I don’t often check the Needlework on the Net forum on Ravelry, but I’d happened to page down today and one of the threads caught my eye: “Fall issue of Popknits is LIVE!” What, I wondered, was “Popknits?” Checking out the thread, I found a link and enough info that I knew there were patterns on the site, which in and of itself was enough to lure me over.
I liked what I saw enough to make me chuck tonight’s planned post for a quick review.
I can’t describe Popknits any better than owner/editor Stephanie Pajones, so I’ll quote from the magazine’s About section:
Over the past few years, knitting vintage items has become popular again. Whether the item is a revamped sweater from the pages of Vogue Knitting 1955 or a new take on doily patterns as shawls, vintage knitting is taking a modern turn. Inspired by the thrift store finds sitting on our bookshelves, Popknits challenges you to take a new look at all things that have come before.
I’m a fan of vintage, classic looks, so this online magazine definitely appeared to be worth a closer look-see. The Fall 2008 issue is the premier issue, and based on the issue info, it appears this will be a seasonal magazine with four issues a year. This free online magazine includes both patterns and articles regarding vintage patterns. There were three very interesting features that I think really take advantage of what the internet can offer:
- RSS Feeds: readers can subscribe to seperate RSS feeds for the patterns, articles, news, or a combined feed of all.
- Mailing list: submitting an email address (which is not shared or sold) gets a reader updates on the biggest news regarding the magazine.
- Flickr photo pool: this is the feature I’m most excited about. Popknits has set up a Flickr group that readers can join, and then add photos of their Popknits items to the group. One of the greatest weaknesses of print magazines is that–by necessity–their photos show only one incarnation of any pattern: one color, one yarn, one body size (almost always a small). This Flickr group overcomes that shortcoming.
Here’s the run-down on Popknit’s component parts:
There are six patterns in the premier issue:
- Buttercup, a cardigan that fits up to a 46″ bust
- Josephine, a cloche hat that comes in a range of sizes from infant to adult
- Gossamer Garden Stole, with instructions in chart form
- Fair Isle Beret, in adult size
- La-La-Love-You Cowl, one size fits all
- Footlights Cardigan, a cropped cardigan that fits up to size 44-46″ bust
All pattern pages have a listing of links in a sidebar: to the Flickr photos by either set or tags; to the pattern page on Ravelry (extremely helpful for any Raveler –all the patterns have pages established already on Ravelry–with pictures–so a member can click over and add it to her/his queue or favorites, or go ahead and cast on); to the project type (i.e., a list of all patterns in that type, such as cardigan or hat); to the skill set (again, all the patterns that fall in to the same skill set, either beginning, intermediate, or advanced); to the contact page for errata or questions; and to notes or general info, including info on the author, errata, license, etc. Another great “internet-maximizing” feature is that pattern instructions and notes include links to how-tos or knitting abbreviations. On the page for Buttercup, for example, there are links to tutorials on intarsia, long tail tubular cast on, and cable cast on techniques, all of which are used in the pattern.
Popknits also addresses a common complaint among knitters who find patterns they love online: the printing function is set up so that the pattern is automatically formatted for optimal printing, without any of the extraneous items on the pattern page. The pattern instructions also include downloadable PDFs for lace/fair isle charts or tutorials, as needed. The only thing I hope to see more of is true plus sized patterns–both cardigans do go to 46″ busts, which is bigger than a lot of non-plus size patterns, but a few more sizes up would be great.
There is a pattern archive on the site, which currently is deceptively small. There are only a few type catagories listed, but that’s only because there are only six patterns in the archives right now. There is an extensive list of types for future patterns. Patterns can be searched for in the archives by type, skill set, or through an advanced search, which allows the reader to look for a keyword in the title, description, and/or comments. Readers can further narrow that search (such as in an article or a pattern, and then by pattern type) if desired. I did find a slight bug in the advanced search when I tested it, but Stephanie responded to my email regarding the problem within hours (despite the fact that she’s in the middle of packing for a move!) letting me know it was fixed. Just FYI–the bug is showing up in other parts of the archive, but Stephanie is aware of it…and since all six patterns in the archive are currently in the only issue, I doubt the archive will be getting much use yet. (Update: the archive links have been fixed as well!) She’s also planning to add some new search features with the Winter issue.
There’s just one article in the premier issue, but it’s a nicely informative one on rewriting vintage patterns. The author has some extensive experience, and she starts off with the story of why she does it before diving in to the how. The best part is that she doesn’t just describe how she does it–she provides a step-by-step example pattern, which is provided in the article. Articles are also included in the archives, and they print out just as nicely as the patterns do. Another features is the News, which is a blog containing news and notes on the magazine (such as submission deadlines, info on polls, etc.). And there is a Ravelry group for Popknits, for any Ravelry reader interested in some behind-the-scenes info or a place to chat about the magazine.
Popknits is currently accepting submissions for the Winter 08 issue, both for patterns and articles. An honorarium is offered for both ($50 for patterns and $35 for articles right now; Popknits is a start-up so prices may go up as advertising is added). There are detailed submission guidelines, so any potential contributor will have no questions regarding what should go into their work. Customer service definitely appears to be a priority–as I noted above, Stephanie is a bit swamped with a move, but she’s responded rapidly to my emails and to an unexpected crash of the site (Ravelers were quite eager to see the new site, and a few more of us visited than the ISP was ready for), which is back up for viewing. I’d like to note than Stephanie will be out of reach due to the move over the next few days, so if anyone does have a problem with the site, please give her a chance to get back to you.
- Premier issue
- Six patterns (2 cardigans, 2 hats, 1 stole, 1 cowl) covering 3 skill levels
- One article
- Links to tutorials and how-tos where needed for individual patterns
- Price: Free!
- Recommended: For anyone who likes vintage or classic styles.
Edit: I erroneously stated that pattern instructions were available in downloadable PDFs in the original review, but only charts and tutorials are. Anyone who wants a clean PDF, however, can easily obtain one by “printing” the page to a PDF writer, such as CutePDF (available for free).