Sunday, April 26, 2015

Stockinette Market: Taking a Break

Hi, friends! First off, thank you all SO much for your kind words on my next steps in this industry.  I am completely overwhelmed with your love and support, and am so excited to see where the next chapter of my life goes. It's a big transition, and I'm feeling my way on a lot of things, not least of which is figuring out who I am as a person and what my priorities in life are.

On that note, I wanted to formally state that the Stockinette Market will be going on an indefinite hiatus.  It's been a big struggle in the past year or so to figure out where it fits in terms of priorities as both my design work and my work at Brooklyn Tweed grew, and I found it often getting pushed further and further to the backburner.  Rather than try to shoehorn it into the gaps between all my other work and do a shoddy job of it as a result, I've decided that I'll be taking a break from it for the foreseeable future while I figure out what path I want to take.  I hope to come back to it in some form, whether it's spot checks on Hot Right Now, or analysis on specific topics, or some other bit of knitting statistical nerdery that strikes my fancy.  Thank you to everyone who's been reading and analyzing along with me over the past two years.  It's been so great to share this information with you every month.  Please keep in touch, and let's keep on looking critically at the ebbs and flows of this wonderful industry!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


 studio keys.

Well, hello there! It's been a bit quiet on the blogging end for me lately--this has been a hard winter here in Maine, and that, combined with a lot of projects in progress, has meant that my energy has had to go elsewhere.  I'm planning a big, three month retrospective for the Stockinette Market, so don't worry! I'm still crunching numbers! But today, I wanted to check in about some big transitions that have been and will be going on in the background.

So, as most of you know, my day job is working behind the scenes at Brooklyn Tweed.  I've been here for about three and a half years, and I will honestly say that it has been three and a half years of one of the best educations a knitter and designer could ask for.  I've learned so much and made some of the most amazing friends and comrades in this crazy industry, and it's been an absolute privilege to work for such a thoughtful and intentional company.  Words can't express how much this job has helped me grow and understand who I am as a designer and a maker.

In the next few months, Brooklyn Tweed will be moving to a new location, and consolidating the offices into one.  The story of where the business will be moving to isn't mine to tell, so I'll wait for Jared to fill you in on that.  But when Brooklyn Tweed moves to its new location, I will not be moving with it.

This has been an incredibly hard decision--being a part of the Brooklyn Tweed team has been such a huge part of my life over the last few years.  But at the same time that I've been delving deeper and deeper into the company here, I've been building my own business.  Designing, teaching, writing, statistical analysis--all of this was building in parallel to working full-time at Brooklyn Tweed.  And, to be blunt, I'm tired.  It's been an amazing and adrenaline-filled couple of years as I've juggled everything, but I've gradually come to realize that I can't keep juggling without crashing and burning.

In addition, I've built the most lovely life for myself here in Portland; my family and friends are here, all of whom give me such energy and joy.  My home, at least for where I currently am in my life, is here.  There is no place else in the world that gives me such happiness (okay, maybe I could do without a few feet of the snow on the ground).  So I knew, when it came time to make the decision about moving with Brooklyn Tweed, that it was time to go off on my own.

What does that look like for the next little bit? Our warehouse and offices here in Portland will be closing March 20th.  I've signed a lease on a wee tiny studio/office space in the same building where Quince has their offices, and I'll be moving all my Brooklyn Tweed operations into there.  I'll be continuing remotely full time with Brooklyn Tweed up until around May, and then part time until probably July or August as they hire on new staff in their new location.  After that. . . . ?

The studio is mine, and I'll keep it for my own workspace after Brooklyn Tweed is done.  I've got some cool projects lined up for the next year or so, and while part of me wants to make sure I have other stuff lined up so that I'll be busy and have that safety net, I'm going to try to take it easy, or at least easier.  There's been a lot of me missing in the last few years; emotion, self-care, and care for the other people in my life has kind of taken a back seat to pursuing my two separate careers.  So now that I'm transitioning down to one career (-ish--people in the knitting industry never have just one career!), I want to make sure I don't fill that gap with more work.  I want to have a life.  I want to catch up with me.  I want to catch up with people.  This may be a bit of a pipe dream, but I'm hoping to regain a little bit more of who I am--the girl who spends all weekend in bed reading, the girl who bakes cookies at 10:30 at night, the girl who goes out for margaritas and ice cream with friends, the girl who spends the day at the beach, the girl who goes running in the summer twilight. I've kind of lost her in the last couple years, and I want to get her back.

