Thursday, 31 January 2013

Knit Magic Isn't

This is an old Family Circle ad from 1974 for a child's Knit Magic knitting machine.

And apparently a child can make all these items with a Knit Magic. I'm skeptical, to say the least. As well as somewhat aghast by the sheer aggressive ugliness of most of those items. Why on earth were seventies crafts just so horrible? It seems to be largely because of the ugly shades acrylics were dyed at that time, but the designs are often cracked-out too.

It's still possible to buy a child's knitting machine. Singer makes one, there's a Hello Kitty knitting machine, and Mattel makes a Barbie knitting machine. You could probably even score your very own vintage Knit Magic on eBay if you searched long enough. But I wouldn't recommend it. The online reviews of child's knitting machines that I came across on Amazon and other places while researching this post were unenthusiastic and qualified at best. People were saying that the stitches constantly slipped off the hooks, that working the machine could be an extremely frustrating and tricky process that was hard for even an adult to learn, and that the plastic gears wore out by the time they made a third item. And another problem I have with toy knitting machines is that they're mostly pink and otherwise targeted exclusively at girls, which will discourage boys and boys' parents from even thinking of knitting machines as a boy's toy, and by extension, knitting as a boy's activity.

My shopping experience has been that cheap special-purpose gadgets are generally not worth the money. They never work anything close to as easily or as well as their advertisements make them appear, and just end up taking up space in the cupboard. Or are donated to a thrift shop, and then bought by someone else who will also be disappointed in them and stick them in their cupboards. You see this principle manifested most often in cooking equipment. As any good cook will tell you, a good quality set of sharp knives will take you a long way. Hey, just look at David Duchovny's experience with the Chop-O-Matic.

Children's craft kits are a subset of the cheap gadget category. Those big, colourful boxes often hold just a few, poor quality items, such as plastic needles and small amounts of horrible acrylic yarn and plastic beads with badly drilled holes and the coating already flaking off them. You'll pay a premium price for that kit, and if you think about how frustrating it is for you to work with poor materials, just think how much harder it will be for your child, when she or he doesn't have the experience or patience or finer motor skills that you do.

So I'd avoid trying to entice children to take an interest in crafting, or in anything for that matter, by buying expensive novelty items, and instead give them less exciting but decent quality materials and tools to work with, invest the time teaching them the necessary skills, and/or enroll them in a school knitting program where they can have fun learning with their friends. If the child really wants a knitting machine, I'd buy her or him a very basic, good quality machine intended for adults, secondhand if possible. Then, if the child uses the knitting machine like an obsessed little prodigy or even just regularly and with enjoyment, I'd get him or her a better model some Christmas or birthday down the road. Alternatively, if it turns out that the child doesn't ever use the basic machine, I could use it myself, or sell it or give it away to someone who will.

When I was six I started asking my mother to teach me to knit. She'd told me she learned to knit when she was six so I figured I could learn at that age too, but she told me I wasn't old enough. I spent the next two years begging her to teach me, and she kept putting me off. She told me later that she dreaded teaching me because of my temperament — I was basically pure id as a child — and she postponed the evil day for as long as she could stand to have me pestering her about it. (This wasn't unjustified — some of her collection of knitting needles are still slightly bent from being flung across the room.)

I still remember the moment of utter joy I experienced when, one summer day when I was eight years old, she finally told me, "All right, go get some needles and yarn." I learned to knit with a pair of double-pointed needles and some remnants of pink Aran yarn. Genuine interest and natural ability can't be bought, but always manifest themselves if given a reasonable opportunity.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Look at the Knitting Pattern, Not the Styling

When assessing knitting patterns one has to ignore the styling. Yes, a team of professionals have made a certain pattern look appealing because the very attractive model wearing it appears to be, say, sailing down the Riviera, lounging elaborately in a deck chair, and is being fed chocolate truffles by a very handsome, adoring man, but you don't sail, you've never even been to France, chocolate gives you hives, the man in your life may adore you but he hardly ever notices what you wear, and you're not 5'10" and 115 pounds. You need to think about whether that sweater is going to fit and flatter you, whether it'll work with your existing wardrobe and be suitable for the climate where you live, and whether you can wear it to your specific workplace or out to the pub with friends. In short, you need to refuse to buy into the fantasy the stylist is trying to sell you, and to be realistic about whether the pattern will work for you.

