Friday, 26 December 2014

Knitter's Magazine 117: A Review

Knitter's Magazine has released Issue 117. Let's have a look at it.

The Boho/Hobo cardigan. It looks like an afghan worn inside out. It's designed to be reversible and this may not be its best side, but my guess is that the seamless side looks like an afghan worn right side in.

The Royal Plum jacket. I like this mosaic and cable piece. It's smart and versatile.

Blocks a la Carte pullover. Too visually choppy for my liking, and not particularly flattering.

Step Up cowl. Accomplished, graphic design, and a fresh, pretty colourway.

Drift and Flow shrug. This shrug can be worn frontwards or backwards, and I feel like I need two sets of pictures so I can be sure of what I'm signing off on. I do like the version of the front depicted in the left photo, but I need to know what the back looks like. I don't care for either the front or the back in the other version — they're way too busy visually.

Sssinuous hat and scarf set. Interesting and even rather cool hat and scarf. It's nice to see a totally wearable contemporary design like this.

Carved Cedar pullover. Quite like this one, which is a fresh take on the classic cable.

Tropical Tee pullover. This is just so bulky and heavy looking and the colour scheme is overdone.

Tamarack jacket. Love this one, which is the very definition of elegantly relaxed style. It does look a tad on the heavy side, but then it is a jacket.

Tech Mitts. These are rather smart. The pinstripe contrasted with the rope cable stitch is a nice effect.

Woodland Diamonds pullover. Very much like this one, with its skilful use of colourblocking and just the right amount of detail.

Midnight Rendezvous top. This one is very nice too. Good shape and use of self-striping yarn.

Bridge the Gap. Ah, just what every woman wants: tie-back curtains for either side of her stomach.

Spice Trade pullover. I wish I could see this sweater better. The scarf play is preventing me from getting a good look at the shape and sleeves of this sweater. I do like what I can see, but I have some concerns about this design's possible bulkiness.

Herringbone in Relief vest. I like this one, which has a polished, sophisticated, go-anywhere look, but there are better colourways for it than pink and blue, even if it is a very adult pink and blue.

Cloud Cover poncho. Not a bad little piece, though I do wish the bottom edge was less roughly finished. That's easily remedied with a crocheted edging.

Another Slant Pullover. And here we have another upcycled afghan design. Afghans are fine things in their place, and that place is the couch.

Winter Diamond wrap. Love this one, which is innovative, polished, and wearable. I've never seen a pattern quite like that argyle/hexagon one.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Flight of the Snowman

Here's a stop animation video about a snowman ornament who decides he's going to go find another Christmas tree to hang out on.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Creative Knitting Spring 2015: A Review

Creative Knitting has released their Spring 2015 issue just in time for Christmas. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

The Reedy Creek Wrap. Not bad at all. The stitchwork is good and the use of I-cord for trim and ruching is interesting.

Colette Hat and Mittens Set. Cute set.

Breezy Mesh Vest. All I can say is that this looks like an innovative way to carry your shopping bags to the grocery store.

Butterscotch Topping. This is more than a little twee, but then the twee among us need knitting projects and clothes too. I would narrow the shape through the hips by several inches though, because it's too full and flaring for flattery as is.

Lavender Lace. I'm not against the idea of a sheer mohair top on principle (it could be a good layering alternative for those of us who can't be bothered to fuss with a shawl), but I don't care for this one in particular. I'd make such a top seamless and in a relaxed fit rather than as oversized as it is here.

Meshy Tee. Creative Knitting put this one on the cover, and I can't imagine why, as it's one of the worst designs in this issue. The shape of this top would make almost any woman look dumpy and frumpy. Even this professional model isn't quite getting away with it.

Mimosa Pullover. Nice, simple lace top overall, but I'd definitely neaten up the fit.

Spring Rain. This is... okay. It's nothing special design-wise, but it is wearable and attractive enough. I think I'd like it more if it were styled better. I'd put it over a spaghetti-strap tank, because layering it over a long sleeved t-shirt looks silly and dowdy.

Candy Sprinkles. My eyes. Both the colourwork and the stitchwork used here are awful. I can't help but think "Candy Sprinkles" was the marketing team's suggested replacement for this design's actual working name of "Rainbow Brite Vomit".

Cushioned Delight. These garter stitch pillows are as basic as it gets, but they're useable and attractive enough. Use a beautiful, cuddly yarn in your favourite colour for these and you'll enjoy the result quite a lot.

Diagonal Play Mat. I can't imagine a child would actually play on this for very long. Because, you know, small children and babies old enough to crawl tend to move around rather a lot. At any rate it's not a bad simple mat for the laundry room or bathroom. A dollar store grip mat placed underneath should keep it safely in place on a tile or linoleum floor.

Happy Baskets. The suggested use for these is to store yarn or children's toys. I can't think of anything else that would be light enough to not stretch these baskets terribly. I suppose they could work in a craft room, or hung on a towel rack installed on the inside of a closet door in a child's room.

Helical Mat. Nice, simple little mat.

Virgo Cloths. These just look cheesy.

Simply Washcloths. Cute. They really do look like something you'd see at a luxury spa.

Canyon Cowl. Pretty with a certain grace.

Previse Cowl. This looks a little like one of those draftstopping snakes people put across the bottom of doorways came to life and strangled its owner.

Quickie Mesh Cowl. Rather pretty.

