Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Knitter's Magazine Issue 109: A Review

When I first saw that Knitter's Magazine had a done a skirt issue, I was unenthusiastic. I had a vision of knitted skirts as they were in the eighties: shapeless and baggy plain stockinette stitch affairs that are bordered with a few rows of rib at the bottom to keep the edges from curling. But as I cruised through the preview pictures, I was more than happy to find that the skirts in this issue were not at all what I expected. These skirts are beautifully shaped and textured and I love almost all of them. And as Knitter's Magazine's editor points out, a skirt can often take less time to knit and assemble than a sweater. So now I'm thinking there is a dearth of knitted skirt patterns out there, and wondering why. Perhaps we've been in a bit of a sweater/upper body rut and needed a knitting magazine to show us the way. More skirt patterns, please! I remain unconvinced as to the virtues of knitted trousers (I'm picturing major bagging and sagging in the worst possible places), but if Knitter's Magazine wants to do a pants issue next, I'm game to review it.

A houndstooth pencil skirt. This is one wearable item. It'll look good on most women and go with all the basics in their closets. Look at how polished this model looks in the skirt, a basic turtleneck, a pair of good shoes and just one piece of jewelry. She can go practically anywhere in that outfit and look right.

I'm a little less enthusiastic about this one, though I still like it. Nice cable detailing, and the classic A-line shape is good. I think maybe it just wasn't so well styled as the previous skirt. I would have put a different-coloured top with this, such as a cream, and not tucked it in at the waist.

A textured, baggy... pinafore. Worn over a sweater. Oh dear. I must admit, great as the skirts mostly are in this issue, the sweaters do leave something to be desired. Perhaps the editors were too focused on the skirts to make sure the sweaters were up to par. Though they put this one on the cover. Even a professionally styled model can't quite pull this one off, and it would make an ordinary-looking woman look like a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of seven who's given up even trying to fix up a little when she leaves the house and just wears her dreary work apron everywhere.

Love the fair isle border on this, and the non-traditional colour scheme makes it look fresh. This skirt wouldn't look half so interesting in more traditional fair isle colours. I don't think I'd want to wear these colours in winter, but I'd aim for a similarly off-beat colourway.

I'm not liking this one very much. That ribbed upper panel around the hips is not terribly flattering. I think the designer was trying to avoid putting that line of gathered fullness at the waist, which would have looked much worse, but gradual increases would have accomplished that and looked better than this.

This one isn't successful either. I love the interesting lines and the interesting stitchwork, but you can see through this model's white top that this skirt is so bulky around the waist and hips that it's creating major bulges. Knitted skirts need to lie flat and smooth around the waist and pick up whatever width and texture they're going to have somewhere south of the hips.

This wrap looks like it was slapped together out of some remnant in the designer's workroom in ten minutes to fulfill a promised delivery. (The top seems to be a pattern from the previous issue.) And the picture looks pretty good (the colours are beautiful together), but I'm not convinced that this would work so well on an ordinary-looking woman in real life. There's a reason we aren't all wearing clothes that have been whipped up in ten minutes.

I'm actually not crazy about this one. It looks like it would be thick and bulky, and in the picture of the model it looks for all the world like a bad polyester leisure suit material from the seventies. I think maybe it's the colour that's bothering me. I love turquoise but this one is a little glaring.

I like this one. It's both classic and sharp.

A shapeless child's jumper knitted in the kind of subtle, off-beat yarn and colourway that's not going to appeal to a child. Er, no.

This is another of those "overwhelmed homeschooling mother of seven" tops. Moreover the close up of the yarn makes it look like knitted dryer lint.


Not a bad evening top, or use of a pretty novelty yarn. I'm not a fan of these extra-long tops or of the halter style, but that's probably just because I can't wear them myself.

This photo doesn't give us a very good look at this one, and my suspicion is that it's because it wouldn't look so good full on. The transition from the brown to the green is really choppy and makes it look a bit like a botched dye job. A crisper demarcation line would have looked sharper and more graphic.

I like this pretty self-striping yarn, but it's not used to advantage here. The skirt looks pieced together rather than designed. Also I see some unflattering bulges and ripples at the waistline.

Love this one! That bulrush-effect design is simple yet so effective.

Ooooh, pretty. Looks like the perfect outfit for summer evenings. Will require a slip though. I see the model has one on.

I'm normally not a fan of tiered flounce skirts, but I must admit this one's working, probably because it's draping so well. Even the tulle underskirt is cute.

Now this is how you keep a skirt becomingly fitted at the top and stylishly flared at the bottom: by making the stitch increases organic to the design.

Of course Knitter's Magazine has upped the ante for knitting magazines preview photos by adding a background swatch so you can really see the texture. And when looking at this one, I have to repress the urge to scratch myself. I have my doubts about how good this yarn would feel against the skin. But never mind that, as it might feel okay. This design is.... passable. Not great, but not bad either. I'm looking at the way the detailing on the sleeve lines up perfectly with the hem. It looks like it was done on purpose, but I don't think it's working. Why put that one long horizontal line at the hip of all places? The sleeves are definitely too long on the model, and shortening them to the wrist, or even going to an elbow or cap sleeve length, while keeping the tiered edgings, would break up that line and give the sweater a much-needed lift.

This skirt is kind of cute, but that front wrap has me worried. I have a skirt cut like that and it takes concerted effort on my part to avoid any Albert Flasher moments when I'm wearing it. But then it's a lightweight fabric, not a knit. If I were to make this, I think I'd take some extra steps to ssafeguard my virtue, such as making the under panel a little wider or adding some fastenings.

This is okay. I notice all these skirts are textured or have intarsia. They have to be if they're going to hold their shape.

Halters over turtlenecks? I hope that's not a trend, because it looks ridiculous and frumpy. I suppose this was styled that way because you'd need something under that lacy top and it's difficult to put anything under a halter. I'd say anyone who made this would probably have to either line it or change the pattern to be less lacy to make it wearable. And this halter should really be more fitted, period. Long sloppy tops don't do anyone any favours.

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