So, there we go.  By around fall of 2015, I will be completely freelance as a knitting designer, teacher, writer, and stats analyst.  This is more than mildly terrifying, but I am so excited to make it work.  So whatcha got going, world? Let's talk, and let's do this.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Stockinette Market: November 2014

Hello, knitters! It's that time of year--I can feel the heat rising off everyone's furiously clacking needles as C-Day draws closer.  For a little bit of a break, let's take a look back at what November had to offer by way of numbers!

 There was only one change in the content of the average percentage this month, with toys taking the place of ponchos.  Other than that, the categories remained the same, as did their rankings for the most part.  There were some percentage shifts from October: neck accessories dropped from 24% to 22%, cowls rose from 13% to 19%, hats rose from 12% to 16%, and cardigans and pullovers dropped from 12% each to 9% and 7%, respectively.  This ties in to the trends we've been seeing previously, as well as with the general shift in the winter months towards cozy and necessary accessories.  I am definitely looking forward to seeing what happens in the spring--whether cowls are here to stay, or whether they are indeed seasonal and will dip down again during the warmer months.

 There were very few publications in November that made an impact on the HRN standings; most trends were organically based or through the efforts of individual designers.  We did see the publication of three different collections: Kate Davies' Yokes at the beginning of the month, whose one-pattern-a-day release schedule caused a continual buzz in cardigans and pullovers for about a week in a row at the beginning of the month.  The 20th saw the release of Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People 8, which caused similar attention in garments, but showed as a spike rather than a continual line.  Finally, Twist Collective's latest issue debuted on the list on the 25th.  Each of these publications was garment heavy, and padded pullovers' and cardigans' stats up for the month.  However, despite these, both categories fell over the month, as did neck accessories after a promising start.  Cowls and hats both rose organically, with a promo from crochet cowl designer Deborah Currier-Hornyak boosting figures for that item near the end of the month.  All other garment types remained relatively steady, with little to no movement at the bottom of the spectrum.

Though solid and semi-solid yarns usually trade for dominance over the month, in November they saw nearly identical drops in prominence as the month went on.  Though each saw several spikes throughout the month, in the end the organic rise of variegated and self-striping yarns and the boost of tweeds with Wool People 8 brought their average down.  Projects with two colors rose in November as well, following a general trend towards stripes and colorwork this winter.  However, 3+ colors fell, suggesting people are going for the simpler, perhaps quicker versions of these trends.

 Modeled garments are still maintaining the majority, with a plateau corresponding to the daily release of the Yokes collection (as the previous days' patterns often remained on the first page as new ones were released) and a spike corresponding to Wool People 8.  We did see some organic spikes in both flat items and mystery knits throughout the month, and one spike in dressforms correspondent with Deborah Currier-Hornyak's promo.

 Fabric type kept texture as a clear winner this month, with occasional dips to accommodate the spikes in stockinette that came with Yokes and Wool People 8.  Colorwork also saw a spike in the second half of the month, as did lace almost immediately after Wool People.  Despite these spikes, texture was the only fabric type that rose over the month; the rest dropped or remained steady.

 Grey, white, and blue continued to hold the top spots in the month, with the former climbing the most as the month went on.  Blue had a very sharp organic spike around the 19th which caused it to trend upward as the month went on, but was otherwise relatively mellow in comparison to its usual volatile showing.  White fell over the month after several strong spikes in the first two weeks.  Red also saw a spike along with blue on the 19th, but fell overall.  There were slight gains in orange and brown, typically pretty underrepresented colors, and losses in purple, green, and black.  Yellow remained a minimal, but steady presence.

