Friday, 20 December 2013

Whoooo Likes Owl-Themed Knitting?

Here's a selection of owl-themed knits, for no better reason than it's my mother's birthday today and she has a thing for owls "because they're wise and they have big eyes". The sweater above is the Ari Owl Sweater, by Brandy Fortune. The pattern appears in Fortune's book Just Like Me Knits: Matching Patterns for Kids and Their Favorite Dolls.

I see the Owls sweater pattern, by Kate Davies, pop up often in the newsfeed for The Knitting Needle and the Damage Done's Facebook page because it's regularly linked to on other knitting pages. It's easy to understand why, when it's a charming little twist on the classic cabled yoke sweater. This pattern is available for £4.50(GBP).

This is the adorable Owls Baby Blanket, by Simone Rees. This pattern is available as a free Ravelry download, although Rees does request that anyone who downloads the pattern will consider donating whatever sum she or he thinks the pattern is worth to one of her suggested charities, or to another charity of the downloader's choice.

These are the Owl Mitts, by Amanda Jones. It's easy to understand the appeal of designing with owls when they're so easy to work into a cabled pattern. This pattern is available for free.

Love the dual view of the Owls In a Tree Mittens, by Fact Woman. This pattern is available for $5.95(USD).

This Night Owl toy, by Alan Dart, embodies how I feel when I'm heading off to bed, except I don't look anything like this appealing. This pattern is available for download for £3.00(GBP).

The Owlunder short-sleeved baby sweater, by Kasa Amend, is very striking and cute. This pattern is available for $3.50(USD).

These are the Moonlight Owls mittens, by Daria Sorokina. I find this offbeat colourway really appealing, but of course these mittens could be done in any colourway you wish. This pattern is available for $5.00(USD).

The Fair Owl Socks, by Friederike Erbslein, were just so cute I had to include them, although I think the pattern is only available in German. This pattern is available for €3.00(EUR)

The Hooter Hat, by Katie Boyette, will boldly declare your love of owls. The pattern appears in Boyette's book Wearable KnitWits.

This is the Owlie Bling Scarf, by Karoline Peterson. This pattern is available for $5.00(USD).

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Bergère de France Magazine 170: A Review

Bergère de France has published Magazine 170. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

#01, Bloomer. Not taken with this one. And I don't see why anyone would want to go to so much trouble to make an ugly onesie.

#02, Cardigan. This is... okay. It's too basic to be either bad or good. But Bergère de France, could you do me and all your customers a favour and stop photographing white items on a white background?

#03, Booties. Very basic booties. These might be okay for a beginner knitter, but if you're more skilled, I'd look for a cuter design. It's not like it will be a long search.

#04, Cable Sweater and #05, Cable Hat. Now we're getting to something a little more interesting. I like the combination of the blue and the taupe used here. But I don't think this concept was executed very well. That strip of cable is just plopped onto the front of this cardigan and hat without a real effort to integrate it and consequently looks rough.

#06, Rabbit Blanket. This is so simple and neutral, and yet totally cute and finished looking.

#07, Baby Nest. I'm guessing the idea here is you're supposed to put your baby in this. Most of the babies I have known would object very strongly to being put into the knitted equivalent of a FedEx envelope, regardless of how nice the texture was or whether the French word for "soft" was embroidered on it.

#08, All-in-One and #09, Beanie. This sleeper and hat set is really cute. Love the matching shoes.

#10, Dress and #11, Hat. Simple and pretty little dress. I'd want to do this in a colour, or possibly a variegated colour to liven it up a little. And I am not sold on the side placement of the pom pom. I think I'd want to put something else there, like a knitted flower.

#12, Zip Front Cardigan. Quite like this one. The little tab closure at the neck is a nice finishing touch.

#13, Bootees. Nice simple booties.

#14, Zip Up Front Cardigan. I originally thought this was a set of yarn tennis racquets and yarn ball until a reader helpfully pointed out they were supposed to be balloons. I can't say the balloons are working. They need colour and the pom pom balloon should be nixed entirely. Any motif deserves better than to be sketched so roughly on the front of an otherwise well-constructed hoodie baby sweater.

