An Interview with Knit Wit: A Biannual Print-Only Magazine About Fiber Art and Textiles

Knit Wit Magazine

I was recently introduced to Zinzi Edmundson and Gigi Jack, the creators of a lifestyle-based indie print magazine focused on knitting and fiber art called Knit Wit. Their concept is simple, they want to highlight the fresh, contemporary side of the craft, bringing to light the types of people and projects you wouldn’t find in normal craft magazines. They’re currently trying to Kickstart the magazine so I figured it would be great to learn more about the project. I spoke to Zinzi who filled me in on why the world needs a print magazine devoted to this specific culture.

Tell me a bit about yourselves, your backgrounds.
Gigi is a native Southern Californian, Santa Monica actually, and I’m from Providence, RI. We met our freshman year of college here in LA and were friends from more or less the first day. Gigi was a diplomacy/Russian major and I was comp lit/classics—yet somehow we got into magazines.

Gigi got a job in the art department at C magazine and I started as editorial assistant at Bon Appétit. We worked those jobs and moved up a bit for several years (Gigi probably lasted longer than I did) before I quit BA to tour with my band and Gigi moved to the land of e-commerce. I returned from the road and started working as features editor at FOAM (a women’s fashion and surf magazine here in LA), where Gigi joined me as Art Director a little after. We found out that we love working together. FOAM experienced a bit of editorial upheaval, so we moved on and both started circulating in that branding/e-commerce world more. Gigi is currently the Art Director at Sole Society, I do copywriting and content creation for brands like Nasty Gal, Vans, Nixon, etc. and I also have a brand consultancy company with a friend.

Knit Wit Magazine

Why do you feel it’s important to share the world of textile art?
The idea started much smaller. I’m a knitter and, looking around, I realized there wasn’t anything media-wise that totally spoke to me and the way I relate to the craft. Initially I was going to do a zine (in the sense that I would be its only author, emphasizing DIY in content and character, and all that) about knitting. As it turns out, I’m not great at keeping things on a small, reasonable scale. The deeper I dove into the world of textiles the more I kept expanding the scope. Dyeing! Weaving! Embroidery! There are just so many beautiful, thoughtful, dynamic things being made and truly incredible people cooking it up—ultimately I couldn’t limit it to knitting. So, I guess the answer is that I started by trying to make a zine for myself and ended up making a magazine about all the fun shit I found—for everyone else to see.

And why do you think you were drawn to making it a print magazine versus doing it digitally?
I get asked the print question a lot. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have a super concrete answer, but I do have several vague ones. There is something really square, sort of plumb I think, about representing craft or craft-based art in a physical form. It’s a little bit symmetrical, which I like. I also missed it. I’ve done some branded magazines post-FOAM, but I think we all know those aren’t the same, try as they might!

We came of age as editors and designers in a weird time. We have a rarified, archaic vocabulary and knowledge that became moot almost as soon as we learned it. It felt like it would be nice to exercise those muscles. Maybe that is misplaced nostalgia or I am prematurely stodgy (won’t be the first time I’ve heard that!), but all I ever wanted to do was make magazines and somewhere along the way I stopped doing that.

Thirdly, it felt a lot like a challenge. I don’t think it’s an easy thing to start a blog, do it every day (every. fucking. day. sheesh) and do it well enough everyday to garner a following. No that’s not easy, but there was something about starting a print magazine from scratch without any online presence to support it (besides social) that seemed (still seems) a little bit like I couldn’t do it. I think I liked that I might not be able to do it—and that I was going to try and see if I could anyway.

Knit Wit Magazine

The imagery and content in the magazine has a really contemporary feeling, is there a world there most people don’t know about?
Right, we aimed for a more graphic and fashion forward aesthetic than is probably expected from a magazine primarily dealing in handmade/craft. One of the reasons is definitely to do just that: To stray from some preconceived notions of what the community might be like. It’s not all deep dark shadows, greyed out photography and introspective girls with low pony tails living in remote snowy cabins.

