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Newsletter - February 2012
This newsletter is a departure from our usual format. This month we are celebrating our best selling designs from June 3, 2008 or "since the dawn of time" as Julia puts it, until December 31, 2011. For this month only we will be eliminating Designer of the Month, the Prime Minister's Choice, the Editor’s Choice, Collection of the Month and From the Ambassador's Desk. We will return to our usual format in March.
We would love to know what you think of this issue, well, all issues actually, but this one, in particular right now, so write to me, Gayle Clow, the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
Send non-newsletter-related comments or questions to Phil at email@example.com.
In this issue ...
From the Prime Minister's Desk
How appropriate in February to present you with the patterns our customers love the most.
Our bestsellers reflect the very essence of Patternfish. From the outset, I wanted to make the finest, widest variety of patterns available with no editorial interference in terms of taste. (In fairness, it should be noted that my editorial judgment has holes in it you could throw a cat through. Best to stay out of it.) So these lists are as fair and balanced a representation of popularity as one is likely to get in our industry. Keep in mind that these results are based on patterns people actually pay for-- not collect for free.
Our clientele is intelligent and unafraid of unusual techniques or construction: look at not only the mega-selling Sea Lettuce Scarf, of course, but the top three vests too are all departures from the common way of things. Top-down garments are incredibly popular. (It was Cabin Fever who insisted we add 'Top Down' as a search category at the beginning-- thank you!) Cardigans as a category are more popular than sweaters; I would have thought the opposite and been wrong.
Interestingly, we rarely have Michael Jackson "Thriller" kinds of hits, with one pattern selling orders of magnitude over the others. Our sales overall are the very definition of long tail: steady, strong, diffuse. Plied rather than singles, you might say.
What I love here is the sheer variety of skills and projects represented. Even when Knitting Pure And Simple patterns 'own' a category like Children, you know that the very simplicity of line will make for a madly engaging assortment of finished garments in every yarn imaginable, from acrylic to quiviut.
The people have spoken, and made song.
Charity Selection of the Month
Last month we established that the Designer of the Month would decide which charity would receive the month’s charitable contributions. We don’t have one this month so we asked Lucy Neatby, designer of the top selling pattern to do the honours. She has chosen the Canadian Cancer Society. For those who don’t know, Lucy is Canadian by way of Britain.
Patternfish and Lucy Neatby will each be contributing a portion of the sales of Neatby’s designs during the period of the February newsletter to the Canadian Cancer Society.
Our Newest Designers and Publishers
In January we welcomed five new designers.
Kris Basta debuts with her easy, cute and wearable Options Slippers. Just look at the form-fitting heel! Choose a knitted, crocheted or prefelted sole from a shrunken sweater. Who doesn’t have one of those? Kris generously allows this pattern to be freely used for craft shows and bazaars.
Lisa McFetridge begins at Patternfish with Telemark, classic Norwegian patterning on a hat and cowl combination. The cowl comes in two sizes, both shaped with fewer stitches on the back to fit easily under a coat. McFetridge’s clever, lively daughter has dubbed the cowl a “chickie, a dickie for chics”.
Anna Dalvi knits under the name Knit and Knag Designs. (Don’t you just love that name?) The Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption in Iceland inspired Dalvi to create this shawl. Can’t you just envisage the lava flowing from the centre? Surprise, the stitch count is just under 600 stitches when you’re done thanks to the fingering weight yarn.
Allison LoCicero of Freckles and Purls (another great company name) debuts with her Flower Market Shawl, inspired by the large flower markets in many cities. The body of the shawl is an allover floral pattern while the border is as close as you could come to describing (in the language of lace) flower sprays in their paper wrapping.
Bonne Marie Burns begins with her smashing Elisbeth Collection of cabled headgear and cowls, for men or women, using yarn with the classic 18 st/24 row gauge. The collection generously includes a headband, a hat and two cabled cowls, one horizontal, one vertical.
Best Selling Patternfish Designs
Much as we protest about the harmful effects of gossip, there seems to be something about it that people enjoy immensely. It likely has to do with our nature as social animals. We must suss out what others are up to in order to find out about them and see where we stand in the social group. An evolutionary psychologist thinks it’s a means of aiding social bonding in large groups. Gossip helps us figure out where others stand and what’s important to them.
We frequently have customers and designers asking us to “spill”. Which are Patternfish’s best selling patterns? That’s not something we are conscious of day to day, so we thought we’d tally the designs and share the information with you. Here are the best selling patterns from “the dawn of time”, June 3rd, 2008 to December 31st, 2011. We were in for some surprises and we think you may be, too.
