Author Archive

And here comes number nine…

November 28, 2008

Where things happen

Coffee. A Mac. A friendly rabbit. Everything you need to push through a deadline (well, the rabbit has gone home now, but thanks to his starring role in sister mag SEW Hip, his presence remains strong in the office). Yes, Yarn Forward 8 is still fresh on the shelves, but issue 9 is just now going through the final polishing process before we send it to the printers at the beginning of next week. There is so, so much exciting stuff in this one that I’d like to tell you everything now… but you’ll just have to wait and see, patient readers. Working with Shannon has brought a great sense of energy and direction to a magazine that was feeling pretty energetic and well-directed to begin with. We’ve got contributions of some of my absolute favourite designers, including Anna Bell (the sumptuous cardigan coat on the back of issue 8? That’s Anna’s), and what I think is the best selection of features we’ve brought together so far – so I’m really looking forward to hearing what you think of this one.

Woolly Thoughts

November 22, 2008

All of a sudden it has got all very wintery in Yarn Forward land, and sensible pre-Christmas ideas of getting on with the present knitting have been jettisoned in favour of a sweater in some rib-warming aran wool. Nothing like something cosy and sheepy to snuggle on your lap on a chilly evening. So, what are your favourite cold-weather knits?

Tippet

Although when I do return to the present knitting, one of the first things I’ll be whipping up is the beautiful little tippet from the latest Yarn Forward: sweet, speedy, very wearable, and (vital, this bit) it will definitely keep the recipient warm of neck in frosty January. Check out the vintage mother-of-pearl buttons, too: a star find in editor Lou’s big tin of fastenings, co-ordinating perfectly with the delicately shaded yarn from The Old Piggery.

Sarah

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It’s here!

November 14, 2008

That gentle thwack you’ve been hearing all around the UK and in discerning areas throughout the world? That’s the sound of the latest Yarn Forward hitting the doormats of the knitticenti everywhere.

It's here!

It’s been great to see this one come back from the printers, and really exciting to hear the comments of readers getting their first taste of issue 8. With every issue, we try to make the best knitting magazine we can, and we’re very proud of this one. The cover pattern (by the delightful and talented Claire Montgomerie) is as beautiful in the yarn as it looks on the page: anyone else thinking that a beautifully patterned and stylishly coloured piece of Fair Isle is exactly what they need to keep the chill wind out of their ribs?

There’s more Fair Isle from Yarn Forward fave Liz Lovick. Our colourwork expert offers a frankly gorgeous pattern for a cushion which would make a splendid introduction to standed techniques for anyone spurred on by the informative and entertain article she’s written on the history and practice of the Fair Isle technique. Or if you’re looking for a speedy project, check out the nifty cabled hats that feature on the cover. Bright, lightweight and lovely to look at, they’ll do a champion job of warming your ears as the frosts encroach.

Little things are just what you need with Christmas coming up. Maile Mauch has a sparkling selection of knitty notions that you can make by hand with just a few simple jewellery making techniques. The perfect introduction to a new craft, and you can polish off a few items on the present list while you’re at it.

Perhaps the most fun in this issue (and partly because I got to do it) is the interview with Nicky Epstein. If you’re charmed by her books and her delightful patterns, you really should meet the lady herself: she’s as entertaining and gorgeous as the projects she makes, and in the interview she projects so much of her inspiring attitude to the craft of knitting.

We’ll give you more previews and sneaky peaks in the coming weeks! Right now, we’re deep into preparations for issue 9, but we’re still dying to hear what you think of the new one. Let us know in a comment, by dropping us an email, or leave a comment on the Ravelry group. The more you tell us, the closer we can get to being the magazine we want to be!

Sarah

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It was a good day…

September 6, 2008

I Knit Day, that is. Kerrie, Lou and I knew that we had some wonderful things to bring to the show. There was the news about the magazine going 10 issues a year and being available in Tesco, WH Smith’s and Borders (amongst others) from October 6th. There was a sneaky peak at Sew Hip magazine, launching in October. There were samples for issue 7 – including wonderful exclusive pieces by Martin Storey and Liz Lovick. There were friends to see, new people to meet, and knitting treats to enjoy.

