Look for the second half of my review of Bergère de France Magazine #167 tomorrow.
Sunday, 19 May 2013
Today's review post concerns a magazine I haven't done before, the U.K. & Ireland edition of Bergère de France. I'll be covering all its issues from now on, starting with its most recent edition, Magazine #167, which contains spring and summer patterns for kids age 0 to 10. Since there are 42 patterns in this issue, I'll split the review into two posts, the second of which I'll post tomorrow.
Pattern #01 and Pattern #02 are a pretty little sweater and hat that can be made and worn separately or as a set. The bodice is knitted and the arms crocheted. A little girl could get a lot of wear out of this one, as it would look good worn over a simple summer dress as well as with a t-shirt and jeans or shorts. Love the scalloped edging — finishing details like that really elevate an entire design. The hat is simple yet pretty and can also go anywhere from the beach to church.
Pattern #03 is a crocheted and knitted sleeveless top. I'm not as enthusiastic about this top — the shaping is a little awkward, but it's still attractive enough.
Pattern #04 is a crocheted dress. Very pretty, and I love this coral colour, but I would be uncomfortable with how much of the child's skin (and underwear) are going to be visible through those holes. I'd either make the child a cotton slip to wear underneath this dress or, more likely, just make another pattern with better coverage.
Pattern #05 is a strappy baby's sundress and pattern #05 is a matching pair of mary jane slippers. Very cute, though I'm not crazy about the flat, squarish bow on the front. I'd want to fix that bow to look more like a bow should look.
Pattern #07 is a pretty little cardigan. I'd want to put a button or a ribbon tie or something at the top to make it stay closed. As far as I can tell from the picture, it's not fastened in this sample and it isn't going to lie closed like that for long.
Pattern #08 is a simple little striped pullover. The colourway doesn't appeal but that's probably just personal preference.
Pattern #09 is an almost aggressively unappealing doll. A square head with a stringy little body and limbs? Really?
Pattern #10 is a simple little striped dress in that brown and yellow colourway, which is not improving on acquaintance. This dress will look much more appealing in just about any other colours.
Pattern #11 is a little dress, hat and bootees, which are quite simple and pretty. This time we got a white with the same yellow. There must have been some sort of overstock of that yellow in the warehouse.
Pattern #12 is a very cute little cardigan. The bows on this one have a little more shape to them and really add to the appeal. I'm also impressed that the bodice stripes and the sleeve stripes match up at the armhole seam.
Pattern #13 is for a "comboshorts" and hat set. I don't see the appeal of this one. It's a onesie with an odd side fastening, and it has the exact same narrow stripes and colourway we've already seen half a dozen times in this magazine. Go for a little more variety, Bergè.
Pattern #14 is a simple garter stitch striped pullover with a double pocket in front. It's an okay pattern but nothing special.
Pattern #15 is a zip front ribbed jacket. It's a basic, classic design. The pocket openings do look a little rough.
Pattern #16 is a pullover with a front double pocket and striped sleeves. More stripes, more brown and yellow, though at least this time it's brown and yellow in a different brand of yarn than what was previously shown.
Pattern #17 is a pair of rompers, and they're very pretty. I love the embroidery on the crocheted yoke, which is an easy and not very time-intensive way to make a very basic pattern into something special.
Pattern #18 is a pair of sandals that will go with the rompers above. That embroidery really is a very nice touch.
Pattern #19 is a pair of pants that are meant to be worn over a baby's diaper. I really wouldn't bother with this pattern at all. I can't see the point of spending all that time making something so very utilitarian and, well, unattractive, when it can be bought quite inexpensively. Hurrah for mass production, and save your crafting time to make interesting and distinctive things you can really enjoy.
Pattern #20 is for a hat and bracelet. The embroidered hat is really pretty. Although I don't usually like jewelry made from yarn, I think I might have to yield a point and say it's fine for little girls, who can only wear fun little bits of costume jewelry anyway.
Pattern #21 is a simple little knitted dress with a touch of embroidery on the yoke. Very pretty.
Look for the second half of my review of Bergère de France Magazine #167 tomorrow.
Look for the second half of my review of Bergère de France Magazine #167 tomorrow.
Saturday, 18 May 2013
"Afghan patterns are too pretty to just sit on the couch, so I adapted one to make this great top! I think it's fantastic, especially with the gumball armband I made. What do you think? Hey, do you have any more LSD? I'm out."
Ramona felt her new Apocalyptic Casual line had turned out quite well.
