Better Homes & Gardens
Your Knitting & Crochet Collection
For you, him and the kids
I couldn't help myself. This year's Better Homes & Gardens annual Knitting & Crochet special issue was on display so I grabbed a copy to see what was being promoted in the Australian yarncrafting scene.
Its release coincided with Wool Week Australia which was from 13–21 May 2017. Last year, I didn't see the annual special issue until August. It makes more sense to release it in May to give people time to make their winter warmers before the cold truly sets in. This is my assessment of this year's magazine.
The 2017 edition was everything I had come to expect with its familiar format–printed in Australia on good quality paper inside a glossy cover. To distinguish itself from its predecessors, it is subtitled, "For you, him and the kids" and packaged with a set of giant 15 mm plastic circular knitting needles. The cable is 1 metre long to make the two exuberant throws on the front cover with matching pillowcase plus a beginner's cowl (tutorial).
|Complimentary circular knitting needles|
sized 15 mm with a 1 metre cable.
Visually, I like the styling of the magazine which has a nod to nature with its earthy colours and wooden accessories but I especially like the use of native flora as embellishments, subtly reminding the reader that this is an Australian publication. This backdrop blends well with the soft muted colours of the baby projects and the neutral palette of the menswear but allows the brightly coloured homewares to stand out even more brightly to grab attention.
The good news is that there seems to be an attempt to redress the balance between crochet and knit offerings compared to previous years:
- 2015: 33% crochet
- 2016: 25% crochet
- 2017: 45% crochet
To make the crochet projects in this magazine, the following hook sizes will be handy:
- 3 mm (2 patterns, 4 projects): placemats, mug cosies, toys
- 3.5 mm (4 patterns, 5 projects): tee shirt, cushion toy, baby blanket, baby beanie & hat set
- 4 mm (8 patterns, 9 projects): chair cushion, pot cosy, throw & cushion set, diamond motif throw, necklace/edging, tee short, cowl, kimono wrap
- 4.5 mm (1 pattern): scarf
- 5 mm (3 patterns): footstool cover, stripey throws
- 8 mm & 9 mm (1 pattern): scarf
- 15 mm (1 pattern): cowl tutorial
The magazine's pattern organisation has been simplified into three sections:
- Home (8 crochet patterns, 10 projects)
- Fashion (7 crochet patterns, 7 projects)
- Kids (4 crochet patterns, 6 projects)
Most of the crochet consisted of throws and cushions. Two of the throws were worked in rows and two in motifs. If you are a fan of bright colours, you will love these projects, and if you are looking to move beyond the basic beginner stitches, you might like to try the striped sampler throw.
If you like working with motifs, and with granny square motifs in particular, you will have plenty of choice:
- 2 standard granny squares (7-round and 4-round)
- 3 'circle-to-square' motifs
- 1 lacy centred square motif
Do you like wrapping things up with crochet and knitting to make them cosy? Besides the mug cosies, there are also 'pot cosies'. Don't be mistaken, they are not tea pot cosies but plant pot cosies to wrap around your indoor plants' terracotta pots. Before dismissing this idea as something silly, some plants appreciate extra warmth around their roots during winter; also remember that the same crochet principles can be applied to decorating vases, pencil tins, jars ... anything round with straight sides.
The most unusual thing I saw was a pattern for knitted 'candle cosies'; basically a strip of knitting wrapped around a candle. I would never have thought to put any sort of fabric close to something as flammable of a candle. What are your thoughts about such things?
Shawl fans are going to be disappointed–no crocheted shawls, only one knitted shawl.
To keep your neck warm, motifs win again with a granny square cowl, and two scarves, one with joined square motifs and the other is an oversized lacy scarf made with chunky yarn measuring over 3 metres long!
You can layer yourself with a crocheted mesh tee-shirt covered by the kimono wrap. The latter would be great for anyone wanting to extend their skills working with motifs as there are diagrams for full, half and quarter diamond motifs. There are diagram examples of the diamond motif halved lengthways and widthways.
I immediately recognised the crocheted necklace as a braided edge pattern. It's not what you wear but the way you wear it that counts! Add this pattern to your collection of edgings to be sewn on to other things (e.g. cuffs, collars, bags, linen and to decorate shelves and other furnishings). On the other hand, why not have a look at what other edging patterns you have to see if any more can be repurposed as necklaces?
This is why I like looking through magazines etc. You never know what will spark the imagination or broaden your creative thinking.
I was surprised there weren't any crocheted hats apart from one baby hat. It hardly seems fair that there were three knitted hats for adults and three beanies for the younger ones. (That's 6 knitted hats to only 1 crocheted baby hat). At least the scarves were in balance with two patterns for knitted scarves.
The title makes a point of patterns for men. All six of the male garments are knitted and consist of four jumpers, a cardigan and a vest. All of the adult hats and scarves are modelled by women but there are styles that suit any gender.
There were no sock patterns! I would have thought that would be an automatic choice for men but perhaps the editor is trying to keep the patterns simple. One of these days I should just ring up the editors of publications and ask them why they do things the way they do.
Crochet is usually very popular for baby items but this issue had only three crocheted projects covering the basic areas of baby blanket (1 blanket, square motif construction), toy (2 toys) and outfit (hat and tunic).
The outfit is really cute. The simple rectangular hat is adorned with a pom pom on each corner. The tunic has a plain bodice with six square motifs decorating the front panel.
