Friday, 4 January 2013

Vogue Knitting Winter 2013: A Review

I follow a dozen or so knitting magazines for this blog, a number of which are excellent publications, but Vogue Knitting is always the stand-out, the knitting magazine with more cachet than all the others, and I always get excited about looking at the latest issue. And it seems other people feel the same way, as my review for the Holiday 2012 issue of Vogue Knitting is, of this writing, my second-most-viewed post.

Let's have a look at the latest, the Vogue Knitting Winter 2012/2013 issue.

Cute little vest that would work well with quite a range of outfits. I like the collar, which frames the face.

I quite like this one. It's got great detail and it's flattering and it's something a woman could wear a lot. I like that the back has detail too. There's nothing wrong with the plain stockinette stitch back, but often it's the default because it's easy, both for the designer and the knitter. It's worth the extra effort to make an item that's truly striking and finished from every angle.

This is one of those pieces that, while nothing original, are perfect in their way because the designer has taken the trouble to make a piece that really works on its own merits. The proportions are so good. The wide shoulders and the exaggerated but not overwhelming turtleneck suit each other, and the fit through the waist keeps it all looking trim and flattering.

Another very polished-looking, wearable piece. I love detailed cuffs on sweaters, which set off the hands. Generally it's just so much better to draw the public gaze to a woman's face and hands than to other areas of her body, such as her mid-section, hips or chest, even if those areas are in a condition to be highlighted. To paraphrase Coco Chanel, dressing impeccably means noticing the woman, which to me means that you notice what she says and does and are taken with her personality and her attractiveness as a whole person, and not her secondary sexual attributes.

Ah, the use of novelty yarns is a challenge so many designers take on and so few really master. There must be a good use for self-ruffling yarn out there, but this isn't it. The ruffles just detract from this sweater. And the two shades of red don't quite work together.

I'm trying to put aside my dislike for sloppy sweaters in order to assess this one. Clothes generally look best when they fit properly, but there are exceptions. It's all about the overall mix of proportions. If you have the height and the figure and an otherwise fitted outfit, yes, you can top it all off with this. I like the unusual effect of the twisting triangles, which reminds me of a double helix. If you're a science teacher or professor, you might have some quiet fun teaching classes in this sweater and seeing if anyone picks up on the reference.

I'm not enthusiastic about this dress. It isn't unflattering or impractical (though those bell sleeves would drive me mad), but it does look rather kitschy to me and more like bunch of stitch swatches tacked together than a united, well-designed whole. However, that's just my personal preference. If you love this pattern, you'll love wearing the dress, which should flatter most women as long as it's the right size for them.

The stitchwork on this jacket is so amazing it carries the whole design, which is otherwise as simple as can be. It will look a little bulky, but that doesn't matter so much in a jacket. I'd make it in a neutral colour, or one that went with a lot of my clothes, so I could wear it often.

Nice jacket with simple lines and just enough detail to make it interesting. It's a little small for this model. And yes, it doesn't button all the way to the bottom, which I've griped a lot about in past posts, but it works here because the fronts still lie closed.

This is gorgeous piece (Lord, that exquisite yoke! The continuance of the pattern to the beautiful hem!) with one major flaw: it's going to make you look pregnant. And maybe you like the idea of getting seats given to you on public transit, but unless you really want to field questions about when you're due, I'd pass on this faux maternity wear unless you think you're up to task of reworking this design to get rid of all that excess fullness below the yoke as the designer should have done.

Oh man, let me count the ways in which this sweater just sucks. It's sloppy. It has what amount to mud flaps on the side — what woman doesn't want to look eight inches wider than she is? It has what look like knife slits on both back and front — please tell me we're not going back to that eighties-era Flashdance look. You can't see it in these pictures, but it has a big smile-shaped slash opening just below the neckline. The pockets and the back of the neckline look rough, and the cable and hexagon corded detailing isn't much more accomplished. I can't find one single thing to like about this sweater but the yarn, which, as it is Debbie Bliss's Cashmerino Aran, deserved much better from the world than this. The narration for the video of this sweater calls this design "out there". That must be Vogue Knitting-speak for "out there in the dumpster".

Here we have a palate refresher in the form of a classic textured turtleneck.

Oh, I like this one. It's a polished piece you could wear with a suit. The hourglass-shaped cable detailing on the front is both interesting and will be figure-enhancing, and the back has good detailing too. Just be sure to make sure your version fits as well as this one fits the model.