#15, Cardigan. I quite like this. The epaulettes and matching pocket welts are a nice touch, but I would leave off the top-stitching on the pockets as I don't think it adds anything.

#16, Trousers. Very basic pants. I assume they're meant to match the previous pattern.

#17, Helmet. I've reviewed this aviator cap design before and still feel the same way about it: I wish it had been made to look more realistically like an aviator cap.

#18, Wrap Cardigan and #19, Trousers. Not thrilled with this outfit. It just looks too blah and slapped together.

#20, Doll. This doll looks rather like a convicted felon version of Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp and it freaks me out a little, but then maybe you think silent movie references and freaky is good. I don't know your parenting style.

#21, Openwork Cardigan. This one is your standard classic lacy baby cardigan.

#22, Mobile & Polar Teddy Bear. A hot air balloon mobile with a toy in it isn't a bad concept, but the design and colour choices employed here is uninspired at best. The bear is cute.

#23, Pushchair Blanket. This stroller cover does not look particularly well designed for the purpose, and sewing a bunch of crap all over it didn't help matters.

#24, Poncho, #25, Hat and #25, Bootees. Oh dear, did we take a wrong turn and wind up back in the seventies? The tabard-style poncho, the crude blanket stitching, and the ugly colour combination here all scream seventies, and not in a good way. Do not do this to your kid or Susan Olsen will show up at your door and try to talk some sense into you.

#26, Sleeveless Waistcoat. If you make this one for your child you're probably beyond even Susan Olsen's help. It is as ugly a pattern as any I have ever seen, and let me tell you, I see plenty of patterns.

#27, Boot-Style Bootees. These are at least inoffensive, though I may be too worn down by the previous several patterns to be sure I'm in a state of mind to judge them accurately.

#28, Teddy Bear. This isn't bad (it's hard to mess up a teddy bear), but I have seen much better-constructed bears than this one.

#29, Mouse Cushion. This one looks simply cobbled together and weird.

#30, Boat-Neck Sweater. Hand prints and bear paw prints could be cute design elements on a child's sweater, but they haven't been used well here and simply look random and rather pointless.

#31, Dungarees. These are cute. I might put bear faces on both knees instead of only one.

#32, Hooded Jacket. Not a bad little jacket. I might nix all the extraneous pom poms and tassels and just go with a single tassel in the colours used in the sweater and for the cross-stitching over the seams.

#33, Beanie & Mittens. Very nice little hat and mittens set. Love the colourway used here.

#34, Hoodie. I'd nix the blanket stitch used here and instead finish off hood, placket and hem with a strip of pattern, such as a Fair Isle or checked design.

#35, Long-Sleeved Dress. Not particularly attractive at all. Let's put it this way: if this were fabric instead of hand-knitted, it would look like a costume from a movie depicting a Depression-era orphanage, and it wouldn't be the kind of orphanage where the orphans trade wisecracks and sing in spontaneous four-part harmony.

#36, Sleeveless Dress. Not a bad little jumper, though I would cut the neckline away a little more.

#37, Cable Sweater. Basic cabled sweater. Though I wish I could figure out exactly what's going on with that collar.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Vogue Knitting Winter 2013/2014: A Review

Vogue Knitting has just released their Winter 2013/2014 issue. I've introduced a slight innovation into this review by linking each pattern to the "360 degree" videos Vogue Knitting posts on YouTube for each clothing design. The videos let you see each design in action from every angle and absent the styling, which can get distracting, and it's ever so helpful for assessing the design. I definitely recommend viewing the video of any pattern you are seriously considering knitting. Let's take a look at the 28 patterns in this issue, shall we?

#1, Double-Breasted Vest. This isn't bad. It actually looks much better with the collar lying down than standing up as it is here. My one complaint is that it looks so uneven along the bottom front.

#2, Preppy V-Neck Vest. I rather like this one, which seems like a mod version of a fair isle vest.

#3, Sleeveless Turtleneck. This is a fairly standard but attractive and wearable piece.

