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Popular! It's All About Popu-u-lar.

September 7, 2018

I have finished a hat. It's a lovely hat, based on the Coppe pattern by Kylie McDonnell-Wade, and it's made out of a one-of-a-kind yarn lovingly created by The Spinnacle Fiber Arts.  I can safely say I am the Only Person In the World with a Hat Like This, and isn't that a fun, smug feeling to have? I can express my individuality, assert my distinctiveness, revel in what makes me such a special snowflake, including wearing garments that no one else gets to have, neener neener.

 

But then I got to thinking ... what if I weren't such a contrarian?  What if, gasp, I tried to fit in ... to conform ... to do what the cool kids are doing, and be, yes, popular? So I turned to that beloved web site, Ravelry.com.  And I navigated to the advanced pattern search.  And I searched.  And I sorted by popularity.

 

Now, normally when I'm doing this sort of thing I'm also tossing in all sorts of constraints: I only want to search for patterns that are intended for adult men in worsted weight wool that are considered easy, have instructions in English, photos, don't involve seaming, use 275 - 350 yards of yarn, are typically made with three colours, etc. etc.  But not this time.  I just want to know which patterns are the most popular.

 

For knitting, it's the Hitchhiker Scarf (which I've actually knit, never realising how very hoi polloi* I was being at the time), by Martina Behm, which has been knit (as of this writing) approximately 30,100 times, or at least there are that many projects listed (some may not have been quite completed yet, but it's not a hard scarf, so I assume they will).  If you assume that people going to the trouble of creating a project page for their scarf is but the tip of the iceberg, then that might be 301,000 Hitchhiker scarfs out in the world.  Luckily most of them are in different yarns and colourways (but not always--I can see multiple Knit Picks' Chroma "Lollipop" scarves).  

 

Here I am, surrounded by 0.005% of the other Hitchhiker scarves:

(I look nervous because I know I always freeze up and look unnatural in photos.  Believe-it-or-not, in real life, I actually know how to smile!)

 

How popular is this scarf? It's almost 10% more popular than its nearest competition, the Baby Surprise Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman.  And Hitchhiker was published in 2010 (so far as I can tell), whereas the Baby Surprise Sweater was conceived (ha!) in 1968.  So that's a remarkable success.  Ms. Behm gets some share of $7 CAD (I've converted the Euro) for each pattern download, so assuming only 10% of the projects are made by people who paid for the pattern (instead of copying off a friend), that's a whopping $21,700 earned.  So for those of you who said knitting-pattern design wasn't a viable career option, well, you're right.  And the halls of Ravelry are littered with patterns that only one or two people have ever purchased, earning their authors the equivalent of bupkis*. 

 

I don't have a baby to knit for, but I'm compelled to try the Baby Surprise Sweater soon, just to see what fun I've missed out on (I have to presume that these popular patterns are popular because they're fun to knit ... often popular = cheap, but that's not really a relevant factor in selecting knitting patterns).

 

3rd, 4th, and 5th place belonged to a Honey Cowl by Atonia Shankland, Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder, and Clapotis (a scarf so wide it could double as a shawl) by Kate Gilbert.

 

For crochet, it's the Neat Ripple by Lucy of Attic 24 (there were 23 other Lucy of Attics before her?) who must know what she's doing as she's sewn up 2 of the top 5 spots for popular crochet projects. Almost 10,000 intrepid crocheters have created this project on Ravelry, and almost 7,000 for her third-place Granny Stripes blanket.  Faithful readers of this blog know that I have but one true crochet love, the Sophie's Universe, which clocks in at a measly 6,000 projects (or thereabouts), and sits in spot number 4.  Number 2 is a hat (the Divine Hat by Sarah Arnold) which has a matching cowl pattern, if you can read Italian. 

 

By the way, my hat's pattern (picture forthcoming, I forgot my phone) has 66 projects posted to Ravelry, but maybe it's just a late bloomer.

 

Off the Needles

Coppe Hat by Kylie McDonnell-Wade

 

On The Needles

Sophie's Universe crochet project (Part 10: Round 80)

GGN Norwegian Ski Sweater (still adding the steek stiches while knitting from eventual armhole to neck, I'm about 80% done with the final chart of the torso piece--but there are still arms to be knit!) 

Persian Dreams Blanket (row 33 of the fourth hexagon) 

The second Double-Knit Vice Versa Scarf, about 3/4 of the way through

 

Glossary

 

*hoi polloi = a term originally indicating the upper crust but which over time has migrated to generally mean its exact opposite, the great unwashed mass of ordinary people.

 

*bupkis = nothing at all, or nothing of value, from the Yiddish for goat droppings, apparently.

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