Thursday, 21 September 2017

Knitty Deep Fall 2017: A Review

Knitty has released its Deep Fall 2017 issue. Let's have a look, shall we?

Pistachio Saffron. This is meant to be a knitted version of a sweatshirt. It's not bad. It has an understated, comfortable look. The designer suggests that if you don't wish it to be quite so roomy, that you drop down a size and/or remove the A-line increases.

Hostkappe. This a too busy mish-mash of a pattern.

Glaswegian. This is a pleasant little number.

Alicorn. Classic and wearable cowl.

Cascadilla. This is wearable and has a contemporary feel and some nice detailing.

Turbulence. I'm uncertain as to what to call this piece. Shrug would do, but this is bigger and provides more coverage than the usual shrug. "Sweater shrug" is fairly accurate but sounds a bit silly. "Slankette", or an abbreviated version of the "slanket" (a blanket with sleeves) might be another idea but is even sillier. Leaving that question aside, while I don't think I'd wear this piece as I like knitwear to have a more definite shape and structure, this isn't a bad layering piece to be worn over casual clothes.

Boo Boo. This design was born when the designer made a sweater, didn't like the way the sweater fit the model, and so cut it down into a skirt. Much as I hate to discourage creative efforts to salvage projects gone wrong and to avoid waste, and as gorgeous as the fair isle and ribbed hem are, I don't think the remodelling effort was quite successful. The skirt looks too much like a made-over, tacked-together cardigan. I'd rework it a bit more, by either by omitting that line of hand stitching that's holding it together and putting in a zipper or buttons, or by skipping that front steek altogether and keeping the solid circular construction.

Wilwarinda. This one can be worn as either a wrap skirt or as a shawl, and I'm liking the visually interesting lines and colourway.

Habanero. Oooh, nice piece. This has excellent shaping, is flattering, and would look good over so many outfits and on so many occasions.

Cowichan Waves. This designer came up with this hat and cowl because she wanted to use the Cowichan knitting techniques she'd learned in a class (and she also wrote an accompanying post about the history of Cowichan knitting). I would say these pieces are a worthy addition to the traditional Cowichan sweater style.

High Voltage. The first quip that came to mind when I looked at these socks is that they'd be perfect to wear on a date with a Flash Gordon fan, but as I looked at them more carefully the energy bolts started to look more like sperm to me. I suppose they could still be a good thing to wear on a date with a Flash Gordon fan, but... perhaps not on the first date? But that's your decision, of course. I don't know your life.

Lesula. I'm quite liking these, which have the look of old school, dapper menswear.

Welcome. This is the kind of thing one wears to host a dinner party where one wants the dinner party guests kept slightly off-kilter and bemused. Or when one is the manic pixie dream girl type and everyone knows it's simply par for the course.

A Bit of Funk. This piece was designed for the designer's mother, who informed her daughter that she "was done being normal and from now on she was going to wear clothes that didn't even try to be normal". (Which is actually awesome and reminded me of Alison Lurie's lovely little essay on the day she turned her back on fashion at the age of 60.) The designer writes that she "tried to satiate her [mother's] appetite for weirdness... while designing something that won't embarrass my kids." I'm sure her mother liked her sweater coat and that the grandchildren will be unbothered by the sight of Grandma in it, but I don't think the designer quite succeeded in creating a coherent design. Weirdness in design requires an unapologetic panache and a certain internal logic, while this design is both playing it safe and classic and timidly proffering a few off-beat details.

I'd rejig this a bit here and there. The shaping and stitchwork in the body are great. I like the old style details of clasps on the front and silver buttons on the cuffs, so those can stay too. The pocket, which is in a similar colour to the body of the coat, looks merely faded, so I'd either do it in another, contrasting colour, or the same colour as the main colour. The lace edging at the hem and cuffs is a nice concept but a little too delicate looking for a sweater, so I'd knit the lace in a fun contrasting colour, possibly matching it to the pocket colour. I'm not thrilled with that back collar, with its rolling edges, or with the way it sits at the front, so I think I might change the shape to a square collar, and maybe add some embroidery to match what's on the pocket.

Roundup Rug. This little mat, which is woven, is a nice piece in itself, but I keep seeing it as a rug in the living room of a modern-style dollhouse rather than a kitchen table mat. But then I don't know either your kitchen table or your dollhouse.

Dendritic. Quite like these. They're attractive and practical and would knit up very quickly.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine 62: A Review, Part 2

Today we're going to look at the second half of the designs in Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine 62, having looked at the first half three days ago.

Bradshaw. Classic cabled turtleneck.

Wilshaw. I like the detail on the body of this coat, and the back looks quite sharp, but the front looks unfinished and the sleeves look silly.

Midnight. Good shape and texture, but I think I'd make this one in a variegated yarn, as it needs just a little more visual interest.

Weeton Scarf. It's seldom I see a crocheted scarf I really like, but I do quite like this one with its pleasing woven effect.

Fumbar. This one's a refreshing take on the classic fair isle yoke pullover, the shaping is good, and I like the subtle neutral colourway.