This is a variation on the classic textured turtleneck just above. You'll just have to decide whether you're a cables or a bobbles person.

Floral kneesocks with flowers on them, little stemmed flowers on the toes, and a tassel tie. Oooo-kay. Well, they're not that bad. They're not poorly designed or unflattering, or visually unpleasing, and I bet the pattern gets its share of attention on Ravelry, because it would appeal to people who like their clothes and/or accessories to be fun and playful.

The text accompanying this picture and the socks above reads, "It’s oh-so-nice to knit Mother Nature, in pictorial forms of lush bouquets". The flowers don't actually look like anything in nature, being too stylized. This sweater looks a lot like something designed in the eighties to me, and especially reminds me of Susan Duckworth's patterns, though the shaping of the sweater is more contemporary.

I absolutely love the shape of this short-sleeved pullover. The collar and the proportions are perfect, and this is an item that will flatter most women. And though animal-inspired prints aren't usually my thing, I even quite like the pattern, which is sharply graphic. I'm not crazy about the colourway, but this pullover could look really good in the high-contrast colourway of your choice.

This is supposed to be the knitted version of a safari jacket. I suppose it succeeds at being that, but then it had the misfortune to meet with a reviewer who doesn't think safari jackets are attractive or work as street wear. I don't care for intarsia designs that consist of random blobs of colour; I don't think it works in knitting design. However, if you like this sweater, do go ahead and make it, but I'd advise you to scale it down to fit you better than it does this model. Aim for just one size too large for you in terms of width, and the right size in terms of the sleeve and hem-length. There's oversized, and then there's sloppy.

I wish designers had to take some kind of course in colour-blocking before they could attempt to work with it. This use of colour blocking looks random overall and rough at the transition.

Well, this is a new variation on the top-buttoned sweater. I don't think this style would work on every figure, but it would definitely work on some. You'll need to have an average or longer neck, a small or flat chest, and a stomach you don't mind showing. If you're pregnant and don't mind having your bump on prominent display (and isn't it going to be no matter what you do?), this is a sweater that could be both maternity and post-maternity wear. And of course I haven't any criticisms of any other aspect of this sweater — it's really lovely overall.

I'm not crazy about this, but that may just be because I'm definitely more of a flowing lines design person than a linear graphics design person. I do have one tweak to make, and that's that if you're making this, to make the trim around the armholes in the same colour as the body of the sweater, because they stand out too much and not in a good way.

This sweater is evocative of styles from a hundred years ago, because in those days women used to wear these long, loose sweaters. It feels contemporary though, in its simplicity. I'm not crazy about the extra fullness at the hips, but the sweater is gracefully shaped and a light enough weight that it shouldn't be too hard to carry off. I do wish something had been done to finish off the sleeves and hem though, because they look a little... unfinished. I'd work some little line of detailing into the sweater and then use the detail again at the hems and sleeves.

I can't find much to like about this sweater, which basically looks like a bad beginner project: sloppy and roughly constructed. Also it looks very eighties. Why oh why must we rehash the styles of that decade, which gets my vote for having the worst fashions of any decade in the 20th century? I was there, and let me tell you, once around that block was enough.

This is one of those designs that I would never wear myself but that could look head-turning on the right person. I have a friend with a very contemporary dress sense who could totally rock this. If you make this pattern, just make sure you're prepared to wear something under it.

Even though I always have thought the stranded underside of a fair isle pattern had its own appealing look, and this is an interesting and even witty concept, I'm not sure I can get behind this reversible sweater design. If I saw a man wearing this sweater inside out, it would make me all twitchy and OCD and I would have to hold myself back from telling him, "Do you know you're sweater's inside out?"

This sweater could look really sharp on a man with a modern clothing style. The detail running down the side really sets it off.

I don't like the colourway on this sweater, but everything else works. This is colour blocking that looks like it was done on purpose.

This isn't bad, though if you're knitting this for a man get his approval before you buy yarn in these colours. He'll probably prefer something a little more traditional.


  1. I agree with your assessment. I wonder if the blue striped "beginners type" sweater is the only one in plus sizes. They usually have hideous or super simple plus size patterns.

  2. I hadn't thought of that, Karen, but now that you point it out I realize it's totally true — plus-size patterns are definitely generally second (or third, or fourth) rate as to quality of design. I'm sure I will be pointedly pointing that out in future reviews.