That's it for November--not a whole lot of violent action, but some interesting things to watch on trendlines as the winter progresses.  Hope everyone is staying warm and having a wonderful holiday season!

p.s. if you're interested in actually *listening* to me talk about stats, I had the pleasure of being a guest on Hannah Fettig's Knit.Fm podcast a few weeks ago to talk about overall trends in knitting.  Have a listen and please do weigh in in the Knit.Fm Ravelry forums!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Stockinette Market: October 2014

Hello, knitters! As I write this, the sun is beginning to disappear at the ripe old time of 3:30 in the afternoon, I have the space heater trained on my feet, and there's a lot of what sounds suspiciously like holiday music playing in the stores.  October saw the end of the fall knitting season, and we are well and truly into gift-giving land for the knitters of the world.  Before I get started on stats, I wanted to give a shout out to an awesome event starting tomorrow(!!!), November 13th, over on Ravelry: the Gift-a-Long 2014! With a whopping 293 participating designers (including myself) offering discounts on over 3,800 patterns, you can't help but find something you love.  After the sale is complete, we'll all join in on the KAL, working furiously on those presents for the holiday season.  More details are up in the Gift-a-Long 2014 group on Ravelry--including the massive list of all participating designers and their patterns--but in the meantime, check out the sweet stats one of the organizers put together!

All right, let's look back at October, when leaves were orange on the trees, "Rhinebeck sweater" were the words on everyone's lips, and on October 9th, Casey at Ravelry made some serious changes to the way Hot Right Now is structured.  Starting with this thread and this poll, you can see some very interesting discussions about how different people utilize, understand, and appreciate Hot Right Now.  After long discussion, Casey made these changes to the Hot Right Now algorithms (detailed in post #266), which should significantly cut down on patterns whose place on Hot Right Now is gained by clicking through from a blind link and then leaving soon thereafter.   How is this important to us? Often times, those blind links are in the Ravelry forums, announcing that X pattern is free for a limited time, or on discount for a limited time. 

In addition, on the 29th, this change was announced for all patterns going forward: patterns will no longer be able to have promotional text on the photo or additional keywords besides the title in the pattern name.  You all know from reading the Stockinette Market that free patterns, especially those that are free for a limited time, have held a significant place in the rankings, and in recent months more and more people have begun using text in the main photo to indicate a discount or promo.  Though I didn't see a huge difference in any of our major categories once these shifts occurred (garment, yarn, model, fabric, and color), the composition of Hot Right Now itself looks very different as a page. Definitely check it out if you haven't been looking in a while!

With those details in mind, let's take a look at the numbers! (Also known as, Bristol's been talking for a while; bring on the pretty graphs.)

Neck accessories continued to decline over the month, going from 30% in September to 24% in October.  Cowls and hats took the second and third spot, with cowls up 4% and hats remaining steady.  Garments also remained steady at 12% each.  We kept the same number of categories as we had last month, but swapped out toys for ponchos as that accessory begins to make its presence known again in the knitting world.  Overall, I definitely want to continue to watch how cowls and neck accessories interact in the future. At this time last year, neck accessories held 31% of the average and cowls held 14%; while there are certain ebbs and flows of popularity (for example, cowls are at around 4% through much of the summer), that falling number for neck accessories is definitely an important one.

We saw a few major spikes in garment type in October, but the interesting thing is that, despite several publications and promos, only one was really associated with these; this was with children's garments at the beginning of the month, concurrent with a "free for a limited time" promo by Mon Petit Violon.  There were two large organic spikes in neck accessories a week later, and two smaller organic ones throughout the month.  Pullovers had an organic spike mid month, and there were several further spikes throughout the month.  Indeed, many different garment types traded for dominance in October.  The one clear winner in terms of trajectory was cardigans; this saw strong play (but no real spikes) at the end of the month with the publication of Pom Pom Quarterly Winter 14, Vogue Holiday 2014, and Interweave Winter 2015.  Pullovers, hats, cowls, kids, and socks all fell over the month. 

Solid and semi-solid yarns traded for dominance throughout October, with solids spiking concurrent with the Mon Petit Violon promo (along with 2-color projects, typical of Mon Petit Violon's work).  They then fell as the month continued, with semi-solids climbing slightly.  There were slight climbs in tweeds and multi-color knits through the month, and a notable spike in self-striping yarns near the end of the month both organically and in association with a Ravelry spotlight on gradients.

