The Knitter is a craft magazine published in the UK, although widely available in the USA. It is produced by a company called Immediate Media, who produce a wide range of media within the UK, but specialise in magazines with a variety of readerships and across a variety of subjects.
The magazine features knitting news, patterns, reviews of books, yarns, patterns and designers, interviews with designers, and features on techniques and upcoming events. It targets knitting enthusiasts; as such the target market has a specific set of interests (knitting), and are reasonably affluent – they can afford to buy not only the magazine subscription, but also the materials and patterns necessary to pursue the higher end of the hobby. Unlike many UK knitting magazines, it is aimed not at beginner knitters, but at more advanced knitters – as such, the format and style of the magazine is very different to other UK knitting publications, although it is very similar in style to many more successful US publications such as Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits.
For such an audience, the magazine markets knitting not just as a hobby, but as a lifestyle, and focuses on particular aspects of that lifestyle, such as independent design and sustainable yarn production. This affects the overall appearance of the magazine, which attempts a ‘grown-up’ appearance with a focus on nature and design, rather than the more colourful, ‘fun’ appearance of beginner magazines (these, for example, often feature bright, primary colours, bold print, and popular culture imagery). A good example would be Issue 87, which features two models showcasing designs by independent designers, posing against backdrops of autumn leaves and garden foliage (Issue 87: front page). Finally, as a UK publication, the magazine has a specific geographical target with regards to its audience; interestingly, however, it seeks to promote the international knitting community, and as such aims for geographical inclusivity throughout.
This magazine primarily features advertising related to knitting products, events, and patterns. Combined with the fact that the advertising is kept to a minimum, this highlights the importance to the magazine of its subject focus and of balancing content with advertising. The target market of these advertisements is primarily middle-aged and middle-class women, and this is reflected in the presentation of much of the advertising. For example, one of the few full-page advertisements in Issue 87 is for The Handmade Fair at Hamptom Court Palace (Issue 87: 50). The colours and images in this advertisement, which features hand-made tissue-paper flowers in the feminine and fun colours of pink and turquoise, target a female audience, as does the snapshot of celebrity crafter Kirsty Allsop, who is herself a middle-aged, female crafting enthusiast. Use of pictures to lead the eye is common in magazine advertising, with language used only as reinforcement to the ideas suggested by the imagery (Dyer: 69); this is evident in this advertisement, where little language is used to capture the target audience, who are attracted solely by their pre-existing interest in crafting, and by the sympathetic imagery used.
Pastel colours feature heavily in other ads throughout the magazine, as do scenes depicting stylish, country homes and settings (Issue 87: 99). The magazine is selling knitting – and the products associated with it – as a part of the wider lifestyle centring around simple, sustainable and rustic living. A further example of this type of advertising can be seen in a series of six advertisements in Issue 86. Occupying a single page, these advertisements are linked by a focus on high-quality materials and products, being offered by small businesses (Issue 86: 17). Magazine advertising often relies on repeated exposure to an advertisement, because the nature of a subscription service guarantees a repeat audience (Cook: 235); these six advertisements can be seen in most issues of The Knitter, and the high-definition images they present of luxurious and colourful yarns, remote outdoors scenery, and natural materials not only appeal to the target audience, but also support the overall image of the magazine as high-quality and up-market within the knitting world.
This can be seen even more clearly in a full-page advertisement featured in Issue 89, for the yarn company West Yorkshire Spinners (Issue 89: 27). As with the previous advertisements mentioned, this advertisement uses a colour palette of pastel and neutral colours which not only suggest a female target audience, but also add emphasise to the focus of the advertisement on natural materials. This emphasis is echoed in the background images of the three photographs across the top of the page, in which knitted samples of available patterns are displayed against a backdrops of cut logs, forest ferns, and grey slate. These background images suggest a connection to nature likely to appeal to the target audience, and fits the ‘rustic lifestyle’ image of the magazine overall. The same can be said for the image at the bottom left of the page, which shows a selection of colourful balls of wool in pastel and neutral shades, displayed in a wicker basket filled with straw. Again, feminine colours are combined with natural materials and country-life imagery to suggest a target audience who aspire to a rustic, country lifestyle.
This strategy of keeping advertising focussed, consistent in imagery, and at a minimum has worked exceptionally well for this magazine, which conveys an impression of advertising only products worth buying to its readership. The presentation of the advertising acts almost like a positive review, lending the authority of the magazine to the products it chooses to display. Readers are left feeling that they have read a high-quality publication, with a focus on quality content, but are also nevertheless very likely to follow the guidance of the included advertising when buying knitting-related products.
- Cook, Guy. The Discourse of Advertising. 2nd. Ed. London: Routledge, 2003.
- Dyer, Gillian. Advertising as Communication. London: Methuen and Co., Ltd.: 1982.
- The Knitter, Issue 86: 21 June 2015. London: Immediate Media.