Monday, March 25, 2013

The Stock(inette) Market: March 11th-24th

Wow, y'all.  I don't even have words to describe how amazing the reception has been to the First Edition of the Stock(inette) Market--it's been unreal.  Thank you so much to everyone who's commented either here, on Ravelry, or on Twitter; the discussions this has created have been incredible.  I look forward to seeing how it continues!

Before I get started with this fortnight's edition, I wanted to talk a little bit about where I'm hoping to take this next, based on the afore-mentioned conversations.  I'm currently on the waiting list to get a Ravelry API key, which should help me automate this process a little further and therefore enable more categories to be added.  On the list of things I'll tackle (as soon as I figure out what the heck I'm doing with an API key!) is free vs. free for a limited time vs. paid; using the designer's chosen attributes to define the garment type; 'industry' publications vs. self-publications; and a few others.  A big one is also tracking the same categories on "recently published", and seeing what percentage of that day's published patterns actually make it onto the first page.  I'll be incorporating these things over time, but stay tuned--I think they'll be great additions to the current information.

So, without further ado, on to this fortnight's Edition!

There were a few big events in the last couple weeks that affected the data; on March 13th the preview photos for the new issue of Knit.Wear were added to Ravelry.  The items from this issue that made the first page were predominantly sweaters and vests, with a pretty even mix of stockinette, lace, and textured stitches.  This issue also featured a tilt towards solid yarns, which you'll see in the graphs below.  On March 18th, previews for Amy Herzog's new book Knit to Flatter went up on Ravelry; Amy's focus on figure-flattering garments meant that again, the first page skewed to sweaters, with a good blend of stockinette, lace, cables, and texture, and an even distribution of solid and semi-solid yarns.  However, the general trend is still for shawls/scarves/wraps and lace.  Here's the full breakdown:

The types of garments that averaged more than 1 appearance per day rose this fortnight; both kid's garments and vests joined the list from last time.  The pie chart above illustrates the average portion of the first page each garment type receives; shawls/scarves/wraps are up from 40% last time.  This is in line with the general trend of accessories as the more typical projects in the warmer months.

You can see the dips in shawls/scarves/wraps on the 13th and the 18th concurrent with spikes in cardigans and pullovers, but there is otherwise a continual up-tick in neck accessories.  This is a continual steady increase from the last edition as well.  Other garment types showed minor changes only, with sweaters falling slightly despite the big spikes and cowls and socks rising.

Yarn type stayed relatively constant through the two weeks, with some switches between solids and semi-solids as Knit.Wear, predominantly solids, moved out and the general self-publishing focus, mostly semi-solids, came back.  There was a large spike in two-color projects during the 3/22 AM collection, but the items seemed to come from multiple different sources (new patterns, forum threads, and, memorably, a promise involving bacon and Amy Singer's sister) rather than a single impetus or thread. 

Fabric type saw relative consistency over the time period with the exception of lace's gradual rise.  The spike in colorwork on 3/22 reflects the 2-color patterns discussed above, and the cable spike on 3/18 is due to Knit to Flatter.  I think it's interesting to note that book publications have much more of a mix of fabric types, including those such as cables which might not be as seasonally popular.  Magazines and self-publishing, however, can reflect more seasonal changes, focusing on more specific types of fabric and causing down-turns in others (the 3/13 dip in cables is due to the other types of fabric being showcased heavily in Knit.Wear).  I'll be watching this closely in regards to other books when they hit the market.

I added a few other categories to the Model Type discussion: shown flat, shown on a dressform, or a mystery knit-a-long that uses a placeholder image rather than an image of the garment.  There was a slight down-turn in modeled garments over the time period, with spikes for Knit.Wear and Knit to Flatter.  Modeled garments did indeed follow the formula from last time of dipping during the weekend on 3/16-3/17, but not on 3/23-3/24.  Garments shown flat also had a slight rise over the two weeks, with quite a few shawls being displayed this way.