In the cases where a photo is styled in an unattractive or dated way, you still need to look beyond the styling when you're assessing a pattern. This is actually quite a nice late sixties- or early seventies-era pattern that is perfectly wearable by today's standards, and that some knitters might dismiss without even really looking at it because the photo looks so silly and dated. I wouldn't make this top in these colours, but instead would choose a yarn and beads that were analogous (say, pale blue and lavender), and I would think about whether I have enough neck for a turtleneck. (If I were you, that is, because I know I don't have sufficient neck for this style.)

But of course before or after you've assessed this pattern, you'll want to take a minute to laugh at this cracked-out photo, because it looks like a still from some avant-garde horror movie where the character (and the audience) can't decide whether she really saw whatever it is she's looking at or whether she hallucinated it and needs to stop abusing her prescription meds. Or to declaim some sort of free-form, obscurely self-referential poem. I don't know which.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

A String of Pearls

In the fall of 2012, Vogue Knitting celebrated its 30th anniversary (for this reincarnation, that is, as the original Vogue Knitting was in publication from 1932 to 1969) with a special pearl-themed issue. In 2007, they had similarly celebrated their 25th anniversary with a silver issue. They did not use the concept for their tenth issue in 1992, but I suppose it's hard to get inspired by the idea of relating tin to knitting. I am, however, looking forward to their forthcoming coral, ruby, sapphire, gold, emerald, and diamond issues.

At any rate, besides featuring a number of pearl bead-encrusted designs such as sweaters, skirts and lace stockings, Vogue Knitting also promoted a special pearl yarn that the New Zealand company Zealana produced especially for the occasion. Pearl yarn production employs a cellulose spinning method that permanently fuses powder made from crushed pearls to tencel fibre. The resulting yarn, which is 50% pearl, 50% tencel, is supposed to be luminous, to feel velvety to the touch, to smooth and moisturize the skin and to lighten freckles, and more prosaically to also be breathable, moisture-wicking and even block ultra-violet rays.

Zealana produced 500 skeins of this yarn, priced at $40(USD) a skein, and each one was numbered and placed in a black velvet jewelry box, like, well, a strand of pearls. One hundred skeins went to String Yarns in New York City and sold out overnight, and the other 400 skeins, which went to stores across the U.S., will almost certainly be all sold by now. The Yarn Sisters has exclusive distribution of the yarn, and had another lot of it earlier this month, but also seems to have sold out of that. I doubt it's possible at present to buy more pearl yarn, but if you are as avid to possess a skein as any of the characters in John Steinbeck's The Pearl, you might keep an eye on The Yarn Sisters via their Facebook and Ravelry pages and see if they offer another lot in future.

I have to admit I would love to get a skein or two, even though $40 a skein is much more than I would normally pay, but hey, compared to vicuña yarn, it's a downright steal, and anyway it's yarn made from pearls, and how amazing is that?

Monday, 28 January 2013

Petite Purls Issue 14: A Review

Let's have a look at the latest issue of Petite Purls, issue no. 14. As always with Petite Purls, which designs exclusively for children, you'll need to brace yourself for some seriously adorable child models.

This cardigan isn't the most accomplished design, but it's cute and wearable, and a relatively easy knit for a beginner with a few projects under his or her belt. The rainbow-like yoke above the tree or lollipop-style flower is just the kind of thing a small girl will like. And I like the two options as it gives a knitter a way to differentiate two sweaters if knitting them for two little sisters. I'm not a proponent of dressing siblings alike, cute as it might look to adults. Kids are individuals and shouldn't be treated or dressed like a pair of bookends, and the younger sibling may not at all like having to effectively wear the same sweater for years (first his or her own, and then as a hand-me-down). If you want to make a pair of coordinated sweaters for siblings, I'd really recommend making them at least somewhat different, as in this case.

This baby cardigan really doesn't have anything to recommend it. The colours are unpleasant in a... fecal... kind of way (and babies already keep fecal matters very much at the forefront of our dealings with them), and the design looks rough and slapped together, as though the designer just couldn't be bothered even trying. I mean, couldn't the designer have made the effort to make the neck and collar look somewhat finished? Or to make the single button less random?

