Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Vogue Knitting Winter 2014/15: A Review

Vogue Knitting has published their Winter 2014/15 issue. I've been sitting on this one waiting for Vogue Knitting to publish their usual corresponding 360 degree videos on YouTube, but they haven't done so as yet, so I'm going to go ahead with the review and add the videos later when/if they get posted. Let's have a look at the knitwear currently in vogue, shall we?

Pattern #1, Mosaic cowl. Love this piece. The pattern looks like a graphic, modern take on a snowflake theme.

Pattern #2, Short Sleeve Pullover. Interesting texture, and I like the piece overall, but that is one awkward sleeve length. I'd shorten or lengthen it.

Pattern #3, Chevron Pullover. Lovely, though I would neaten up the fit.

Pattern #4, Garter Stitch Pullover. Love this one. It's eye-catching and modern and innovative in the best possible way.

Pattern #5, Long Fringed Scarf. Lovely!

Pattern #6, Art Deco Mosaic Shawl. Really striking, modern, lovely take on an Art Deco theme. I am getting more and more sold on the concept of mosaic knitting, which I've never tried myself. It's a distinctive technique that has a lot of visual depth and nuance. Must do a post of selected mosaic patterns so I'll have an excuse to spend hours on Ravelry checking out all the mosaic patterns in their database.

Pattern #7, Mosaic Bomber Jacket. Love this one. The mosaic pattern positively demands to be looked at, and this design has great shape and detailing.

Pattern #8, Mosaic Sampler Pullover. Not so thrilled with this one. The stitchwork is good but the shape is frumpy.

Pattern #9, Mosaic Blanket. Nice piece, though I long to see it in a more striking colourway.

Pattern #10, Sheer Stripe Raglan Pullover. Not thrilled with this one, which looks too much like those huge bulky shaker knit sweaters that were in back in the late eighties.

Pattern #11, Textured Pullover. Very nice! Love the delicate stitchwork used here.

Pattern #12, Lacy Pullover. Very pretty!

Pattern #13, Cabled Turtleneck. Love this kind of elegantly casual wear. The cabled detail and the turtleneck draw attention to the wearer's face. Now if I only had a little (okay, a lot) more neck so I could wear this.

Pattern #14, Funnel-Neck Pullover. Between its bulk, its horizontal stripes, its dropped shoulders and general boxiness, this one hits the trifecta of unflattering design. If you like the texture, skip the stripes, fix the dropped shoulders, and add a little shaping.

Pattern #15, Chunky Vest. This is a nice little piece. I love the detailing at the shoulders, which turns an otherwise plain, basic item into something more interesting and polished looking.

Pattern #16, Oversized V-Neck Pullover. This looks slapped together and unflattering.

Pattern #17, Batwing Pullover. Except for the shoes and the fact that there's no DayGlo involved, this is a totally 1980s look. And some of us won't get fooled again, thank you.

Pattern #18, Broken Rib Pullover. If you want to make this one, I recommend fixing the dropped shoulders and adding some waist shaping. As you can see, it's doing this professional no favours as is.

Pattern #19, Dropped Shoulder Pullover. Again, fix the dropped shoulders, add a little waist shaping, and neaten up the fit. I'm not saying every women's sweater design has to be a fitted little number, mind you, but even women's relaxed fit sweaters ought to be subtly shaped rather than being an oblong.

Pattern #20, Bijou Two Piece Set. It's a big red carpet trend right now for celebs (the female ones, that is) to show a slice of midriff. Every time I see it I hope and long for the day when it goes out of style. I don't dislike it nearly as much as the "sheer dress over granny pants" look that is also currently on trend, and heaven knows we've seen much more revealing looks on celebrities, but no matter how attractive the celeb or how lovely her ensemble otherwise is, that glimpse of stomach always looks too declassé and casual for a formal event. Save something for the beach, people. And now we're seeing it in knitwear — and not just any knitwear, but knitwear that, given its bling detailing, seems designed to be worn out at night. One wouldn't be likely to wear this outfit to a formal event, and I suppose it's appropriate, if perhaps a little drafty, for going out to a restaurant or club or some such, and anyone who doesn't care to show off/air condition her abs can always lengthen it a few inches, so I'm not exactly having the vapours here. Maybe my real objection is that this may mean the midriff peepshow is here to stay and we'll soon be seeing this feature not only in evening and prom dresses but on brides, bridesmaids, mothers of the bride, and flowergirls.

Pattern #21, Revenir Jacket. I don't dislike this cutaway jacket, but I do think it would be challenging item to wear. Large or even medium-breasted women should probably steer clear of it entirely. I don't think it's well styled even here, though that may be because the colours aren't working that well. I'd be inclined to put this jacket over an empire-waisted dress to keep the competing visual lines to a minimum.

Pattern #22, Burke Zippered Top. This is interesting conceptually but needs more work. The back looks quite good and the zippered front pieces are kind of cool, but all those extra folds in the front combined with the dowdy sleeve shape and neckline make the item unflattering even on this professional model.

Pattern #23, Gabrielle Coat and CeeCee Cowl and Muff. We haven't been given a good enough look at this coat for me to assess it. I will say I like what I can see of the bottom but am unsure about the collar. I do like the cowl, but the muff is... unwearable. It looks like a sweater sleeve gone so wrong that the knitter thereof broke entirely with reality, decided it was a pet, named it Scruffy, and put it on a chain so it could be taken for walks.

