2010 in review

2010 in Review: People, Places, and Things that Shaped the Year

All the world's a stage, and in 2010, our stage saw a host of bright new actors competing for your attention.

Technology is eliminating barriers that used to stop many a great idea from reaching its audience. The leveled playing field has helped give anybody—whether big or small—an equal shot at your attention. We knitters have become the judges of what has value and what doesn't. It's a noisy and crowded but exciting place to be.

The Design Revolution
The biggest growth spurt in 2010 was among knitwear designers, who flooded the market with new patterns and design ideas. Many followed a path paved in previous years by Ysolda Teague, who offered her Whimsical Little Knits 1 and 2 pattern collections in both print and digital-download forms. (Fans of Ysolda take heed, her Little Red in the City collection is due in March 2011.)

Twist & Knit

Miriam Felton's Twist & Knit featured 12 lovely low-yardage patterns for special yarns. The book itself sold for $20, but Miriam also offered a $2 digital add-on option that gave you digital versions of all the patterns. The model was a success, and her first printing sold out almost immediately.

7 Small Shawls

Meanwhile Rosemary Hill, of Designs by Romi, had a clever idea with her 7 Small Shawls to Knit. Offered as a $20 digital subscription, knitters received updates each time a new pattern was released until the collection was complete.

Because each update also included all the previous patterns, Rosemary was able to correct or clarify any mistakes that had been identified along the way.

The Shetland Trader
Another hybrid digital/print collection came from Gudrun Johnston, the knitwear designer known both for her work in Knitty and Twist Collective as well as through her Shetland Trader label—a label that her mother had used for her knitwear design business in the 1970s.

Johnston's new book Shetland Trader—Book One contains 10 patterns inspired by the Shetland Islands. The projects—scarves, shawls, hats, sweaters, and even leg warmers—were all lavishly photographed in the Shetland Islands by Jared Flood, and some modeled by Ysolda Teague. The printed and e-book version are bundled together for $22.95, while the e-book only is priced at $20.

Westknits Book One
This was also the year Stephen West released his first pattern collection, Westknits Book One. A truly hybrid, slice-and-dice print/digital product, the pattern collection features 5 scarves and shawls, plus 3 hats. It's available as a printed 32-page booklet for $20, which includes a code on the back of the book enabling you to download the digital book for free. Or you can forego the paper and buy it in digital-only form for $20, or you can download each pattern individually on Ravelry for $6 apiece.

The Red Collection from Zigzag Stitch, aka Mandy Powers
Another knitwear designer going the print/digital road is Mandy Powers, who self-published The Red Collection in 2010. It features patterns for six hats and six pairs of matching mitts. While one hat and mitt set makes abundant use of bobbles, the remaining five feature colorwork, a technique in which Powers excels. This 54-page booklet is available in one of three ways: print-only for $20, print and digital download for $23, or as a digital download only for $20.

Some designers went so far as to opt out of print altogether. In Lee Meredith's Quick Knits Club, members received a monthly PDF containing two original patterns using no more than 20 yards of yarn each. Subscriptions run six months and cost $20; the club continues in 2011 if you're interested.

Indie designers weren't the only ones dabbling in digital this year. Interweave Press launched several so-called "eMags," or dynamic digital magazines. Priced at $14.97, the eMags download onto your computer and run on the Adobe Air platform. Following the success of Sockupied and SpinKnit, the company plans to release 18 more eMags on a variety of how-to subjects in 2011.

Knitting Local
While independent knitwear designers have taken center stage in 2010, we had some independent startups in the yarn world too—backed, by the way, by equally strong independent designers. A telling highlight was the runaway success of Pam Allen's new yarn company, Quince & Co., and Jared Flood's Brooklyn Tweed Shelter yarns. Both tell us that knitters are eager for domestically produced yarns, something we can expect to see more of in 2011.

Almost as if on cue, a new yarn company called Stitchuary has just launched and promises artisan yarns sourced from local independent farms throughout the United States.

kitchen scale
Speaking of yarn, if the overwhelming popularity of my piece on using a kitchen scale to measure yardage of yarns in your stash is any indication, our stashes are not only alive and well, but they're also in great need of organization. If you're looking for a little motivation to clean up your stash and start the New Year with a fresh perspective, why not do a little slow stashing before the clock strikes midnight?

the bamboo Addi Click interchangeables
Choices, Choices
We've always had a healthy selection of interchangeable knitting needle sets to choose from, including those from Denise, Boye, Addi, Webs (and the remarkably similar rosewood Colonial Interchangeables), and Knitpicks. But this year we also welcomed Addi Lace clicks, Addi Bamboo Clicks, and HiyaHiya Interchangeables. No surprise, several other needle manufacturers have interchangeables in the works for 2011.

the Knitter's Review Retreat
Strength in Numbers
All in all, the knitting community is a force—the size of which was validated in November when Ravelry welcomed its 1 millionth member. But we're also an intimate and interconnected group. We blog, we tweet, we "friend" one-another on Facebook and in Ravelry, and we even post and watch videos of sheep chewing on YouTube. The level playing field puts us all at the same table, heroes and heroines alike.

For all the virtual interconnectness technology has given us, we still seek face time with our fellow knitters—actual real time, not virtual. The 2010 Knitter's Review calendar of events had more knitting retreats than ever before, with even more scheduled for 2011—including a return of Sock Summit and the 10th-annual Knitter's Review Retreat. We have quite a year ahead, and I look forward to walking through it with you.

What were your high knitting points of 2010, and where do you hope to take them in 2011? Please share your thoughts.