Postcards at Sea #4: Magazine Scene

October 7, 2016

Magazines are my new quiet companions. I didn’t really appreciate magazines before I became sick. There seemed little time to read them and mostly I would just read the headlines and quickly scan the pics whilst gulping down tea and call that relaxing. Tick, done!


Now I savour them. I read just one article at a time, every word. And then I just stop, stare out of the window and actually finish my tea. One magazine lasts me a long time now and I return to its pages again and again. I favour the printed ones over the e-versions, particularly those printed on matt paper. There is something about the material artefactness of paper and ink that appeals to me separately from the layout, images and information. Magazines seem to enhance the experience of reading for pleasure.


I especially like the ones that have only one or two projects inside. Too many patterns or tutorials just overwhelm me. Quilting magazines require a lie down afterwards. A single project, seems doable and I recently made the Rosemary and Olive Oil Gardeners Scrub from the PIP Australian Permaculture magazine.

I was a little doubtful about the scrub. You make it from salt, rosemary, lemon juice and zest and olive oil. It felt like it was cauterising my hands with acid when I was making it, every little cut and nick stung. But then, as a finished unguent, it is surprising mild and effective…magic. It took all of five minutes to make it as we had all the ingredients in the cupboard or the garden. Thrilled by such wizardry, I felt ready to finally get my Kimchi going with a recipe in Slow Living and may even make the extra strong shopping bags from pillow cases featured in an old issue of New Zealand crafty journal Extra Curricula.


I also got read my latest article on Gotland sheep in the fleshly version of Spin Off. It finally reached our fair shores packed with excitement.

How do magazines fit in with your life? Do you have any favourites to recommend?

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  1. I LOVE magazines. It’s a quiet addiction. In my efforts to consume less I have been trying to borrow them (the Guild library is extra good) or buy second hand and/or share. I don’t read them thoroughly necessarily, even so–and recognised your pre-illness account.

    It often matters little to me whether they are years old. Projects in crafty mags, recipes in Delicious, stories in narrative mags and seasons in gardening mags seem to roll along just fine. I love Spin Off (just recently I managed to get the edition with your lost sheep article in it–happiness–). I also love PLY! for spinning. For sewing a tailor friend introduced me to Threads. I love it even though so much goes over my head or is just so detail oriented I can’t imagine doing it myself. Earth Garden is fun sometimes… I like Pip and I have the issue with the scrub and limes in season so maybe I will follow you and make the scrub, your review makes it sound more promising! I could go on and on…

    1. Oh lovely, you really enjoy your magazines Mary! Yes, borrowing mags from the Guild is very pleasant. Our holds knitting, spinning and weaving mags. One of my favourite things to do is read through the current issue box during a library shift.

  2. I agree magazines are best in paper I am a terrible magazine buyer but never want to get rid of them so have them building up over the house craft and gardening ones are the best

    1. I do agree Elizabeth, letting go is hard! I like to take a pile of old knitting and spinning mags I haven’t looked at for ages on holiday with and read them all over again. Always delightful.

  3. I, too, love the printed magazine (and books!). Just holding them and flipping through the pages, pausing to read a bit and finally settling down to start at the beginning and read to the end. Spinoff, Piecework, Ply and Pompom are my favorites. I don’t get any house/cooking magazines and I also tend to hang on to what I have. If something catches my eye in the bookstore I may check it out. Selvedge is Truly Eye Candy but has gotten so expensive that I won’t be getting g it anymore.

    1. Dear Elaine, that is a most marvellous set of mags you have named. I bought a PomPom a few months ago, not many folks stock it here. It was luscious and excellent patterns/articles. For a small mag it packs a punch. I agree about Selvedge, I have bought it for a birthday gift for someone but it too expensive to get otherwise.

      1. Dearest Rebecca, did you know you can get Pompom at a reduced rate if you subscribe? I’m always on the lookout for good deals. Pompom is indeed a great magazine.

  4. I love magazines and used to have quite a few subscriptions. I, too, didn’t always savor them when I was employed full time outside of my home. Now, I only purchase off the shelf as a very special treat…like the issue that had your article on the sheep. It was wonderful to read, knowing I follow your blog and exchange letters. My latest purchase was the 20th anniversary edition of Interweave Knits. The past and present editors articles are a treasure. I prefer the matt finish and holding the magazine. I also noted that the size of the printed magazines are shrinking…same price, much smaller print. A sign of the times, I guess. Keep taking care of yourself. Joanie

    1. Dear Joan, I am so flattered that my article is counted in the special magazine treat category! I too tend to buy just the occasional issue rather than subscribe. I get Spin off electronically but will still purchase a flesh copy for special! Still haven’t seen the Anniversary Knits in store yet, but looking forward to it.

  5. I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to magazines, but then I’ve spent 30+ years as a magazine designer so it’s really (kind of) an occupational hazard.

