Friday, 13 December 2013

Spiked Egg Nog and Christmas Sweaters Don't Mix and Other Knitting Fables

Phil and Hil firmly believed that the family that sweats together stays together. Or at least saves enough money on yarn to partially pay for the counselling that their children Will and Lil would need further down the road.

Peter was thrilled to have found the perfect sweater to wear for his favourite Christmas tradition: his annual viewing of Aristocats with his three wittle fur babies.

Annabelle had finally figured out the perfect way to get the attention of that hot new company sales rep at the office Christmas party.

Unbeknownst to Annabelle, Chuck from the mailroom had similarly been planning to get her attention.

Candy had finished knitting matching Christmas sweaters for herself and Lolly just in the nick of time for the holiday season. Now, she thought, it was time to begin on their Valentine's Day and St. Patrick Day outfits.

The perfect sweater for the leg lamp owner whose partner accidentally broke it. Though this sweater might up getting accidentally shrunk in the wash.

The perfect sweater to gift along with that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Alien DVD box set.

Tim saw a Christmas sweater as only the beginning of his look and pulled out all the stops of his God-given ability to accessorize.

Sometimes when Christmas sweaters combine with too much spiked eggnog, it's all too much of a good thing.

"Merry Freaking Christmas to you too, pal."

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Pom Pom Quarterly Winter 2013: A Review

Today's review is of a relatively new knitting magazine I haven't reviewed before, Pom Pom Quarterly. Pom Pom, which was launched in the summer of 2012 is, according to its website, "a quarterly, collectable publication based in London, UK for smart, creative types who like knitting patterns with a modern aesthetic, great photography and interesting writing".

Let's have a look at the ten patterns in their Winter 2013 issue, shall we?

The Anzen crocheted cardigan. This one could have gone badly and wound up looking like an afghan with sleeves (I believe "slanket" is the technical term), but it hasn't. It sits well and has a modern air. I'm really not enthused about the big old safety pin that's holding it together, but that's easily substituted for the shawl pin or brooch of your choosing.

The Aureus cardigan. Love the stitchwork on this one, but not the shape of it. The stylists here have done their level best to give this cardigan a chic look and haven't succeeded. It's going to look just plain frumpy on most women. I'd fix the dropped shoulders, add some waist shaping, and make it large enough to meet in the front on the wearer.

The Fjordland cap. I very much like this little hat. The star on the top and the patterning around the circumference are seasonal in a cute way and yet still suited for an adult.

The Garland pullover. This is the cover look, and it looks fairly pretty in repose, but look at what happens once the model raises her arm. Call me staid if you wish, but I remain unmoved from my conviction that exaggerated cuts like this look just plain sloppy at least nineteen times out of twenty, and no, this is not one of the exceptions. I would cut this sweater down to a standard fit, because it will be a lovely piece that way, given the lacework, the soft mohair, and a delicate confection of a colour.

The Hyoutan mittens. I'm not crazy about these. The mittens look a little big and clumsy, and the colourwork looks a little odd — that pattern doesn't make much sense visually.

The Silver Birch socks are an attractive and nicely finished design.

The Take Heart hat is a pretty standard cabled hat. I'm not sure I personally care for the Flopsy Cottontail-style pom pom which is its one claim to originality, but I suppose it could be cute on the right sassy young wearer. And it's easily left off if you don't think it'll work for you.

The Tuuli fingerless mitts. I rather like these. The texture is good, the subtle slubs of colour add to the interest, and doing the palms in stockinette is a practical move.

The Vintage Bullion crocheted scarf. I seesawed on this one, trying to decide if it was interesting or too BoHo, and I think I'm going to come down on the interesting side. The texture really is very good and pleasing. But I would be careful about what colour I made this in. Don't go with a yarn that makes you think of granny afghans, because it will make your scarf look like an artifact of the seventies, and not in a good way.

The Winterberry shawl. I very much like this piece, which is simple and wearable, will actually keep you warm and not catch on everything, and yet has both visual interest and a polished, finished look. Designers round all these bases less often than you'd expect.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Knitty Winter 2013: A Review

Knitty has published its Winter 2013 issue. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

The Superduper megacowl. This larger-than-life cowl won't be to everyone's taste, but if you like a certain element of playful exuberance in your wardrobe, you can probably carry it off. It can be worn as a shrug, and possibly also as a hammock. And with a gauge of 3 stitches to 4 inches, this will be a very fast knit.

The Princess Franklin cowl. In the accompanying text designer Franklin Habit tells us that the cowl is based on a recreation of an antique "Princess Mary" plaid scarf pattern and talks about how he chose the colours. I very much like this piece. The technique is an interesting one (it's knitted in garter stitch with the vertical lines woven in during the finishing stages) and replicates the look of a woven piece admirably well.

The Zaria shawl is attractive in an offbeat, modern way.

The Moebius Braid cowl. I quite like this piece. It's designed to be reversible, has an appealing texture and is oversized in a way that'll be easy to scale with the rest of your outfit.

The Streymoy cardigan. Love this one, with its elegant air. It's like a modern take on an Edwardian waistcoat.

