Thursday, 30 May 2013

Knitscene Accessories 2013: A Review

Knitscene has produced an accessories issue that will be on sale June 4. And here, before you buy, is the review.

The Mustang Mittens pattern does seem like a good way to showcase a self-striping yarn. They do look rather big and clumsy to me, but maybe that's because they're shown against a light, warm weather outfit instead of the heavy coat mittens are normally paired with.

The Back Road Scarf looks rather like a very narrow afghan to me. But I'm probably being too hard on it — I think I would like better if the colour scheme was more appealing to me.

I very much like the Eloen Cowl. It has great detail and looks good worn around the neck or pulled up over the head. It should be warm. And that's pretty much the entire job description of a cowl.

The Morgantown Hat is cute and serviceable, though it does have a rather unfortunate resemblance to a mixing bowl, albeit a chi-chi mixing bowl of the kind you'd see featured in some decorating magazine. I like that it's so carefully finished on top.

The Corvus Shawl is the kind of shawl you knit because it will keep you warm rather than because it'll look good over some silk halter dress at an evening wedding. Make this in a colour to go with your winter coat and it should do a decent job of keeping your neck and chest warm, and look good doing it, because it wraps well. It will be a little small to look right worn just draped over your shoulders unless you're very tiny.

At first glance, I didn't like the Icelandic Star Cowl at all, but as I studied it I realized it was actually a decent design that for some reason has been saddled with terrible styling. A sharply graphic design with such a modern shape looks ludicrous over a white petticoat, and don't even get me started on how I feel about those floral tights. The colourway could be better as well. Put this over a jeans and a t-shirt or a simple dress in coordinating colours, and it will look fine.

The Amperes Hat is a cute, wearable hat with an interesting triangular panel construction.

The Zed Scarf is graphic in a really fun, lively way; it forces you to notice it. Make this in your favourite colours and it will give all those cold gray winter days a little zip.

The Resistance Shawl is another appealing graphic piece, quieter than the Zed Scarf just above, but also with a little more sophistication. And it's another piece that will be worn with a coat for warmth. Little shawls like this are best worn scarf-style, as they are too skimpy to look good as shoulder shawls.

The Transistor Hat is cute enough for casual wear. Looks like a good way to use up those odds and ends of yarn too.

The Frequency Cowl has an inventive modular design, but its shape is unfortunate. These tube style cowls never sit attractively around the neck, but are usually stiff and awkward looking, unless the yarn and texture is soft enough to let it like in graceful folds. There's probably a reason this model isn't letting the cowl just sit around her neck in any of the front view pictures for this design.

The Riga Bonnet is cute in its way, but you might have to be either one of the March girls in production of Little Women or the indie/hipster/Bohemian type in real life to carry it off. I'm mentally trying it on a procession of all my female friends and family members at the moment, and I haven't come to anyone yet on whom it wouldn't look absurd.

The San Cristóbal Shawl is attractive and well-designed, but I keep thinking if it were just a bit bigger it would be an afghan. Shoulder shawls shouldn't look like they belong on a couch.

Speaking of proportions, the Avesta Shawl is just right for wearing draped over the shoulders. I like the ruffled edging, and I like the touch of lace that makes it pretty without leaving it susceptible to catching on everything that comes within four feet of the wearer. Nice work!

The Rosita Hat and Rosita Mittens are a really cute set for women who like pretty, girlish designs. I have no problem thinking of a few women I know who would love this hat and mittens.

The Thisbe Cap has a touch of vintage style to it — these little back-of-the-head caps, were last in style in the late 1930s and the 1940s. And I see Knitscene has pinned this model's long hair up in an appoximation of that forties look (i.e., the hair is flat around the top of the head and flares out to curls on the sides and back of the head). But as soon as I saw this design I thought, this cap is not going to stay on, and sure enough there's a bobby pin visible in the picture, holding it in place. It would drive me crazy to have to pin my hat in place or feel it constantly slipping away, and I don't know how it would look with a modern hairstyle, but if you feel up to dealing with these challenges, go for it.

The Valois Shawl has a beautiful lace pattern, but I am not sure about the shape of it, which looks as though it might be a little awkward.

The Rukkilill Mitts design is one of those that, while objectively successful as a design, will only appeal to those who like a touch of the quaintly girlish in their wardrobes. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Not every pattern will appeal to every demographic.

Quite like the Cuphea Socks, which are just frilly and lacy enough to be feminine and pretty and will suit even an understated wardrobe without making the wearer feel like she's sporting Edwardian petticoats on her feet.


Not really a fan of the Preternatural Hat, which looks like it's splitting open and painfully birthing a new alien hat design. Given the name, this was probably the intended effect... but there's a reason The X-Files was never known for its style setting. NOT X-FILES-IST.

And the Preternatural Hat is followed by the Preternatural Mitts. Can't say I like them any better; if anything, I prefer the hat. But maybe I'm just out of my ken here. Perhaps SciFi conventions tend to be chilly and these are the perfect accessories for them.

The Chicago Scarf is a nice, classic crocheted scarf pattern that almost any woman will be able to work into her wardrobe.

The A Sign of Affection Hat has one earflap. I don't think I quite understand the name, or the concept. Is there a sign of affection on the one ear, such as a hickey (query: can ears get hickeys?) and is that why it needs to be covered? Is the wearer of this hat so constantly having her ears nibbled that she only needs to protect the other from the cold? I am but a simple and single reviewer and do not understand. All I can think when I look at this design is that the asymmetry would drive me crazy, that I don't find the hat particularly flattering, and that this is not a hat that has ever visited Toronto in the winter. It probably winters in some little love nest in New Orleans.

The Arnodda Socks are for those who've run out of leather jackets or body parts to pierce. I kid. I actually like this idea, which could look really cute on someone with a slightly punk or rock style. As long as whatever part of the stud is on the inside of the sock doesn't scratch or chafe the leg it touches, because ow.

The So Faux Cowl is another tube-shaped cowl and the first couple of pictures showed the model pulling on it, which had me worried, but in this picture we see it's allowed to lie still, and that it does so fairly gracefully. Not a bad pattern for those who love the faux animal skin print look.

The Pink Squish hat is cute and wearable. I like the cabled edging — so much more interesting visually than the usual ribbing.

The Bow Slouch Hat is so cute it made me smile to look at it. If the bow looks a little large for your tastes, you can make it smaller or make it look smaller by making it in darker, less obtrusive colour.

The Vaudeville Shawl wouldn't be for everyone, but would work on a woman with a very modern dress sense.

I would like to see more Fascinator patterns. They're trendy now, because of the fact that Kate Middleton looks so cute in them, but this may be the first knitting pattern I've seen for one in a magazine. That said, I don't particularly care for this one. It looks like a random tangle of heavy I-cord pinned to this model's hair.

I hope the Stagger Cowl is long enough to easily loop twice around the wearer's head, because worn single it doesn't sit all that well. It looks a bit like a flat tire hung around this model's neck.

The Bow and Arrow Hat looks like a good concept that didn't get the execution it should have gotten. The overall hat style is sleek and carefully finished, but added side detail shapes are too nondescript. They should have either been a recognizable shape or, if left abstract, had more visual interest.

I've often said in these reviews that shawls should not look like afghans. The Cimarron Shawl is definitely veering into afghan territory with its ripple pattern, although at least it looks like a very nice afghan.


  1. Thank you for your frank opinions. I feel much the same about some of these designs. My intent when knitting is to make a garment that will hold up both structurally and aesthically (sp?) over the years.

  2. Thank you, I also agree with your reviews. The flat tire should be mobius style and it might 'lay' better.