Knit Now Awards part two – Sirdar showroom and Knit Now magazine insights

Hello!  It’s lovely to see you again!  This is part two of the Knit Now Awards day at the Sirdar mill (you can find part one here if you missed it), so if you are sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin!

Today, we’re going to finish our tour of the Sirdar mill and discover what’s involved in putting a Knit Now magazine issue together.  We had a lovely lunch and once we were full of sandwiches, cake and cups of tea, it was time to move on to the next part of our tour.

Sirdar has a special room called the showroom where they display garments knitted in the new season colours and new yarns.  It’s a long thin room split into two sections, one for Sirdar, Hayfield and Snuggly yarns and the other for the Sublime yarns.  The walls are lined with mannequins, toys and balls of yarn just like a shop window.  There was lots of ooh-ing and ahh-ing, as you can imagine, and also a sense of seeing the end of the process as we’d not long left the design room where these garments will have been created.

You don’t need me to explain each picture, but I thought you’d like to have a good look round, just as we did.

All these patterns and yarns will be available from Sirdar stockists later in the year, so if you spotted anything that took your fancy then you’ll be able to keep an eye out for it.

I don’t think I’ve ever really considered before how far in advance the fashion houses have to work (and Sirdar is no different to, say, Marks and Spencer or Next or even Primark in that they need to have their new season fashions available at the right time), so that we can choose patterns that we might want to knit at a particular time of year.  It does seem a little strange to be looking at winter jumpers in June, but that’s how far ahead they have to work.  Sirdar buys into a forecasting service for the season’s colours and various members of the team visit shows in the US, Italy and other countries to make sure that they stay in style.  It’s all serious stuff, but that’s what you’d expect from a company that intends to still be here in another 126 years!

They are not the only ones who work so far ahead.  After we’d had chance to have a good look around the showroom and stroke all the new yarns (is it strange to want to compare the softness of a yarn to stroking a cat? J), we all found ourselves a seat along that big long table ready to listen to Kate talking about how an issue of Knit Now is put together.

First, though, the Awards presentation … we all got to congratulate each other on having won the awards (thanks, Jenny, for the photo!) and what a lovely thing it was to meet all the other winners who were so different to me but still shared the same love of yarn.

Here’s my certificate, which I’m very proud to have.  Knitter of the Year, fancy that! 🙂

I didn’t take photos of Kate’s presentation but I did make lots of notes so that you can see just what goes into putting an issue of the magazine together – and like me, you might well be surprised by just how much there is!

Kate talked about the latest issue (No 62) which you might well have bought, so this is the process of how that magazine in your hands came into being.

It all started back in March this year with a call for submissions.  This is where Kate posts on the Knit Now website, on the designers boards on Ravelry and by email to those who have signed up to the mailing list to ask for design submissions based on a particular theme.  The theme for issue 62 was rockpools, so along with deadline dates, fee structures and rights information, there are mood boards to start the creative juices flowing.  Anybody can submit a design – and there were 160 of them submitted for the three summer issues of the magazine.  That’s an awful lot of pattern ideas!

The designs are looked at by a panel of experts who mark them according to the magazine criteria and 15-17 patterns per issue are commissioned.  Just because a pattern isn’t chosen doesn’t always mean that it’s not good enough for the magazine – there may have been a similar one used in a recent issue or it may not have been quite right for the season – so it’s always worth a designer submitting again in the future.

Having been asked about their yarn preferences, the chosen designers are sent a pattern template and style guide which helps to ensure consistency throughout the magazine issues and once their patterns are written up, they are passed to a tech editor for a maths check (it’s all sounding very similar to how it works in the Sirdar design room, isn’t it?).  The patterns are checked several times and knitted up in the chosen yarn before the pattern is deemed to be ready for the magazine.

The next job is to organise the photo shoot.  This is the magazine’s biggest budget item, and when you look at all the fabulous photos in Knit Now then you can imagine that it is.  For the rockpools issue, the chosen location was St Anne’s on Sea and the hair and make up base was a beach hut!  I never would have guessed where it was from the magazine photos, but once I knew then I could recognise the beach that we’ve walked on many times.

As the magazine is put together, a flat plan is created to make sure that all the sections flow neatly into one another.  This is an example of a flat plan from a different magazine (I found it on this website) so that you can see how it works …

Each page of the magazine is printed up and stored in The Book, which Kate uses to make sure that every page still works in terms of being easy to read and with the right balance of words and pictures.  Because each page is separate, it’s easy to move them around if necessary to get the magazine looking just right.

Finally, with just four weeks to go before the magazine goes to press, it’s time to think about the cover and the free gift that goes with it.  It takes about six months from the call for submissions to the sale of the magazine – a lot of time and effort for something that you might read in an hour or so during a coffee break!  The patterns are all on Ravelry so you can have a look at them without having to buy the magazine first – the patterns for issue 62 are here.

Phew!  That’s a lot to take in, isn’t it?  Time for a cup of tea and a cake, I think … a knitted cake!

There was a whole stand of knitted cakes but I managed to leave some for the others to eat!

It was nearly time to leave the mill, but before we did, we were each given a bag of Sirdar treats. There are three balls of yarn – Sublime Lola and Sirdar Touch which are both new yarns for this season, a ball of Heart & Sole sock yarn (they must have known a sock knitter was coming!), some Addi needles, a notebook, patterns for the new yarns, a canvas bag which I’ll probably use as a stash-hiding project bag and a bag of Yorkshire sweeties.  As if we hadn’t been spoilt enough!

I had a fabulous day, and I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing it with me.  The fun wasn’t over yet, though.  Instead of heading home, I drove the car across Yorkshire to Skipton where I was meeting a friend for more yarny fun at Woolfest.  Look out for the next post coming up this weekend, along with news on how you can get involved in this year’s Yarndale Sock Line!

Huge thanks to Kate at Knit Now and Ruth from Practical Publishing for a really brilliant day out, and more huge thanks to Russell and Emma at Sirdar for hosting the Knit Now Knitter of the Year Awards and for looking after us so well xx

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9 Responses

  1. Unknown says:

    What a fabulous day Christine! Very interesting to see how the mag is put together. So much work goes into each issue and most often they end up in a pile under 1000 coffee tables! Loved that cake – looks too good to eat! xxx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I think that's what struck me – the number of people involved and the care taken over it all, and we've read it in next to no time in comparison! xx

  2. Amy at love made my home says:

    Fantastic to see so much of the behind the scenes with both the magazine and sirdar! Both very interesting. COngratulations on your award and thank you for sharing as it was really fascinating! Glad you had great time!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I think it's always interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes – it's easy to think that yarn magically appears in yarn shops without knowing too much about the process of it all. Glad you enjoyed it! xx

  3. Lisa Holmes says:

    Another fascinating post Christine, and I am in LOVE with that gorgeous little raspberry coloured cape! Thank you so much for such a great read x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's a very sweet cape, isn't it, and knitted in chenille which is one of the must-have yarns of the winter season. I expect it would knit up really quickly too xx

    • Lisa Holmes says:

      Ooh chenille! how lovely. Love it as a finished jumper but i've never tried knitting with it before- another item added to the list to make hehe x

  4. pandchintz says:

    First up, congratulations on your award!! Secondly, what a fabulous day! Thanks for sharing such an interesting trip.

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