Friday, May 22, 2009

Yarn Forward Review

As promised, here is a review of my recent digital subscription to Yarn Forward magazine. I received my first issue immediately upon signing up and downloading the special reader software. I have to say that I am very happy with the magazine overall and I would definitely recommend at least looking through the project previews for the type of projects they have.

The magazine has all the typical things you would expect: articles about techniques, events, and people in the fibery world, book reviews, advertorials, etc. Because it is a UK publication, the articles and ads concentrate on that region (as can be expected). They are not of much immediate use to me, but it is still quite interesting. They did a two-part (so far) article about formal knitwear/design education opportunities in the UK that was quite interesting. They also seem to do an article in every issue which highlights the fiber climate in other parts of the world. In the issues I have so far (13 and 14), they wrote about recycled silk yarn from India, and about knitting in Prague. Each of these articles has a handy sidebar with information on key terms from the article, key words and phrases, and even local yarn shops! It's pretty neat to see the different facets of knitting around the world.

In addition to all their articles, there are also the patterns, of course! There are 13 in each issue, primarily women's tops, but also one guy's sweater, one children's article, and a couple of accessories in each issue. My favorite projects so far are Niamh and the Eden Shawl (scroll down: it's the first image below the cover...kinda scarf-like) from Issue 13, and Morning Echo and Siena from Issue 14. I almost cast on for the Eden Shawl (they call it a "scarfwrap"...I thought that was cute) right away because I have some Malabrigo lace in my stash that has been looking for a project, but decided to use it for something else instead. I don't even know what attracts me to it: it's a reaaaaaaally long lace scarfwrap with the ends grafted together so it forms one giant loop. It's just...completely impractical (in San Diego) and would be a snooze to knit,'s one giant, removable cowl and who doesn't love that! They even seem to be doing some kind of mystery KAL, revealing new clues in each issue. As far as I can tell, though, it's just going to end up being a giant block afghan with different stitch patterns and colors. Hmmm...not for me.

They do something cool with the patterns though: every one has a size and yarn guide chart in both centimeters and inches, in which they lay out the bust size it is intended to fit, the actual size of the garment for each size, and the length of each garment. It's the same thing as a schematic, but in an easy-to-read table. And yes, they do have schematics too. They also include a chart that shows how much yarn the pattern will take for each size. For instance, if two sizes both call for 8 balls of Rowan Silk Wool DK, they will tell you that the smaller size takes 790 yards, and the larger size takes 870 yards. LOVE THAT! It makes it so much easier to substitute yarns! Another thing I really like is that they give you three yarn alternatives for each pattern, in three different price points: Save, Spend, and Spoil Yourself. I think that is so flipping cool!

I was a little disappointed with the photography because they didn't have many angles available, at least in Issue 13. They seem to be doing better in Issue 14 by showing the back of sweaters, detail close-ups, etc. But overall the photography is very good and of the quality you would expect of a professional publication.

Some good points about the digital version: the table of contents is linked to the page you're looking for, so there is no need to scroll through to find what you want. (Hmmm...except that the scarfwrap isn't even listed in the contents.) Any website mentioned inside the magazine is linked too, including the little "advertorials".

Some downsides: It is very difficult to size the reader to make it easy to read. It seems to have two settings: one so small you need a magnifying glass, and the other so large you have to scroll up and down and over just to read one page. I did manage to find an in-between setting, but then it doesn't let you shrink it back down. Also, the pages can be a little sluggish to turn at times, but that is expected with any digital publication.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the magazine. I only wish I had started subscribing earlier. I did end up ordering Issue 11 off of eBay because I like the Callie Bib Tee so much and I didn't bother to snag it while it was still in stores.


Cookie said...

Thank you for this! I've been wondering about Yarn Forward, but you know what kind of luck I've had with UK knitting magazines. *L*

I just wish the linkie to the shawl had worked. :?

Julie said...

I LOVE that they offer different yarns for each pattern! I find that one of the most difficult things. (They almost always use yarn that costs more than I'm willing to spend.) I'll be watching for FO's!

Anonymous said...

Great, thorough review. Sounds like a lot of great detail, interesting little sidebar tidbits. I find the worldwide aspect of knitting so cool, such a validation that it's not just a fad, but truly a long-standing artform in the tweaks and turns that different cultures take on it.

Ditto on disclosing the true yardage per size - 'bout time! It's true their website is a little screwy to navigate, but for the subscription the price is right and your review makes it seem very my speed.

I agree - Scarfwrap scores in both its gigantic loopy cowlness and its cute name.

I love(d) Callie Bib Tee, too (in fact, I think you introduced me), but upon infatuation, I couldn't wrastle up the pattern online anywhere. Aha, so it's an eBay rescue once again!

Team Knit ! said...

Thank you for looking into this! That was a great review, and answered a lot of questions I had about Yarn Forward.

- Julie

soknitpicky said...

Great review! Were you able to specify whether your subscription started with #13 or #14?

Hilary said...

Thanks for the great review! Offering different yarn choices at different price points sounds like a fabulous idea.

Hilary said...

Hmm...I just left a comment, but navigated away from the page and now fail to remember if I actually posted it or not. Apparently, I am still asleep. Well, just in case that first one didn't come through, I thanked you for the great review and noted that I thought offering three different yarn choices at different price points was a great idea. I wish all patterns had that feature!