers fiber types (but not construction techniques or manmade fibers), has great pictures, includes information about various companies and includes patterns. I found the book more interesting that the Knitter’s book of yarns. I liked the selection of yarn companies better. I like natural fibers better than manmade fibers, so their absence was not a loss. I also really like a lot of the patterns (you can see some of them here). Albright had a great collection of designers for her book and they made some fabulous items. I think the book may be put on my Christmas wish list. The only irritating thing is that one of the cover images is of yarn with beads in it but this isn’t included in the book anywhere.

Rating: 4.3

Sheep at the Frankfurt Museum of Communication

A friend just sent me pictures of sheep made from old telephones. The sheep are in Das Museum für Kommunikation Frankfurt. If you click on the top quick time video you can the sheep in their natural habitat. If you click on the picture on the site, you get a panorama of the museum interior and you can rotate to find the sheep, one floor down, approximately 180° around. [The site has changed and I don’t see the video now. Link to current site added 21 October 2012]

But, far easier is to just use flickr (which is how we found them originally) –

I don’t think I’ll be spinning that fiber. But maybe that’s where fiber optic cables come from.

Review: Knitter’s Book of Yarn

I had heard rave reviews of The Knitter’s book of yarn : the ultimate guide to choosing, using, and enjoying yarn 9780307352163 by Clara Parkes, so I looked forward to when I would have a chance to look at it. I read the book quite quickly and did like it. It covers all sorts of fiber types and yarn construction and explains how these impact knitting. However, as a spinner, I found that I already knew most of the material in the book. (If I wasn’t a spinner I think I would have been more excited by the book.) Parkes also highlights various yarn manufacturers and companies. This information was especially interesting to me, helping put a face to many of the lovely yarns available.

I had not expected a lot patterns, but a large section of the book was devoted to patterns. What makes this second half of the book so interesting is that she explains why this pattern and this yarn type go together well. I found this quite instructive. However, as patterns go, there were only a few that I am thinking about making.

The pictures in the book are really nice, making a great book to just flip through.

Overall, I’d give the book a 3.4, but as I said above4, if I wasn’t a spinner it would probably be higher (and would likely be a book I would want to own).

Bad Blogger

I have been a very bad blogger for months now. I have read knitting books and returned them to the library without reviews. I have bought yarn. I have spun yarn. I have dyed fiber. I have knitted (although I don’t think I’ve finished anything if you ignore the top I wore once and have decided I need to redo). Have I posted on any of this? No. Do I have a good excuse? No. DJ has been complaining there is no new content. It is no wonder that L said she hasn’t looked at the blog for a long time and wondered if I had added anything (I think the answer is “no”). The only think I can say in my defense is that this is a shared blog and none of us posted anything in July. Ah well — it is summer…

I will be putting up at least 2 book reviews today, so maybe I can start to get back on track.