Clarisabeth Lopez Rodriguez’s sock design, “Vintage Waves,” is an example of a modern crochet design that could be included in an upcoming issue of Moorit.
Photo courtesy of Clarisabeth Lopez Rodriguez.
The question plagued her. Whenever Alyson Chu ventured into a local yarn store, she wondered, where was the crochet equivalent of Amirusu, Pompom or Laine magazines?
Chu could find glossy, commercial crochet publications like Inside Crochet and Simply Crochet in the U.K. where she lives and in the U.S. there was Crochet!, Interweave Crochet, and the relatively new Crochet Foundry online, but the matte-paper-natural-fiber-elevated-hipster-vibe periodical, where was that?
Rather than accept that knitting sucks the air out of the yarn world, Chu, who has undergraduate degrees in art, art history, and linguistics and an M.A. in publishing, decided to create the publication she wanted to see in the world—and make it all about crochet. “I wasn’t able to find the crochet content I wanted to buy,” she said. “It’s just not out there.”
On January 26, Chu launched a Kickstarter campaign for Moorit, a biannual, print-and-online crochet magazine dedicated to showcasing the dazzling possibilities of the craft many see as marginalized in yarn shops and the handwork media.
The name, Moorit (moorit is a Norn/Old Icelandic/Scottish word describing the natural brown of some Shetland sheep), is a sheepy reference and an homage to her location in Scotland. The moniker makes a statement “in direct contrast to this idea that crocheters only use acrylic or cotton and that’s completely ridiculous,” she explained. “You can use any kind of yarn for crochet, and with this magazine, I want to embrace the use of wool and natural fibers so having a wooly sort of name is great.”
The Kickstarter campaign Chu mounted argued that crochet “often feels like the neglected younger sister to knitting,” and that Moorit would “redress this imbalance” by producing a high-end crochet magazine.
A lot of people agreed with her. In less than 48 hours, Chu’s Kickstarter bid made its initial goal of £10,600 and Chu’s stretch target of £12,500 one day later, allowing her to up the print run from 500 to 1,000 copies. In less than a week, the campaign soared past £16,000, guaranteeing that the magazine will add an extra, non-crochet fiber arts project.
One supporter put it like this in the comments section, “As both a knitter and a crocheter, I see such a wide disparity between the publications for both crafts. We definitely need this kind of beauty in our crocheting lives!”
When the campaign closed on Feb. 23, 609 backers from the U.S., U.K., Europe and Australia had pledged £27,631 or $38,963.52 (as of this writing) lured by rewards for everything from an online survey and digital wallpaper to pre-ordered copies of the first issue, tote bag and hat pattern by Fay Dashper-Hughes.
“I was nervous about putting the goal too high and not making the goal,” Chu said. “But we completely smashed it. If ever I needed to know I as on the right track this is it.”
Crochet shawl design, “Droppe,” by Eline Alcocer is an example of a design that could be in Moorit.
Photo courtesy of Eline Alcocer.
Chu: The Publisher
In deciding to launch a print magazine during a pandemic, Chu realized she is uniquely positioned to bring something like this to life. On top of her formal education in art and publishing (she did all of the illustrations for the Moorit Kickstarter including the magazine’s coat of arms featuring a rampant or standing ewe with her forehooves raised), Chu learned to knit and crochet as a child taught by her multi-craftual mother. But it wasn’t until she started her graduate degree at the University of the Arts in London that she felt compelled to return the yarn arts to keep her hands busy.
At her local craft store, Chu purchased a hook. “For some reason I bought a crochet hook and not needles and to this day I don’t know why,” she said. “I think I just decided that maybe re-picking up crochet would be easier because there’s only one hook instead of two needles, and I kind of rolled with it.”
These days along with the knitting-and-crochet podcast Keep Calm and Carry Yarn she hosts with her mom, Vivian Chu, she is a nascent crochet designer (her herringbone-tweed-inspired Tweel Cowl and Infinity Scarf) was shortlisted in the Unravel yarn 2020 festival design competition, and serves as the web developer and web designer for BIPOC in Fiber, a directory and resource for promoting diversity in the fiber arts. For her day job, she is a statistics and reporting assistant for the nonprofit Creative Scotland, which promotes creative industries across Scotland.
“Eventually, the more I thought about it,” she said, “the more I came to realize, I am in a pretty good position to be the person to make it happen.”
Moorit: The Mag
Because the magazine doesn’t exist yet, Chu sold Moorit to supporters based on an idea—that the world needed a high-end print crochet magazine—a logo, some cool rewards (top-tier supporters get all the things listed above plus an enamel pin and a 100g skein of the UK-based RiverKnits’ hand-dyed Nene yarn) and a host of crochet stars who signed on to design for the first issue.
Among the artists slated to be featured in issue one includes the Latvian textile designer Linda Skuja (her puff-stitch braid pullover has 7,661 hearts on Ravelry), the Irish Tunisian crochet designer Aoibhe Ni, crochet designer Lili Buce-Chmelko also from Ireland and Eline Alocer, a crochet designer living in Sweden.
Due out in the fall, Moorit will feature 10-to-12 garments (sized for bust sizes 30-to-60 inches) and accessories made in natural fiber, indie yarns. Copies will be printed in the U.K. on FSC-certified paper (Forest Stewardship Council) and will come with the digital edition, plus a separate standalone accessible version will be available. While the magazine’s focus is crochet patterns, Chu said she plans on including editorial that could take the form of essays, interviews, or articles.
Chu plans to retail and wholesale the magazine and she has heard from local yarn stores in the U.S. and the U.K. interested in carrying it.
“It just goes to show not only are makers wanting to buy patterns for this sort of thing,” Chu said, “but designers, they want an outlet, they want to be able to reach people who are specifically interested in this kind of crochet work.”
Leslie Petrovski is a freelance writer and knitter who specializes in writing about yarn arts and culture. She lives in Denver with her husband, dog and cat.