Showing posts with label Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits. Show all posts

Friday, 3 October 2014

Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits 2014: A Review

The review I wrote of Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits in September 2013 has been in the list of my ten most-viewed posts for many months now. Interweave must have had a similar reception to its publication, because here I am reviewing the 2014 issue of Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits.

The Luxurious Lacy Overblouse. This... isn't bad. I like the neckline and the lace stitch, but the lines of it could be more flattering. I'd shorten the sleeves to short or cap length and add waist shaping (unless there already is waist shaping — it's hard to tell from this photo).

The Night-on-the-Town Herringbone Scarf. Very handsome, classic scarf.

The Hidden Delight Lacy Camisole. This would make a very pretty summer top for we brazen hussies of 2014 who can wear what used to be considered underwear as outerwear.

The Modular Lace Blouse. This one is very pretty too, and it also is more evocative of twenties style than any other piece so far, with its elongated length and the lace stitchwork, which is similar to the kind of lacework used to decorate sewn clothing in the 1920s.

The Lotus Blossom Scarf. Lovely lacy scarf.

The Lacy Tapered Jacket. Not very enthusiastic about this one. The lace panels are lovely, but the shaping isn't great. It appears as though this is a sweater that buttons only at the waist, and that style is a hard one for many women to carry off, especially in the longer length, because off all the visual lines it creates. I'd fix the dropped sleeves, make the jacket shorter, and consider changing the shaping of the front pieces.

The Floral Finery Pullover. I love the style of this one. The body of the sweater is very well shaped and the collar and cuffs provide polish and pops of visual interest. The semi-abstract colourwork on the collar and cuffs is not doing much for me and I'd replace it with something more traditional, but that's just personal preference, because it is good design objectively. And it's a nod to the art of the early twentieth century.

The Fair Isle Wristlets. These aren't bad. The fair isle pattern is attractive. I think I'd want to fit them more closely to the wrist, though. It'll look better and there's no point in inviting the cold air into one's gloves.

The Cozy Cardigan. Not a particular fan of this one. It's lumpy looking and the collar and cuffs don't sit well.

The Cabled Aran for a Day Out. Beautiful classic man's cabled pullover. There's a reason men have been wearing sweaters very much like this one for over a century.

The Let's Ride to Ripon Hat. Before I rode to Ripon in this hat, I would want to inquire just how far it is from here, and how many people are likely to see me in it, and then, on second thought, if I could possibly take the time to nip into the house and exchange it for another hat before our departure. This cap looks like it's wearing a headband from a 1980s Jane Fonda exercise video. There's a reason why Interweave hasn't released the Unofficial Jane Fonda Workout Knits.

The Tour-the-Estate Paisley Slipover. I love this one with its beautiful detailing at hem and cuffs, but I would definitely refashion that tie. I know it's probably true to period detail, but it looks too random and tacked on as is. I think I'd edge the front part of the neckline and the slit with the contrast trim, and attach ties to the top edges.

The Classic Autumn Cardigan. This one isn't doing it for me. It has a muddled feel to it, as though the designer tried to incorporate too many elements (lace, stripes, and tartan) and chose a colourway that didn't help at all. I'd simplify this design a little by removing one of the three design elements, and go with a more monochromatic colourway.

Driving Gloves for the Lady of the Manor. Love these, which are elegantly simple and totally wearable for either the lady or the maid of the house (and aren't we women usually both, these days).

The Cosmopolitan Peasant Blouse. I very much like this one, which has the smart, Art Deco-like look of sportswear in twenties, a time in which sportswear meant polished outfits, not sweatpants.

The Lace-Leaf Pocket Cardigan. This cardigan has some pretty detailing, but the fronts that don't meet combined with the sleeves that are too short make it look too small. My guess is that this sample was simply not big enough to fit this model. If you are going to knit this, I'd recommend that you make sure the sleeves are the right length and that it's wide enough to fit the wearer.

