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SPOTLIGHT

Craft magazines

It is said ‘crafting’ is worth £5.4bn to the UK economy, so no wonder the newsagent’s shelf is groaning with titles. Alan Geere sees who’s making it happen in a crowded marketplace.

Alan Geere

Posted on: 22 May 2018

 

ClayCraft

What’s it about: ‘Pinch, coil, slab and throw’ – tagline under masthead.

Vital statistics: Issue 13 (no date): 84 pages of 267mm x 210mm. Gloss paper, card cover, perfect bound. £4.99 cover price. Circulation of 15,000 according to publisher. Published every four weeks by Kelsey Media in Kent.

Cover: Big picture of a bright-eyed clay hare (featured later in ‘Me and my pot’), four other pictures, seven coverlines, an ‘Also Inside’ tagline all held together by ‘Great ideas for the garden’ strapline.

Content: Two neatly illustrated pages of contents outlining the six projects to come. Some ‘news’ and on to the first project, a flowerpot, that comes with a difficulty rating of 3.5 stars out of 5. All projects have pictured steps clearly numbered and a delightful photograph of the finished article. Potter spotlight, Meet the Potter, Blog, a Directory, Events and Courses fill the gaps between the projects.

Digital: Has a neat website with videos, news and a useful ‘How To’ section. Links to Twitter, with a disappointing 459 followers, and a more respectable 2,975 likes on Facebook.

What they say: ‘I have lost my heart to agate’ – headline on a piece about experimenting with styles and techniques.

Verdict: Some super projects (rhubarb forcer, anyone?) and enough to read away from the clay table make this a niche publication that demonstrates all the energy, enthusiasm and fun needed to be a continued success. Still only just over a year old, it already has the feel of a veteran publication comfortable and confident in what it does.

Creative Stamping

What’s it about: ‘The UK’s number one stamping magazine’ – tagline on cover.

Vital statistics: Issue 54 (no date): 68 pages of 298mm x 210mm. Gloss paper, heavyweight cover, stitched. £7.99 cover price. Media pack quotes a circulation of 18,000. Published every four weeks by Practical Publishing in the creative hub that is Stockport.

Cover: Main image of a card made from the included free stamps, nine other images, seven coverlines, two arrows, two exclamation marks, a big barcode and a small price (the type, not the amount).

Content: Comes in a poly bag containing the promised ‘bumper stamp set worth £25’, which look pretty expensive to this untutored eye. Two pages of neatly illustrated contents before ‘Stamping news’ which not unsurprisingly runs to only two pages. Then on to actually making stuff in easy to follow numbered steps with at least one helpful ‘top tip’ on every project. Two pages of giveaways, a shopping page and a Readers’ Gallery complete the comprehensive package.

Digital: Website url on the foot of every page is to a generic ‘papercraft’ site from the publisher. Click through to the magazine specific page and there is just one item of content from three months ago. Has its own Twitter presence, but only 158 tweets in four years have resulted in just 723 followers, and Facebook is for all of ‘Papercraft Magazines’ (18.3k likes).

What they say: “Research has shown that the average reader is aged 60, has been crafting for over five years and is either retired, unable to work or in full / part-time work.” – researchers covering all the employment bases in the media pack.

Verdict: Has a very assured feel that will be a great comfort to beginners as they follow their way through the myriad of techniques and materials. The ‘free’ gift looks like a quality offering, but at £7.99 cover price, so it should. Digital feels like a work in progress but if they can follow the confident format of the printed magazine, should not be far behind.

Cross Stitch Crazy

What’s it about: ‘For cross stitch addicts just like YOU!’ – tagline on cover.

Vital statistics: May 2018 issue: 84 pages of 297mm x 210mm. Gloss paper, heavyweight cover, stitched. £4.99 cover price. Media pack (2016) gives circulation as 16,960. Published monthly by Immediate in Bristol.

Cover: A large vase of flowers (in cross stitch of course), eleven other pictures with nine cleverly crafted coverlines. Five! exclamation marks, two* asterisks and one £ sign, promising more than £1,000 of prizes to be won.

Content: An expansive ‘Welcome’ page with a note from the editor and ‘Meet the team’, six women with smiling mugshots who are all ‘mad about cross stitch, too!’. Contents spread clearly sends readers off to ‘MustStitch’ and ‘MustRead’. Straight into making something (that flower display from the cover) clearly displayed with helpful ‘Need to know’ and ‘Shopping list’. New products, a page of ‘Online news’, those competitions with a generous 55 prizes on offer, a problem page (“I’m never happy with clip-on frames”) and a welcome ‘How To’ spread for new stitchers to understand the charts, keys and jargon. All in a poly bag with a ‘free birthday gift tags kit’.

Digital: Well-equipped website flagged up on the foot of every page with links to blogs, a poll (I voted for ‘cute characters’), subscription info as well as charts and tips. They’ve done well to bag @Crazy_magazine on Twitter (6.6k followers) and have nearly 50k likes on Facebook.

What they say: “I'm so grateful you haven't gone out of business like so many other cross stitch magazines. Please keep up the wonderful work you do.” – poster on Facebook going for that PhD in ‘economics of publishing’.

Verdict: A reader panel and four pages of letters emphasise the commitment to the people who make it all possible and they are rewarded with a useful, cheerful and helpful publication that would make evenings by the fireside go without a hitch – or with a stitch.