Model type remained steady through the month, with modeled garments retaining a clear dominance.  It's interested to note that there was a clear spike in mystery knits towards the end of the month, something we haven't really seen before, perhaps associated with the Halloween holiday.  Items shown flat also had several spikes, the first associated with Mon Petit Violon and the rest organic.  Dressforms also saw a small spike on the 12th.
Texture remained the dominant fabric type almost entirely through October, with two small trades for stockinette at the beginning and at the end of the month.  Stockinette saw several further spikes, along with colorwork and one spike in lace.  Cables were still low, but maintained a decent chunk of the market.  Each category remained steady across the month.

Colors were as wildly variable as we've come to expect, but grey and blue continued to dominate (though the former climbed and the latter dropped).  Again, as we saw above, the only color spike associated with a promo or publication came with Mon Petit Violon at the beginning of the month with a spike in white; all other spikes appear to be organic.  Interesting to note is that several colors spikes that don't typically see the spotlight: purple (falling throughout the month) and brown (climbing).  Yellow and green had slight rises as well, but all others maintained or fell slightly.

This has been an interesting month for data; despite several publications and promos, the data was truly in the hands of the knitters.  This seems to be the case both pre- and post-Hot Right Now changes, so it will be interesting to see what will happen moving forward.  Stay tuned, and I'll see you in December!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Stockinette Market: September 2014

Hello everyone! I've just returned from that landmark weekend of the knitter's season, Rhinebeck (aka New York Sheep and Wool).  Though the weather was forecast to be high 60s on Saturday, both days ended up being perfect, crisp fall weather for showing off your Rhinebeck sweater.  There were some amazing sweaters out there, and it was fun to see which ones kept cropping up.  I saw quite a few Hitofudes and Grandpas, and also several Pumpkin Ales, Hiros, and Beekman Taverns.  Once you got past the garments, I didn't see a lot of consistency in accessories--I'd be hard-pressed to tell you the shawl of the show, or the hat of the show.  Did anyone else get a good perspective on that? Please let me know!

Though I didn't spend much time in the vendor barns (I need more yarn like I need a hole in my favorite pair of handknit socks), it seemed like it was a pretty even balance between yarn hand-dyers and more rustic, farm-style yarns.  Miss Babs was always mobbed when I tried to take a peek, and Into the Whirled had to get creative and put up a sign showcasing their "invisible yarn" when their booth was nearly sold out on Sunday. I also saw a lot of Foxhill Farms cormo yarn getting the Charmin treatment, and of course, Jennie the Potter and Jill Draper were mobbed for much of the weekend.  Though I know Rhinebeck isn't necessarily a true representation of the knitting world at large, getting to be "in the field" for the weekend was a lot of fun!

Jumping back a bit in time, let's take a look at what was going on on Ravelry in September.

While neck accessories are continuing to hold the lead, they dropped a further 4% from the previous month's average.  Hats took up all this slack and more, jumping from 5% of the average to 12%.  This is due both to a general uptick in presence due to the imminent northern hemisphere winter (I'm not ready to talk about that yet!) and two promos during the month, one by BabyCocktails and one by Crochet by Jennifer.  Cardigans and pullovers took the next two spots due to a strong showing with some garment-heavy collections such as Brooklyn Tweed Fall 14, Quince & Co.'s Wool 5, Knitscene Winter 14, and Justyna Lorkowska's What the Heart Wants.  However, despite these, cardigans dropped 5% from last month and pullovers dropped another 1%.  There were a higher number of categories represented this month as well, with men's garments and toys joining the list.  Cowls also gained a few points, as we're starting to see some of the stalwart winter accessories come to the fore, like the Gap-tastic Cowl and the Honey Cowl.   

As we saw with the average percentage above, neck accessories continued to hold dominance, but you can see the sharp decline over the month above.  They did have organic spikes at the beginning and twice in the middle of the month, but fell in the last third.  Hats rose over the month, with a spike in the beginning tied to the BabyCocktails promo, and both organic spikes at the end and one tied to the Crochet by Jennifer promo.  It's interesting to note that September seems to be the month when crochet designers discovered the "entire catalog free for a limited time" model, as knitwear designers have been doing for a couple years, and several of them over September and October have utilized this model. 

