Social media have amazing powers. While I agree that it’s going too far to call the democratic revolutions in the Middle East “Twitter-made,” it’s undeniable that Twitter took a deep-seated desire for more accountable government and focused it quickly and inexorably in the same direction.
Since at least the arrival of Knitty and Ravelry, a similar — though admittedly less profound — effect has been going on in the world of knitting and crochet. Where once the world of knitting and crochet design was ruled by a few presses and designers, there are now more than 25,000 designers registered on Ravelry alone.
Please understand that I do not consider Interweave Press the Hosni Mubarak of knitting. From what I can tell at this distance, there is nothing dictatorial about Interweave. Nor do I think that the democratization of knitting and crochet design comes without some price. Among the patterns that are available on Ravelry, the quality control is far from consistent. Many patterns are laden with errors, unclear instructions, and poor photography.
But I consider this a small price to pay for the amazing bumper crop of independent designers that have emerged in the past decade. Many of my personal favorites — Marnie Maclean, Kirsten Kapur, and Kate Oates, just to name a few — rarely if ever publish their designs in the mainstream craft press.
I say all of this to you now because of a new project that I’m really excited about: Shannon Okey, who has made a name for herself as an all-around knitting entrepreneur, is about to launch a series of 10 pattern books called Fresh Designs through her own independent Cooperative Press. Each book focuses on a theme — I have a design in the Kids book, for example, but there are also books on women’s garments, mittens, toys, men’s designs, home decor, and so on.
Shannon already has the funding to make the series happen, but decided to seek support through Kickstarter so that the e-book options could be that much better. You can see the amazing result above: in the mere five days since the project went up on Kickstarter, 72 people have pledged a total of nearly $4,000, which puts the project 4/5 of the way to the initial goal.
It’s quite a testament to how much the knitting community believes in the power of independent design and publishing. Click on the Kickstarter link in the previous paragraph, and you can see why this particular iteration of independent publishing has garnered so much support: the projects, the photography, the styling, and the overall design sensibility are luscious.
There are great rewards for joining the support group — come check it out!