Nadia combined mesh from her grocery shopping bags, upholstery fabric from her couch, tassels from all her cushions, and leftover paint from the guest room renovation to make a statement about who she really was: a miserably unhappy housewife who needed to lock up the liquor cabinet and put the fact that she'd once flunked out of design school behind her.
Lillian was just waiting for her hair to finish setting in the appropriate bouffant style before she went out in the world and strutted her new crocheted ensemble.
Rocco soon learned that the first rule of Knitting & Fighting Club is that you don't use a stitch gauge.
Ever since he'd lost his job as an accountant, Richard had left his gray suits hanging in his closet and embarked on a quest to discover what his sartorial style really was.
Susana's grandma, besides being a former swimsuit model, had always been one not to waste anything, and when Susana inherited her grandmother's crocheted afghans, she thought the best way to honour her grandmother's memory was to put them to good use as a fetching bikini and coverup combo.
Christie had finally figured out how to stay warm and avoid any possibility of bruising during falls at the weekly Teen Fun Skate at the local rink. Now, she thought, she was already to go to the skate and meet some boys!
Coming up: Look for the Bergère de France Magazine #167 tomorrow morning.
Friday, 17 May 2013
Designer Susan B. Anderson has published a new book this spring, Topsy-Turvy Inside-Out Toys, and the designs in it are not only topsy-turvy and inside out, they're adorable. This stop motion video shows the toys being turned inside out. Anderson's main area of focus as a designer is on making children's toys, and her work is generally very cute. Check out her other designs on Ravelry.
I'm reminded of how much I loved those reversible princess/Cinderella dolls I sometimes saw as a child, and thinking I'm going to have to subvert that unanswered childhood desire into making a few such toys for my three-year-old grandniece and her new sibling, who will be joining us in July.
Thursday, 16 May 2013
If you watch Mad Men, you've almost certainly admired the costuming. Have you ever wondered if you could knit a replica of a Mad Men costume piece? If you have, get in line. There are loads of knitters making Mad Men-inspired projects. It's no surprise, of course. Mad Men is a show as much admired for its fantastically detailed and period accurate costuming and set design as it is for its excellent writing and acting. So many of those costumes look so damn good that the show has been a huge and pervasive fashion influence, with Banana Republic even partnering with Mad Men's costume design Janie Bryant to introduce entire Mad Men-esque clothing lines. A sewing pattern for a blouse I was making last fall referenced the show in its instructions.
I am finding as the sixties wear on in the world of the show that the costumes and set designs are becoming, though no less historically correct and impeccably rendered, less visually appealing. My theory is that this has less to do with changing and less classic fashions of the late sixties than with Janie Bryant's efforts to depict the ever-growing complexity, moral compromises, tension and pain of some of the main characters' lives. Janie Bryant's work is setting a whole new standard for costume design — not only do her costumes recreate the look of an era and the very specific socio-economic status of each character while remaining grounded in realism (i.e., the characters don't get whole new wardrobes each season), but they also point up the show's narrative and themes and even add poetic layers to them. Fashion bloggers Tom and Lorenzo are doing a wonderful series of Mad Style posts in which they analyze the costumes; if you are a fan who hasn't read these posts, I can't recommend them enough. Tom and Lorenzo were actually one of my sources of inspiration for launching this blog; I wanted to write about knitting and knitting-related matters in the kind of smart, insightful and entertaining way that they do about style.
But I digress. If you'd like to plan a Mad Men knitting project, there are a couple of approaches to take. The first way is to recreate a Mad Men knitwear item exactly. It won't be too hard to do. Sweaters such as these, worn by Don and Megan Draper, are classics and will look perfectly appropriate in 2013. There will be a lot of really similar patterns available on Ravelry or in the public library or in your own pattern collection that are very much like these and can be adapted into a near-pefect replica.
Sweaters such as those above are less elegant but have their own appeal, especially if you like a little hipster kitsch in your wardrobe. Love that "dorky but loveable" stepdad thing you're working there, Henry Francis.
If you like Peter Campbell's secretary Hildy's mittens from the season three episode "The Grown Ups", the blogger at Very Pink has recreated them nearly exactly and generously shared the pattern with us all. She even went to the trouble of recreating the "waking up Pete" shot, which made my day. I find the shot with the dog much more appealing the the one with Peter. That dog probably has a better understanding of the concept of fidelity and more self-control than Peter Campbell ever will.
Another route to creating a Mad Men style project is to make a knitted replica of a Mad Men costume that's not knitted. The blogger at Skiff Vintage Knitting Patterns did an excellent job of recreating Peggy Olsen's fantastic little office dress as a sweater, and says she may go all the way for a future project and knit an entire dress like it.
