The Year in Review

We were busier than ever this year, with all the new playthings and ways to connect with other knitters near and far.

Join me in a walk through the high and low points of 2002 as they relate to:

What we said
What we knit
What we read
Where we shopped

What We Said in 2002

Online forums and email lists grew even more popular. Yahoo! Groups, the most popular list host, currently counts 439 knitting groups among its ranks.

But 2002 was also the year of the "blog," or web log, a more public vehicle for our knitting-related ramblings.

Who Let the Blogs Out?
For those unfamiliar with blogs, they're based on an extremely user-friendly technology provided by a Web site or service (such as Blogger), usually free or for a small monthly fee.

All you need to do is pick a name for your blog, choose a template for how you want it to look, and start writing. With just a click or two, your musings are officially online and ready for the world to enjoy. No programming knowledge required.

Many bloggers joined so-called "rings" of similar-themed blogs so that they could reach a greater audience. The two largest knitting-related rings are the Knitting Blogger's Webring and the Fiber Arts Bloggers.

Caveat emptor: Blogs are intended to be online journals, not necessarily Pulitzer prize-winning literature. Some blogs will be more meaningful to you than others, but that's part of the adventure.

Once you stumble across a blog that's part of a Webring, you'll be able to click on the "next" links and anonymously peek into the lives of moderately like-minded strangers from around the globe.

The term "stitch and bitch" has been used tongue-in-cheek for several years to describe knitting groups that gather every so often to knit and chat.

But this year the term became a household word, routinely hauled out and used by the media as proof that knitting is now "hip."

You can find stitch-n-bitch groups everywhere, especially in large metropolitan areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Austin, Atlanta, Toronto, and Zürich.

Most-Mentioned Celebrity Knitter
Julia Roberts took up the needles for peace and relaxation, I presume. In the process, however, she became the unwitting poster celebrity for the entire knitting industry. No knitting articles in 2002 were without at least one Julia Roberts reference. (Please, Julia, don't let this stop you from knitting!) Runner-up: Cameron Diaz.

Most-Mentioned Celebrity Knitter Who Wasn't
When Russell Crowe posed with yarn and needles in a publicity shot, the knitting world went crazy. Only later did he confess that he didn't knit, leaving knitters again in search of more contemporary male role models. Sorry guys!

Most Overused Media Cliché
If I had a dime for every time I saw knitting referred to as "hip" and "not just for grandmas anymore" this year, I'd be writing this from my yacht in the south of France.

Most Short-Lived Acronym
Lily Chin coined the term "hip young urban knitter," or HYUK, to define those knitters who participated in her book The Urban Knitter. Non-HYUKs pondered their un-hipness while even those who did qualify as HYUKs often didn't want to join the party.

Most Unifying Insult: The Bozo Rebellion
In an unpopular article this fall, KnitNet referred to online knitting information as often "an amateur enthusiast's attempts to tell you everything they think they know about knitting." The online knitting magazine noted that you could be reading the words of a wise person, but "it's more likely you're listening to some bozo."

Although the author later replaced "bozo" with "somebody who mistakes opinion for knowledge," it was too late. Today, in proud defiance, many online knitters still refer to themselves as bozos.

What We Knit in 2002

Technique that Took Off: Socks on Circulars
In the world of socks, 2002 was about knitting socks on two circular needles. The technique was most broadly promoted by Cat Bordi in her popular book, Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles. Later Sarah Hauschka published The Magic Loop, applying Bordi's concept to a single 40" circular needle instead of two shorter ones.

Many of you tried both techniques and have already returned to your good-old DPNs.

Easiest Achievements: Self-Patterning Socks
It began with the German Opal and Regia Jacquard, two yarns that produced elaborate color patterns when you knit with them. Soon other sock-yarn manufacturers followed suit with almost identical yarns, including Opal lookalike Fortissima Colori and Regia Jacquard lookalikes Lang Jawoll Jacquard Color and Plymouth Yarns Forever Jacquard.

Bottom line: These yarns let us produce sophisticated results without ever changing a strand of yarn.

You'll find a broad selection of self-patterning sock yarns at Carodan Farm.

Tastiest Trend: Kool-Aid Colors
The popular beverage mix rose to all-new heights in popularity this year, not because of its taste or nutritional value but because it is an excellent and user-friendly acid dye for yarns. By the end of the year, Kool-Aid dyeing was featured in the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook and The Sock Calendar. Want to learn more about the technique?

What We Read in 2002

Vendor as Publisher: Best Newsletter
Published twice each month, Margery Winter's free KnitBits gets my vote as the year's most useful vendor-affiliated newsletter. Margery is the Creative Director for Berroco, thus the newsletter is fundamentally intended to promote Berroco yarns.

But there's still much to enjoy in Margery's newsletter. She writes in a warm and engaging style, and she peppers each newsletter with tips, hints, and amusing personal anecdotes. She recently included a Christmas stocking pattern sized for both grown-ups and pets, including Margery's cat Fred.

Nifty Newcomer: Knitty
Launched in the fall of 2002, this sassy new quarterly online-only magazine has a fresh voice and fun, innovative patterns (think Rebecca's younger sister). I look forward to watching Knitty unfold in 2003.

Priciest Book
In 1989, June Hemmons Hiatt's The Principles of Knitting was released for $35 a copy. The book soon went out of print, but reader interest didn't subside. Today, used copies of this enormous hardbound encyclopedic tome can cost anywhere from $150 to $250 apiece, often more. The author has told us that a new edition is in the works, but no official release timeframe has been given.

Where We Shopped in 2002

Big Buys and Bye-Byes
In May 2002, our venerable and beloved Patternworks was acquired by private equity firm The Riverside Company. At the time, we were told that Patternworks had been acquired by Keepsake Quilting, but Keepsake was -- itself -- acquired by The Riverside Company in June 2000. In September, The Riverside Company made its next move, acquiring online vendor eKnitting.com.

Readers have expressed a growing dissatisfaction with both stores since the acquisitions, citing poor communication and lengthy delays as the primary problems.

Most Welcome Newcomer
Just as the Patternworks news had finished making its way around the globe, a new online player appeared as if dropped straight from heaven: KnitPicks. The Web site and mail-order catalog comes to us from Crafts Americana Group, a privately held Vancouver, Washington-based company that also runs Artist's Club (for toile painters) and Connecting Threads (for quilters).

KnitPicks offers free shipping on all orders over $30, and books are all offered at well below the standard retail prices. Co-owner Kelley Petkun clearly has the soul of a knitter: she was responsible for the company's popular print ad that features an enormous box of chocolate truffles intermingled with gorgeous balls of yarn. (View the ad.)

Join the Club: The Sock-of-the-Month Club, That Is
As sock-knitting grew ever more popular this year, we witnessed the rise of sock-of-the-month clubs. Each month, members would receive a new pattern and yarn for the project.

Unfortunately, many of the clubs were so popular that they left shop owners overwhelmed and exhausted. Late deliveries resulted in unhappy customers, but the situation seems to have calmed down lately.

Among the most popular clubs are:

The Knitter
Joslyn's Fiber Farm
Fiber Nooks & Crannys
Red Bird Knits
Fifth Stitch Sock Every Other Month club