SpinKnit, an e-What?
The Strangeness of Evolving into New Media
I am an ink-on-paper person. Have been all my life. I was making my first little books and newspapers for my family when I was four years old. When I started Interweave more than thirty years ago, much of the pleasure was in setting type, pasting up layouts, developing and printing film. Publishing was a blend of the creative act of making content and the craft of delivering it on actual paper.
I've dipped my toes (or would that be my pen?) into electronic media by helping change old print books and articles into new imaginary ones. Well, not really imaginary, but still. So working on our new eMag, SpinKnit, has been a major stretch and a seriously exciting one.
Interweave made the commitment to explore this new content form—combined text, video, slide shows, and to-be-determined tricky bits—earlier this year*, and my sidekick on the Handwoven team, Anita Osterhaug, and I teamed up to do our part. Of course, we both already had full-time jobs, so figuring out how to fit this new project in was part of the challenge. "I'm going to Peru—I'll videotape some spinners and weavers!" I volunteered. "I'm going to the Madrona Fiber Festival—I'll take lots of pictures and interview Kathryn Alexander on video!" Anita chimed in. Never mind that neither of us had ever videotaped anything for public consumption before.
Let me say right here: we didn't actually videotape. There is no tape. We didn't film, either, because there is no film. They call it "digital," but that means "done with fingers." As far as I'm concerned, fingers had nothing to do with it, except for the one that was supposed to press the button to make the camera go. I would call it "magical."
We brought the designer for Spin-Off magazine, Jason Reid, on board, and he taught himself a whole new bag of tricks to make page layouts with moving parts. The day he showed me a logo with a wheel that turned, knitting needles that emerged from the ether, and wiggly lines that tied it all together, I danced in the hall. This new stuff makes my brain hurt, but it is FUN.
We tried to fill SpinKnit up with good experiences for spinners who knit, and knitters who spin, and just about anyone with a passion for fibers. Interviewing Priscilla Gibson-Roberts was a special treat; having an armchair visit to a Peruvian alpaca yarn factory was not what I would have visualized; peeking into the workings of Kathryn Alexander's brain as she works out they mysteries of energized yarns—these are just a few of the things I've enjoyed seeing in development.
So how will this eMag be for you? Well, there are some things to get used to. It might take quite a while to download—thirty minutes or more (like downloading a movie). But once it's there, you own it for life and can go back to it over and over. All the fiddly buttons might seem strange, too, for those of us who have lived a life of just turning pages. Arrows here, slide bars there, takes some getting used to. But if you try SpinKnit, and if you like it, I want to hear back from you. We are starting to plan some more—one on color and fiber (emphasis on natural dyeing in the first one) and another on spinning and knitting. You will have ideas.
*Other eMags produced by Interweave: In Stitches, an eclectic collection of techniques and inspiration for art quilters. Sockupied, a clever, stylish dive into the obsessive world of sock knitting; and coming soon: Handcrafted Jewelry Studios, a raft of projects and techniques for making multi-media jewelry.