I know that my job is pretty awesome, but I always feel a little bit of envy concerning people who edit knitting magazines. I know it's really hard, and I'm sure parts of it are not fun, but it just sounds like something that would be a lot of fun to try.
Kara Gott Warner is the editor of Creative Knitting magazine, and she talked to me recently about some of the cool parts of her job, how a print magazine stays in readers' minds in a digital world and what she looks for in designs as a knitter and an editor. How cool is that?
About: How and when did you learn to knit?
Kara Gott Warner: I first learned how to knit when I was about 12 years old. I dabbled in it for a while, but it didn’t hold my attention for too long. I later came back to knitting in the early '90s; it became sort of a refuge for me. I was working in New York City at the time and as a release from my hectic day, I would spend my lunch hour knitting at the most wonderful little knit shop, no longer in existence, called Yarn Connection.
It really served as a catalyst for my future career designing hand-knitting patterns because I became so friendly with the shop owner and teachers. They gave me such useful advice and steered me in the direction of my dreams!
In 2002, I began designing for magazines and had my first design published in Family Circle Easy Knitting that same year. In addition to designing hand knitting patterns, I also worked as an illustrator, working with craft publishers. With a design career under my belt and familiarity in working with publishers, these served as great assets for my future career as editor.
About: How did you get your job?
KGW: I made point to actively network with as many designers, yarn company owners and publishers as I could. I attended trade and consumer events as often as possible, and formed some wonderful relationships in the process. As a result, a fellow designer heard through the grapevine that Annie’s Publishing was looking for a new editor. I was excited by the idea, pursued the opportunity and the rest, as they say, is history. In 2008, I began as editor of the knitting hardcover books, and then in 2010 joined the company full time as executive knitting editor of Creative Knitting and knitting publications.
About: What do you think is the value of print craft magazines when we now do so much online?
KGW: I’m a big fan of jumping online and getting what I need in a heartbeat. Instant gratification is nice! However, I still see so much value in print because touching and feeling the printed page is a tactile experience that I don’t see going away anytime soon. I think there’s a level of perceived value in holding a nice hearty magazine with pages and pages of patterns. It’s a more tangible experience.
Also, I love having the ability to mark up the page by placing sticky notes all over the place. I also find that there’s a segment of our audience that doesn’t want to view their pattern on a phone, tablet or desktop. However, the convenience of being able to grab whatever you need online 24/7 is a great benefit, and we’ve embraced that with the digital version of the magazine. Access to both print and digital is a great way of having the best of both worlds, and if you are subscriber to the print version of Creative Knitting, the digital magazine is absolutely free, and it serves that spontaneous “I must have this yarn now” urge because with a few clicks, it will be on its way.
About: How do you stay connected with readers between issues?
KGW: I keep connected through my editor’s blog Splendid Sticks. I absolutely LOVE blogging! Next to being editor, it’s one of the most favorite parts of my job. It’s like getting paid to play! The blog has become quite popular and the traffic on the blog grows steadily each month, which is very encouraging. I love how through the blog, we can reach not only to our current audience, but we are also attracting a whole new generation of knitters.
On the blog, I steadily provide tips, tutorials and videos whenever possible. Each week I share my Quick-Knit Tip, and I recently started offering these as videos as well, because I find that they are a much more engaging way to communicate. The videos are no longer than two minutes, providing simple tips like making homemade stitch markers from straws to using your finger to measure your knitting.
Another way I keep connected is through the Creative Knitting Facebook page and my own Facebook page. I also connect with our audience on our Ravelry Fan Group. With each issue of Creative Knitting, we offer a free downloadable pattern that we’ve decided to turn into a knitalong project in our Ravelry group. This has proved to be a great success and it helps increase interest in the magazine and in the group. It’s nice to see those numbers go up daily. I try my best to follow along and chime in as often as I can, but I sometimes fall behind. I have way too many works in progress, because I’ll admit I’m an insatiable knitter!
When I create a new blog post or new tutorial video, I pin them to my personal Pinterest page and I share information on the Annie’s Pinterest page as well because there’s definitely some cross over there and it’s a great way to instantly reach the masses.
I think what I love most about the online connection is that people are not afraid to approach you. The fact that we have this as a tool and a means to communicate and connect has revolutionized the way our readers view Creative Knitting magazine and our digital products.
About: What sort of digital/online content does Creative Knitting do?
KGW: As noted above, we produce a digital version of Creative Knitting, and our readership is growing steadily. We’re also noticing that we’re attracting a younger knitter, and I believe that the digital version is very appealing for them to jump on board.
The Creative Knitting eLetter is published every three weeks, and reaches 100,000+ active subscribers. This is an important vehicle for the magazine because it allows us to communicate quickly and report on new trends, or a piece of time-sensitive news. With each eLetter, you’ll find knitting tutorials, book reviews and online news. We also make it easy for our readers to contact us immediately with questions and feedback and we often share readers letters.
About: I know you're starting to teach on online knitting course soon. Can you tell us more about it?
KGW: I just finished my first online class, called Mix & Match Sampler, which will be available on April 18th. This class will give novice knitters the opportunity to dive in and learn seven different techniques while they practice their skills on 8x8 inch squares. Some of the techniques I introduce are mitered knitting, openwork and lace, slip-stitch, mosaic colorwork and short rows. At the end of the class, they can choose to make a lap, baby blanket, afghan or tote bag. All the patterns are available for free with purchase of the class.