Fashion photos from Nomadic Knits Magazine.
Photos by Jade Howard
Becky Beagell and Melissa Kemmerer just launched the first issue of their new magazine, Nomadic Knits, and they couldn’t be more thrilled. “We’re so excited and inspired by the response so far,” Melissa says.
Nomadic Knits is a boutique magazine that celebrates all things local fiber, no matter where “local” happens to be. Looking for a way to incorporate their passion for knitting with Becky’s love of travel and Melissa’s knitting design experience, each issue highlights a different region of the world, focusing on what makes that place so special when it comes to fiber. The magazine includes stories about local fiber producers, dyers, shops, and of course, patterns inspired by the region.
Melissa and Becky believe the world is an enormous place, and knitting styles and preferences are vastly different from one place to another.
The Inaugural Issue
When thinking about typical knitting regions, we think of places like cozy Maine or the rainy UK. But the region Becky and Melissa chose for their very first issue is a bit of a surprise: it’s dedicated to Florida.
Becky and Melissa were first inspired by the incredible indie dyers and yarn shops in Florida. They wanted to share their discoveries with the rest of the world.
The first issue features patterns that were designed with Florida weather in mind. Think headbands for holding back beach hair, loose-gauged short-sleeved tops, and other patterns that can transition from hot days to cool nights. The projects are all knit with fiber from Florida, celebrating not just the vibe but also the people who produce fiber there.
It’s fitting, too, that Florida was the focus of the inaugural issue because that’s where the original idea for Nomadic Knits was born. While visiting Four Purls yarn shop in Winter Haven, Florida, Becky and Melissa discovered Emma’s Yarn, beautiful hand-dyed yarn created by 15-year-old Emma Hodges.
They wanted to share her story with the world. Becky and Melissa say it sparked a curiosity about the stories of all the indie dyers, and how much fun it would be to meet them all and use their yarn to create garments that reflect where they live.
From Book to Magazine
Nomadic Knits started as an idea for a book, but there was so much ground to cover that it seemed more suitable for the magazine world. The local knitting groups in Upstate New York were impressed that there was so much knitting in Florida, so it inspired Becky and Melissa to find knitters and the makers in every region.
Learning about the magazine industry was definitely a learn-as-you-go experience. They had to learn the the ins and outs of graphic design and photo editing, which were quite challenging. Thankfully, they had some great people supporting them behind the scenes.
The Nomadic Knits team is small but mighty. While Becky and Melissa are the only dedicated staff, they also hired a tech editor, graphic designer, and a photographer. Theyre both learning how to do all sorts of things they never imagined.
One decision that didn’t require a lot of thought was the decision to offer both a print and digital product. As knitters, they say they are very tactile; they love beautiful paper, notebooks, glitter gel pens.
But the two also know how handy digital products can be for knitters. They recognize that there is a huge accessibility factor with digital, which they also embrace, so they make sure every print copy comes with a free digital download. Being able to print out the pattern to work from to keep the magazine in good shape, enlarging a chart, and being able to access a library of patterns right from your phone are important to them.
As business partners, one of the challenges Becky and Melissa face is that they don’t live in the same city. While they both grew up in the same region of Upstate New York and Becky’s home base is close to Melissa’s, Becky recently sold her house and now lives on the road.
Working remotely is challenging, but Becky is figuring it out and adjusting as she goes. “It’s important to be adaptable,” Becky says. “When you’re on the road, every day looks different, so being able to embrace that and not be frustrated by it makes life much more enjoyable.”
How to Support Local
When you’re traveling a lot like Becky is, local isn’t limited to the radius around your home. That’s the main idea behind Nomadic Knits, and its website makes that clear: “Melissa and Becky believe that local is where you are right now, and wherever you find your people; it is not just a place, but a sense of community and belonging.” With this in mind, they want to spread local love wherever it’s needed.
In fact, one of the reasons Becky and Melissa wanted to highlight different regions was to also promote small businesses that are slowly declining. They point out that local yarn shops are closing their doors at an alarming rate. Thirty years ago there were more than 300 yarn shops in Florida, and now there are fewer than 50.
When asked how knitters can support their local yarn shops (LYS), Becky and Melissa have plenty of suggestions. They encourage knitters to support their LYS by attending events and knitting nights, as well as bringing new friends into the knitting community. They believe that the more knitters thyey create, the more potential customers there are to buy yarn, needles, project bags, etc.
They also recommend buying directly from an LYS, even if you don’t have one in your area. They say it’s better to buy from indie dyers and small shops, rather than big box shops.
When knitters do make a purchase, they can use social media to share photos of their yarn and accessories. They suggest that social media outlets are some of the most powerful advertising tools available right now. They advocate for sharing, and tagging indie shops and designers.
The next issue of Nomadic Knits will focus on Upstate New York, while issue three will focus on the American Southwest. That’s as far as the team has planned so far, but there are plenty of other ideas and options. They’re excited to experience the entire world of knitting, and see everything that there is to see.
As more issues are released, Becky and Melissa are also planning a searchable list of indie dyers and local yarn shops to make it easy for knitters to support local, even when they are traveling.
If knitters aren’t able to travel, Becky and Melissa hope to cater to them, too. “Our hope is it will inspire people who travel, or want to travel, to explore local fiber when they’re out in the world and that we can share the flavor and feel of regional fibers with those who may not have the opportunity or desire to go to a far-off locale.”
If you’re a designer, indie dyer, or fiber producer interested in working with Nomadic Knits, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Quiltfolk is an independent quilting magazine with a similar mission. Visit them at Quiltfolk.com.
Ashley is a craft writer and knitting/crochet technical editor by day, serial crafter by night. She is a regular contributor for Bluprint and the author of Chunky Knits. You can find more of Ashley’s work at The Feisty Redhead.