Is the next project a toy or a cushion? It is a crocheted round version of a combined toy and cushion. Stitch ears, tails, pom poms and feet onto a round cushion, embroider the eyes and mouth and decorate with pretty colours and scallop edging to make a fun nursery item.
The second toy project, a pair of elephants in different sizes, will not be friendly to crocheters who hate sewing because of its construction. Each elephant is made of two crochet halves which then need to be stitched together before adding the filling. It's like those beginner-sewing fabric toys where you cut out the shape in fabric, put the two shapes together and stitch around the edges. Why go to all that sewing trouble when amigurumi techniques and crochet in the round can solve that?
Again, as in previous editions of this magazine, I am disappointed that there was no sign of any amigurumi techniques which are perfect for plush toys and really do make the most of crochet's attributes.
Is the elephant toy pattern another example of the knit-centric state of the Australian yarn scene? Is there really so much bias against crochet or is it ignorance of crochet's virtues? I'd really like the opinions of other Australian yarn crafters on this issue.
Don't get me wrong, I am not a knitting-hater! On the contrary, I appreciate both knitting and crochet because they both have different strengths and weaknesses. Even though this blog is biased towards crochet (just check the masthead), I am not going to dismiss or disrespect knitting.
I would just like to see projects that make the most of each of these crafts and the omission of amigurumi does a disservice to crochet and Australian crocheters who want to move beyond the basic granny square or flat solid fabric.
It would also be nice to see at least one crochet or knitted version of each type of project.
You will recognise patterns that have appeared in prior issues and elsewhere; e.g.,:
- "Gone Troppo" crocheted throw will match the "Diamonds are Forever" crocheted cushion from the 2016 Better Homes & Gardens Knit & Crochet Collection
- "Softly Does It Jumper" (knitted) is the same as the "Surfie Sweater" (Cleckheaton leaflet 1009, 2016)
- "Hook on the Go" crocheted throw rug (Patons book 357 "Throws and Rugs", 2016)
- "Beginner's Luck" knitted throw rug (Patons "Thick and Quick Knits for the Weekend", 2016)
- "Strike Up the Band" shawl (Cleckheaton book 356 "Scarves and Wraps 2", 2016)
- ''Tween the Lines" knitted boys' jumper (Cleckheaton book 311 "Hand Knits for Older Kids, 2016)
- "Peachy Keen" knitted baby jumper (Patons book 355 "Junior Merino Collection" 2016)
- "Stitch in Time" knitted baby dress (Patons book 1101 "Big Book of Big Baby" 2015)
- "Who's a Cheeky Boy?" baby jumper (Patons book 1106 "Merino Baby" 2017)
Think of these Better Homes & Gardens magazines as samplers from Australian Country Spinners' pattern books and leaflets.
- Timing of publication.
- Good quality materials.
- Better balance between crochet and knit.
- Definitely an issue for motif fans.
- Crochet diagrams included.
- Versatile projects which could be applied to different uses.
- Opportunities to extend skills, including a comprehensive set of instructions on crochet, knitting and sewing techniques.
- Well organised, simple navigation.
- Complimentary circular knitting needles.
- Australian design touches.
- Would like to see at least one example of knit and crochet for each type of project.
- There were no crocheted examples of shawls, hats for adults or men's garments.
- Omission of amigurumi.
- No complimentary crochet hooks.
If you have purchased this magazine,
what is your opinion of it?
what is your opinion of it?
What makes a magazine good for you?
Related Posts on Lupey Loops
"Magazine Splurge", blog entry, 23 August 2016: https://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2016/08/magazine-splurge.html
"BHG's Knitting & Crochet Collection", 28 May 2015: http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/bhgs-knitting-crochet-collection.html
Links & References
Australian Country Spinners, web site, Australian Country Spinners Pty Ltd
Level 7, 409 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne, Victoria 3004, Austraila, accessed 25 May 2017: http://www.auspinners.com.au/
Australian Wool Innovation Limited, "Campaign for Wool", Australia, accessed 25 May 2017: https://www.wool.com/about-awi/who-we-are/marketing-highlights/campaign-for-wool/
Campaign For Wool, The, UK, accessed 25 May 2017: http://www.campaignforwool.org/
- UK Wool Week is 9–15 October 2017: http://www.campaignforwool.org/event-item/uk-wool-week-2/
Cuming, Marius, "Iconic Australian Brands Celebrate Wool Week Australia–Launches May 13", Australian Wool Innovation Limited, 10 May 2017: https://www.wool.com/about-awi/media-releases/iconic-australian-brands-celebrate-wool-week-australia-launches-may-13/?category=0&year=0&month=0&page=1
Federation of Australian Wool Organisations (AWIS), "AWIS Wool Week 2017", AWIS, accessed 25 May 2017: http://www.woolindustries.org/woolweek.htm
Smith, Mitchell Oakley, "Celebrate Wool in the Wardrobe", The Woolmark Company, 10 May 2017: http://www.merino.com/fashion/fashion-news/wool-week-australia-2017/
Woolmark Company, The, web site, accessed 25 May 2017: http://www.woolmark.com/
Zaetta, Julia [Editor], Better Homes & Gardens Your Knitting & Crochet Collection, periodical, Pacific Magazines Pty Limited, Media City, 8 Central Avenue, Eveleigh NSW 2015, ph: +61 (02) 9394 2000, Sydney, Australia, 2017.