Thursday, 7 November 2013

Interweave Knits Winter 2013: A Review

Interweave Knits has published their Winter 2013 issue, in which they've mostly stuck to turning out solid versions of time-tested classics. Let's have a look at it.

The Bucheron Mitts are a little on the clunky-looking side shape and proportion-wise, but otherwise I quite like them. This modern take on the argyle pattern is appealing.

The Nunavut Pullover is a cute, casual, wearable look. Though perhaps a little too much of the appeal for me is the fact that it was named after a Canadian province, and not just any Canadian province, but a) one in which you especially need warm sweaters and b) one which always sounds as though as it could be used as the basis for a "Who's on First" routine, i.e., "Which province would that be?" "Nunavut." "I thought you just said it was one of the Canadian provinces." "Yes, I did. It's Nunavut." "But if it's it's none of it, how can be one of them?" "Because it's Nunavut."

The Feathernest Raglan is a classic, wearable, ripple-patterned sweater.

The Winnipeg Pullover. I like this waffle stitch sweater too. It's hard to find any fault with a wearable classic like this.

The Côte-Nord Cap. Another nice classic piece. Incidentally, Côte-Nord (French for "north shore") is a region in Quebec. Interweave Knits is charming me with all the Canadian references.

The Manicouagan Pullover offers us a few new twists on the henley by extending the buttons three quarters of the way down the front and using a drop-stitch cable stitch for an open weave look. Both decisions are working fairly well, although be warned that though this sweater has been styled to looked like a rugged outdoor-type piece, it isn't. It won't be that warm and will catch on everything like you won't believe.

The Verchères Pullover has been designed to look just like a thermal henley, so if you're one to appreciate the warmth and comfort of a henley you will also enjoy wearing this sweater.

The Dreamcatcher Cardigan signals a move from Canada, where apparently we need ultra-practical sweaters with long underwear-esque texture to wear over our plaid shirts, to the Southwest, where it seems the inhabitants wear rug-like sweaters. I'm not a fan of this one. The front is shaped fairly well, but that design on the back just doesn't have the appeal Southwestern-themed stuff has at its best.

The Lyons Cardigan isn't really working either. The concept of an exaggerated stripe isn't bad, but this sweater is pulling at the front and on the sleeves and the stripes aren't meeting properly in front. It just looks as though it is badly made and doesn't fit the model at all.

The Cerrito Cardigan is a polished yet casual piece to just throw on over an outfit and elevate it somewhat.

Cynthia's Cardigan. This one isn't bad. I like the two collar options, because they both look good and this sweater basically comes with its own cowl.

The Ojo de Dios Shawl. Quite like this shawl, which is original and striking and is done in a beautiful colourway.

The Piedmont Hat. I don't care for the colours here, but when I imagine the hat in colours I do like, I love it, so... nice hat.

The Bread Basket Pullover is another well-executed classic pullover.

The Swivel Pullover. Oooh, love this one. This designer has taken a classic design feature, Irish cables, and given them a simple yet very effective twist. And tha cable "swivel" effect at the hip is so flattering. Excellent work!

The State Fair Cardigan. Another solid example of a classic.

The NoBo Jacket. I'm no friend of the bolero jacket, but this isn't at all a bad example of one. It's well-constructed and looks good from various angles.

Telluride Aran. Another solid version of a classic pullover.

I like the L'Acadie Cardigan, which has an elegantly casual look to it, but I would be sure to knit those sleeves the right length so as not to have to roll them up. I don't know whether they have been rolled up because they were too long or because it was a design decision, but it looks way too much like the former. And I would raise those slightly dropped shoulders.

The Wharf Cap. This is a nice cap overall, but I'm really not liking the way that knob on the top looks in profile. We're not quite in Snorks territory here, but we're approaching it.

The Partly Cloudy Cowl. The texture in this cowl is good, but I don't care at all for this style of cowl, which just lies around the wearer's neck like a flat tire. I'd make this one as a scarf so it can be wrapped attractively.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

'If you enjoy what you're doing, you don't want to stop."

