08 January 2013

Knitpicks is all grown up/ Willow yarns?

I got two catalogs in the mail today.
It's not unusual for me to get catalogs, but two yarn-related ones in a day? Let's start with the new Knitpicks. For Winter 2013, I wasn't expecting anything fancy. If I'm being entirely honest, I tend to see Knitpicks as mid-market yarn that's great for very specific projects where you need very specific colors. For that, they deliver. But I tend to feel like the company often tries (and fails) to address the sociology of knitters today. Like Vogue knitting, where things can be so off-trend that it's off-putting (and other times, so great that I end up queuing multiple things). Aaaaaand then I was wrong all over the place.

In fact, I was surprised because it seems like this Knitpicks is totally divergent in layout and feel:
They still have the little colorway dots, but you get some good images of the skeins themselves (helps to identify haloing and weight), and large, simple, not-overstyled patterns that coordinate with the yarn.

Even pages devoted to multiple bases look coordinated and upmarket:
I love the branding on these different bases- the personality of the shoes matches the yarn. Very cute idea.

And the patterns in this issue seem current and cute, styled well with images that really sell the designs and have much-needed clarity. I hate it when patterns on Ravelry don't have at least one clear image of the full piece. These are great:
Bravo, Knitpicks. I'm not sure if this is a new thing since the last "issue", but it's the first time I'm seeing it and the layout and graphics are just a total upgrade.

The next one is a new one, Willow Yarns. There'd been some murmuring about it on the Ravelry forums, but when my mailbox was initially empty, I assumed I'd been passed over. Nope! The cover is done in a faux-magazine look, with some headlines:
And inside, the layout reminds me of the old Knitpicks:
Hmm. Something I really like is that the color swatches on each base are represented in fun ways. On this page, the yarn is wrapped around teeny little hangers. On another page, variegated yarn is wrapped around bottles to show the repeats:
The pattern selection was nothing particularly special, but it did run in a range of abilities and yardages. Sweater patterns go up to 2x and even sometimes 5x, which is great for plus size knitters, but not all patterns go up that far. Some only run to XL- it'd be nice to see them consistently going up into the 5x range, which would give them a clear market differentiation from Knitpicks. They seem to have similar products, otherwise (superwash in various weights, cotton blends, and so on).

I was impressed at the substantial amount of homegoods/ non-clothing items in the catalog, too. Nice to see that kind of variation in project type. Four whole spreads are devoted to pillows, poufs, baskets, and blankets:
They sell yarn ("Burrow": 75% acrylic, 25% superwash) that is marketed especially for home projects. It comes in bulky and worsted weights, in 100g balls. It may be just me, but I wonder if it makes sense to give a 300g option, or perhaps something larger? For home projects, it's always a pain to be constantly splicing on another skein, especially with 130-yard bulky skeins.

So there you have it! I'm going to have to lock the wallet up tonight, I'm sure...

- YX


  1. I wonder if they don't make the put-ups larger for two reasons:

    1) motif crocheters, who don't care about ends because they're drowning in them anyway

    2) ever try to fit more than like 250 yards of bulky yarn on a ball winder? It's bad news bears!

    Ideally they'd sell in two different put-ups, but from what I can tell on the rav thread about Willow Yarns, people don't seem too impressed. (My home hasn't been graced with a copy of either catalog so am enjoying taking a snoop through your review.)

    1. So true! Winding the 1700 yds of light fingering "lace" on my Royal requires some modifications, haha!

      If you email me your address (yarnexploder at gmail), I'll be happy to ship you off either one. I'm done with both!

  2. Hi - I also love how the Willow Yarns catalog shows colors! It's my favorite thing about them. I didn't realize that this is a new catalog (I'm a relatively new knitter). I went ahead and ordered some yarn and a few patterns. Some thoughts:

    - Shipping is outrageously expensive. The cost for shipping is based on your total order. Since I bought two patterns at $5 each, and then only a few skeins of light yarn, the package was very small and light, but I was charged something like $12 for standard shipping.

    - You can join their club (for $25!) and get free shipping on ONE order a year. Plus a slight discount on future orders. Sounds like it would be very expensive to make up the $25 initial investment.

    - I love the pattern I bought (Kid's open-neck henley), and it's working up well, but I am pretty sure I found an error in the pattern. Unfortunately, I can't find it on Ravelry (too new, maybe?) or anywhere else online to verify. I am going to try to call the company tomorrow about it.

    - The yarn I bought, Guppie, is really soft and comes in great colors. I'm really enjoying working with it!

    Thanks for posting about this yarn. I found your post while searching Google for information about it!