#4, Oversized Sweater Vest. I don't care for this one. I rather like the texture, but the shape and cut plus the bulkiness make this an item that will look frumpy on most women.

#5, Zippered Vest. This one gets points for originality, but isn't quite successful. The back waist detailing is cool, but that longer back hem really isn't working well and looks heavy and bulky in motion. I would cut this one down to hip length and keep the front and back hems the same length, or very close to the same length.

#6, Tunic Length Vest. This... isn't bad. It does look a little like a converted afghan, but I will say it's a very cool afghan. It's definitely for a wearer with very modern, bold taste.

#7, Moto Coat. I quite like this one. The lines and collar are so good. It will not look good worn open, but damn does it look good zipped up.

#8, Moto Vest. Not as big a fan of this one. It worked much better as a shorter jacket, with a full collar and sleeves.

#9, Traditional Moto Jacket. I very much like the lines of this jacket, but don't think the choice to go two tone adds anything at all. I'd knit this all in one colour, or maybe in a slightly variegated colour.

#10, Ribbed Yoke Pullover. I wasn't thrilled with the pictures of this one, but it pleasantly surprised me by appearing very wearable and flattering in the 360 degrees video. It's good to know that those bat wing sleeves "disappear" when the wearer stands with her arms by her sides.

#11, Open Cardigan. I thought I did like this cardigan (I can never resist a green and teal combination, and this one's gorgeous) until I looked at the 360 video. The cardigan appears meticulously constructed, and yet it lies in a way that will frump up most wearers. Unless you tend to always have a hand free to clutch your clothes in place, I'd give this one a pass.

#12, Short Sleeve Jacket. I bet there were ancient peoples who wore garments cut like this one. I'd like to think we've learned a little something about how to cut flattering garments since, say, the Mayans.

#13, Deep V Hoodie. This is cute and sporty. I like the lines of the hood and neckline. But I would fix the dropped shoulders and join the ribbing at the bottom.

#14 Colorblock Socks. Not a bad pair of socks, but I can't say I care for the toe split. They remind me of cloven hooves, and worse, might lead to "socks and sandals" occurrences.

#15, Slouchy Hat. Nice hat. It has an interesting texture.

#16, Colorblocked Gloves. Not a bad-looking pair of gloves.

#17, Puritan-Collar Pullover. I'm pretty sure the Puritans would have put the designer of this in the stocks for a day, and I'm not entirely sure it wouldn't have been warranted.

#18, Top-Down Raglan-Yoke Cardigan. This looks like someone sewed some swatches randomly together. And it's making me very glad I don't swatch.

#19, Drop-Stitch Poncho and Armwarmers. I think I can get behind this poncho, which could look cute on the right person and with the right outfit, but not the armwarmers. Jeez, if you need more coverage than the poncho will give you, wear a coat instead of trying to piece it out with silly accessories.

#20, Wrap Front Shrug. Sometimes I complain that a design looks too afghan-like. This one looks too baby blanket-like. All that wrapping and rippling just isn't flattering or attractive.

#21, Ombre Capelet with Bow. I don't know why it is that shrugs often have a "shrunk in the wash" look while capelets, which offer the same amount of coverage, look sufficient unto themselves, but any rate, this little faux fur capelet is quite pretty, and even elegant.

#22, Shaped Capelet. Pattern #22 and pattern #23 are designed to be worn together, and I am impressed with how well they just nestle together and become one when worn, although I think I might like this little capelet better without the addition of the scarf.

#23, Keyhole Scarf. The Keyhole Scarf worn by itself. It manages to become a sassy evening accessory with the addition of a brooch and a feather.

#24, Ruby Cowl. Faux fur yarn might just have found its destiny in the cowl.

#25. Love this afghan. I just wish there were a better shot of it available so you could see it in a way that does it justice.

#26. This floral-themed textured throw is nice too.

#27. Gorgeous, just gorgeous.

#28, Mobius Cowl. This is rather pretty and fun, and if you're new to fair isle it's a way to do fair isle without committing to an entire sweater or socks, which need shaping.