We caught up with a few stars of the knitting world: Mazzmatazz (of the Guardian knitting supplement), Just Call Me Ruby, Erika Knight, and the wonderful Yarn Harlot (she signed our book, you know)…

We met Ingrid Wagner, who was there with her sensational Big Knit project in support of Breakthrough Breast Cancer

My friend Jess helped me to make a stitch with the giant needles…

After that, we were quite tired, so we had to have a little rest.

We met these lovely models, wearing samples from the vintage knitting book A Stitch In Time, by Jane Waller and Susan Crawford – shortly to be reissued…

And Lou had a special moment with a wooden sheep…

If you were there, then you know what a fabulous day it was. Thanks to all our readers, old and new alike, who visited the stall to say hello. We’re looking forward to doing it all again for the Ally Pally show!

Yarn Forward Profiles: Lou

July 18, 2008

Lou Butt became involved with Yarn Forward in December last year, when Kerrie invited her on board the nascent magazine. As it happened, the timing was perfect. Lou had left Simply Knitting earlier that year, anticipating a relaxing life as a “yummy mummy” with the occasional book project to break things up – but after a few months, she found herself missing the busy schedules and creative activity of publishing. And with Yarn Forward about to go ten issues a year, Lou expects to be very busy indeed: “The best times have to be when we get such fantastic feedback. Going 10 issues a year was a very scary concept, but all our readers and advertisers are 100% behind us. The worst times have to be the deadline when I’m up late designing pages and trying to do the 101 other things that come with running a business too. We’ll have an art editor soon, so at least that pressure is reduced.”

Step into a UK newsagent, and you’re likely to see several home-grown knitting magazines. Lou thinks that YF is more than able to stand up to the competition. “There is so much that makes us different”, she says. For a start, there’s the approach to advertising, limited to just 10% of the magazine each issue: “We don’t feel it’s right to make our readers pay for 20+ pages of adverts.” Lou adds, “We’ll have no book extracts or designs from yarn companies. Because we’re independent we don’t feel pressurized into reproducing designs for the sake of advertising.”

Instead the emphasis is on providing original designs, put together with a real love for the crafts of knitting and crochet – and because restricting the advertising makes more room for editorial, Lou says “we can be gluttonous with our space and have lots of large charts on the patterns.” There are also at least five in-depth features in every issue: “There is so much out there in the knitting world, that 2 pages just isn’t enough room to really do something justice.”

After the jump… “battleship grey acrylic chunky”, Uri Gellar, minuscule slippers, a “scary block of flats”, and the projects that Lou loves best of all. (more…)

And so to work

July 13, 2008

In most jobs, a visit to the office is just a part of the daily grind. For a Yarn Forward freelancer, it’s a rare and lovely treat. My small assistant and I took the train to Bradford-on-Avon (which is a good deal prettier than your average business park, for starters) to see what goes on at the business headquarters of the magazine.

Lou (right) and Dee (left) kindly took a little while away from attending to subscribers and suppliers to show us around. (Kerrie and Shirley are based at the second office in Bishops Stortford.)

Lou’s “creatively organised” desk – “Dee likes to tease me about that”, she said. Dee’s desk is so organised that there was nothing to photograph, but I did find…

a secret stash of chocolate.

We’re knitters, though, so the edible treats are a lot less exciting than the yarny ones. Piles and piles of gorgeous wool (that’s the subscriber yarn, ready for dispatch)…

plus useful books, and beautiful handknits. Oh, and spray cleaner.

The YF staff are a self-reliant bunch. Not only do Lou and Dee have to clean up after themselves – they even had to build their own desks!

It was hard to say goodbye, but at least we got to take a little bit of Yarn Forward home with us. Hang on, what’s in the bag? Could it be yarn?

Oh, it’s chocolate. Note to assistant: go for the wool next time.