  Color was an interesting one this time around; instead of the calm neutrals we saw last time, there was a distinct rise in blues, greens, oranges, and a continued rise in reds.  Knit.Wear's color story was relatively muted, with neutrals and pale, cool shades well-represented, while Knit to Flatter had representatives of most of the color spectrum in brighter, vivid tones.  However, the most interesting thing for me over the last few days has been the sudden burst of orange--coming from nearly non-existent over the previous few weeks, there have been at least four or five garments in it every time over the last four or so days.  Are these color spikes an indication that the more vivid colors of summer are on their way?

I also wanted to take a little look back over the last month in total to see if there was follow-through in trends from last time to this.  Red and blue both continue to climb steadily, projects with more than one color have made steady upward progress, and shawls continue forward.  Traditional sweaters are dipping, but tanks and vests are climbing with warmer weather in the Northern hemisphere on its way (hopefully).  Where do you see the next two weeks going?

Monday, March 11, 2013

The State of the Stock(inette) Market: February 25th-March 10th

So, as you might have guessed from previous posts, I'm a big old nerd.  Most of my college career was focused on the quantitative analysis of ethnographic, anthropological, and linguistic data (told you I was a nerd), and it was inevitable that this would eventually bleed over into my work in the knitting world.  Special thanks go to my friend Sarah for the final kick in the butt a few weeks ago to get this started; after a conversation in which she described my ambitions as "wanting to be the knitting Nate Silver," I knew I had to pursue my interest further!

For the past couple weeks, I've been working on a project that I hope will prove beneficial and interesting to other knitting designers, people in the industry, and just plain old statistics nerds like myself.  I've always been interested in the numbers of the knitting world, and there's a wealth of raw data available on Ravelry--so I thought, why not combine the two?  The Stock(inette) Market is the result!

My method has been simple: ideally twice a day, ideally 12 hours apart (ideally, because I am human after all), I take a look at the first page of one Ravelry's search algorithms, Hot Right Now.  There are 48 patterns on the first page, representing the patterns that are getting the most attention at that time on Ravelry.  Within those 48 patterns, I've broken down my analysis into five different classifications: Garment Type, Fabric Type, Yarn Type, Color, and whether or not the item is on a model.  After collating all this information every two weeks, I'll present an analysis of where things stand in  knitting design in that timeframe, and how it compares to previous analyses.  With this information, I hope to get a sense of where trends are shifting in the knitting world, thus enabling myself and other designers to best use the resources available to us and further make our way in the industry.  (God, the academic language, it just comes right back, doesn't it?)

I'm definitely interested in as much feedback as possible; are there further analyses you'd like to see? Things you'd change? I'm personally thinking about splitting a few garment categories further down into their component parts (neck accessories is the big one I'd like to split, but that gets into very semantic territory), and am open to further discussion.  I've also taken screenshots of the page each time I've accessed the data, and so would be able to go back and look into things further.  I'm interested in eventually incorporating knit vs. crochet, yarn weight, yardage, date published, price, and a few other factors, but I'm also trying to be realistic about the time commitment! I'll most definitely take into consideration any suggestions, though, and welcome them.

Without further ado, then, here's the first two weeks of The Stock(inette) Market!

Note that this chart is an incomplete view of all the patterns that were on HRN--this represents only the garment types that averaged more than one appearance per data collection event.  Not pictured: toys, men's, kid's, mitts, mittens/gloves, dresses, jewelry, vests, ponchos, or unmentionables.  It's worthwhile to note that there was a spike in vests starting on the 6th and continuing through the 10th, partly due to a number of them in the most recent Knitty and the release of Splitstone.  Also spiking over the last few days were ponchos from various sources, which indicates that there was either a popular forum post or blog post on the topic. (EDIT: dergugelhupf wrote in the comments that there was indeed a forum post in For the Love of Ravelry by someone talking about ponchos with sleeves, or "swonchos" [shudder].  That would definitely explain the spike in ponchos!)

On those garment types that do appear on the graph, neck accessories (scarves, shawls, and wraps) are still incredibly strong, following a trend that's been going for at least three years at this point.  There was a large spike in the last week due to the release of Quince & Co.'s Scarves Etc. 2013, a collection of 17 scarves, shawls, and cowls.   Garments took a bit of a backseat due to this spike and dropped accordingly.  Homegoods, hats, and socks remained relatively steady.