Also moving steadily this month were cardigans and pullovers, which seemed to meet each other in the middle of the month and go their separate ways--cardigans climbing and pullovers falling.  The former saw a rising wave in the second half of the month both organically and along with Justyna's collection, and the latter fell sharply after a large presence in Brooklyn Tweed's Fall 14 and Knitscene.  Cowls and men's garments also climbed organically over the month.

Though there were many spikes in yarn usage in September, the trendlines themselves remained relatively steady.  We saw a sharp spike in tweeds concurrent with the Brooklyn Tweed collection, and though there was a slight drop over the month, it was otherwise represented very well organically.  The same is true of solids and semi-solids; while there were several spikes, the general organic overview was very steady.  We did see several spikes in 2-color items, which are tied to many of the crochet promo throughout the month, as those were often multi-colored in various capacities.  Also notable is a slight rise in the use of variegated yarns, after a long period of steadiness at the lower end of the spectrum.  That's one I'll be keeping my eye on in the future!

Interestingly, though the majority of the industry publications--where we typically see utilizing the most modeled garments--occurred at the beginning of the month, these climbed organically to the end of the month.  All other categories remained steady. 

Texture took over as the clear winner of fabric type this month, decidedly besting lace for the first time since March.  This was caused both organically and due to a large presence in both the Brooklyn Tweed collection--based on traditional fisherman's sweaters--and the crochet work we saw in the latter half of the month.  Lace did continue steady, tying with colorwork for second place across the month, the latter of which saw a heightened presence thanks as well to the crochet promos.  Cables and stockinette also remained steady, with a spike in the former corresponding with the Brooklyn Tweed collection.

The cool tones and neutrals are continuing to dominate this month, with grey and blue trading for dominance most of the month.  White saw a large spike near the end of the month with a promo by Paloma Perez, who featured crochet newborn photo props.  Despite these colors keeping dominance through the month, we saw rises in red and yellow as well, culminating in an organic spike in the former around the 24th.  Green, orange, and black dropped slightly, and brown remained steady.

So all in all, a bit of an odd month; despite the beginning being loaded with industry publications, trends associated with these collections maintained throughout the rest of the month, indicating that they were on target with the organic interests of the rest of the population.  I will be continuing to watch the dramatic drop in shawls over the next few months to see if it levels out, as well as the rise in smaller accessories like hats and cowls.  Stay tuned!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Stockinette Market: Summer 2014

Well hello there! It seems like it was just yesterday that I had the space heater trained on my feet at my desk, a hot mug of tea at my elbow as I wrote the previous Stockinette Market post (it was not a warm start to the summer here in Maine).  And suddenly here we are in the third week of September, a glorious, balmy fall day, poised and ready for prime knitting season! Though--as you'll see from the data below--summer is a slower, mellower time for knitting consumers, that's definitely not the case when you work in the industry.  Despite my best intentions to keep up with stats posts throughout the summer, the amount of traveling, teaching, day-to-day work, and deadlines on my plate made it very tricky.  So, my apologies for the unintended hiatus! But hopefully I can make it up to you with a super-sized edition this time around.
Though the organic trends we saw in May slowed down and there were only a few publications throughout most of the summer, there were no radical changes in percentages.  The big three--neck accessories, cardigans, and pullovers--maintained their lead, but lost a few points to each of a few other categories: homegoods, kid's, and hats.  Kid's patterns benefited greatly from a few separate incidences: Brooklyn Tweed's BT Kids launch in mid-June, new children's patterns from Melissa LaBarre and Ysolda, and the "going out of business" freebie release of Boomer Beanies at the end of June.  But, as you can see from the individual months' breakdowns below, kid's items dropped 5% from June to July, back closer to their previous percentage; garments also saw a good amount of play in June due to the release of Knitty First Fall, Norah Gaughan vol. 15, and Knitscene Fall 14.  July saw neck accessories gaining back a few points, almost to their May numbers, while garments dropped.  This slack was taken up by homegoods, thanks to a Ravelry spotlight on bags.  August saw cardigans taking a further percentage, due to the release of several garment-heavy collections: Twist Collective Fall 14, Interweave Knits Fall 14, Pom Pom Quarterly Autumn 14, Kelbourne Woolens' Knightsbridge Collection, Kirsten Johnstone's Monochrome collection for Shibui, Shibui's own Fall 14 collection, and Kim Hargreaves' North--most of which were published within a few days of each other.  Whew! We're also starting to see the creeping return of cold-weather necessities: for the first time since March, mitts are making an appearance.