The wonder of Wonderwool

May 27, 2008

YF stand at Wonderwool

A couple of weekends ago, Lou and Kerrie took Yarn Forward to the Wonderwool Festival. Doing the festivals is really important to us: it’s where we meet our readers, introduce ourselves to new people, and get acquainted with the designers, yarn companies and fibre-artists without whom there’d be nothing to knit, and no yarn to knit it with! But Wonderwool this year was particularly big, because we were bringing issue 5 and this was our first chance to show people a Yarn Forward magazine that was everything we thought it should be. Great patterns, quality design, intelligent and well-written articles from exciting contributors – everyone on the team knew we had a lot to be proud of.

And the result? We sold almost a hundred subscriptions, and 80 full sets of back issues. That’s a fantastic result, and we were really happy to have so many people saying hello and supporting for the magazine. If you’re out and about at the shows, please come over and introduce yourself – and get a good look at the gorgeous sample knits while you’re about it. (Apple Crush, my favourite from the Spring issue, looks even more appetising hanging there in the actual yarn!)

Of course, you don’t have to leave your computer to buy Yarn Forward – click here for subs and here to fill the gaps in your collection.   Don’t delay, the back issues are being snapped up fast!

Best photo forward

May 21, 2008

The patterns are written, the samples are in, and last weekend, we had the photo shoot for the summer issue. Marianne is our talented photographer (she’s the one with the camera, of course), and Barry (up there in the blue) is her lovely assistant – toting equipment and wrangling lights. To see what they’re snapping, follow the jump… (more…)

One sweater does not a summer make…

May 19, 2008

But perhaps a whole stack of them will? Here’s a sneaky peek at some of the designs for the next issue

Summer designs

Here in the UK, we’ve just had a week of beautiful clear summery skies – just the weather for lightweight fabrics in cool pastels and sunny brights. That contrasting button band with the lilac buttons looks very appealing… and what’s that enigmatic little patch of green garter stitch going to turn out to be? Will the earthy toned lace be a shawl? And which of these beauties will be the pattern for the Yarn Forward summer knitalong? Make your guesses in the comments, and find out whether you were right when the new magazine comes out early in July.

YF profiles: Kerrie

May 16, 2008

Kerrie Allman is the founder of Yarn Forward. A lifelong knitter with a passion for all sorts of fibre arts, Kerrie took a little time out to tell the blog about herself, her job, and – of course – her knitting.

Kerrie at work

Kerrie says that the idea for Yarn Forward came in part from a sense of disillusionment with the existing UK knitting magazines. “I longed for something slightly more grown up, aimed at those of us who know how to knit and don’t want to be reminded how to cast on each issue.” But the idea could easily have stayed just that: “It was only when a friend told me that she would be able to help me get the first issue off the ground and had some experience in publishing that I decided to just go for it.”

Now, Kerrie is the Senior Editor of the magazine. Her main role is commissioning features and patterns, but she can find herself doing all manner of things when the occassion requires: “I have sold advertising in the past, stuffed thousands of envelopes, answered emails and queries, and sold the magazines to shops and subscribers. On photoshoot days I’m general dogsbody!

And after all that work, what is it that makes Yarn Forward special? “Lou and I are passionate about making a high quality magazine aimed at the more experienced knitters, or those of us who like to be stretched. There is nothing else like it in the British Market at the moment and I think that’s why we are popular.”

Even with Kerrie’s passion and commitment, getting an independent magazine up and running is a difficult business with many pitfalls. “The worst times have to be between issues 1 and 3 when I realised that this was not something that I could do on my own. I had some very serious problems with suppliers which, coupled with having made some silly mistakes, meant that the magazine suffered some delays in publishing and damage to its reputation.”

But experience, and the introduction of new people to the Yarn Forward team, has allowed Kerrie to put her early struggles behind her: “the best times have definitely been in the last 5 months working with Lou as a partner. Having Lou’s support has made it all good fun again and has shown what we can achieve with the magazine. The last issue was the first one we worked on together throughout and we loved the way it came out.”

After the jump: Kerrie shares her knitting triumphs and tragedies, and tells us about the knitters who inspire her.

(more…)