The Flirtatious Felt Hat. The shape of this hat is really good and I like the idea of a knitted band for it. There are better colourways for this design, though.

The Maids' and Maidens' Lace Blouse. Love this one, which updates a twenties style by shaping it like a contemporary sweater.

The Market Day Beret. Cute little classic beret.

The Bristol Pool Double-Braided Muffler. Another beautiful classic scarf that almost any man would be happy to wear.

The Going to Town Tam. Very much like this one, which looks even better from the back than it does here.

See? The broken lines and the centre button are so visually interesting.

The Evergreen Table Set. This doily is a lovely piece of work and the colour and its diagonal lines update it as much as a doily can be updated, but I don't know anyone who uses doilies these days. My 75-year-old mother scorns them as hopelessly old fashioned.

A Lampshade for the Grand House. This is really pretty, but the concept of homemade lampshades makes me very, very nervous. I started to research and write a post on knitted lampshades once, and what I read made me decide to delete the draft and abandon the idea for a post altogether. Factory-made lampshades have to meet certain safety regulations with regard to flammability; a handmade lampshade does not, so one cannot be sure it'll be safe to use. It seems to me that it would be a better idea to dress up an existing shade by adding beaded fringes (using glass beads and fine wire, not plastic beads and thread or yarn) than to knit one. I really don't care at all for the thought of any of my readers being burnt to a crisp, so if you do decide to make this pattern and put it on a lamp, please don't ever leave the lamp unattended while lit.

The Upstairs and Downstairs Bag for Needlework and Sewing. Lovely little bag, though I would be inclined to use this an evening bag rather than a sewing bag, as very few of my sewing projects would ever fit in a bag this size.

The Tea Cozy for Cook. This is definitely from the Frumpy Grandmother category of design.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits: A Review

Interweave has released a Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits issue. As a big Downton Abbey fan, I've been aware of this special issue for awhile, but had to wait until there were preview pics available online before I could write a review. Let's see what knitted fashions are going down at our favourite abbey, shall we?

The Lighter-than-Air Chiffon Blouson is rather shapeless, and not terribly flattering or interesting.

The Garden Bouquet Shawl is gorgeous. Not even the Dowager Countess could disapprove of it.

The Brocade Vestment is rather problematic. Of course it's based on this fabulous evening dress of Lady Mary's, which is definitely among my favourite Downton Abbey costumes:

The front is gorgeous and a worthy imitation of the original. The back is more problematic, and I don't like the way it's been styled. I don't know how the back looks in the original dress and Interweave's version may be a faithful reproduction, but if I were to make this I'd forego faithful reproduction and do some serious rewriting of the pattern and knit a fuller, more fitted back in order to make the item more wearable. I'd want it to be something that can be worn with a low-necked chiffon blouse as in the original, or on its own.

The Stunning Sunflower Lace Stole. This isn't as striking as the Garden Bouquet Shawl, but it is an attractive shawl and period accurate.

I can't say I care for the Lady's Waistcoat. No one but a very small-breasted woman could possibly carry off that just-below-the-bustline neckline, and it just looks awkward and strange even on the model.

The Luxurious Lacy Overdress. This looks like a little lace dress that the designer wrote for some other Interweave publication that got shoehorned into this issue to fill a slot. And it's a nice lace sheath dress pattern, but I don't know if it really belongs over a longer-lined skirt or trousers as it's styled here.

The Gown Gloves. These silk gloves are very plain but very well-constructed, and they could be worn with evening dress or for daytime wear for warmth.

I'm not enthusiastic about the Cuffs and Jabot pattern. They are pretty examples of lacework, but they're not well-styled here, and I am having a hard time envisioning the set as working in a modern woman's wardrobe. After all... if we in 2013 can't make these designs work as part of the outfits we wear in our day-to-day lives, there's no real point in making them.

