Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Vogue Knitting Winter 2015/16: A Review

Vogue Knitting has released their Winter 2015/16 issue. Let's have a look at it.

Pattern #1, Turtleneck Pullover. A fabulous reinterpretation of Bohus Stickning design.

Pattern #2, Bohus Cardigan. Love it. The longer cuffs and the juxtaposition of the plain collar band and the detailed colour work around the neckline give a traditional style a fresh look.

Pattern #3, Fitted Hat. There's not quite enough definition in this cap's colourwork for my tastes, but it's attractive enough.

Pattern #4, Three Quarter Sleeve Pullover. I'm not liking the colour scheme here, and those gaps in the sleeves look like rips, but otherwise this is a good piece of design.

Pattern #5, Blanket Poncho. Bride of Sherpa.

Pattern #6, Chevron Pattern Cowl. Beautiful. Normally these ripple knits have a tendency to look too afghan-y, but in this case the colours are so beautifully blended and the item so carefully finished that the result is lovely.

Pattern #7, Welted Cowl. Rather a nice way to add a little faux fur to a simple coat.

Pattern #8, Pull-Through Wrap. I'd like this better if the two accent colours were more sophisticated shades. The hot pink and pea green accents on such a simple design gives the item an unfortunate juvenile look.

Pattern #9, Garter Stitch Capelet. And now we've bypassed juvenile effect and gone for full-on childish. This looks like something Knit Simple decided against publishing.

Pattern #10, Keyhole Scarf. This is about as basic it gets, but I have to admit it has a certain practical and minimalist appeal. Playing with the colour and yarn selection could really change it up too.

Pattern #11, Aran Pullover. There's some beautiful stitchwork in this and the yarn used is clearly gorgeous, but the shaping is unfortunate and the overall effect is frumpy. This looks like it could be one of the sweaters actress Alison Wright got stuck in for her role as the unfortunate Martha in the early eighties period piece The Americans.

Pattern #12, Sleeveless Top. Nice piece! It's totally wearable and has a cool, Mary Tyler Moore-ish retro vibe.

Pattern #13, Elbow Length Pullover. Love the stitch used here, but that is some seriously unflattering shaping.

Pattern #14, Houndstooth Mitts. Rather a sharp little accessory.

Pattern #15, Long Sleeve Pullover. So-so. I might like this better if it were in a more interesting colourway than charcoal and oatmeal.

Pattern #16, Fair Isle Cardi. Very cute, useful little piece.

Pattern #17, Plaid Cardigan. Not bad. I might neaten up the fit a touch.

Pattern #18, Plaid Fringed Wrap. Lovely.

Pattern #19, Shawl Collar Pullover. Classic piece. I'd shape the shawl collar a little more generously, as that collar does look a little skimpy from the back.

Pattern #20, Poncho Pullover. I'm too anti-poncho to fairly assess them, so all I will say is, this has beautiful stitchwork.

Pattern #21, Chunky Fair Isle Vest. Not bad, for a chunky knit. There are more interesting colourways for this project than the one used in the sample.

Pattern #22, Reversible Fur Vest. I'm totally on board with the idea of a reversible fur vest, but this is oh so shapeless.

Pattern #23, Mock Turtleneck Pullover. Awesome texture, but I'd neaten up the shape and fit a bit, though I'd be careful to preserve the relaxed fit of this one.

Pattern #24, Fair Isle Hat. Pretty and subtle.

Pattern #25, Textured Scarf. This looks like a simple classic scarf that mysteriously grew random strips of cat fur. It's a were-scarf caught mid-transition.

Pattern #26, Aran Coat with Fur Collar. Not bad, although I would not have gone with such a light coloured fur collar on an ivory coat. I'd go with a darker gray or taupe collar, with the goal of having a contrasting second colour rather one than looks mismatched.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Knit Simple Winter 2015: A Review

Knit Simple has released its Winter 2015 issue. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

A selection of fairly traditional afghan patterns. Any one of these would be quite attractive and serviceable if done in a beautiful yarn. My favourite is probably the ripple stitch afghan.

This coat would ordinarily not be in my wheelhouse at all, but I like it. There's something so rhythmic and pleasing about the colour blocking that even the dropped shoulders work. The design has both a sharp graphic appeal and elegantly relaxed lines (love the collar). The one tweak I might make is to do something different with the buttons, such as adding more.

While this poncho has clearly been shaped with some care and has some good points, it's still too big and shapeless to flatter its wearer.

So blah. This is like oatmeal with nothing but oatmeal in it.

The contrast colour pocket lining and button band are supposed to be design touches but they make the sweater look poorly made and unfinished. This design needed to be taken several steps further.

These mittens would be cute on a five-year-old.

These mittens need some detailing. Any detailing. Well, maybe not a single big heart on the back of each mitten.

The striped version isn't bad. A grown woman could wear these without feeling like she might have to hand over her adult card.



Not a bad pattern, though that thumb does appear to be weirdly larger than necessary.

These look more than a little roughly designed to me.

Classic cabled mittens with a good shape.

These look weirdly disjointed and disproportionate, as though the cuffs and the hands don't belong together.

I like the hat and the cowl, but not together. The change of direction in stripes is making me all twitchy.

This looks too slapped together. And too Charlie Brown.

Good stitchwork and yarn combination.

These pom pom boot toppers would be kind of cute on a kid, but they will also get incredibly filthy very quickly.

Okay. Just okay.

This looks like a child whose parents got behindhand on the laundry and sent her off the school in the Christmas tree skirt.

Rather an effective combination of stripes and mosaic stitches.

Quite liking these pillows. They have a very modern, graphic appeal.

Too afghan-like. If your couch can look better in something than you can, it's probably best to let the couch have it.

This is... okay. I'd like to see it in a more sophisticated colourway.

Love this afghan.

Big needle knit cowls can look good with the right outfit, but they really aren't my style or my kind of knitting. This one looks as though Vickie Howell stuck her head through a cat-created tangle of yarn.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

No Wonder There Are So Many Moth-Themed Horror Movies

Last week was not my wardrobe's week. I did a lot of switching out warm weather clothes for cold weather clothes as one does at the turn of a season, and made a couple of horrifying discoveries. On Tuesday, I discovered that the batteries in the hall closet light had leaked on an ivory linen jacket that I sewed for myself in 2014. I can't get the stains out despite having tried every remedy recommended on the internet, so the jacket is ruined.

Then on Thursday night I decided I would reorganize my dresser and chest of drawers according to a grand plan I'd come up with since Tuesday. When I opened a dresser drawer full of sweaters and began taking them out, I idly picked what I thought was a bit of lint off one... only to see the "lint" begin squirming around on my finger tip of its own volition. It was a moth larva. My original organizing plan came to an immediate, screeching halt, and I instead began to minutely examine every one of the nine handknit sweaters in that drawer, as well as all the other sweaters that had been in that dresser, as well as in my chest of drawers.

The picture above shows all the damage I found. Only two of my sweaters had holes. The plum sweater, my Mirry-Dancers Yokes Pullover, is knitted from the top down, so one hole six inches from the bottom is not going to be such a huge deal to fix (and I'm 99% certain that hole was a yarn break, not moth damage). The orange sweater, which is my Schiaparelli bowknot sweater, must be completely taken apart and reknitted, but then I'd been considering doing that for sometime anyway as I was never really happy with the way it looked, and I'm almost glad that I now have the ironclad justification for doing it. The other seven sweaters that were in that drawer were fine, thank heavens. There was a cashmere/merino cardigan and an alpaca/silk pullover, both intricately knit, with quite a bit of larvae matter on them, but there were no holes. There was a silk mohair laceweight lace cardigan that was completely untouched. Even better, I didn't see any signs at all that the larvae had gotten into the other dresser drawers, or into my chest of drawers. This moth infestation could have been so, so much worse.

I cleaned the drawer, and quarantined all nine of the sweaters that were in that drawer by putting them in plastic bags and keeping the bags in the kitchen until I could do some research into moth control. According to this New York Times article, the way to kill moth larvae and eggs in clothing is to wash the clothes in very hot water, dry clean them, or store them in the freezer for two weeks. Hot water would ruin my sweaters and I don't have the money for dry cleaning nine items, so the freezer it was. I crammed those sweaters into the freezer on Friday morning, and I am looking forward to December 10th, when I'll get not only my sweaters but half of my cold storage back.

While my sweaters chill, I looked into ways to prevent a future moth infestation. This isn't, I am sad to say, my first moth visitation. I struggled with pantry moths for several years, beginning circa 2011. I think the problem was that I had a tenant who gradually allowed his apartment to become a complete and disgusting disaster and I could never wipe out the moths completely until he departed in early 2014. A little over a year ago, in the fall of 2014, I found the moths had gotten into my hall closet and eaten holes in my qiviut hat. This was a hat knitted from a qiviut yarn kit my father had brought back from an Alaskan trip. (My mother had told me I was not allowed to ever throw the hat out because he'd paid so much for it, and she suggested that it be shadow boxed if I ever got tired of wearing it.) Fuming that the moths had to choose that particular hat rather than, say, the thrift shop wool beret in the same basket, I gave that closet the cleaning of its life. I hadn't seen any moths for over a year and thought I'd taken care of the problem, but clearly I hadn't and I needed to find ways to keep the moths from franchising.

According to my research, the unpleasant fact of the matter is that there isn't a surefire way to prevent a moth infestation. Vigilance and cleanliness are key but are not guaranteed to succeed. One option is to store woolens in airtight plastic storage cases with moth balls, replacing the moth balls every three months, but even that doesn't seem to be a guarantee against moths. When I posted about my moth infestation to this blog's Facebook page, one reader reported that she did keep her sweaters in plastic cases with moth balls, and that the moths still got in.

I have decided against the plastic containers and moth balls route. I want my sweaters and other clothes to be readily accessible. Moth balls are toxic, have a horrible smell that even dry cleaning won't remove from clothing, and there's always the danger my cat Trilby (who considers himself to be wilfully and cruelly starved and eats everything he can get his little jaws around) might ingest one. This article suggests some other methods for fighting moths, and Martha Stewart's site has quite a comprehensive guide to fighting and preventing moth infestations.

My moth prevention plan is going to be based on vigilance and cleanliness. After my clothing reorganization of last week, almost all my sweaters are in one cupboard, which will make it easy for me to keep a very close eye on them. From now on when I do the spring and fall wardrobe reshuffle, I'm going to take everything out my hall and bedroom closets, my dresser, and my chest of drawers, inspect all the items, and clean the drawers, cupboards, and closets before putting everything back. If I buy any thrift shop sweaters, I shall not only wash them but also stick them in the freezer for two weeks before I let them fraternize with any of my other sweaters. I'll also have to be careful not to put any sweaters I have worn into the cupboard with my clean sweaters.

I made a set of seven lavender sachets yesterday. Lavender repels moths, though it does not kill moth larvae or eggs. I made these bags out of fabric and ribbon I had on hand, filled them with dried lavender from my own garden, then tucked one into each shelf and drawer that holds any of my sweaters as well as in the basket of scarves and hats that sits on my hall closet shelf.

Cooks and bakers expect their handiwork to be eaten, but knitters don't, and moths in the home are never a welcome sight. Is it any wonder there are horror movies entitled The Mothman Prophecies and The Moth Diaries and that a moth figured prominently on the poster for The Silence of the Lambs?