In April 2013, the CBC reported on the story of Leonard and Mae Fine, who were retiring after running their Toronto-based knit-wear business together for more than 50 years. Marni Knits produced and sold high-end knitwear to retailers across Canada. Their customers included Holt Renfrew, Liptons, Chadwicks, and Goodman's. The Fines, who originally met in New York in 1938 and are now both in their nineties, didn't especially care to retire just yet but were urged to do so by their son as he wished to retire himself. "We're still going to have a life, without the business," said Mae. "I may get a job, volunteering or something."

When they cleared out their shop, the Fines donated an assortment of yarns, notions and buttons to the May 2013 More Than Just a Yardage Sale, with proceeds from the items going to benefit the Toronto-area Textile Museum of Canada.

If you'd like to see some vintage Marni Knits clothing, you can do so on the website for the Toronto-area business Rent frock Repeat, and if you should live in Toronto it's even possible to enjoy renting and wearing Marni Knits creations from Rent frock Repeat. Some Marni Knits creations also seem to be for sale from various vintage clothing internet dealers. The photo above is of one Marni Knits creation from 1970.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Petite Purls Issue 16: A Review

Petite Purls has released their sixteenth issue, and in this issue instead of focusing on designs for children as they usually do, they've decided to feature designs for adults. Let's have a look at it.

This is the Bizzy Tunic. The description that accompanies the pattern says its "designed to capture the confidence and joy of little girl style. It invites you to play with color and bring back your girlhood days, while crafting a dress fit for a full-grown woman." I don't know if I agree with Thomas Wolfe's claim that "you can't go home again", but I will say that you should not try to go home in this unless you want to hear a bunch of comments about the whereabouts of your pants. The collar on this tunic doesn't sit at all well and the word "tunic" is not synonymous with "dress".

I quite like the Ava cap, which is sized for all sizes from baby to adult. Nice texture and a carefully finished ribbed band, and that decorative poppy is a nice touch.

This Cascade sweater is the adult version of the child-size Cascade sweater from Petite Purls' Winter 2010 issue. I think I actually like the adult version better, as the leaf motif button band is in better proportion to the larger sweater. It's a nice-looking design and would be a good way to showcase a beautiful variegated yarn. I'm not crazy about the back shaping, though. I like that there is back shaping, but wish it had been done more artfully.

The Adult Navajo Pullover is a very nice-looking man's sweater, with a simple, comfortable, and yet somewhat distinctive design. It's an enlarged version of the Navajo Pullover for boys.

The Tweedy Upsized is another adult version of a formerly published pattern for children, in this case the Tweedy design from Fall 2011. I'm not thrilled with either look, but in the case of the adult version I think I would like it much better if it were done in a sharper colourway and were styled better. Those muddy brown and purple tones don't do anything for a design that is supposed to have a smart and modern effect.

The Pembroke Hat is beautifully cabled and a nice-looking hat, but I can't help wishing there was some sort of edge finishing on it. However, that might be my girly tastes talking. Many men might prefer this sparely finished look.

The Radiant Vest design is sized for both children and teens and adults. It's a good, useful piece that looks equally appropriate and cute on both woman and child.

The Asa sweater is a very basic man's sweater that has been put together with some care. It fits perfectly, the colours are part of the official man colour canon and blend well yet still have some visual interest, and the waistband, cuffs, and collar all sit just right. It's a first-rate example of the ubiquitous chest stripe sweater.

Monday, 4 November 2013

An Amazing Knitting Race

On October 19, a Missouri graphic design professor, David Babcock, set the new Guinness World Record for knitting a scarf while running a marathon, completing the Kansas City marathon in 5 hours 48 minutes while knitting an approximately 12-foot long scarf.

