The world of online knitting magazines will probably always be in a state of flux, wiith startups, successes, fizzles and shutdowns. I thought I’d see what’s out there right now, and tell you what I think about it.
Most online magazines mimic their print cousins to some extent, with articles, patterns, and advertising. The big advantage to publishing online is that production and distribution are so easy and cheap. Depending on the format, that is. Some of the most feature-rich ones aren’t cheap at all, I don’t expect, but are still in a whole different cost class than print publication.
Fair warning: this is a long post with no pictures to liven it up, but I thought I’d get through it all at once instead of breaking it up. So go have a look at some of these sites and see if you agree with me or not! Oh, and the entries are in no particular order. (You should be proud of me. It’s not easy to do ‘random’ with as many years of library work under your belt as I have.)
An online newsletter, not in the “usual” e-zine format, since it doesn’t feature patterns. For me, the strength of this publication is the yarn review archive. Other reviews include books and tools, plus some good how-tos. There are lots of polls which you may find interesting (“Do you believe in the curse of the love sweater?”), and various other information which is faithfully updated. Quality stuff, which you would expect, since it’s written by Clara Parkes, author of The Knitter’s Book of Yarn.
Weekly, through email subscription or RSS feed
Started in 2006, Knit on the Net is based in the UK. It took me a while to figure that out! That’s one of the great things about the Internet – many of those boundaries are now invisible or nonexistent. Too bad “free shipping in the UK” from an advertiser doesn’t do me any good. There are several patterns per issue, a few articles and reviews.
3 issues per year, irregular publication dates
Black Purl Magazine
“Featuring ethnic-inspired stitches and stories”, online issues began in 2007. It’s light on the patterns, but has had some interesting articles. “Ethnic” is interpreted very broadly, so you’ll find inspiration from Japan to Norway and back around again. I just wish the navigation on this site was a little easier.
Quarterly; companion newsletter and blog
Probably the best-known of the online knitting magazines, and its reputation is well deserved. It features a wide variety of patterns from easy and/or classic to entertaining way-out-in-left-field. The only annoyance for me is that it’s hard to tell from some of their thumbnail pictures what those items are, so you may have to click on one to see if it’s a sweater or… whatever. Excellent articles cover a broad spectrum of knitting-related topics, from pattern drafting and color advice to spinning and fiber information, to basic and advanced techniques. Again, it can be hard to tell from the article titles in the right sidebar exactly, or even remotely, what they are about. So you go exploring, and maybe read good stuff you wouldn’t have read otherwise.
Quarterly; “Coffeeshop” forum and chat for registered members
This is a fairly new entry in the field. At this writing, the winter 2008 issue is a week late going online, so I hope there aren’t any problems. There are some really nice patterns in the fall issue, and based on the preview of the winter issue, that trend of quality designs is continuing. A couple of articles, a couple of reviews, and some techniques round out the issue. I think this is a really promising site, and plan to keep an eye on it.
Quarterly (?), companion blog, RSS feed
The Inside Loop
Another recent entry, their third issue is up now. This British-based publication has fairly modest but pleasing content, with 8 patterns for sweaters and accessories in the current issue. I especially liked the article by Cindy Moore on rewriting vintage (OLD vintage, not 70s!) lace patterns, with several examples. Another article on charts, by Kate Blackburn, makes a good pairing.
Quarterly, companion blog
Brand new on the scene, Popknits focuses on vintage patterns as inspiration for contemporary knitters. Their definition of vintage is 1970s and before… that’s a lot of territory, with lots of possibilities! I was interested to see a different Cindy Moore article, “Rewriting Vintage Patterns”. I happen to have an 1848 needlework book, so I think I might be able to use some of her tips to make sense of its instructions!
Quarterly(?); mailing list subscription, RSS feeds
Generally speaking, anything with the “postmodern” label will have me turning on my heel and heading off in the opposite direction, but I was intrigued by this new (second issue out now) online magazine. It’s predicting the future, not looking at the past. Very tied in to the fashion industry, it has color and design forecasts, plus a dozen patterns in this issue. I really like the line drawings that link to detailed pattern information – those simple sketches give you a nice sense of the project. Again, I was pleasantly surprised by the real-world patterns, as opposed to the avant-garde designs (also linked to on this site) that are only worn for a few seconds on the runway… but I will admit to a certain bizarre fascination with them, too! I’m a new regular visitor to this site.
Biannual; companion blog provides monthly updates between the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter issues
I’m waiting with bated breath for their second issue! The premier issue lived up to its hype – it’s just beautiful. Its layout is much more like a print magazine, with careful styling and photography. Expect to page through advertisements. I don’t mind, since I think those can be interesting and inspirational, both online and in print. Of course, we now have broadband at home, so I might have minded a lot more if I had been paging through last year on dial-up! The other thing that is different about TC is that the patterns are not free. That’s certainly not a problem for me; I will buy a whole magazine for one pattern I really want, so will happily pay a few dollars for one enchanting pattern from this site. Especially when I know that the designers are actually getting a significant chunk of the money, not just the publisher.
Quarterly, monthly email newsletters to subscribers and companion blog
This spindle-oriented ezine has been around for a little while, but has evidently undergone a revamping. Archived issues from Winter 2005 through Winter 2006 are available online, but I couldn’t find the 2007 or earlier 2008 issues, even on The Wayback Machine. Anyway, it’s here now, and is definitely worth a look! Even if you’re wheel-addicted, you will still want to explore. They don’t want any spinner to feel left out. Just prepare to be tempted by the gorgeous handmade spindles featured in articles and ads! There are patterns for projects (mostly small ones), some good tips and techniques, and profiles of interesting craftstpeople. But I think its real strength is the articles. The Fall 2008 issue focuses on silk, and anyone will come away with some new information.
Three times a year, February, June and October; companion blog and Yahoo! group
This recent – ahem – spinoff of Knitty is just the quality you’d expect, and is in fact an extension of the spinning articles that Knitty has included for a long time in its flagship magazine. The two are intertwined, and link merrily back and forth to each other. It looks like there are plans to expand it even more, since the audience is expanding as more and more knitters are getting bitten by the spinning bug.
Well, that’s it for today… there may be new online knitting magazines out tomorrow (or yesterday) that I haven’t run across yet. If you find any, please let me know, okay?