The Mourning Blouse design. I really like this one, which does look a great deal like an early twenties sweater. I'm even wondering if I mightn't make it for myself just to have an excuse to use a certain antique Art Nouveau buckle that I have in my possession. Though just to be a stickler, I'll point out that mourning purples weren't this vivid shade.

The Elegant Scrollwork Travelling Coat. The back of this coat looks fantastic, but I'm less than impressed with the front, though I know it's period accurate and this coat does look just like something Lady Mary might have worn to the train station to see someone off. I'd be inclined to reshape it entirely to make it hang better and to button up much higher.

The English Garden Wedding Kimono. I know this one is also period accurate, but it's a look that doesn't translate to today. It's going to make any woman who wears it look frumpy, dumpy and just plain odd, like a batty great-great-aunt at a wedding.

The Fetching Fair Isle Cap really does live up to its name. It's very cute, but I am not sure about those pom poms. They're a little twee and if they aren't fastened in place are going to wind up in the eyes of the wearer. I'd be inclined to finish this cap off with a simple tassel.

Absolutely love the Genteel Beaded Figure Purse. This purse could go straight from the Downton Abbey drawing room to your company's 2013 Christmas dinner party and look perfect in either setting.

I'm less enthusiastic about the Suffragette Beaded Drawstring Bag. I think it might be the colours that aren't working for me. I'd make this in metallic tones so as to make it suit more outfits.

These Gentlemen's Golfing Stockings were the kind of thing men wore with a pair plus fours while golfing back in the twenties (though perhaps not in this colourway), but I can't imagine any of the men of my acquaintance being caught dead in them. So we women get them, and they're a totally cute pair of kneesocks.

A simple Hot Water Bottle Cover, intended as a "comfort for the troops". This is perfectly period accurate, as most war knitting was very utilitarian and boring. But if you use hot water bottles in your house or intend to make this as a gift for someone who does, you can always dress this up by making it striped and adding pretty ribbons.

Lady Denman's Vest. Rack my brains as I would, I could not remember a Lady Denman among the Downton Abbey cast, but a quick Google taught me that Gertrude Denman was an actual historical figure and prominent suffragist. I love that this classic, attractive, and wearable vest was named in homage to her.

And we're back in batty great-great-aunt territory with the Oval Brim Hat for the Fair. Seriously, this thing looks like a magnified toilet paper cosy.

The Sunday-Best Felted Cloche Hat is a good design, though I'd make in a less dreary colour combination. This one is totally "sensible Anna the housemaid on her day out" wear, and I think most of us modern women can dare to dress a little smarter because we don't have to have one hat that goes with everything.

This is the Two-in-One Warm Hat or Cravat design. It's very handsome in its scarf incarnation, but I'm not sure how many men would care to wear a hat like that.

The Chilly Morning Cosycoat. This isn't anything like the costumes I've seen the Downton Abbey kitchen maids wear, but perhaps they will as we get further into the twenties on the show. It's a nice enough basic vest.

Mr. Carson would have been apoplectic had any of his footmen dared appear on duty in this Footmen's Vest, but of course this design is merely intended as a nod to Downton Abbey, not as a historically accurate piece. And it's an attractive cardigan for today's non-subservient man.

The Walking Out Eyelet Panel Blouse. I love this one and would totally wear it. In another colour though, and on its own, since I needn't either be so practical as to select clothing that won't show dirt nor quite so circumspect about how much skin I show.

The 1918 Style Bolero Jacket. I don't care for this one, which looks boxy and unflattering.

The Half-Day Off Mitts are a very nice, wearable little pair of fingerless gloves.

The Vest for the Cricket Match design. This style of vest was first worn for cricket, tennis, and boating in the twenties and has been a classic style for men every since. I very much like this one in particular, with a slightly different style of colour band on the armhole, neck, and hem trim. And I do love that they've found a Robert-like model to wear it. Way to keep your job, Robert, by making yourself indispensable to the house and village cricket match.