I've written a previous post about "the Extreme Knitting Redhead", Susie Hewer, who had set the previous world record for longest scarf in 2008 by knitting a scarf while running the London marathon, with her longest marathon-knitted scarf measuring 6'9". In true knitter fashion, Hewer and Babcock, far from being bitter rivals, are internet friends who have exchanged messages on Ravelry and have begun to discuss running a marathon together. As Babcock told The New York Times, “I told [Hewer] it would be cool if we could be knitting on the same scarf from opposite ends together.... Something like that I think would be a dream.”

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The Hairball Doublet and Other Knitting Fables

Lara thought her new winter dress was the perfect tribute to her recreational drug of choice. And all her design classmates and instructors could only be thankful that she was into magic mushrooms rather than crack.

Teddie was really glad she'd found a way to put the doilies her grandmother had made for her to good use, and scorned her mother's advice about making more to lengthen the dress a little. How could she possibly degrade the authenticity of her Grandma's work by adding doilies made by someone else now that Grandma would never make another doily? Really, it was most insensitive of her mother.

Opal was on a one-woman mission to show everyone that afghans were made for better things than to be left on the couch all the time.

Archer wasn't sure he agreed with his fiancé that med school was a place where he'd be expected to demonstrate his dedication and ambition through his clothes.

Kelly couldn't quite understand why none of her clothing design teachers liked her bedskirt and sheers outfit. Had they never heard of her design muse, Scarlett O'Hara?

It had taken design school to show Carolyn that her destiny as a designer was to do for the knife pleat what Kaffe Fassett had done for colour in knitwear.

Maud felt that with entrelac you had to go big or go home. She was pretty mad when her design teachers forced her to compromise the principle by only letting her put the sweater she'd made in the fall fashion show when it really needed the matching pants to work.

Despite all his design instructors said, Lucas was convinced that any silhouette could be made to work with the addition of a belt.

Shi-woo's grad project was a loving ode to his much loved and missed cat. He felt pairing the Hairball Doublet with sleek tights created a look that encompassed both the grace and animal nature of his dearly departed Kkulbbangi.

Moira was very disgruntled when no one at school got that what they called a "kicky spring look" was supposed to be political commentary on the dangers of the economic bubble and importance of the gold standard. Maybe she should have gone into political science after all.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

A Puff for Hexapuffs

Stephanie Dosen, the designer and blogger from Tiny Owl Knits, has come up with a new concept in knitted blankets with her Beekeeper's Quilt. Over the course of a year, she made about 500 "hexipuffs", or little double-sided, poly-filled, hexagon-shaped pieces knitted in the round, and then fastened them all together with quilt ties to make a quilt, as seen above.

This is a very portable project (at least until one gets to the assembly stage), would be a great way to use up odd balls of sock yarn, the maker can get artistic as she or he likes and play with the colour scheme or add embroidery to the hexipuffs, and because of the way this quilt is assembled, any hexipuffs that become stained or damaged can easily be removed and replaced. It could be made machine washable and dryable if only easy care yarn is used; otherwise dry cleaning is an option. And damn, would the resulting Beekeeper's Quilt be warm. This pattern is available for $5.50(USD) via its Ravelry page and there's also a knit-a-long for this design.

I think the main appeal of the Beekeeper's Quilt pattern for me personally is that it reminds me of the English paper piecing my grandmother taught me to do when I was a little girl. I still do some occasionally. I think nearly all my friends and family who sew have pincushions I pieced, and in a couple of cases when there was a family wedding in the offing I've been able to make a pincushion from scraps of the wedding and bridesmaid gowns being sewn for the wedding, which made a useful and special keepsake to give the bride in question. There is something very gratifying about making and piecing together all those cute little hexagon shapes, but my tolerance limit for making pincushions is usually two or three at a time, which I suspect means I shouldn't undertake to knit a Beekeeper's Quilt myself.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Fun With Rubber Bands

Here's a video from Lion Brand Yarns on how to make a rubber band bracelet with a simple knitting loom. This looks like a great kid's craft project.