Friday, 28 March 2014

How to Knit a Popular History of Media

At an event held at the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society at the University of California, Berkeley, in October 2011, Kristen Haring of Auburn University gave a presentation called "How to Knit a Popular History of Media".

From the YouTube page for this video: "As part of a study of the cultural history of binary systems, Kristen Haring undertook an unusual hands-on project. Her talk will explain how her knitting of Morse code serves to engage a general audience in discussion of communications theory, binary systems, and the history of media. She will also recount the surprising ways that physical production deepened her historical understanding. The talk will highlight the rich answers that can come from explorations that are at once artistic and technical, popular and scholarly, historical and contemporary."

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Knitscene Summer 2014: A Review

Knitscene has released their Summer 2014 issue. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

The Tuolumne Tank. I think I may already own this. It's downstairs in one of my kitchen cupboards with about 5 kilograms of basmati rice in it.

The Kaweah Tunic. Here we have a dress of what looks like flour sacking, with a draggled-looking hem and stretched-out looking pockets.

The Petaluma Tee. This pattern has a bit of life and smartness in its colourway and graphic design, and is at least not sack-like, though it is baggy in way that is going to make many women look dumpy.

The Morro Tank. This one I can see working on a woman with a very contemporary dress sense. The buttons are a good thought and add a bit of interest and style.

The Argon Tee. This one isn't bad. It's got a decent shape, though surprisingly it doesn't seem to sit very well through the shoulders in any of these photos. I'm not sure how I feel about the drawstring around the waist. It looks a little awkward. I think a knitted in line of yellow and maybe an intarsia bow might have served this sweater better.

The Helium Sweater. For a random bit of colourblocking, this works surprisingly well. The overall shape of the sweater is good and the curved colourblock seems in accord with it.

The Krypton Hat. Really cute little cabled hat.

The Xenon Mitts aren't a bad little pair of fingerless gloves, although I don't know who needs fingerless gloves in summer. Perhaps this model has an especially hard time staying warm in summer, and has therefore provided herself not only with the gloves but with a hair pillow in lieu of a hat. You know what your mother always told you about how much body heat you lose through the top of your head.

The Radon Pullover. Oooh, I like this one! It is genuinely original and interesting and yet still quite wearable. I'm also imagining it lengthened into a dress.

The Stoxa Tank is a quite a nice little piece, though I think there are better colourways for it.

The Bethel Tank. This is pretty and could be a nice addition over a simple summer dress.

The Kinross Tank. I love this one. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like that diamond lace pattern.

The Indio Cowl is pretty and, as you can see, it lends itself to being worn a few different ways.

The Leven Shawl is very pretty as well.

The Austin Tee. I very much like this one. The lines and stitchwork are both so good and this is a flattering and useful summer top that can be worn many places.

The Manchester Pullover. I'm not really a fan of this one, though I suppose objectively there's nothing wrong with it. The shape is good and the tie detailing down the arm is an interesting touch. I think it's the I-cord ties at the end that are bothering me. Such ties have a way of looking too thick and tend to coarsen the look.

The Lea Pullover. I do like the openwork detailing across the shoulders and sleeves here, but this top has one major flaw, and that is the shaping. Notice how it's even making this lovely professional model look dumpy and frumpy? If you want to make this one, shorten the sleeves to at least midway between your elbow and shoulder and neaten up the shape and fit.

The Sunspot Tank. This is a nice casual summer top with a good shape and a creative use of polka dots. I'd want to pair this with a skirt in a polka dot skirt in the same colours.

The Bokeh Tank is elegant and flattering, and yet so simple it will go with all a woman's summer shorts, trousers, jeans and skirts.

The Datura Kerchief. This is pretty, though if worn in certain areas of southwestern Ontario it might get you asked if you're a member of one of the offshoot Mennonite sects.

The Gambeson Tunic. Not liking this one, which looks rumpled and frumpy even on the model.

The Dowlas Tee. Knitscene used this design for the cover shot, and I don't know why, as there are far better patterns in this issue. The pocket is sagging open, none of the design elements are working together, the item doesn't sit very well as a whole, and even the model has a, "Seriously?" expression on her face.

The Linum Tee is simple, wearable, and attractive.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Creative Knitting Summer 2014: A Review

The Summer 2014 issue of Creative Knitting is up. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

This is the A Welcome Contrast pattern. I like it. The colour blocking is well balanced and eye catching and the lines of the top are good.

