In this review my goal is to evaluate two crochet magazines in a very general way. I’m doing this mostly because I used to be a fan of magazines. I actually had subscriptions. Two years ago I canceled all of my magazine subscriptions but I still continue to buy single issues here and there of two related to crochet, which are the titles being examined here. I think it’s important to compare them because, in my humble opinion, they are the two best crochet magazines out there. I buy one of them on occasion because I just have to have such-and-such pattern I saw on Ravelry. The other one is a title I get more frequently just for fun because it has innovative designs in it. Can you guess which is which after reading this review? Can you feel my sadness of having to say all at once that these are the two very best yet not worth subscribing to?
I’m going to discuss my general comparisons according to these categories: publication frequency, price, design innovation, regular columns, and presentation. I’m not going to give them a grade because I think it isn’t appropriate in this case. Grading a whole magazine is like putting a price on a life. Periodicals have histories and go through different phases.
Interweave Crochet is a quarterly publication. So, if you order a subscription, you only get four issues a year. The subscription is $21.95 US for the print edition and $19.95 on Amazon for the Kindle edition. Single issues cost $7.99.
Simply Crochet is a monthly publication. It costs $59.99 US for a digital subscription. Single issues are similarly priced to those of Interweave Crochet.
Proportionally speaking, the pricing of both magazines is fair in the sense that they cost about the same as any old magazine. (See above)
Both magazines attempt to show off modern style and trends as well as introduce readers to new techniques. Interweave Crochet has been brave in that it occasionally provides sweater patterns intended for men (no, they don’t want crochet sweaters usually, alas) whereas Simply Crochet does not (how brilliantly practical, my dear Watson!). I’d say, however, that overall Simply Crochet wins in innovation. It always provides patterns for interesting accessories and clothing that are equally practical and decorative. I often open an issue of Simply Crochet and say at least once, “Huh! I never thought of doing that!” One memorable issue has a pattern for a Tunisian crochet sweater done in the round on a cro-hook. I plan on making this sweater some day for myself, but with different colors. I might add that this is very unusual to find in a magazine. Another favorite of mine is something I actually crocheted: woven potholders. One side of the potholder is made of strips of single crochet woven together. The other side is a crochet square. The strips are held to the other side by crocheting around the edge of the potholder, not by slip stitching or sewing or other “boring” technique.
I think Interweave Crochet most often excels at publishing “viral” patterns from time to time. They are not necessarily difficult or challenging, but are popular because they’re easy to make as well as surprisingly different to look at. The Babette Afghan is a fine example of this type of pattern. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Babette. I just don’t think it’s a grand challenge to create which is why it’s so popular. In my opinion, it’s a good one to make to use up a ton of scraps, perhaps another reason why it’s gone all viral.
Interweave Crochet‘s regular columns are not very interesting to me. Often, they talk about something floating around on the Internet. One of their biggest mistakes was to introduce readers to free form crochet by giving a pattern for making an object that looked free form. The author totally missed the point of what the term “free form” actually means. Another time there was a regular author who attempted to uncover the mystery behind creating interesting color designs with self-striping yarns. The goal was to “set the record straight” and help readers who might have been misinformed by untrue things people have said on the ‘net that were just plain wrong. The problem here is that Crochet Crowd had already done this and the article was available for people to see for free. Another time, one of the designers wrote about how he hated that people used a color different from the suggested one in his pattern. I mean, really, people, you have to make everything just like the picture! In conclusion, the regular columns in this magazine are not very interesting. I also call all crocheters to make all the things with a color other than the one pictured or suggested by the designer to send a bold message out there. Oh, never mind, that was already done with everything.
This is not to say that Simply Crochet‘s are any better. I begin reading one and my eyes glaze over with boredom. I can’t remember anything I read. Mostly, they are incomplete instructions for some trendy technique or an interview with somebody without asking very challenging questions.
The stories in both magazines about how crochet has helped people or charity work are very interesting, of course!
In conclusion, it seems both magazines think that people buy their issues because they want patterns and pretty pictures.
Overall, Simply Crochet‘s presentation is a big winner. Interweave Crochet has recently tried strange photographs in which the models appear in unreal or unusual settings. Other times, they don’t show me what I need to know about the finished object. Sometimes models wear their sweaters with the sleeves rolled or riding up (shocking, yes). In Simply Crochet the photos are a little more practical. The goal, I suspect, is to give us a good view of the piece and make it pleasing to the eye with colorful props and sharp images.
The magazine issues I buy most often out of simple curiosity are from Simply Crochet. I buy issues of Interweave Crochet very rarely because I see a must have pattern on Ravelry. Overall, I’d suggest not subscribing to either and just buy one or two individual issues a year. In the end, I believe this manner of buying them has saved me a lot of money. I am actually very sad to say this because for me it was like Christmas twelve months a year to have magazine subscriptions. Every month somebody sent me something nice and I momentarily forgot I had paid for it. I not only had subscriptions to craft magazines. I had also subscribed to many others such as National Geographic. I really hope that magazines work out how to compete with the Internet more effectively. Right now it just doesn’t make much sense to subscribe to anything anymore. My advice to craft magazines in particular would be to assign tasks to regular contributors such as: research something unusual or invent something nobody can find on the Internet. The old way of doing it is old, you know?