Pattern #24, Plaid Pullover. Quite like this one. It has a fresh, summery look in this colourway.

Pattern #25, Plaid Wrap. Hmm, the colourway is bold but it works. I can't help but think this is maybe a bit too large scale for most women though, and might work better on a couch in general.

Pattern #26, Cloche with Plaid Band. Very much like this one, with its incredibly accomplished deployment of garter stitch plaid. I was just thinking that this appeared to use the plaid technique that Franklin Habit once used on a design of his, in which horizontal lines are woven through the piece after it's knitted, when I noticed that the designer of this piece is in fact Franklin Habit.

Pattern #27, Tartan Pullover. Well-shaped and well-tartaned. I wish this set of plaid patterns had been around when I was writing a post on selected plaid patterns last winter!

Pattern #28, Shawl-Collar Cardigan. Love this one unqualifiably. It looks like a perfect little piece from the 1930s.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Knitty Winter 2014: A Review

Knitty has published its Winter 2014 issue. Let's have a look at it, shall we.

Wavedeck. Lovely. The lacework has a very pleasing balance to its pattern.

Comber. Another lovely shawl. The colours are supposed to represent the colours of the seashore, but I think I'd go with a solid colour here.

Knitted Gloves. These were adapted by Franklin Habit from Weldon's Practical Knitter, 1st Series (1880s), with accompanying comments about how he doesn't want to hear any whining from knitters reluctant to knit fingers because knitting four little tubes isn't that demanding. The stitch used here not only has great texture but would be very stretchy, which is an excellent thing in a glove.

We have three patterns here, all grouped under the title Plays Well Together: Granny's Diamond Necklace, Pinned, and Covered. I think perhaps I am simply the wrong demographic for the granny square. I read some time ago that first names go in and out of style according to a predictable three-generation cycle. People of the right age to name their own children often give them names from their great-grandparents' day, because those names have an quaint appeal to a generation that never knew anyone of those names. Meanwhile, the parents of the baby's parents are often dismayed, because they did know people of their grandparents' generation who had those names, and to them it's a hopelessly dated name. I'm 41 and I had great-aunts named Stella and Clara, so those names sound like old ladies' names to me, but to a twentysomething new mother, they might well sound fresh and new again.

Much the same sort of phenomenon informs our tastes in other areas. I'm not buying the granny chic thing, because I grew up seeing granny square afghans and throw pillows in homes owned by people of my grandparents' generation. To me the variegated yarn granny square is as irredeemably dated and tacky as the bowl of plastic fruit that used to sit on my grandparents' dining room table, while to someone younger it might seem charmingly retro and hip. And all I can say of these three patterns is that the pincushion would be useful.

Heritage. Cute checked cowl.

Kayak. Simple cowl with an appealing graphic design.

Giga. I'm not too taken with this one, which looks a little rough and unfinished. The colourway isn't doing it any favours either.

Cosi Cosa Cowl. Good texture. It looks better worn double than it does worn single, but I wanted you to be able to really see the stitchwork.

Slouchy Saami Hat. Cute hat. Though I can't quite figure out what's going on with the slightly messy-looking transition from ribbing to body of the hat.

Tourbillion beanie/tam. Quite like this richly patterned tam.

Reflector Hat. This hat, which was designed to be worn while cycling, will keep your ears warm and help keep you visible to passing motorists, but it does leave something to be desired in terms of aesthetic value. ETA: And as a reader on this blog's Facebook page has commented, this hat is meant to be worn in lieu of a helmet, which is not a safe alternative.

Alice Cap. The body of this cap is quite good, but the hat needs better trimming and a better colour scheme to work on the whole. That scrap of knitting randomly tacked on to the side is doing nothing but hanging there.

Winter Doldrums pullover. Beautifully plotted yoke on this one, complete with poinsettias.

Smithfield pullover. I would neaten up the fit a touch on this one, but this is exactly how I would style this one, with leggings and flats, for the ultimate in comfortable casual wear.

Folie à deux. This pattern comes with directions for both this dress and a top with a more scooped neckline. They're fun and well-shaped pieces for those who like their knitwear on the sassy, groovy side.

The Minetta Cardigan. Perfect classic cardigan.

His Mark cardigan. The combination of the bright, multi-colour colourway and the busyness of the pattern puts it a little over the top for my liking. I'd do this in fewer and quieter colours. The shaping is quite good. I do appreciate the stand-up double collar, which is a nice alternative to the usual turtleneck.

Lean On Me vest. Nice piece. It could look very sharp and elegant in neutral tones.

Irrational Skirt. This has to be the ultimate math geek knitting project. The numbers on this skirt, which is knit in one long strip and seamed into a skirt, contains the numbers of Pi. As many of them as is needed to make a skirt, that is, given that Pi is infinite. The resulting design is reasonably wearable and flattering. Just don't use it to cheat on a math test, please.

Tauriel socks. These socks were inspired by the Tauriel character from The Hobbit. They do look rather elfin, at that. Love the cables and the socks are well-constructed.

Dr. Quackers. Totally cuddly and adorable toy.

Drogo slippers. These slippers have a really marvellous construction: they're seamless and reversible and patterned all over, and they're attractive to boot. Nice work!