Let’s Knit

What’s it about: ‘The UK’s bestselling knit mag’ – tagline under masthead.

Vital statistics: April 2018 issue: 100 pages of 303mm x 218mm. Gloss paper, card cover, stitched. £5.99 cover price. Publisher unable to provide circulation figures. Published monthly by Aceville in Colchester.

Cover: Big pic of a lady in a knitted jumper (sorry, ‘Sideways cable sweater’), six other pictures, no less than 15 coverlines, two mentions of the word ‘love’ and one heart.

Content: After a welcome from editor Sarah – “Happy knitting!” – the contents spread promises shopping, people and patterns among other delights. Well illustrated, easy to follow patterns are interspersed with lots of quick reads from a readers’ gallery to ‘Out & About’. A ‘promotional feature’ about crochet does both readers and advertisers proud. Giveaways and prizes, a substantial classified section and practical guides complete this comprehensive offering. All comes in a poly bag with everything you need to knit two ‘easy toys’, sparkly yarn included.

Digital: A very busy website advertised from the foot of every page has patterns, downloads, tutorials, ads and links to social media where there are 21.1k followers on Twitter and nearly 22k likes on Facebook. Works hard at both with plenty of posts and multimedia offerings.

What they say: “Exclusive patterns featured in Let’s Knit have been professionally checked and reproduced with the utmost care.” – disclaimer on page 4 in case your efforts don’t end up looking like the pictures.

Verdict: It’s difficult not to feel the love for both knitting and the readers in this professional, yet approachable magazine. A good spread of ads is testament to the regard it is held in and digital is working hard to keep it all together.

Making Cards & Papercraft

What’s it about: ‘Techniques, projects, ideas & inspiration from the world of card making’ – from profile on Twitter page.

Vital statistics: April 2018 issue: 72 pages of 297mm x 210mm. A rather curious mix of gloss and matt paper, heavyweight cover, stitched. £4.99 cover price. Print circulation is 26,500 and 400 from digital, according to the publisher. Published monthly by Warners Group in Bourne, Lincolnshire.

Cover: Five images of cards to make, 13 coverlines, two cartoon characters and that all-important info that there are “67 step-by-step projects for you to make today!”.

Content: After Hello! from editor Sally on page three – “Happy crafting!” – the contents spread signposts ‘Exclusive projects’ and ‘Every Issue…’ while also sharing contact info and social media links. Eight pages of what to do with the free gifts followed by more neatly designed project pages each with a sensible ‘What do I need?’ panel. ‘The Social Scene’ shows the commitment to making digital work in harness with the magazine. Comes in a poly bag with free gifts and another magazine, Parchment Craft.

Digital: The advertised website – makingcardsmagazine.com – sends you off into hobbies-and-crafts.co.uk, the publisher’s catch-all site. Click through to the dedicated cards section for an enterprising splash page of social media links, competitions and subscription info but no real content. Nearly 7.5k followers on Twitter and 12.5k likes on Facebook.

What they say: “This is me! Hello!” – editor Sally Jarvis announces her arrival on Twitter in June 2015. The first of her four tweets in nearly three years.

Verdict: So much to get on with that readers will be wishing it is a rainy day every day and they can do indoor play. Variety of projects and techniques that will keep everybody happy and worthwhile in-bag extras.

Quilt Now

What’s it about: ‘Britain’s No. 1 guide to fabric & patchwork’ – tagline under masthead.

Vital statistics: Issue 47 (no date): 100 pages of 297mm x 210mm. Matt paper, gloss card cover, stitched. £5.99 cover price. Media pack quotes a circulation of 19,000. Published every four weeks by Practical Publishing in Stockport.

Cover: Big picture of a quilt made with triangles, two other images, nine coverlines and a masterful masthead in a soothing pink.

Content: Somewhat spare contents spread promises just Features and Projects. Some quick reads in ‘Making our Month’ then down to action with that cover-heralded quilt made from triangles. All the projects come in easy steps with a list of materials and a ‘Things to Remember’ acronym-buster. An interview with a scissor manufacturer is a great idea, but ends up being a bland Q&A, while another interview with an African fabric supplier is more engaging but still encumbered by the Q&A format. Comes in a poly bag with a natty-sized 36-page book.

Digital: A soothing website is mostly a vehicle to download templates – which is a simple task after the obligatory sign-up. Also has a Twitter feed (1,300 followers) and links to Facebook (5.7k likes) and Pinterest.

What they say: “We all have such busy lives these days that I want readers to get lost in the magazine, to be able to take some time out of their day and sit with a cuppa and really absorb all the prettiness.” – then editor Katy Jones in an interview with The Sewing Directory.

Verdict: Lots for the quilter to love with the ‘15 bright designs’ offering a project for enthusiasts of every ability. Laudable efforts to include something to read as well but it is the templates and designs that continue to keep those quilters happy.

Spotlight Next Issue: Pet magazines

About Alan Geere
(Details last updated: 16 November 2016)

Alan Geere is an international editorial consultant who has worked for newspapers and magazines, both large and small, around the world.

Tel: 07747 454 417

Email: Send a message to this author

Website: www.alan-geere.com

Twitter: @alangeere

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