    These days it’s the Australians Frankie and Smith, the Canadian Uppercase and the slick supplements in the NYTimes that keep me company. I am fickle though. Tomorrow it could be a copy of Vogue patterns that keeps me up at night.

    1. Well Kate, you would have high standards and would have seen a fair few mags in your time so I am thrilled that Australian Frankie and Smith have made it to your favourites. I have only recently come across Uppercase and have not actually seen inside one yet. Embrace the fickle, it is where our passion lies!

  6. You know, I like magazines but only ever read them when other people buy them, as I don’t like having to use and get rid of all of that paper matter, plus inks and dyes. I have a pretty paperless life. I see the appeal though. My mom always has had tons and it is quite an ordeal to sort and get rid of them.

    1. Mags are tricky things I agree Stephanie. I went mag free/electronic for a long time for the same reasons but they have sung to me their siren song and I must dash myself on their inky rocks at least for a while. May other folks bring you lots of lovely mags and take them away again!

  7. I like matt paper and clean graphic design too, but I have seldom subscribed to one magazine for more than two years because things seem to recycle. Most magazines published by the Interweave Press are good, especially as Elaine mentioned Piecework. Like Mary, I enjoy old magazines too.

    I went to the dentist yesterday…the kindly staff let me bring home the National Geographic if I have not finished it. Smithsonian is okay too. A garden design/gardening mag is pleasant as long as some of the gardens could be built and enjoyed by those of modest means. I read Mother Earth once in a while…I am very informed about composting toilets.

    Rebecca, I look forward to your postcards. Take care, Diana

    1. Dear Diana, I have not come across Smithsonian or Mother Earth, perhaps I shall find them in a magazine speciality store. We have one in the city. An adventure for the future perhaps. I think you make a good point about subscribing, things do recycle. I also think, if I subscribe to something, I start having high expectations of every issue and inevitably being disappointed. But when I buy issue by issue, just if I chance to be near a store that has the ones I like, I view the issue more serendipidously and am always rewarded by treasures inside. Silly, but true. We can never be too informed about composting toilets!

  8. I used to be a magazine addict, shudder to think how much I spent on glossies in my youth! My reason for getting an iPad a few years ago was so I could save on money and shelf space. But of course it’s not the same, nothing like the feel, smell and excitement of a new magazine fresh from a browse at the newsagents. Transformative and inspiring. With the advent of kids I found I had little time to enjoy magazines. I occasionally check in on the e versions of ones I can get for free via the local library, mainly food, home and craft. Just the other day I couldn’t help having a browse in the newsagents to fondle and gaze upon the real thing, after not having done this for years.
    Hope you’re feeling well. Jx

    1. Oh yes, this all sounds very familiar Pinry. I too have scoured the eshelves of my local library! But it is not really restful this way is it. Maybe its just because we are from a paper generation, perhaps it is our children who will feel truly relaxed with emag.

  9. That is wonderful…….S L O W! And what great magazines you are reading. I too LOVE them…haha, a little too much. Remember when I said I sent 300 lb/136 kilos to the recycle? It KILLED me but I did it. Trying to pass on whatever I get my grubby little hands on now. However…NOT Spin Off or Ply 🙂 I mean really………

    1. Dear Susan, You are wise to draw a line in the sand re Spin Off and Ply, they are more tech manuals than mags and need to be kept for re reading many many times. In my neighbourhood we have mags that do the rounds, some one buys a fresh one, reads it and passes it on and on and on. Not only do you have the mag treat but it feels like a gift as well and then you get to give it as well. So much pleasure packed in there!

  10. I love Womankind magazine. One of those lasts me for weeks. The articles start very very short and then increase in length toward the middle of the magazine and then taper off again at the end. I can scale my reading to my time and attention span.. Wishing wellness your way. x

  11. So interesting to read what you say, Rebecca – I used to be one of those that whipped through a magazine, then mental tick, that’s off the to-do list. And I have a huge collection of knitting and spinning magazines from those days which are certainly a great reference resource. But – I no longer have subscriptions, no longer buy them – I know, for me, they just clutter up my mind and my time. That said, it sounds like it is a precious rare benefit of your illness that you have been able to switch from that rushed mentality to a slower, proper savouring, more relaxed attitude. My it stay with you as you recover your health. btw: the scrub sounds fascinating – but all that salt!

  12. You’ve made me realise I’ve been rushing my magazines lately, a quick flick through the photos and that’s it. Thank you for the reminder to savour the articles. It’s mainly quilting magazines for me, not really for the projects but the interviews with quilters and quilt show reviews. It’s a way of keeping up with my community. I sometimes do the sneaky thing of flipping through home living type magazines in newsagents. mostly for colour trends and pattern inspiration. My library has Frankie so I pop up and have a read of them sometimes before doing my shopping. I joke that I choose my hairdresser by their magazines. There’s nothing worse than being handed a pile of hollywood gossip magazines. May all your magazine reading be lovely and interesting.

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