Overall, though, in comparison to this time last year, one trend to watch is the overall drop in neck accessory percentages.  Last year in June they held an average of 46%, and continued strong throughout the summer.  They dropped for the winter slightly, and while they've climbed from their lowest point (22% in December), they haven't yet made up the ground lost.  It will be interesting to see where they go over the coming northern hemisphere winter.
Though most garment trends remained relatively steady over the summer, there was a slight decrease in neck accessories, and an even more marked decline in pullovers, despite the garment-heavy collections mentioned above (themselves responsible for the spike in pullovers at the beginning of August).  It remains unclear whether this trend is a result of a bias within the collections themselves, or whether it's an all-over trend towards cardigans after a pullover-heavy year.  It's one to watch, for sure!

There was one massive spike in kid's garments late in June as a result of the Boomer Beanies promo, and a smaller spike in kid's garments concurrent with BT Kids. There were also several neck accessory spikes arising organically throughout.  There was also a slight rise in homegoods, tied to the Ravelry spotlight on bags mentioned above.  All other categories remained relatively steady.

Though yarn type remained pretty much steady across the summer, dominance traded several times between solid and semi-solid yarn during that time.  The former had a huge spike in relation to the Boomer Beanies promo and also in association with the Ravelry spotlight on bags.  Also prominent with the Boomer Beanies promo was a spike in 3+ -color projects, as many of the items featured were in multiple colors.  Semi-solids saw play organically throughout the summer, and tweed got a boost during BT Kids and during the Shibui collections in August.  2-color projects also saw a lot of organic action across the summer.

Modeled garments saw a very slight decline over the summer, with a spikes corresponding to the Boomer Beanies promo, the early August release of the model-heavy magazines and collections.  Items modeled flat also fell slightly, and there was a small organic rise in dressforms over the summer as well.  Mystery knits remained steady; though several prominent designers held summer MKALs, there were not enough at one time to make a dent.

Though there were many variations in fabric type over the summer, the only clear spikes were in texture and colorwork, corresponding with the Boomer Beanies promo.  Lace continued its decline from May, and texture, colorwork, and stockinette all rose.  Cables continued steadily as the smallest portion of the group, but they may shift higher in September's report due to some heavy use in collections and individual pieces.
The steady, clear trendlines of the other categories were also reflected in color throughout the summer.  Though there were several large spikes in white, blue, and grey, non of them especially swayed the course of their respective trends over the months.  Grey, red, and orange all rose very slightly and mostly organically.  All others remained relatively steady.  It's interesting to note that even with the shift of seasons and with the rise in those trendlines, we didn't see much by way of brighter, warmer colors this summer; the most prevalent colors (cool tones and neutrals) were the same as have been popular throughout the year.  We'll see what those look like as autumnal colors start to make their presence known!

So all in all, a calm summer in terms of trends.  I've heard it said multiple times that a knitter's interest shifts outside in the summertime, away from yarn, and back inside once the first cold snap hits in the fall.  Though my own attention never leaves the needles, it's true that once fall hits, it turns up to 11.  So it will be interesting to see what September's numbers bring!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A couple tutorials in brioche and fisherman's rib

So it's no secret that I'm a huge, huge fan of brioche and fisherman's rib.  I've been working pretty obsessively with them over the last year or so, and the obsession doesn't show any real signs of stopping.  I've had a couple questions recently on troubleshooting with these stitches (and one question relating to my Linum tee design with Knitscene in particular), so I thought I'd do a couple quick video tutorials on getting more comfortable with them.  The first is one laddering down and rebuilding stitch columns in these stitches:

And the second is on how to perform a knit-1-below into a stitch that was decreased on the previous row:

Now, YouTube star I am not, but I hope these will help explain the process and help people get more comfortable with some of my favorite stitches!