Toilet Reading: Love Crafting

Tagline: There isn’t one. I read Issue 5, so perhaps the Love Crafting team hadn’t got round to writing one yet.

Price: £4.99

Who is this magazine for? The difference between ‘making’ and ‘crafting’ is subtle but important. To make something is to combine a series of materials or ingredients into a useful object. To craft something is exactly the same, except with the omission of the word ‘useful’. This magazine is for people who love the latter.

Love Crafting is pitched at women who feel the shenanigans going on in Spirit and Destiny are too rich for their blood. As the editor Katriel – a nice looking woman who looks like Tamsin Greig might do during an uncomfortable first date – says, ‘if there’s one thing we look forward to in wintertime, it’s choosing a new project to enjoy.’ Patchwork is given a specific shout-out in her opening note because ‘it keeps your knees warm,’ narrowing the mag’s target market down to women who would spend a fiver on a magazine but prefer not to heat their homes.

Pulling those threads together and sprinkling it with anecdotal evidence that craft is allegedly a bit trendy now, it is likely that Love Crafting is being pitched at grannies and student wannabe grannies – which for the rest of this article I’m going to be calling grannabies.

There are more clues in the staff list – another all woman cast list with a male managing director, boo – and the features themselves, which invariably involve the sort of things that crafty grannabies foist on others. Love Crafting is responsible for a lot of awkwardly false thank yous.

What did you get for your £4.99? One irritating thing you get a lot of, which I have to get off my chest right now, is articles describing their efforts as ‘makes’. In this context, a ‘make’ clearly means a pleasantly crafted bit of thing. But when you think about it, pretty much anything is a ‘make’. This computer. A sandwich. A word a 2-year old might use for poo.

Leaving that to one side, what you mostly get for your fiver is basically a recipe book. Instead of listing ingredients and the steps required to turn them into delicious food, the mag lists types of material you can transform in to artfully combined bits of material.

Babushka

Brazen cloth-based hussy.

What kind of combinations you ask? Well, you can make a babushka, which I thought was a Russian word for prostitute but it turns out I’m probably mistaken, a teddy bear, some cushions, some smaller cushions that look like cake but aren’t in fact cake, a quilt, and some ‘stashbusters’, which sounds thrillingly superhero-like but turns out to be floral pencil cases.

Pincushion cake

Chewier than you’d hope.

Helpfully, each of the recipes comes with a handy tip or two. Unfortunately, tip number one reveals that Love Crafting isn’t for a novice, suggesting as it does that I could use ‘felt leftovers’ to make my babushka. The only leftovers I have to hand today are bits of yesterday’s haggis, which is a bugger to French knot.

At the back there are some template cutouts to help the grannabies along with their makes, some puzzles for when the arthritic fingers call a halt to the stitching, and an excellent quiz that I will come to shortly.

Features: Although it is undeniably rather gentle, I wouldn’t want you to think Love Crafting lacks bite and depth. The second make (for tape measure covers) is a fine example of what could be described as metacraft; taking craftiness to another level of uselessness in a powerful evocation of Heidegger’s arguments against metaphilosophy.

That piece also comes with a provocative standfirst: ‘Who says sewing accessories can’t be gorgeous?’

Yeah, who goddamn it? Because if someone is saying that, I will fuck them right up.

Scary teddy

Is there anything scarier than a teddy bear with no eyes?

Those lovely tips fluctuate between the slightly patronizing (a reminder to make sure one’s needles are sharp can only be helpful for those bitterly weeping as they fail execute tight stitches using cooked spaghetti) and the perplexing (‘Fleece is relatively new to the fabric scene, debuting in 1979.’ I am reasonably confident that sheep were using it as far back as the Fifties).

Monster doorstop

This guy will be appearing in the next Saw movie.

The main problem with the recipes was that there was no sense of difficulty level. To me, a fat-fingered orangutan, I’m sure they would all be comfortably beyond my means, even if I was provided with a hundred-length of felt, the world’s sharpest needle and the only alternative distraction of Mrs Brown’s Boys. But there was no indicator to separate the grannies from the grannabies. Would that rose tinted cushion be marked at a ‘Betty’ level of challenge? Or a mere ‘Kirsty’? Either way, the 35-step instruction for rag dolls must surely get a top rating of ‘Ethel’.

My favourite bit was the quiz, which was in the classic ‘Mostly As / Bs / Cs’ mold. Love Crafting invites you consider what might happen if your sewing machine turned into a time machine. Given that scenario in my case, I imagine there would be quite a lot of crime and maybe some inappropriate touching. That wasn’t on offer, especially not with sample questions like: ‘There’s something missing from your outfit. For that finishing touch you add…’

A – A fur stole and a flouncy, stitched flower (Flouncy? How dare you?)

B – A bustle with a top hat with a veil (A thousand times yes!)

C – Purple wedges and a tartan scarf round your waist (Note to self: must remember to polish wedges.)

D – Your Google Cape and Apple solar powered glasses (Never let it be said that Love Crafting isn’t on top of the latest technology.)

It turns out I’m a space-age seamstress. The mag sagely recommends I turn to the teddy bear recipe on page 72 as it’s a timeless classic. The Google Cape recipe must be in the next edition.

Adverts: There are very few adverts in Love Crafting. The back cover has an oddly useless advert listing all the places in Britain where you can buy a Janome sewing machine, possibly belying a lack of confidence it has in readers deploying the power of Google, cape-wearing or otherwise. The inside back cover has an advert that appears to be touting an eBay for ‘makes’.

Craftsuprint

£9.09 is worth quite a lot in poutine.

The only ads inside that magazine itself are for other magazines – which seems a little defeatist – and craftsUprint. Run by ‘Crafty Bob’, CraftsUPrint claims to be the World’s Largest Crafting Megastore. But rather craftily, ‘Crafty Bob’ appears to be supplementing his income with racy games like tombola and bingo on the side. Still, if Linda Robitanille of Ontario, Canada can win £9.09 on there, I might just nip online to stock up on bobbins myself.

Letters page: Love Crafting has no letters page, presumably because the hands that could be writing them are far too busy on their applique.

Rating: 8/10

Love Crafting is a good magazine. It’s full of content that can presumably keep idle but talented hands busy for weeks. It’s a professional job, nicely written and laid out. And there’s a refreshing lack of guffy adverts or reader-generated content – which, let’s be honest, is always substandard, because it’s written by people like you.

If there is a criticism, it’s that Love Crafting doesn’t really cater all that well to the novice, or indeed the malcoordinated orangutan market I represent. But then again, why should it?

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