Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Few Craft Plugs

I wanted to put in a plug for the knitting magazine, Creative Knitting. I subscribed to this last year and I've found this magazine fun to look at and worth the subscription cost. Here's the good points.

  • The clothing patterns are not high fashion garments but things average people might actually wear.

  • The magazine is plus-size friendly. I don't think I've ever seen a women's pattern in CK that did not go up to XL, most seem to have XXL sizing, and I've seen some that went up to 5X.

  • There is usually an article teaching a new technique--typically with accompanying project that uses the technique--and, of course, a basics how-to section at the back of each magazine.

  • A year's subscription is inexpensive (US$19.97 for six issues), and the patterns' sample garments often use less expensive yarns.

  • They follow the practice of telling you what weight the suggested yarn is and what the yardage is, as opposed to just saying "5 skeins of Brand XYZ yarn".

  • If there's a correction to a pattern, you can find it on the magazine's easily-navigated website.

I've decided not to renew my subscription because I have too many craft-related books and magazines already, but if you're looking to subscribe to a knitting magazine, this is the one I would recommend to most people.


My acknowledgement of having too much craft-related material about did not prevent me from picking up a small stack of back issue craft magazines (including a few CK mags) at a library book sale recently. Among those were three issues of an early '80s magazine from Lark Communications called handmade. This was a general craft magazine--sewing, knitting, crochet, needlepoint, etc--that had a good quality feel to it. If it were still around, I would subscribe. (There is an Australian magazine with the same name still publishing, but as far as I can tell, they seem to be a different entity.) If you ever come across an issue at a yard sale or wherever, I don't think you'll regret picking it up.


I'm not big on crocheted or knit flowers as a rule, but the ones Lion Brand has been featuring in its email newsletter recently have sometimes been pretty cute. Still, I wouldn't be mentioning it if they hadn't included a photo an awfully familiar-looking flower they called Tradescantia. It turned out to be the official name for my favorite weed, spiderwort. (There's also a nice close-up picture here.) As most people don't seem to know the name of this flower when I mention it, I say kudos to LB for showing a relatively obscure flower.


I sometimes hear people saying they don't know how to do basic hand stitching. There are some videos showing some hand-sewing techniques here. I didn't watch all of the videos, but the ones I watched were pretty well done. The presenter's slip stitch method was different from what I learned as a kid, and it is much better, so I'm glad I saw that video.

Warning: They seem to have added annoying advertisements at the beginning of the videos since I first saw the site.


Two weeks ago I saw this Daily Mail article about a group of women who knit a replica of their village. That's both really fun and a bigger feat than many people would realize. I think it falls into the"you ask why and I ask why not" category of pursuits, which I consider to be a generally good category.

Less happily, the ladies touch on people not knitting much anymore because people prefer storebought items to handmade. One says, "I used to knit such complicated stuff, but now I watch television instead." I know some people would say that whatever consumers want is right and good so therefore I shouldn't say this, but still I find it rather sad that handcrafts are dying out as people buy great quantities of whatever the advertisers are telling us we should like this month and that a skilled knitter is increasingly watching television instead of knitting because no one is interested in her stuff.


The By Hand, With Heart blogger, who is also the author of the interesting-looking knitting book Great Yarns for the Close-knit Family, suggests a possible unofficial patron saint of knitters, St. Rafqa. I've heard a couple of other possibilities floated, but this sounds good to me.


I was pretty struck by the customer pictures that accompanied this page for the out-of-print book Hard Crochet by Mark Dittrick on Amazon. The book is supposed to have a new technique for really stiff crochet that lets you make firm brimmed hats, bowls, and even briefcases. I'm not going to buy it because I don't crochet much, but I'm passing the link along for any crocheters who may not have heard of it.


And that's about it for today.

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