Midnight Cowl and Dimmet. I rather like this one, which could be worn on its own or as a layering piece, and I love the versatility of the cowl and sweater set idea that I just might have to make one for myself. Though I would wear a proper belt with it, not a piece of leather cord or twine or whatever that is around the model's waist.

Almondbury. The texture's great and the colours are beautiful, but this one isn't so much a cardigan as it is an afghan with sleeves.

Farnley. This one's rather cute. I even like the pom poms, though I'd make them a little smaller.

Dusky Scarf. This is quite attractive and a good way to add some distinction to a plain outfit.

Oxton. A nice classic piece.

Gransmoor. Very pretty leaf and diamond fair isle design, though I would do it in another colourway. This combination of dark blue and pale blue is popular with designers, but for some reason it never quite pulls together for me -- it's visually just a little jarring and off-key.

Veiled. This is very simple but it's wearable enough.

Buttrick. This one is good overall, but has an unflattering boxy shape that isn't doing this professional model any favours. I'd normally advise adding waist shaping but that could be difficult to do in this case given the closely set cable pattern, so instead I'd probably just give this design a pass.

Subdued. The designer of this one seems to have tried to jazz up a too-plain item by randomly adding ties to the sleeves, and like most randomly added design elements, it's not serving its intended purpose.

Marr. Very striking mosaic patterned coat.

Sundown. A cute little cropped cardigan. This can be a difficult length to wear but they do look cute over a dress.

Bielby. This one has such a dragged out, downtrodden look that even the model it's on is looking as though she's getting a sudden urge to sit in a darkened room, wrap herself in a blanket and eat marshmallow fluff straight from the jar.

Eventide. Not bad, though these long narrow cardigans tend to be hard to wear. That's easily remedied though -- just make it in a flattering length for the intended wearer.

Thackrey Scarf. The matching hat for this scarf appeared in part one of this review, and I like the scarf just as much. It was a sound idea to knit it in a tube so that there's no "wrong" side.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine 62: A Review, Part 1

Rowan has released issue 62 of its knitting and crochet magazine. Let's have a look at the first 21 of the 41 patterns in it, shall we? ETA: Part 2 of this review can be found here.

Twilight. Classic cabled and bobbled sweater, and it doesn't hurt that the yarn used for this sample is Kidsilk Haze and Fine Lace in a beautiful colour.

Eve. I'm liking the stripes, but the shaping of this surplice cardigan is not particularly flattering, and it also doesn't look good when worn open.

Fishlake. Oooh, I really love this fair isle, with its baseball shirt-inspired design, and would knit and wear it myself without making a single alteration to the pattern. "Classic with a bit of a twist" is my favourite look.

Whispered. A nice cowl with an attractive slip stitch texture.

Gloaming. This cardigan has dowdy lines and makes even this very attractive professional model look frumpy. The pattern description calls this a "comfortable cardigan". I'm reminded of the truism that if a real estate ad is reduced to calling a place "clean", it means there isn't much else to be said in its favour. Like cleanliness in a place offered for rent or sale, comfort should be a given in knitwear.

Greenwood. This pullover has seriously cool chartwork. It's impossible to add waist shaping to this one because it would detract too much from the pattern, but I would fix the dropped shoulders and neaten up the fit.

Hutton. This crocheted shawl is a little too afghan-y for my liking, but I do like the colourway.

Daybreak. Fairly plain, but wearable enough. I think I'd add some ribbing or a picot edging at the neckline as it looks a little unfinished as is.

Lund. Nice piece with a very effective zig zag stitchwork pattern.

Sunset. Not liking the A-line shaping of this one, which is hella unflattering. Tellingly, all the sample photos show the model at an angle, never full frontal.

Evening. I'm liking the pretty cable and bead detailing on this one, and while I'm not crazy about the shaping and would turn this into a standard fitting long- or short-sleeved pullover, I also don't hate the lines of this top as they are. It has a poncho-like effect and works pretty well as a layered piece.

Cowlam. Nice! The texture's good, and the larger than usual turtleneck and elongated cuffs give it a bit of a lift.

Eclipse. I want to like this, but I can't help feeling that the proportions and balance are off. I'd add some more lacework to this rather than having that one isolated strip of it at the bottom.

Sweeting. A good-looking and wearable jacket.

Thackrey. Very cute and smart little cap.

Afterglow. Very pretty.

Foss. Love the cables in this but man, this thing is huge. Unless your dream is to make a sweater that can double as a sleeping bag, I'd scale it way back, and also close up the very long side slits, which extend to a few inches above the model's waist. I really like the concept of a cowl that is knitted separately and can be left off or worn with other items if desired.

Eastbury. Simple but smart and wearable.

Nightfall. The shawl collar and beaded stitchwork combined with garter stitch is a great look, but the shaping is really detracting. I'd fix the dropped shoulders and add a bit of waist shaping.

Sykes. Classic cabled pullover, but again I'd fix the dropped shoulders and neaten up the fit.

Mellow. This has a certain retro appeal -- I've seen some elegant 1950s jacket patterns in a similar vein -- although the unstructured look and unfinished edges also keep it contemporary. I like it, though maybe not enough to wear it myself, and I'd fix the dropped shoulders.