There also seems to be an understanding that no matter what your subject, if you’re making an indie magazine you’ll probably employ that style of photography anyway. It can be pretty repetitive. It’s a little bit like how every organic market or raw food restaurant feels the need to roll out a fleet of bamboo tables, a sagey mint wall color, and a logo with some obligatory sprouting leaf icon scrolling out. Do we really need these obvious visual clues to know we’re eating real food?

Knit Wit Magazine

Was it important to feature makers from around the world?
Yes, definitely. In general, we tried to keep things broad. I lifted a phrase from FOAM recently while describing Knit Wit (I can’t remember if I coined it or not, so let’s credit our EIC Kristina Dechter with this one). The phrase is: “general interest niche magazine.”

So yeah, there’s a really rigid framework that informs all the content (fiber art, textiles, knitting), but we look at it from all angles and in the familiar format of a women’s interest or general interest book. That means that we might have a trend piece about tassels, followed by a travelogue to an ancient weaving village in Oaxaca, followed by a visit to fiber artist Elena Stonaker’s idyllic LA studio, followed by an editorial featuring model/knitwear designer Rachel Rutt in Sydney. Ultimately, it became global because we kept it so broad.

Do you feel like the independent craft community around textiles needs a proper outlet?
Well I certainly hope so! I think there’s definitely an opening for this type of title, neither essay-based/institutional nor crafty/hobbyist. We’ll see if it takes. I don’t think I’m too unique of a person, so I think that if I would want a magazine like this, then there must be more like me out there. We’ll see what happens.

Knit Wit Magazine

If you could feature any maker, dead or alive, in an issue of the magazine, who would you choose?
Oh, hm! All the people who never wrote us back during the process of making issue 1? I kid… I got pretty enamored with the women of the Bauhaus weaving workshop earlier this year. Gunta Stolzl, Anni Albers, Otti Berger. Talk about making the best of your circumstances. Because they were women, they were limited to fiber, but they worked within those parameters and pushed the boundaries of “women’s work” and craft into the realm of design and fine art. Yeah, ladies! Subversion and especially feminist subversion seems to go hand-in-hand with craft these days, but the Bauhaus women were starting this revolution with subtlety, poise and stoicism.

Or maybe whoever is responsible for Nike Flyknits because sweater sneakers are basically the ultimate marriage of my favorite things and I would love to talk to that person.

Any final thoughts or feelings?
I guess the only thing I haven’t really touched on yet is our lack of DIY or How-To elements in the magazine. There aren’t any patterns and there aren’t a series of photos that will illustrate with severed hands the step-by-step of how to do a project. It’s not that we won’t ever and it’s not that we don’t like that stuff (we do), but I think it is important to note as part of our initial DNA/value proposition that we aren’t experts. We won’t get instructional because we don’t consider ourselves the teachers and readers our pupils. It’s stupidly cheesy, but we’re all in this together! It’s a magic carpet ride.

If this sounds like the sort of thing you’re into be sure to support the duo on Kickstarter by clicking here.

Bobby Solomon

August 19, 2014 / By

Interview with an Editor: Serena Guen of SUITCASE Magazine

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I’ve always thought that with the decreasing readership of print it wasn’t that it needed to keep up with the times but rather retarget itself. It seemed to me that print could be kept alive not by dumbing down but by smartening up and aiming itself at a new audience. You only need to take a look at some of the most recent additions to the magazine world to see I might not be far off. Editors and Designers are putting far more emphasis on creating something that will be read rather than skimmed. Filling a niche for a quality travel magazine aimed at women is SUITCASE, run by 23 year old Editor-in-Chief Serena Guen. With its feet in culture and fashion, SUITCASE has received much accolade and without sounding superfluous looks on track to perhaps become the feminine Monocle.

I spoke to the adventurous and ambitious Serena on the origins of SUITCASE and her outlook on learning and work.

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Michael Arnold

February 6, 2014 / By

Help The Great Discontent make a magazine

The Great Discontent Magazine

One of my resolutions from the last year was to do more to help good people. We’re all so busy all the time that I think something as simple as this can get lost in the rush. Helping creatives who are doing really interesting projects are especially important, and that’s why I’m sharing The Great Discontent’s Kickstarter who are raising money to start a magazine.

