The first one that feels like it’s “mine”

The very first issue of Yarn Forward that’s all me in terms of selecting patterns, getting the editorial things such as features sorted, etc. In short, the first one to feel really “mine.”

Thanks are in order to the designers and contributors for making it so fabulous (*sniff sniff*). You know who you are, but to list a few: Annie Modesitt, Melissa Morgan-Oakes, Jenn Jarvis, Andi Smith, Anniken Allis, Amy O’Neill Houck, Joan McGowan-Michael

See what people are doing with the designs here on Ravelry, or preview them here.

Fair trade knitting teachers, part 2

I am more than a little sad to find that after writing Free range, eco-friendly, fair trade knitting teachers this February, it’s time for another followup. Annie Modesitt has just posted about the new digital pattern contract information sent out by Soho (aka Vogue Knitting, knit.1, Knit Simple etc). Her title says it all: here we go again.

I really do recommend you read Annie’s post in full, because she’s pretty much one of the only people talking about this out loud. (Behind closed doors is another thing altogether — you should hear designers at TNNA or anywhere else we congregate in large numbers).

And I’ll repeat what I said in the comments there. As you all know, I recently took the editor job at UK-based print knitmag Yarn Forward. We are planning digital pattern sales, and we will be paying designers a full 50% when we do, not 10%.

In addition, ANY time Yarn Forward asks a designer’s permission to reuse their pattern (in a collection, book, whatever), he or she gets paid again. A percentage (50%), but it’s something. And on top of that, 6 months after the pattern appears in the magazine, you can start to sell it on your own site, on Ravelry, or whatever. We’re up to 10 issues per year now (from 4), so clearly it’s working as a business model. Any adjustments in terms we may make in future, though, will always be designer-friendly. As a result, magazines such as Yarn Forward who do offer designer-friendly terms will benefit in better designs, better readership, and more. I don’t know if I could live with myself otherwise.

This isn’t 1980 anymore. There’s more than one way to get patterns, and I know many of you are concerned about fair compensation…hence my February post’s title “Free range, eco-friendly, fair trade knitting teachers,” and the comparisons made there. Teaching conditions at the bigger shows continue to deteriorate, yet it’s easier than ever to coordinate a teaching engagement with a “name” designer. You know. The ones who are shying away from those shows because — go figure — it’s hard to pay the mortgage when you aren’t getting compensated fairly.

When I found out Annie was coming to town, we put together class offerings, did a little online publicity and pow! filled her classes rather nicely…all in about 2 weeks’ time, so you can imagine what more lead time would have given us. And yes, it’s true I have access to my own venue, but even if not, there’s any number of places we could have done it for cheap or free.

I don’t know what else I can say. It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow. I am thankful I have a job I love, working with wonderful, creative people all the time. Any amount of frustration is almost immediately fixed by other good stuff happening. But forgetting that designers are the cornerstone of this business seems at best counterproductive, and at worst, a severe lack of respect for what they do. This translates, in my opinion, to a lack of respect for the end user, too. It benefits everyone to have skilled designers submitting to the magazines.

Of course, everyone needs to start somewhere, and I have nothing but respect for the people who have the ideas, but maybe not the technical know-how (that’s where editors come in). If you’re willing to learn, fantastic. But if you want to see more complex knitting and interesting pieces on a regular basis — you’re going to have to have designers with existing skills on board. You can’t hand-hold an entire magazine’s worth of designs, not on these kinds of timetables.

The big news

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook or wherever, you may remember last week’s announcement about big news on the way…

And then I immediately had to declare I was not pregnant or getting married, because apparently those are the only big news worthy of such excitement, judging from the number of people texting and messaging me immediately afterward.

No, it’s better, because it involves yarn:

Yes, you read that right. I am taking on the editor position at Yarn Forward magazine, which now comes out ten times a year. Ten! (I just shuddered a little to think of it). I am currently getting up to speed on the flat plans for the issues-in-progress and preparing for the first issue that’s all me, editing-wise. (Gulp!)

Yarn Forward is UK-based but already available at some shops here in the US, and by subscription, too. We’re working on US distribution deals now, too.

Want to do patterns or articles for the magazine? Well, you know who to contact…

Join the Yarn Forward group on Ravelry here.