I've been working on style boards for the Fall 2011 photoshoot, and at the same time working on submission call materials for Spring 2012. Coming up with themes for grouping the designs is a pretty organic process, but there is some structure to it. First I think about what kind of knits I want, and then how to bring them together with cohesion, and then how to style them in a way that makes sense and is also fun and fresh. For instance, in the Summer issue that will be coming out in the next few weeks, I grouped garter-stitch projects together with a nautical theme. Nautical has been a strong trend for the past couple years, and is always relevant for summer. And somehow the nubbly nature of garter, perhaps worked in cotton, just made sense as accompaniment to this theme.
I spend a good amount of time researching trends and just finding styles that I like. When you're the editor, sometimes you get to do things just because you want to--like the art nouveau theme in the Fall 2011 issue. I've always been a fan of Alphonse Mucha's paintings, so I found a way to bring that opulent look into the magazine. It will be very cool!
One way I collect images and ideas is through Pinterest. This site lets you "pin" images you like from around the web and group them into digital scrapbooks. I've replaced that folder of jpegs on my hard drive with this handy service. You can follow my pins here. Here are screen grabs from two boards I've been working on.
Another service for grouping images and products is Polyvore. I'm not a user of this site, but I often browse other people's boards for ideas. Here's a lovely board for spring:
You can use these sites to collect your own style inspirations, or to collect pics of knitting that inspire you--a kind of project queue that combines general style elements and inspiration. Have fun! I sure do.