Here’s a guide to what you can look forward to seeing. We’re focusing on the top 10 designs in each category, showing and commenting on the patterns and designers and providing a link to the top 10 in each category. We’ve listed the category titles In This Issue… so you can easily find the ones that you’re most curious about (there’s a lot of material here!) and go back at your leisure and to see the rest. Patternfish has over 10,000 patterns listed right now. You will be seeing the best selling 138.
We would have liked to have included photos of every pattern but, alas, there just wasn’t enough room. To see photos of all the best selling patterns in each collection, click on the words ‘Full Collection’ next to each title.
Best Selling Pattern
Lucy Neatby’s Sea Lettuce Scarf is the unrivaled best selling Patternfish design. Neatby describes Sea Lettuce as “…a spiraling, frilly, short row extravaganza in two widths with picots and a modified bind-off method.”
There’s the original, an adaptation in the lovely and unusual Yang yarn, and a French translation.
We asked Lucy to tell us how she created Sea Lettuce. She did not disappoint. Read about it in the Best Selling Pattern and Lucy Speaks.
Best Selling Cardigans - Full Collection
It’s not a surprise that Elizabeth, the winner of Patternfish’s 10,000th design contest, is the best selling cardigan. Cecily Glowick MacDonald’s design for Classic Elite Yarns looks good on just about everyone so it was dubbed the “Magic Sweater”.
The 4th and 5th best selling designs are as different from one another as two designs can be. Louet’s Paige and Pamela is a flattering, feminine updated twin set in a smooth sport weight yarn that practically demands pearls while Elizabeth Smith’s Common Ground is a top down bulky knit with garter and eyelet texture just built for throwing on quickly whenever you venture out.
Five designs in the top 10 are from Diane Soucy at Knitting Pure and Simple. These designs are loved because her patterns are so well thought out and written, top down construction means easy custom fitting as well as no sewing to speak of and the designs suit the lives women lead very well.
Two more top down patterns round out the top 10 cardigans: Karen Alfke’s Raglan Cardigans From the Top Down to knit in any size, in any gauge, with any yarn, any neckline, body length or sleeve length; and Deb Gemmel’s A-Line Cardigan, a pattern originally designed for Teens and Tweens but demanded by their moms, with simple to execute but intriguing looking front bands, cuffs and border.
Best Selling Sweaters - Full Collection
The best selling sweater is the Top Down Swing Pullover from Knitting Pure and Simple. It’s the most basic of designs and therein lies its brilliance. Is there anywhere you wouldn’t wear this? Is there anything you wouldn’t wear with it? Is there a medium weight yarn that wouldn’t work for this? No! Anywhere, anytime, with anything, in just about any yarn. Are we surprised that the Swing Pullover is so popular? No, we are not!
The second most popular sweater pattern is Raglan Pullovers from the Top Down (any gauge) from Karen Alfke’s Unpatterns collection. The title fails to mention that the Raglan Pullovers are not only top down and any gauge, they are also any yarn, any size, with or without female shaping, round neck, turtleneck, crew neck. A second Karen Alfke pattern, from her 2nd Nature Design Label, the CableDown Pullover, is also in the top 10.
We also have Cabin Fever’s Take it From the Top, a brilliantly simple design whether constructed in a wool boucle as shown here, or in just about any other medium weight yarn.
One surprise of the top 10 sweaters is that most of them are top down. There are three more of Diane Soucy’s Knitting Pure and Simple designs in the top 10: the New Neckdown Pullover for Women; the Weekend Neckdown Pullover; and her Neck Down Hooded Tunic for Women.
The remaining three of the top 10 are: the irresistible Ribbed Sweater from JCA, not top down, but without any sewing to speak of; the Swirl Pullover by Norah Gaughan for Reynolds, a precursor to her book Knitting Nature; and the Full Fashioned Pullover from JCA.
Best Selling Shawls and Wraps - Full Collection
Each design of the top 10 shawls has a unique characteristic that separates it from its fellows (its madams?).
The Leafprints Shawlette by Anne Hanson for Kollage is the best seller in this category very likely because of its graceful twining leaves patterning, medium sizing, fingering weight yarn and relatively easy construction.
By contrast, #2, Wrap Me Up by Knitting at Knoon’s Chris de Longpré, is a big, detailed, colourful knitting extravaganza.
Katherine Matthews' Amalia Shoulder Shawl celebrates a third way of creating and wearing a shawl with bold lace patterning that runs the length of the graceful garter stitch crescent.
