I decided a while ago to let my longstanding subscriptions to Designer Knitting (as Vogue is now known in the UK) and Interweave Knits lapse. Not without pangs; Vogue in particular is very close to my heart, having been my connection to the world of Real Knitters since waaaay back in the day when I was in South Africa without access to any decent yarn shops,* knew no one outside my family who knit, and of course Ravelry and blogs just didn’t exist.
My Vogue collection goes back unbroken to 1999, plus occasional earlier issues from 1993 on. I only found Interweave later, in the UK, so that shelf starts in 2003. I purged all my other magazines when we moved, but those two titles are untouchable. It’s not that I’ve actually knit much of anything from them, nor do I plan to. But they are inspiration made concrete – not to mention advice, education, contemplation, temptation, pleasure.
All of which – plus the vital sense of connection that drove my subscriptions for years – are now available online. In vast quantity and constantly updated; no endless waiting for the next issue to drop through my door. Oh sure, the thrill when it does drop through my door is unabated. But paying for that thrill, when inspiration and connection flow freely past my eyes every time I fire up the internet, was starting to seem a little self-indulgent. Especially with my post-move, SAHM budget being pretty darn tight. So I ignored the renewal notices; I let procrastination turn gradually into firmer purpose: I won’t renew. I don’t really need them any more. Do I?
And then today, picking up my last issue – and presumably last renewal notice – from the postbox, the thought suddenly struck me: what if everyone allows Ravelry to replace their subscriptions? What if the magazines finally stop publishing? I’m shocked that it took me so long to think of that, especially since I actually work in publishing and have very recent, painful experience of this trend. But it genuinely only now occurred to me: that’s where we’re going. And I can’t bear to think of a knitting world without Vogue and Interweave.
Editorial standards count for something. Curated expertise counts for something. And I have no doubt there are readers who rely absolutely on the magazines… but maybe not enough of those readers to keep the mags alive. I love Ravelry so much, and the quality of many self-publishing designers is sublime. But I don’t want the whole market to go that way.
So I’m putting my money where my mouth is – and after all, it’s really not much money. Money is energy. It takes me time and energy to earn it; I want to direct that energy toward things I believe in. Just as I think one should never leave a yarn shop or a bookshop emptyhanded (even if habitual online shopping has one’s credit card number imprinted on one’s brain), I’ve decided, I need to keep supporting these magazines.
That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.
- That’s changed, of course! But at the time…