Thursday, August 10, 2017

in print

As a teenager, I loved magazines. Specifically, fashion magazines. I loved flipping through the glossy pages and tearing out ads I loved and styling that I found inspiring. This love of magazines was reflected in my shopping habits, too: I was a cheap clothing addict. I love print, pattern, color and texture: Forever 21 had these in overabundance at great prices, and so most of my wardrobe was a riot of one-off pieces that didn't go together, didn't overlap. I struggled to buy basics (I think I went a decade without a pair of black pants), but anything with a crazy print or an unusual color found its' way into my closet easily. Shoes, adorned with pom poms and glitter and metallic colored with laces, were just as much of a problem. Before long, I felt overwhelmed by the clothing I had but wasn't wearing, the pieces I wanted to wear but couldn't figure out how, and the shoes that didn't fit quite right but were so unique and such a bargain. The magazines spurred me to buy more, generated obsessions with colors and textures that I had to have. 

If there's one thing that will break you of a fashion habit faster than anything else, it's having a major life change that results in a lot less income. Like many teens, my income was often my own to do what I wanted with. I've never been a very good saver, so most of the meager paycheck I had earned working through high school went towards clothes. In college, my paycheck had to go towards food and school supplies. It was a much needed reality check. Soon, the abundance of my wardrobe provided another issue: relocating from dorm to dorm, and then apartment to apartment as an adult, meant that I had extensive experience with packing and moving that wardrobe, so the culling began. I went from probably 80 pieces to 50, then 50 to thirty. Right now, I'm sitting somewhere around 20 pieces in my whole wardrobe (yes, including winter. I live in Tennessee, it's like 40 F here in December.) Somewhere in there, magazines lost their sparkle. The glossy, inspirational advertisements generated resentment towards their brands. The articles seemed like advertorials for actresses and causes with which I had no connection. The spell had been broken.

During this time, my knitting and I became more serious. We spent long afternoons together and woke up early on the weekends to have coffee. I watched my favorite shows over sweaters and socks, mittens and hats. Collecting yarn replaced collecting clothing, but it has always been easier for me to give away, sell, and divest of yarn. I drew my inspiration from the internet, mostly. The rise of Pinterest meant less clutter and as much visual stimulation as I could ever want. Instagram  and Ravelry were much of the same: I could follow other knitters around the globe and feel inspired by what they were making and working on.

I forgot how lovely the ritual was of sitting down with a magazine and absorbing each page, breathing in the smell of the ink, admiring the photography and highlighting interesting bits of writing. In the moments when my brain is too tired to knit, but not sleepy yet, I have rediscovered a space for magazines, but not the slick-paged ones I had once loved. Instead, I have discovered the joy of the small batch publication. Here are a few of the ones I've recently tried, just in case you're interested!

Pom Pom Quarterly 

It would be unfair not to say that Pom Pom is the reason I started buying magazines again. After several years of flirting with the major knitting magazines and a few online publications, I gifted myself a year of Pom Pom. Meghan and Lydia are really on to something special with these quarterly issues: bright and cheerful, their pages are adorned with lovely patterns I actually want to knit. The size of each issue is perfect for slipping into my handbag or knitting tote. The materials this magazine is printed on, from slightly waxed cover to perfectly matte pages, make this publication feel cozy and familiar. One to two articles are slipped in, thoughtful musings on knitting and materials and shared knitting experiences. The most recent one seems to be one of the best yet (although the Anniversary issue was pretty fantastic!)

By Hand Serial 

I'm a little biased, because I work part-time doing the marketing for this book series. We don't call them magazines because they aren't -- each individual issue is like a maker's travel guide to a new place. The first issue I felt really in-depth with was the Nashville, TN issue (#3), in which I was also interviewed about my book. What I love most about these as a reader is how the entire book is written by the same person. Andrea Hungerford and Karen DeWitz travel to each of these places and actually interview the people featured: they visit their studios and homes, chat about what got them started, and talk about their products and processes. By lining up these interviews, Andrea gets a very comprehensive view of what the mood of the city is, and what it's like to be a creative within it. Each issue gets better and better, and I can't wait to see what 6 - 8 look like. This book series comes out with a new issue three times a year.

not pictured, I have a digital version

Okay, so I'm really only a fairweather PLY reader. While I love everything Jacey is doing (I cannot speak enough good about her Craftsy class, I swear), I really don't spin so frequently that I feel I'd benefit from a subscription to PLY. However, I love that each issue covers a topic of interest to spinners in a new way. There aren't very many spinning publications out there to begin with, and I love how fresh PLY feels against others available. I bought the Woolen issue some time ago and still pick it up to re-read frequently. If you're a spinner, I highly recommend checking this one out. PLY comes out four times a year and always has a very unique topic -- this summer's issue is called "Bobbin Lead".

Mason Dixon Field Guides

Although I'm fairly certain these aren't considered 'magazines', these little pamphlet-style study guides come out and definitely create a stir among knitters. Powerhouse writers Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner have teamed up with former Interweave editor and STC lead Melanie Falick to create an exceptional array of patterns, projects and articles designed to inspire and motivate knitters around the globe. I especially love the community they've generated around these via their site, which also offers weekend Snippets, ongoing knit-a-longs, and a ton of additional content.


Carrie Bostick-Hodge's project, Making, is a magazine that is all about knitting with some crafting thrown in. I have heard so much praise for this magazine, but hadn't taken the plunge until recently, drawn in by a pattern my friend Amy designed. (I seriously have to have this sweater.) I was surprised to discover just how much content is included in a single issue. Dots, the issue I purchased, is the third issue, and has page after page of projects, with a few short written pieces in between. The themes of the issue dictate the types of projects in a loose way, and it's fun to see how different crafts embody the idea behind Carrie's overall vision with each new page. I will certainly be making a few of the things in this one, and might consider checking out Lines, which is due out in Fall. This publication comes out twice a year.


Who wouldn't want to love this adorably Japanese magazine? I love Amirisu for opening my world up a little wider and giving me insight into the Japanese culture that surrounds knitting. On trend with the modern minimalist movement and featuring many of my favorite knitting designers, Amirisu's issues are beautiful, but a little crowded (each page features both Japanese and english text in columns.) While I love looking at Amirisu and browsing the listing on Ravelry for patterns, I was a bit disappointed to discover that not every pattern is actually included in the book. For some, you have to go outside of the publication and purchase the pattern separately, so this is something to be aware of before you order any issues. I now reserve my purchase of Amirisu with a local stockist, so that I can see what's included before I buy. This magazine comes out four times a year, seasonally.

Extra Curricular

I can't remember how I discovered these delightful little books from New Zealand, but I love them! I ordered two some time ago, one to give in a swap and one to keep, and I can't stop thinking about them. Similar to By Hand Serial, each issue features a range of interviews with makers and artisans. These are small in size and each cover is an illustration that gives a little hint to what is inside. Unfortunately, I've just found out that they've published their 20th and final issue, so now begins the quest to collect the ones I've missed.

Do you have any small publications, magazines or serials you adore? Please share them with me in the comments -- I am on the lookout for new things to read!

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