The Henry Tudor pullover. Quite like this one with its terrific cable treatment. I'm not completely sold on those clasp fastenings. They don't quite accord with this sweater. I think maybe they're too high contrast colour-wise and would work better if they toned in better with the sweater.

The Galanthus tunic. This is quite pretty and wearable for women who suit the empire cut.

The Lempster pullover. This one is quite nice and wearable. My one quibble is with that front centre panel, where the cable panel looks a little randomly plopped amid the honeycomb stitches. If I were to knit this, I'd consider continuing a two-cable pattern throughout the honeycombing above and below the larger cable pattern.

The Key and Knot jacket is a nice classic piece. If you knit this one, be sure to make it big enough that it won't be pulling open a little between the buttons as it is here. Cabled patterns can be tricky to size because they're so dense.

The Whiteleaf pullover. This is ever so pretty, and so classic and go-anywhere that you'll be able to wear it until it falls apart.

The Parhelion pullover is another solid classic piece.

The Armande cardigan. This is a plain, retro-style cardigan which relies on good overall lines to work. And it has them. This collar sits very well. Do make sure to knit the sweater large enough for the wearer, as gaping at the button bands always detract a lot from the overall look.

The Vintersolverv is a classic pullover is based on the traditional Norwegian ski sweater pattern, and has the dropped shoulders that are usual with the style. Tradition or no, I'd raise the shoulder seam to the shoulder as a standard fit shoulder is so much more flattering on most women.

The Skullcracker cap. This is a pleasant enough little cap. I'm not crazy about the two-tone version. I think it looks better in single colour, or if you want to use two different colours, perhaps a more analogous colour scheme might work. The high-contrast colours look too tacked together.

The Duplice cap. I quite like this design, though again I don't think this is the pattern where a high-contrast colour scheme is the best choice. I'd go for two colours that nearly blend together, such as blue and lavender.

The Contempt headband will allow you to broadcast your stance on winter, whether that's love, hate, or both (in which case you could knit one expression on each side and reverse the headband as desired. I have to admire the wit of this concept, and for a woman putting a slogan on a headband definitely beats sporting it on your chest, since it will be stared at.

The Roses socks are very pretty. Love the line of leaves that blossom into a rose at the top. I'd just have to knit these in red or pink or apricot.

The Wraptor socks are very cool, if not quite the socks you'll want to wear the morning after the night before. Love the visual effect that makes them seem to move when you look at them.

The Olla mittens. These look more than a little clumsy to me, but if you don't mind that, they're otherwise fine, they will be warm and practical, and I do like the embroidered leaf designs.

The Sssstarter mittens. These aren't too exciting but they're wearable and pleasing enough.

The Peko cats egg cozy. I'm not exactly sure why this "cat's" whiskers are springing from its forehead, but this isn't a bad pattern if your tastes run towards the cute and whimiscal and/or you're trying to make breakfast time more fun for your children. Or if you just like your eggs kept piping hot.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Knitting All Angels

Now that we're into December, I can start doing some Christmas posts. (You can see all my other Christmas posts here.) I could have started doing them earlier, but I am one of those sticks-in-the-mud who likes to get Halloween and Remembrance Day well over with before I get into the whole Christmas mode. This post is a selection of angel-themed patterns. I may not believe in angels, but they certainly are very pretty.

The first pattern, pictured above, is the Snowflake Angel, by Alan Dart. This pattern is available for download for $5.00(USD) and would make a good tree topper if your Christmas decor style runs towards the cute and craftsy.

The Angel Mittens design, by Jorid Linvik. This pattern is available for $6.00(USD). Doing them in a not specifically Christmas colour like the blue and white here will make them more wearable for the post-Christmas winter season.

I don't usually post too many dish cloth patterns, but the A Wing and a Prayer Angel Cloth design by Amy Marie is so simple and striking it could be used as a block design for an afghan or cushion. This pattern is available for $4.00(USD).

The Part-Time Angel toy design by Frankie Brown. This pattern is available as a free Ravelry download.

The Amelia angel dress, by Jenny Wiebe. This pattern is available for $4.00(CAD) and is sized from preemie to child's size 4.

This is the Gift of Angels Blanket, by Pauline Bilodeau. This pattern is available as part of a kit from Mary Maxim Canada and Mary Maxim U.S.

Here's another angel baby blanket, the Weeping Angels Blinky Blanket, by Jillian Cameron. This pattern is available as a free Ravelry download. I'd be inclined to replace the "don't blink" text from the centre with another weeping angels motif.

The Dishcloth Angel with Stars/Spüli Sternenengel, by Mamafri, is another dishcloth or potholder pattern that would make a great afghan block. This pattern is available for free.

This design is definitely my favourite of this post. The Forest Angel Chart, by Melanie Nordberg, is available as a free Ravelry download and is a chart rather than a pattern. I see it as an afghan or a wall hanging. If you rug hook, making a rug is an option.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Britain's Got Finger Knitting

In this 2009 audition piece from Britain's Got Talent, three women show a tough room how to finger knit. Alas, the judges and audience were unappreciative of their craft, and in any case it looks like the three finger knitting ladies had the bad luck to audition on the same night as Susan Boyle, but it was a valiant effort.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Box O' Cosies

FedEx's idea of what knitters are like and what kind of things they knit (or say they knit but that they actually crochet).