Knitting magazines have been a great resource for patterns, tutorials, and articles about the latest products and trends. With the advent of the internet it was only a matter of time before we saw digital magazines come along.
While some magazines have come and gone, there are a few who have separated themselves from the pack and continue to bring us great content. And more are on the way. Here is a list of my top 5 online knitting magazines.
Disclaimer: This list is the opinion of one person. If you disagree or feel I left something out please feel free to say so in the comments. However, angry emails and disrespectful comments will be deleted. It’s fine to think differently, just be nice.
5. Petite Purls
Publishing Schedule: 4 times a year
In 2009, three ladies (Brandy Fortune, Allegra Wermuth, and Joan Beebe) started a site that focused on high quality knitted items for children. The result was Petite Purls, a beautiful site with gorgeous patterns for little people. Since their inception they have branch out into crochet and sewn items as well.
The patterns on the site have great art direction and are well photographed. The site is clean and simple, making it easy to navigate. Even though they are ad supported the ads never feel obtrusive. The focus on children’s patterns makes this the perfect place to find something to knit your wee ones.
Publishing Schedule: 4 times a year with a “surprise” between each issue
You might have heard of this one. It was started by Amy Singer in 2002 as a way to highlight all the great design work she was seeing all around the blogosphere. Since then it has become one of the most popular knitting sites on the web, launching quite a few designers careers.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Knitty is only number 4? Yes they are the biggest, with millions of visitors every year. And they are one of the few to still provide all their patterns for free. So why aren’t they number 1?
There are a few reasons. Knitty requires their designers to do a lot of work for them up front. They also do not compensate their designers as well as other publications. Many designers are willing to make this trade off because of the amount of link juice they get from being featured on Knitty. Since all of the photos are submitted by the designers themselves the site lacks a consistent look and projects can have incredible photography or mediocre pictures. The site itself is a little cluttered and is the least aesthetically pleasing of the sites on this list.
This by no means suggests that they do not have some great patterns, and their archive is huge. They have definitely helped advance the art of knitting and I hope they continue to introduce us to new talent for years to come.
Publishing Schedule: 4 times a year
Price: Free with some paid patterns
The youngest publication in this list, Tangled focuses on both knit and crochet items. It was started by Tracy St. John and Brittany Tyler in 2010 in an effort to bridge the West Side Story like rivalry between knitters and crocheters.
They are one of the most progressive magazines out there, offering their designers the option to sell their pattern or make it available for free. They also provide video knitting tutorials by Liat Gat of KNITFreedom. However, the coolest thing they do is offer at least one pattern “Cross-Threaded” in both a knit version and a crochet version. Pretty nifty.
Publishing Schedule: 3 times a year
Price: Free to browse with some free patterns. Most must be purchased individually.
This magazine was started in 2008 by Kate Gilbert with the intention of providing high quality knit wear patterns with great photography that supports independent designers. While I’m not a huge fan of the magazine style layout of the site, it is easy to navigate and does a wonderful job of highlighting each pattern. Each segment has really nice art direction and their focus on wearable items that are not kitschy is a breath of fresh air.
Some may be put off that most of their patterns are for sale individually rather than a collection, but their business model is structured to offer fair compensation to designers, which is a great thing.
1. Knit Circus
Publishing Schedule: 4 times a year plus a bonus issue
Price: Free to browse; Pattern collection available for about $8 an issue or a annual subscription for $23.50.
This magazine actually began as a print publication in 2008 but transitioned to being fully online in 2010. Their innovative business model lets viewers read the magazine articles and browse the pattern collection for free. Then if they wish they can buy the entire collection of patterns, usually 17-26 patterns, for a very reasonable price.
These guys easily have the best production value of any online magazine out there, and their layout rivals great magazines like Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living. They focus on knitwear that is accessible for the whole family and they curate their pattern collections very well. In addition they periodically produce podcasts as well as videos that are embedded into the magazine itself (though the quality of these often leaves something to be desired).
Knit Circus is produced using Zmags, which allows visitors to flip through an issue just like a real magazine. The biggest drawback of this is its use of flash, which can not be viewed on iOS devices like the iPad or iPhone. They do offer a version for mobile devices, but it is not a great experience and you can not see any of the video content.
Overall they make a really well produced magazine that supports designers while still making great content available to their readers for free. Their use of video and audio supplements puts them at the forefront of the industry. As better tools become available for publishing to mobile devices I’m sure they will only get better.
If I have one gripe about all of these publications it is that they have modeled their design after a print medium, rather than re-imagining themselves for a digital space. Some quite literally use a magazine layout. Only a few have taken advantage of utilizing video to offer more engaging content and only one supplements their patterns with video instruction for difficult stitches. I look forward to seeing how this space evolves in the next few years and what new platforms like the iPad will do to help change it.
What are you favorite online magazines? Do you agree or disagree? Did I leave something out? Leave a comment!