Also best sellers are Jeanne Abel’s Starry Starry Night, small, delicate and graceful; Mary White’s Fluidity, a pattern that could be a blanket or tablecloth as well as a generous shawl; Bellingrath, a shawl and matching sock set designed by Irish Girly Knits for Kollage; Robin Hunter’s Evelyn Howard, a garter shawl with lace patterning on both edges of the garter body; and the Ruffles Wrap by Michelle Porter for Diamond Yarn, an easy-to-knit garter stitch ruffled wrap that’s pure femininity.
Robyn Gallimore, aka Red Bird Knits, is best known as a genius sock designer but two of her designs are in the top 10 shawls. The lacy Grapevine is her first shawl design and Eliza, another on the top 10 list, is a masterful use of yarn with long colour changes in a bold fair isle design.
Best Selling Vests - Full Collection
The vest category results are interesting. Each of the top 10 patterns is from a different designer and if there was one word to describe each of these patterns it would be “flattering”. Robin Hunter’s Prudence Crowley Vest is #1. This intriguing design had us gasping with delight when it arrived on our desktops and apparently we weren’t the only ones.
Prism’s Spring Swing is the second most popular vest. Make a rectangle, encircle it with ribbing, cast off. Fun to make, flattering to wear, versatile.
Sally Melville’s Cross-Over-Rib Top is a masterful design loved by her legions of fans.
There’s amazing variety in the rest of the top 10 designs. Knitting Pure and Simple’s Cap Sleeved Cardigan Vest is youthful and charming. Maddy Cranley created this Vest Alternative to satisfy her customers’ yearnings for a simple pattern. Knitting at Knoon’s Simply Squared is a practical basic, knit in one piece with no sewing.
Kate Atherley’s name for her Top Down With a Difference Top Down Vest says it all; and Karen Alfke’s Unpattern Sleeveless Pullovers from the Top Down (Any Gauge) can be created with any neckline.
Best Selling Scarves - Full Collection
Lucy Neatby practically owns this category with the top 5 designs. Neatby is an inventive designer and a painstakingly thorough pattern writer who happily doesn’t restrain her unique sense of humour. The intriguing Sea Lettuce Scarf is the best seller. Bubbles and Paintbox are classic “How did you do that?” designs that rely on double knitting for their secret. Lucy leads the novice carefully through this technique. Spindrift and Fishtail are cousins and as different from their double knitting companions as any scarves could be.
Laura Patterson of Fiber Dreams offers another take on the ubiquitous scarf with three charmers in the top 10. Both Spanish Dancer and Anjou are garter stitch wedges with knitted in leaves and complimentary borders, while Pacific Islands is a lacy confection.
Maureen Mason-Jamieson has delighted many with her soft, fluid take on the spiraled scarf in a steps in a self-patterning yarn, her Around the Corner Scarf. Carol Sunday’s simple but effective Sunday Scarf is a big hit.
Best Selling Cowls/Moebius/Wimples - Full Collection
These patterns show the most variation of any of the categories; there are choices for big and enveloping or small and tidy and everything in between.
The best seller is Jeanne Abel’s A Big Hug and Kiss, a brilliant design that is at once a moebius, a cowl, a shrug, and a capelet. Abel’s Synchronicity, a moebius in entrelac, demonstrates customers’ appreciation for her designing diversity.
Laura Bryant’s Magical, Moebius Hoodinis (A Collection of 6 Designs) show that it’s easy to take advantage of the wonderful variations in her Prism yarn. Diane Soucy describes her Scarf/Hood as a cowl, a scarf or a tube scarf.
Here’s a little cowl that is so neat and tidy it would fit anywhere. Lynn Hershberger’s One-Day Neckwarmer is loved for its speed and its beauty.
Irish Girlie Knits Pont Neuf is an up-to-the-minute long cowl, while Anne Sahakian’s Cowl Me in the Morning is a smaller iteration. A medium sized cowl is Claudia Miller McLean’s luxurious High Hampton Cowl.
Best Selling Hats - Full Collection
There is nothing that says express yourself like these hats!
The best selling pattern is Faina Goberstein’s Gavroche, a design influenced by a French newsboy cap.
Lucy Neatby’s Scrunchie Hat and her Sizzling Hot Hat are as different from one another as can be. Ana from Perl Grey’s Adrienne Thomas is origami in hat form, while The Blossoms Chullo by Shirley Scott, aka Shirl the Purl, is inspired by designs from an entirely different part of the planet.