These are some wonderful Mad Men looks I'd love to see rendered in yarn.
The other route to Mad Men knitted style is to consider the Mad Men look a starting point and proceed from there to create a version that is updated and/or customized to the individual looks and style of the wearer. Designer Jordan Paige has been matching up Mad Men costumes with existing available patterns on her site and on Pinterest, and while some of the comparisons are a stretch, a number of the patterns Paige has found have the details or the basic lines of the Mad Men look while looking very attractive and interesting in their own right.
Best of luck with your Mad Men-inspired knitting endeavours, and feel free to post about or link to your efforts in the comments.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Let's have a look at the designs in Creative Knitting's Summer 2013 issue!
Love this pillow. It's simple yet pretty and effective. I can imagine it working in any room of my house if it were in the right colours.
I also like this little rug. Though I'm not sure I could stand to have anyone wipe their feet on it.
The description of this little cardi makes a point naming the ruffles as a design feature, but they're actually the one aspect of this sweater I don't care much for. They're just sort of... sitting there, adding bulk. The rest of the design is very nice.
Nice simple shawl. This is a design you use a beautiful, excellent quality yarn for, something that can stand on its own with just a simple pattern.
Very much like this little lace-trimmed open cardigan. It's well-shaped, it's just feminine enough to be pretty without being too frilly for most women's tastes, and it's so simple it will go with many a summer outfit.
This pair of socks is supposed to be a sock knitter's beginner pair. They're not a bad pair to start with if you like the bobby sock cut and don't always wind up with chafed heels when you wear them.
These pot holders are supposed to be another beginner project, this time to learn the basics of double knitting. They look like a beginner project too. If you like them go ahead, but if not I promise you, you can find an easy double knitting project you do like by quickly searching on Ravelry.
This little boy's sailor sweater is kind of cute, though the pictorial design looks a little crude to me.
I like this little dress, hat and backpack, though I would put the pockets higher on the dress and I wouldn't make all three items for the same child. While you can always make a two-item matching knitted set, making a three-item knitted set nearly always looks like overkill and like the knitter was trying desperately to use up all the yarn of that kind.
Pretty pullover. I'd shorten these sleeves by a few inches or so. Right at the elbow is an awkward-looking sleeve length that tends to look dowdy, like the mid-calf skirt length.
Jewelry made out of yarn never looks right to me — it's always just too crude looking. That said, the red poppy necklace is one of the best rendered knitted jewelry examples I've ever seen. The choker's flowers don't actually look like flowers to me.
Cute hat! I like the pansy design.
Very pretty shawl. I love those tulips in the back.
These slippers are another technical exercise because they involve three stitch patterns. They're not bad, though I'm not crazy about them. It's almost impossible to find slippers, even non-knitted slippers, that have any style to them. They're all so shapeless and juvenile looking, and they all make your feet like something that fell off The Muppet Show sewing table. Make these in your favourite colour and add buttons you really like and you'll probably be pretty happy with them.
The yarn used here is pretty, the stitches are pretty... but I just can't sign off on that twisted front. It's going to add bulk in the front and probably just look like it's on wrong a lot of the time.
I really don't like the buttons on this otherwise quite pretty lace shrug. They look lopsided and distractingly random, for one thing. It looks like the buttons on the right button up the sleeve, but do the buttons on the left side actually have any purpose?
Very much like this simple, pretty little top, but the top decorative band is going to be awkwardly placed on many women. However, it can be easily raised or lowered, or left off altogether.
I like this top, but don't like the vest. It looks just plain unfinished. It apparently has a racer back (mentioned in the description but now shown here), which I can't imagine would help matters.
I rather like this one; the concept is clever and fairly well done on the whole. It is a little on the boxy and shapeless side, but that could be corrected, along with the colour combination, which does not do this sweater any favours.
I do rather like this cover up and matching beach bag. It's knitted in cotton, which would be so absorbent and comfortable on a hot day.
Not a bad simple hooded pullover. Though I bet most boys or young men would choose different colours for it.
This is rather clownish and unfinished looking, although let me tell you, it looks better than I would ever have thought a horizontally striped drape front cardigan could look. The stripes have been kept relatively subtle by their narrowness and colourway. Must remember that trick.
This is another technique demonstration piece. This time the item is a way to learn some decorative weaving techniques; the decorative touches you see here are made by interlacing and twisting yarn through the surface of the garment after it's completed. I can't say I care for this design. The decorative touches are detracting, rather than adding, and the shape isn't great, although maybe this sample is just a little too big for this model. I think I'd like it better in another colourway — this one's a little crude.