Wednesday, June 22, 2005

New Kids on the Block

New York Yarns. Nashua Handknits. Louisa Harding. Handmaiden. Kollage Yarns. Nestucca Bay. Color Me. The Alpaca Yarn Company. American Buffalo Products. Prairie Fibers.

What do all these companies have in common? They’re yarn companies that are advertising in the new Fall issue of Interweave Knits—who weren’t there a year ago.

If you’ve noticed that there’s a new yarn shop on every corner lately, you may not have noticed that there seems to be a new yarn company every week. With occasional exceptions, the products they offer are not much different from the products the existing yarn companies offer. (Sometimes, they’re identical: plenty of mills out there will sell the same yarn—in the same colors—to two or more distributors.)

It’s a tough business if you’re a new company trying to break into the market—you’ve got to invest a lot of time and a lot of money to get started, and who knows whether you’ll make it, or where you’ll be in a few years if the knitting boom takes a downturn. (We all know that’s not going to happen, right? Right.)

I do see one undeniable advantage to the influx, though: the magazines get fatter and glossier on all that ad revenue, and that in turn makes room for more content. Which translates, in this case, to more designs per issue. Now there’s something we can all applaud. I think I might even learn to like the new hybrid “advertorials” that have been appearing in Vogue Knitting for a couple years and have just started in Knits. (For examples, see pp. 12-13, 26-27, 32-33, or 38-39, all of which are two-page spreads advertising specific yarn companies and directing the reader to a page of Interweave’s website where project instructions can be found.)

And of course, someone has to design all these extra patterns, just like someone has to provide pattern support for the new yarn companies. (Even in the case of designer-driven yarn lines—Louisa Harding, Kim Hargreaves—the designer’s departure from her previous position creates opportunities for other designers there. Look how many different names are credited in the latest Rowan magazines since those two left!)

More content, more designers. Those are good enough reasons to put up with the annoyance of more ads and trying to keep up with the flood of new names. (Oh, and yeah, some of the newbies have pretty great yarn. Keep your eyes open for Nashua Handknit’s Creative Focus Worsted, possibly the new yarn I’m most excited about for Fall.)

No comments: