Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Knitting in Avant-Garde Style and Other Knitting Fables

When Sheila's friends suggested that if she was so fed up with dating, she might give it a rest for awhile and just concentrate on the things she enjoyed doing, Sheila turned to the real love of her life, crochet, for fulfillment. Alarmed, her friends gifted her with dating site subscriptions and confiscated her crochet hooks.

Dylan decided to save money on ski wear by making the same outfit do for both skiing and après-ski activities with her boyfriend. To that end, she'd added strategic holes intended to facilitate both ventilation and easy access.

Inspired by Dylan's frugality, her friend Rosalind made some fetching ski wear out a bathmat.

Both Dyland and Rosalind decided to rethink their money-saving strategies and, in fact, the entire ski trip, after Dylan's boyfriend Marvin got into the act and made himself an afghan onesie.

Proud as she was of her knitwear ensemble design, Jerusha could not shake the feeling she'd mismeasured or forgotten something.

"Eat up, Connie! You'll need the calories for the roller rink, the mall, and the drive-in movie theatre! You know we can't put on sassy hot pants like these and not live up to them."

Fashion editor Anya had set up a special corner of her office where she could relax and knit for a few minutes in avant-garde style whenever things got a little too hectic.

Misty had found the perfect solution for combining long hair with a hoodie.

After weeks of exchanging catty remarks at their local knitting group, Nita and Pearl finally went full-on sparring match.

Winona was not going to let her responsibilities as a mother keep her from being in the forefront of fashion. If nothing else, she could fashion sea horse hair accessories out of her child's outgrown sweaters and sew chic outfits out of crib sheets.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Bergère de France Magazine 176: A Review

Bergère de France has released magazine 176. Ayons un regard sur il, allons-nous?

#01 Jacquard Sweater and #02 Beanie. Very cute sweater and hat, though I would want to rework the cat design to make it more detailed and finished-looking. It's a little half-assed as it is.

#03 Hooded Jacket. Nice little jacket, and that texture both looks good and would feel very cuddly and comforting for a baby to wear.

#04 Bootee Slipper Socks. These are more than a little too clunky-looking for my tastes.

#05 Jacket and #06 Leggings. Nice little jacket and leggings. The textured yarn really makes the jacket. The leggings would be a great scrap yarn project.

#07 Crochet Beanie and #08 Garter Stitch Knitted Beanie. Does anyone really need patterns for these? And if one did, wouldn't one just find a free one on Ravelry?

#09 Hooded All-in-One. Useful item for early fall days.

#10 Bobble Beanie. The side pom pom is such a cute look for little girls.

#11 Mittens. I don't think this yarn is really suitable for mittens, as it's so bulky. Also... these pictures make these mittens look less like mittens than they do like a pair of rude gestures.

#12 Blanket. Dead simple design, but it is finished-looking and effective.

#13 Knitted Cubes. Would a baby even play with these?

#14 Cardigan. This is so simple and yet has a certain style.

#15 Cardigan. Not a bad piece, and the buttons are really cute, but that neckline does look a little unfinished.

#16 Sleeveless Dress. This one's just a little weird, as though the designer decided to pick up a pair of knitting needles and open a cheap bottle of wine and see what happened.

#17 Double Breasted Jacket. This wasn't a bad concept, but the execution is far too crude to make the end product work.

#16 Beanie and Bootees. You can get much better patterns than this for free on Ravelry.

#19 Baby Wedge. Here's a time-saving tip: if your baby isn't ready to sit up alone, use whatever pillows you have around your home to prop him or her up instead of making something like this. When the baby becomes able to sit unassisted, you can return the pillows to their usual places and not have some white elephant of a pillow sitting around. And with all that time you saved, you get to knit something interesting. Now that's win-win.

#20 Cable Stitch Crossover Cardigan. The cabled pattern looks weirdly off-centre and the button band doesn't sit well.

#21 Sleeping Bag. I don't know how pratical this is. It seems to me that a sleeping bag ought to cover the arms as well to reliably keep a child warm, but then maybe babies would rather have their arms free...? As it is, this looks to me like a tank top from one of those frustration-type dreams, in this case one in which you're trying to get dressed but find all your clothes are sealed up at the bottom.

#22 Sailor Style Top. This design looks less than half-finished.

#23 High Waisted Trousers. All I can say about these pants is that they'll be perfect for your baby to wear if he gets cast in Les Misérables.

#24 Bootees and Beanie. Another rather crude, unfinished looking design. Bergère de France would be better off putting fewer and better patterns in their magazine issues. "Designs" like this are a little too much like filler.

#25 Back Buttoned Top. Look, I'm all for the idea of quality sex education for children, but depicting a sperm on the front of your baby's sweater is maybe a tad overzealous.

#26 Cable Sweater. The cable design on this looks a little muddled.

#27 Hat and Sweater. These do have some appeal, but they're another unfinished and amateurish-looking design.

#28 Hat and Cardigan. These two items are much like the previous two just above, and the same comment applies.

#29 Blanket. The first few baby blankets I made were nearly exactly like this one. I've moved on to better, more complex baby blanket designs now, but this isn't a bad project for a beginner. But... you really don't need to buy this pattern.

#30 Hooded Jacket. Not bad. It would look better with larger buttons.

#31 Trousers. Another sub-minimal design. I suppose it's wearable enough though.

#Bootees. It's difficult to tell from this picture exactly what's happening with the tops of these bootees, but they look fine if very simple.

#33 Coat. Very simple but adequate design.

#34 Back Buttoned Top. Another very simple design, but the accent colours give it the visual interest it needs.

#35 Bootees. Very pretty little bootees.

#36 Beanie, and #37 Snood. Simple, presentable designs.

#38 Cable Stitch Coat. This is pretty nice on the whole, though I do have my concerns about the collar. It looks okay, if a little odd "done up" as it is here, but will look bad when worn open.

Friday, 2 January 2015

When First We Knit to Deceive

Recently I've been stumbling upon some trompe-l'œil knitwear, and because I wanted an excuse to spend several hours drooling over researching trompe-l'œil patterns, I decided to do a post on trompe-l'œil patterns. Trompe-l'œil (French for "deceive the eye"), is an artistic technique that employs realistic imagery to create an optical illusion. The Wikipedia entry on trompe-l'œil is interesting, but doesn't even mention knitwear design. The very first trompe-l'œil knitwear design appears above, and most of you will probably recognize it as an iconic Elsa Schiaparelli design from 1927. It was a startling innovation and became an immediate success after Schiaparelli wore it to a luncheon. The bowknot sweater pattern is available for free.

Less recognizable but as well-designed are these later trompe-l'œil designs from Elsa Schiaparelli. I was disappointed to find that Ravelry had only a handful of trompe-l'œil patterns and that of those there was only one I cared to share, though I suspect that there are quite a few more in Ravelry database that just aren't tagged by any term that would allow me to find them. I resorted to a general internet search and to using images of trompe-l'œil knitwear for which there are no patterns, as well as sewn trompe-l'œil designs to fill out my post, but then this is a simple and easily replicated technique. In a case like this an inspirational photo is nearly as valuable as a pattern.

Other designers were to take up the trompe-l'œil torch. This is a Hermès trompe-l'œil dress from 1952. It is not knitted, but sewn fabric with the scarf and collar design painted on to it, and it's possibly my favourite of any design in this post. I'd love to see this one translated into knitwear.

This is a 1966 design from U.K. knitwear designer John Carr Doughty.

Trompe l'oeil sweater and dress from 1975, as they appeared in an issue of American Home Crafts magazine. I can't say I like either of these items exactly, but they are interesting examples of what can be done with trompe-l'œil. And the hot pants are optional.

This is a 1970s trompe-l'œil "coat" dress that was listed on Etsy and has sold. It's another example that's more useful as a starting point than as a design to copy.

To get to some contemporary versions of trompe-l'œil, here's one from Vogue's May 2008 issue.

This cute little number is the Trompe L'oeil design, by Gyorgyi Suta. It's available on Ravelry for $7(USD).

A t-shirt designed by Paule Ka. I'd love to see a knitted trompe-l'œil "trench coat" coat design.

A Moschino Cheap & Chic crepe jersey dress. Incorporating jewelry into trompe-l'œil is another possible direction for designers.

A Paule Ka machine knit mini-dress. The great thing about trompe-l'œil is that one gets to add dimension and visual interest without adding bulk.

Spectator socks, source unknown. The one draw back to these is that the effect would be spoiled by putting shoes over them, and it would be a shame to only be able to wear them around home.