Fabric type is determined by what I feel to be the prevailing motif of the item.  Lace continues strong, a trend that started right about when shawls did.  Textured knits, however, ranging from simple garter stitch to slip stitches and knit-purl combinations, climbed over the weeks due to a strong presence in the Q&C Scarves, Etc. 2013.  Colorwork (defined as anything with more than one color, be it stripes, stranding, intarsia, colorblocking, and so on) rose steadily, but didn't have a huge presence in either Knitty or Q&C.  I'm interested to see where that one goes! Cables and stockinette were steady in the background, with some popular and well-loved patterns (the Featherweight cardigan and Aidez, for example) staying on the front page consistently. 

Yarn type is a pretty interesting illustration that solid and semi-solid (i.e. kettle-dyed) yarns are still standing tall, though there were some big spikes in 2- or 3-color projects throughout the weeks.  There is an almost direct shift between solids and semi-solids when Q&C's Scarves, Etc. met Knitty, which came out a few days later; the semi-solids were definitely very well represented in this issue of Knitty.  Tweed, variegateds, and self-striping yarns remained steady, with longstanding favorites such as Hitchhiker, Storm Mountain, and Wingspan appearing most every day.

Color has been one of the most interesting things to track over the last two weeks; as you can see from the graph, it was an incredibly diverse selection every time.  Neutrals made a strong showing, with a spike in grey on the first day and a steady climb in brown and white/off-white over the weeks.  Red also climbed, but wasn't a large portion of either Knitty or Q&C. Alternately, green started off strong, but dropped steadily over the two weeks.  Other colors remained relatively steady, and have me interested to see where these will go in the long term.  Are color trends indeed seasonal?

The last option I explored was whether or not the item was modeled by a person.  Most discussions of how best to photograph your patterns encourage doing so on a person, but approximately 1/5-1/3 of patterns were without a human model.  Quite a number were pictured on a dressform or similar set-up, however, so that might be something I track in the future.  An interesting aside is the dips below the trendline on the weekends; far fewer patterns were modeled during those times.  Something to keep an eye on!

So, to sum up, shawls/scarves/wraps and lace remain strong, with a rise in 2 or more color patterns and texture.  Semi-solids and solids still rule the yarn market, partly thanks to the Quince & Co. Scarves, Etc. 2013 and the most recent Knitty.  Green is down, and reds and neutrals are up.  Where do you think things will go in the next few weeks?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


The second design from Strata and Line I wanted to talk about is Strake, a drop-shouldered dolman pullover in Quince & Co. Lark Kittywake and Lichen.

(all photos copyright Bristol Ivy and Leah B. Thibault)

Strake is easily one of the simplest patterns I've ever written; the shape is tailored and clean, and the stripes and garter edging do all the work for a effortless finished piece.  Ravelry tells me I knit the sample in two weeks! But that ease doesn't stop it from being super wearable--I'm not typically a pullover person, but this sweater gets frequent wear. It was inspired by a shirt owned by my stripe-loving friend Aimee that I covet every time it makes an appearance.  I decided it was high time to make my own!

As with Stripanan, I had the colors and yarn picked out on this very early on.  I've spent a lot of time in the Quince warehouse, and sometimes certain colors just stick with you.  This is the second time I've used either color for a project; Lichen was used in the Tideline Cowl in Puffin, and Kittywake as the main color in Linnae.  I'm pretty certain I'll be using both of them again in the future as well!

Strake is worked in the round from the bottom up, and then split to work back and forth at the underarm.  The sleeves are picked up and knit down from the body.  It utilizes two of my favorite accents, contrast color cast-ons and bind-offs and garter edging.  I'll never tire of those!

Strake is available through Ravelry here, and as part of my four patterns in the Strata and Line collection for a discount with the code "STRATA".  I'll be discontinuing the coupon code once I finish with this blog series, so make sure to grab it quickly!