Sunday, 20 January 2013

Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine 53: A Review, Part 1

So it's time again to review Rowan's latest semi-annual issue. If it seems like just a few weeks ago that you read my review of Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine 52, it was. This is what I get for procrastinating on a review.

But let's have a look at the first twenty of the thirty-seven patterns in Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine 53. Part 2 of my review of this issue will be posted tomorrow.

I had to tilt my laptop screen back so I could actually see the sweater in this photo. The white background, pale model, and pale colours made it look more than a little bleached out. The pattern is called "Vanilla" so I suppose the tone of the photo could be some sort of oblique reference, but I doubt it. However, I do like this cardigan sweater. Good use of colour blocking and the striped trim sets it off. It's a beginner project that looks finished and well-designed.

This pullover works. Striking and inventive graphic design, classic fit.

This wrap is one of those pieces I have to try to put my personal preferences aside to try to review fairly, because my first instinct was to snipe that it looked like one of those crocheted ripple-pattern afghans, which isn't fair. This shawl has a sharp, graphic design and drapes well. If you have a modern dress sense and would wear a wrap, go for it.

This top is crocheted, and it's not bad, but it is a very open openwork stitch. You'll probably need to wear something underneath it, and you may not want to do that in summer.

Let's see, a pullover with a stringy front panel that will necessitate the wearing of something underneath, unflattering dropped shoulders and a slight boxiness of shape, and a sleeve-length that matches exactly with and extends the hipline. I'll pass, thanks.

In 1957 dancer and choreographer Paul Taylor stood stock still in total silence on a bare stage for four minutes. Critic Louis Horst subsequently ran a review in Dance Observer that consisted of nine inches of white space. I feel like doing something similar here, because I can barely see the sweater in this pale photo. However, I won't, as I do like the sweater. It has such an interesting construction. It'll be figure-hugging, so make sure you've got the confidence to feel comfortable in it.

Nice cardigan, but do be warned it's not for every figure. You'll need to be small or flat-chested and to have a waistline you don't mind emphasizing for it to be flattering.

I'm a little divided on this lace pullover. It is very oversized, which normally I condemn, but it's also of a delicate and intricate openwork stitch and lightweight enough to not bulk up the wearer. Who would still probably need to have a model's figure to carry it off. And she'll also have to wear a camisole or something underneath. It's a garment that is, while not a failure of design, of very limited wearability.

This striped pullover is definitely an item you'll be able to throw on with a pair of jeans and just feel happy and relaxed in. It has a good, flattering shape and you can have some fun figuring out your own colourway for it. You might even use three colours instead of two, i.e., black and gray for the body and wide stripes of gray with narrow stripes of red for the arms. I find the two blues used here to be a little lacking in imagination and verve.

A very simple, cropped, openwork top. There's nothing wrong with it and it would probably make a handy coverup for the beach, but you'll probably want to wear a layer under it.

Let's see, dropped shoulders, boxy shape, cropped length, horizontal stripes. This pullover has it all. And by "all", I mean, "all the characteristics that can detract from your appearance individually, but when combined will conspire to make you look the worst you've ever looked in a sweater". And wait, there's more! The transparent interstices between the stripes and the off-the-shoulder neckline that will constantly gape at the front and slip off your shoulders will also help rid you of any vestige of dignity. It's a lot to ask of any knitting pattern, but this one is does it all by a mile and still gets aided along its way by the stylist, who paired it with a baggy drawstring jumpsuit. This is a Murphy's law design.

This generic pullover isn't a bad thing of its kind, though I would fix the dropped shoulders, make the sleeves the right length, and add a little waist shaping.

This beaded pullover is pretty, but I would make it the right length. Cropped tops just aren't flattering on anyone. Oh sure, if you've got a model's figure, you can get away with it, but even then wouldn't you rather wear clothes that work in your favour rather than act as a litmus test of your looks? Also, be aware that you'll need to wear something under this item.

The cabled detail on this sweater is sewn on after you've finished knitting it. And it's not unattractive or ineffective, but it does look a little like the result of a drunken collision with some sailboat rigging. If you make this sweater for yourself, be prepared for some America's Cup and/yacht club/sailor jokes, some of which occur to me immediately.

I actually quite like this striped cardigan. Striped sweaters can look juvenile or beginner-ish, but the variation of the stripe width and the sophisticated colourway elevate this to a polished, adult look. I would fix the dropped shoulders and make it waist-length rather than cropped, however.

This striped man's pullover isn't bad, though to me there's something a little discordant about the stripe pattern.

This striped sleeveless top looks like a late-sixties or early-seventies pattern that doesn't quite work as a contemporary piece. The shape isn't flattering and the stripes aren't going to help in that department either.

The pattern on the front of this man's polo sweater is eye-catching and innovative, but the neckline and collar, which are probably supposed to be innovative as well, just look as though the designer couldn't decide which neckline to use, put both on to see how they looked, and then never got around to removing one. I'd make this item with either the v-neck or a regular polo collar and placket, not with both. The pattern on the front automatically makes this sweater really striking and any crazy detailing is just going to put it over the top.

I'm pretty sure I've seen a pattern almost exactly like this in some eighties-era knitting pattern pamphlet. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. If you want to make this colour-blocked vest, which admittedly isn't a bad shape or badly constructed, I'd recommend making it in a different colourway altogether. These candied/dayglo type colours are just too random and dated-looking to be really attractive.

This Kaffe Fassett top is actually really cute and playful.

Look for Part 2 of the Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine issue 53 review tomorrow!

Update: You can view Part 2 here.

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