The At the Beach design. This one doesn't work for me. I like the stripes, but then the top went all "granny's afghan and macrame plant hanger" in the top band and straps, and that's not a happy effect for what should be a youthful summer camisole.

The Helios Wrap isn't bad as to texture and shape, but that is one muddy and unappealing colourway. But of course you can knit this in whatever colours you choose.

The Take My Breath Away tank. The graphic design on this bugs me. It looks wonky rather than balanced, probably at least partly because that solid double bar just below the neckline seems out of step with the graduated steps below it. I don't care for the colourway, either. Black and pastels generally don't work well together — they tend to drain each other.

The Woven Scrubby pattern. I have to admit, this does look like a neat loofah that came from some trendy, spendy bath accessories shop.

The Zoe design. This looks like a work smock worn by some downtrodden, depressed movie heroine who works in some sort of gruelling, ill-paid job (chicken plucking at a factory farm? litter detail at Disneyland?), and whose audience will cheer when she finally gets to discard her foul smock after receiving a better job and a makeover — not necessarily in that order.

The Celeste design. I wish I had a better, or even just complete, picture of this one. The description says it's cropped, which doesn't tend to be a flattering length, but of course that's easily to fix. I'm not liking the lace detail at the neck much. The designer has clearly tried to do something different with the standard lace collar but this just looks gimmicky and awkward.

The Cirrus design. I'm not thrilled with this one, though I suppose it works in its way if you like asymmetrical draped styles. To me this looks a little too much like it has a lace curtain half-heartedly tacked on the front. I'd want to turn this tank into the elegant, clean-lined, delicately lacy design it seems to want to be.

The Dayflower beaded lace scarf is very pretty.

The Ocean Breeze shawl looks a little too much like it should be called the Ocean Fishnet shawl.

The Shimmering Shoulder Wrap's description says that its "ends are split so that the lower portion can drape down, while the upper end can wrap over the shoulder or vice versa". I'll have to take Creative Knitting's word for that, and withhold judgement as to how successful that design feature is, as I can't see it. All I can say is that this shawl does have an interesting texture.

The Summer Skies pattern. This has some pretty components, but the whole is a little too fussy. The buttons, the waist tie, and the two different patterns of lace are a bit much in the altogether. I think I'd omit the tie.

The Whisper Shawl. Again I wish I could see the whole thing. What I can see does look promising, at once elegant and modern.

The Beachcomber Headband does indeed look like something that washed in with the tide.

The Breakwater tank is rather pretty. The texture is interesting and the lines are good.

The Little Sailor Boy top is cute, but I can't imagine putting a neckline this low cut on either a little sailor boy or a little sailor girl.

The Little Sailor Girl dress. Again, this is a cute design, but that neckline does look a little low.

The My Bonnie Lass sweater's stranded colourwork is very effective, but those I-cord ties look really awkward, and the neckline looks unfinished. Those are easy fixes, though.

The Nantucket vest is rather pretty. I'm not particularly liking the way it lies in front, but if you feel the same way it will be easy to add some more buttons.

The Safe Harbor cowl is very pretty and just the right weight to look right on cool summer days.

The Amazing Grace shawl. I wish I could see the whole thing, but what I can see does look promising. I love the leaf patterned border.

I love the stitchwork of the Linen & Lace Shawl, but am much less taken with the colourwork (what will this go with?) and the shape is pretty awkward even here, where it's been professionally styled and modelled.

The Midsummers Night's Dream shawl is quite pretty and is a one-skein project.

The On Pointe design. The description calls this a "necklace" — and those quotes are Creative Knitting's, not mine. When even they don't believe this to be an actual necklace, no one else should either.

The Periwinkle design. Like the On Point pattern above, this pattern is in the "Shawls, Wraps & Collars" section, so I suppose they are supposed to be considered collars. If I didn't know there weren't better patterns out there, I'd forswear knitting forever and take up arc welding.

The Plum Dandy shawl is something different, a lace shawl with a bit of a modern twist.

The Slip Into Summer shawlette. Not crazy about this one. It looks like it's a half-finished something or other in an uncertain colour.

And we wind up the review with this collection of skinny scarves. The Chain Link Fence (top left) and the Peapod Cabled Scarf (bottom left) are definitely my favourites owing to their striking stitchwork. The Everyone's Lace Scarf (centre left) and the Trellis Scarf (bottom right) are also very presentable. The Cocklshell Lace Scarf (top right) and the Favorite Blue Jeans (centre right) scarves look a little muddled here and might benefit from being knitted with a solid colour yarn.