Stella Cowl. I think might suggest the use of ribbons rather than the I-cord, which looks a little too coarse. Otherwise it's a pretty design.

Wildling Cowl. Very pretty. The colours are lovely.

2-Hour Tech Tote. Very home ec class. And even in home ec, this would probably only earn a grade of C-.

Happy Essentials. This is rather too cheesy and boho as is, but the colours and stitchwork are interesting and I would like to see them reworked into a better shaped and more carefully finished purse design.

Littleton. Quite like this purse design, though I would use a different yarn for it. This yarn is a little too tutti frutti for any female older than six.

Rhea Capelet. Very pretty!

Shimmered Simplicity. I like this scarf on the whole, but I do very much dislike the crude method used to create the "keyhole". I'd figure out some other less obtrusive method or just make this as a basic scarf.

Synergy. This looks slapped together, like a amateurish scrap yarn project, but it might work better with a more effective colour scheme.

Teasing Texture. Cute, fun scarf for casual wear.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Hat Couture: A Review

Today we're going to have a look at Hat Couture, by Theressa Silver. Hats, as many of you will know, used to be an expected part of every properly attired woman's ensemble. My mother wore hats and gloves routinely as young woman in the late fifties and early sixties, though she was able to lay both aside more and more often as the years passed. She tells me that church was the last bastion of hat-wearing, but during the seventies women gradually ceased to wear hats even there, with the exception of a few die-hard conservatives who went determinedly hatted for the rest of their days. (Grandma Swan, I'm thinking of you.) My mother was not one of those clutching a hat in reactionary, gloved fingers. She says, "I was so glad when they went out. Hats never looked good on me and I don't like them." As far back as my memory goes, my mother has only worn knitted hats in cold weather. Thinking of that, I can't regret that hat wearing is now voluntary. Grace Mirabella, who was editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine from 1971 to 1988, wrote in her memoir In and Out of Vogue that at one point she faced much pressure to feature hats in Vogue and refused to do so, because she was another hat refusenik and felt it would be regressive and not at all in line with her ideal of low-maintenance modern style. I agree with Mirabella's larger point. God knows women are subjected to enough societal pressure when it comes to their appearances as it is.

But I say all this as a big fan of the hat. It's a good thing that the hat has become something to enjoy, rather than a requirement. Having inherited my father's facial shape rather than my mother's, I do like both wearing hats and making them, but as a work-at-home freelancer, don't often get dressed up enough to wear one other than for warmth in winter and to fend off sunburn/scoldings from my dermatologist in summer. I compromise by selecting hats that are practical and wearable and yet have some style. The thirteen hat designs in Hat Couture are generally good bets for this sort of modern hat lover. Because they're knitted, a number of them would be quite practical to wear with a winter coat, and there are also a few fun confections for those who do have occasion and the sense of style to wear a hat out of the ordinary.

Just as an aside, Hat Couture's chosen system for noting difficulty levels of its designs demonstrates praiseworthy levels of commitment to all things hat, as do the hat-themed quotes from various entertainment and literary luminaries that are sprinkled throughout the book.

The Audrey. Each of the hat designs in this book are named for a legend from Hollywood's golden age. It's telling that we only need the first name to know which star is meant, and the conceit gets even better when you know that most of the women named were knitters themselves. The trimming you use will be what gives this simple turban-style hat its style.

The Jackie. I never have cared much for the pillbox style, but I do like this one. It's the trim that makes it.

The Grace. My hat is off to the woman who can make this look work on her. I can see it working on a bride who is having a less formal wedding. With less dramatic trimming, it could work for everyday wear.

The Marlene. A knitted top hat. I can see this one getting a lot of traction with the steampunk crowd. As unusual as this hat might seem, I note that it has more projects, is in more queues, and has far more favourites on Ravelry than any of other patterns in this book.

The Dorothy. I like the body of this one, though I think I would find a different sort of trim for it. The top of it has circular stripes on it, so I think I might make a rosette that has corresponding layers or stripes of the same two colours.

The Lucille. I like the shape of this hat, and the bow, but am not so taken with the button. Buttons with holes do tend to look kitschy when used purely for decorative purposes. I'd use a shank-style button or a brooch instead.

The Carmen. Again, I like the body of this hat, but it has more buttons and a rather inelegant look to the trimming. If this hat seems a little over the top for you, it could always be made in a slouchier, more quietly trimmed fashion.

The Clara. This is a cute cloche, though I would be inclined to go with a knitted or crocheted flower here rather than a silk one, pretty as this one is.

The Gracie. Again, I like the body of this hat a lot, but the trimming really isn't working for me. This looks rather like a silk scarf was stuffed into the brim to get it out of the way. I think I'd go with a simple ribbon band and bow or floral decoration here.

The Greta. Really liking the shape of this one. I wouldn't have thought garter stitch could ever show such flair. The feathers used here may seem a little much but a simple bow or brooch would also do.

The Lauren. A simple, useful beret.

The Mary. Love this one, except for the buttons. The threaded ribbons are a lovely touch, and I think I would either tie them in bows or use them to make a rosette.

The Bette. This might be the least wearable of all the patterns in this book, as the other hats have classic shapes but this shape is one that hasn't been in since the 1940s, unless you count Disney's Robin Hood from 1973. However, one of the benefits of the relaxed, pluralistic style we now enjoy is that almost anything goes these days. I can see this working on a young, fetching hipster type. But then that type can make just about anything work, can't they?