We started TGD as a digital publication, and we’ll continue to release digital issues, however, we’ve always dreamt of making a physical magazine. And now we’re doing it! The Great Discontent Magazine, Issue 1, will be a beautiful way to preserve some of the content we’ve featured online and allow it to be enjoyed virtually anywhere.

The magazine will be a gorgeous, full color piece around 240 pages. It will feature 15 interviews with individuals who have also taken leaps, including Sara Blake, Scott and Vik Harrison of charity: water, James Victore, Zack Arias, Elle Luna, Ike Edeani, Debbie Millman, Joshua Davis, and more! Select interviews will include updates and/or commentary, and we might throw in a surprise or two.

Tina and Ryan are such amazing people and it’s inspiring to see them follow their dreams like this. Supporting people like this is important to our industry as it makes all boats rise. It brings together creatives and makes our digital world a little bit smaller. I think it’s also important to note that the magazine is being designed by the ever-talented Frank Chimero so you know it’ll be beautifully designed.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Great Discontent you can read the interview I did with them from last February by clicking here.

Bobby Solomon

February 4, 2014 / By

An Interview with Kai Brach of Offscreen Magazine

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Print-only publications are a rarity nowadays. And one guy running it? Unheard of. Yet that’s the story of Kai Brach and his self-described “old-fashioned” magazine, Offscreen. Exploring a more human side of tech, Offscreen is a beautifully designed publication with quality only possible in print.

The next issue is due out at the start of next year. And with Kai’s Christmas Wishlist giveaway having just begun, it’s a good time to check Offscreen out.

We spoke with Kai about what it means to run a print publication today: the challenges, process, and vision Kai has for what makes Offscreen different.

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December 11, 2013 / By

Playful type for The New York Times Magazine by Micah Lidberg

Playful type for The New York Times Magazine by Micah Lidberg

Illustrator Micah Lidberg has been one of my personal favorite artists for years now. His creativity seems to know no bounds, as is evident in the creative lettering he did for today’s edition of The New York Times Magazine. I love the personality he gave the type which reminds me of the fuzzy texture on the top of broccoli. The color choices for the text (which probably weren’t chosen by Micah) are spot on as well, really complimenting the photo, which was taken by Horacio Salinas. Really proves that playing with your food can be fun.

Bobby Solomon

November 4, 2013 / By

Toilet Paper is a Publication You Won’t Want to Flush Down the Drain

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Toilet Paper is perhaps the most bizarre, shocking, and borderline-subversive publication I’ve ever picked up… And I love it. A bi-annual magazine, it’s the child of (super-talented) artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari. I highly recommend any self-respecting creative to pick one up, as my words can hardly do their work justice. It’s simply an experience you have to hold in your hands and observe with your own eyes. But that doesn’t mean I’m not stubborn enough to try (heh).

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Nick Partyka

September 12, 2013 / By

FAILE Are Far From Failing With New Piece For VNA

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Riding off the success of Les Ballets De Faile, Brooklyn-based duo FAILE are fast on track to world domination. Last week, Very Nearly Almost (VNA), a popular street art magazine, celebrated the release of their 23rd issue with a launch party in NYC’s Lower East Side establishment, Reed Space. The issue features extensive coverage of FAILE’s work. In commemoration, FAILE hand silk-screened a limited edition design onto a series of VNA covers. Continue reading this post…

Nick Partyka

August 6, 2013 / By

‘Anorak’: A Design Magazine for Kids

Anorak magazine

Anorak magazine

While on vacation in London last week, I spent some time at the Tate Modern museum marveling at their fantastic design shop. Out of all of the books, objects, and wares inhabiting their basement space, the kids department was the most inspiring. One of my favorite finds—even though it’s been around since 2006—was Anorak, a “happy mag” for kids. Founded by Cathy Olmedillas, who previously worked with seminal UK publications Sleazenation and The Face, the magazine is aimed at 6 to 12-year-olds, but it has plenty of poppy illustrations, games, cartoons, and stories to appeal to design-minded adults too.

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Andi Teran

July 12, 2013 / By

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