Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Knitscene Spring 2013: A Review

Knitscene is yet another knitting magazine I had never heard of before I began work on this blog. It's published by the hyper-prolific Interweave, which produces sixteen different subscription magazine titles each year for art and craft enthusiasts in the various disciplines (not only knitting and crochet but jewelry-making, mixed media, painting, drawing, quilting, sewing, spinning, and weaving) and approximately 30 additional special issues. Their knitting publishing vehicles alone include Interweave Knits, Interweave Knits Gifts, Jane Austen Knits, knit.wear, and PieceWork, additional special issues and eMags, and books. They also have blogs, produce Knitting Daily TV, host the Knitting Daily forum, and God knows what else. I shall endeavour to review a good selection of their knitting-related output in a timely fashion, but don't know if I'm up to the task, given that it exhausted me just to type and tag this paragraph.

But let's have a look at the Knitscene's Spring 2013 issue.

...and the first pattern in this spring issue is for a tam and pair of fingerless gloves. They don't exactly say "spring wear" to me but they are undeniably pretty.

And another tam. I like it a lot though — it's so evocative of 1930's fashions, which might just be my favourite decade of the twentieth century for design aesthetics.

Yet another wool hat. This is called the Chinook hat, and it's worn with some sort of spaghetti strap low-cut top, which I guess is supposed to convince us that it's totally spring wear. I'd pick colours that pulled together a little better than these two. Designers are fond of putting pale and medium dark blue together like this and it just never looks all that pleasing or effective to me.

Love this lace jabot top. It's got a thirties sportswear feel, and the hand-dyed yarn gives it a contemporary vibe.

I'm not as enthusiastic about this tunic, but it's not unappealing and it's wearable enough. If the length is going to be an awkward one on your figure (odds are this model is taller than you), it wouldn't be that hard to make it shorter or longer.

Another hat, but this time it's a cloche knitted in cotton, which means you'll wear it for its style rather than its warmth and that it's consequently a genuinely spring fashion. And it's a very decent piece of work, though I do find this particular colour scheme a little dreary for spring. The knitted-in "ribbon" is clever and you'll be able to adjust the brim to suit your face.

This model's expression is rather amusingly apropos given her outfit. She looks as though she's saying, "I know I forgot something when I picked out my outfit this morning. Was it my purse? No, I put my purse down over there. What's that? Oh, you're right, it was my pants! But never mind. It happened to me last week, but at least this time I remembered my hat." This tunic is really too short to be passed off as a dress, but I can see why the model was styled this way. Put a skirt or tunic under this thing and it's going to be even more unflattering to your butt than it is to this model's. You really do not want extra fullness above a ribbed hem bubbling around your hips and rear end this way. You could omit the ribbing and shorten the sweater to regular length, but then there's nothing special about this pattern at all so it hardly seems worth the effort. I'd give this one a pass.

Nice little top. Designers really seem to be getting into exploring different ways to use I-cord lately.

Really not liking this little top. The idea of an inset lacy yoke is a interesting concept but it's been very badly handled here. The collar sits so poorly and the whole execution just looks crude and amateurish.

Another I-cord appearance on this hat. It's been used to good purpose. Imagine this hat without the I-cord. It would look pretty shapeless and nondescript, wouldn't it? But with the use of I-cord and the added touch of a few rows of contrast colour at the edge of the band, it's cute.

I'm not enthusiastic about this shawl. Perhaps because it bears no relation whatsoever to this model's outfit. Shawls are more difficult to wear than people seem to realize, because their proportions, not to mention their colour schemes, need to work with the outfit they're worn with. This one just looks skimpy and random here. And it's a shame that the stylist presented it this way, because it looks beautifully constructed. If you want to make this pattern, I'd wear it in a more scarf-like way, such as over a coat.

Another pair of wool fingerless gloves. And they're a perfectly good pattern — the stripes are sharp — but I'm beginning to wonder if what we're actually seeing is patterns that were originally designed for the winter issue of Knitscene, but were submitted too late to meet the deadline, and so got shoehorned into the spring issue.

Now here we have a definitely spring-like cardigan. Unfortunately it's a less than successful design. As you may know, I am not a fan of cardigans that don't meet in the front, as they're not usually flattering and don't tend to sit well. Even this professional model is sadly trying to pull the edges of this piece together. And note the difference in the two pictures, and how the upper front pieces have been adjusted. When I saw the first picture, I thought, "Those upper front pieces are SO not going to just lie neatly in place like that — they'll be flopping over or sagging downwards at the first move the wearer makes." I've since then seen a closer shot of this sweater, and there is a hook and eye holding the top edges together. It shows, and it's just not attractive. You do have the option of folding the edges under as they are styled in the second photo.

Basic and functional shrug. This isn't a criticism — sometimes all you need or want is a piece that serves a purpose. Make this shrug in a beautiful quality yarn in a neutral colour, or your favourite colour, and it will serve you well.

Now this pullover is a really innovative piece of design. I was wondering how on earth the designer got this yarn to play out in diagonal stripes, because I haven't seen that before except in intarsia, and it was immediately clear that this is a self-striping yarn, a Noro sock yarn to be specific. Turns out it's knitted on the bias. I've never seen a better use of Noro. The styling has been kept simple because the play of colour is all this sweater needs, and it's a flattering shape for most women. It's a head-turner of a piece, and yet it's totally wearable. Now this, people, is first-rate design, and Knitscene quite rightly put it on the cover of this issue. I'm taking special note of this designer's name — it's Maria Leigh.

At first glance I thought the lace yoke on this pullover was sitting funny on the model, but of course it turned out that it's supposed to be asymmetrical. I know asymmetry as a design element is big right now and it's all edgy and contemporary and all that, but though I admire the look on other people I wouldn't make this sweater's lace yoke asymmetrical if I were making it for myself. I'd make it in a plain old symmetrical fashion because otherwise it would drive me insane and I'd keep tugging on it and trying to fix it. This is just personal preference. You'll have to excuse me while I go sit in the corner and rock back and forth. Before I do though, I'll just add that this is a lovely design, both wearable and striking. I wouldn't make this sweater quite so form-fitting as this though. You can see it's so snug it's showing the line of the model's brassiere in the back.

This cardigan is another design by Maria Leigh, she of the self-striping bias-knit pullover above. I'm much less enthusiastic about this one. Nice basic cardigan (and look! it even meets in the front!) but I'm not sold on the use of the buttons as decoration. Sticking them in the middle of those flower-like lace stitches has something of the effect of twining twist-ties into a rose. I think using prettier or at least more interesting and less utilitarian buttons, such as a satin-covered shank-style, would make the concept work.

Pretty, basic pullover.

Lovely, classic short-sleeved fair isle yoke cardigan. Of course, it's so very classic that if you don't have something nearly identical in your pattern library, your mother or grandmother will.

Another fall-esque pattern, this time a scarf. Perhaps the editors of Knitscene all suffer from anemia, hypothyroidism, or poor circulation, and think we do too. This isn't a bad scarf, though I find the colour pretty unappealing.

Very beautifully constructed shawl.

Nice, useful, wearable short-sleeved pullover.

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