Pam Allen’s Montera Hat is all lace and light, while Danny Oulette offers precision and order with his Traveling Rib Hat. Jeanne Abel, who is able to surprise and delight with many garments, designed Mufflehead especially for running in winter. Lisa Ellis’s Basic Twined Hat is an excellent introduction to the twining technique. Beth Brown Reinsel’s Aran Winter Set has mitts, scarf and two versions of an Aran hat featuring a cabled medallion theme.
Best Selling Fingerless Gloves, Mittens and Gloves - Full Collection
Shirl the Purl’s Shirl’s Mittlets suit women, teens and men (look at the photo closely!) and provide a good introduction to knitting in the round and cables in four yarn weights.
The only fingered gloves in this group are Hardwood Hill Gloves, a detailed and lovely pattern from the “hand covering expert” Robin Melanson.
Best Selling Socks - Full Collection
It should be no surprise to avid sock knitters that Robyn Gallimore’s patterns represent half of the top selling sock designs including the top 3, Latvian Wedding Socks, Snowy Woods and Bird Foot. Gallimore ran a Sock of the Month Club for years, something no doubt driven by her talent for these microcosms of patterning and stitch delight. Gallimore has a clever trick of using self patterning yarns to give the sock maximum impact without over stressing the knitter. She calls it “faux fair isle”.
Lucy Neatby’s Fiesta Feet is “designed for knitters with a low boredom threshold”, while Knitting Pure and Simple's Beginners Lightweight Sock, Beginner Socks and Men’s Heavy Weight Boot Sock are the designs that we turn to as novice sock knitters or for fast, easy socks.
Lynda Gemmel, part of the sister act with Deb at Cabin Fever, designed Celtic Braid Socks (Cuff Down) as an introduction to cables on a sock.
Best Selling Toys - Full Collection
Knitting at Knoon’s Chris de Longpré is the almost undisputed queen of toys. Nine out of 10 toy patterns are from her portfolio leading off with the totally charming SnoBuddy Family, followed closely by Prehistoric Pals.
Denise Powell created her felted Little Bear, the third best selling toy, especially for her daughter. Lots of other children have now enjoyed it, too.
The rest of the best selling toy patterns are from Knitting at Knoon. Take Me to Your Leader, Safari Friends, Bunny Hop, and Feathers complete the creatures but de Longpré fashions doll clothes as well.
The Baby Doll Wardrobe designs are basics. Fans of 18” dolls have made these two patterns, Doll Sweaters Collection Three and Doll Sweaters Collection One, best sellers, too. These three designs are strangely familiar. In fact, they have counterparts in children’s patterns.
Best Selling Babies’ - Full Collection
What an impression seeing these 10 patterns together makes! None is complex, most are top down, all use either a worsted or DK weight yarn.
Last Minute Baby is our best selling baby pattern and why not? What knitter could resist that name and the well known top down, “we hate to seam” patterns from Cabin Fever? Two more Cabin Fever’s make the top 10, the Buttons Cardigan and The Tiny Top Down.
The only somewhat traditional baby pattern in the top 10 is this from Sirdar, Long and Short Sleeved Cardigans, a brilliant design that transitions to child wear.
Best Selling Children’s - Full Collection
Knitting Pure and Simple owns this category. Eight of the top 10 patterns are Diane Soucy’s top down designs. We know why customers love her patterns because we love them for the same reasons; top down construction means they are easy to fit as you knit, there is little to no finishing required and it’s easy to add length to a child’s garment as they grow; many of the patterns offer lots of variations, hoods, collars, zippers, buttons, you or your child chooses; the patterns are very well written. Another benefit is that many of these patterns are also available in adult versions, so it’s easy to create mom/daughter/dad/son matching sweaters.
Best Selling Men’s - Full Collection
There are many patterns in the cardigan and sweater categories that can be knit for men; however we are only recognizing here the best selling men’s patterns that actually have men in the photo.
The best seller is Knitting Pure and Simple's Neckdown Hooded Pullover for Men in a practical and fast to knit heavy worsted weight.
Diane Soucy has the #2 best seller as well, her basic Neckdown Pullover for Men in either crew or v-neck.
The third is Sirdar’s Sweater, a design that happily interests the knitter as well as the recipient.
Best Selling Crochet - Full CollectionCrochet is a pretty small category compared to knitting, but those who crochet are a vocal and demanding lot who want more! Here are the top 10. The top crochet design is the “Wicked” Shrug by Judy Croucher for Classic Elite Yarns, a wardrobe enhancer that needs only edge stitching to finish.
Best Selling Weaving - Full Collection
That’s it! The Best Selling Patternfish designs since the ‘dawn of (Patternfish) time’. We’ve enjoyed it. Hope you have, too.