I quite like this pullover. It's bright and eye-catching, and I always love to see Noro in action. I would make just one tweak: I'd knit in a bar of colour on the upper right side of the sweater to balance the colour bar on the lower left side. I might also not make the sleeves raglan so that the stripe can go all the way to the shoulder.

Nice baby pullover. I do think the collar looks a little awkward (babies don't have long necks and it doesn't make much sense to make them funnel-like collars), but otherwise this is adorable. And if you make this for a baby of your acquaintance, his father might just put in an order for one in his size.

Sock monkeys have never really appealed to me, and find the hood of this sweater to be just too unwieldy but must admit that if you like sock monkeys, and more importantly if the child in question does, this is a cute sock monkey cardigan. I love that the designer went the extra mile and used sock monkey buttons.

I quite like this hat. It's bright and colourful and the design feels both balanced and fluid. Perhaps this isn't surprising given that the hat is based on the South American chullo hat, and there's nothing like a design that's been around for a few centuries: the bugs have all been worked out, and the design has reached such a stage of perfection that even the imitations of it look good.

Love this argyle vest. Doing just a few argyle squares and placing them off-centre gives this sweater look fresh and updated and not as all as though it's meant to be worn with a pocket protector.

Eye-catching cardigan design that reminds me obscurely of some sort of Elizabethan court dress, as it often had that kind of lattice embroidery and purple and gold are a very royal colour combination. I don't care for the colourway and would make this in more subtle analogous colours like blue and green, but I'm sure that's much more due to my anti-yellow bias than because of any objective reason — this is a perfectly good complementary colour scheme.

This jumper is one of those patterns that really make me sit up and take notice because it is so original and striking. I love the yoke, the corresponding hem edging, the little pocket with the birds, the pretty touch lent by the ribbon at the yoke. And this is a very practical design in that it could originally be made dress length and morph into a sweater as the child's arms and legs grow (as every parent knows, a child's limbs generally grow faster than anything else).

Not a fan of these bibs, which are rough and amateurish looking. However, they're cute and easy to whip up and I'm sure no one really asks more than that of something that's going to be spit up and slobbered upon.

And we end on a high note with this wonderful butterfly tam. I love that the designer managed to marry butterflies and fair isle design, I love the bright, striking colourway, I love the technically accomplished design. Kudos to this designer for this piece.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

And You Thought Cashmere Yarn Was an Indulgence

Have you ever wondered what the most expensive yarn in the world is? I did, and googled it, and I believe it's vicuña yarn, which is pictured above, and which costs $300(USD) for a single ounce/28 grams. It doesn't look all that special, does it?

The high price is determined by the scarcity of the yarn and by the difficulty of its procurement and production. The vicuña is a South American animal that lives in the Andes. It's a relative of the llama, and possibly also related to the alpaca. The vicuña can only be sheared every three years, those who want to shear it have to capture it first (it's difficult to domesticate the vicuña because they are very good escapists), and then they only get about a pound of wool from each animal for their efforts. Vicuña wool is the finest in the world with a 12 micrometre diameter, and valued for its exceptional warmth. It's very sensitive to chemical dyes and so usually remains its natural cinnamon colour.

According to Incan legend, the vicuña was the reincarnation of a beautiful young woman who received a beautiful coat of gold in order to disguise and protect her from the advances of an ugly old king. Because of this it was against Incan law to kill a vicuña, and only Incan royalty could wear its fleece.

The vicuña is still a protected animal, having been an endangered animal during the early seventies with an estimated population of 6,000. Now that the vicuña population has increased to approximately 300,000, this danger seems past, but the Peruvian government is still working to protect vicuñas from poaching, loss of natural habitat, and other threats, and also controls the production of its yarn to reserve its profits for the local people. About 50,000 pounds of vicuña yarn is illegally smuggled out of Peru annually. All this is to say... I wouldn't recommend that you buy any cut-rate vicuña yarn if you get a chance.

I'm not about to rush out and buy any at the going rate, either. An economic concept called "the law of diminishing returns" comes into play here, by which it is meant that the benefits of spending more money for a greater quality and quantity of material goods level off after a certain point. There's no denying that cashmere yarn is better quality than acrylic, that it's warmer, softer, more attractive, and more pleasurable to wear. But at some point in buying luxury items, a cost-benefit ceiling is reached. Once you are reasonably protected from the elements by your garments and have more beautiful sweaters and scarves and other items than you can wear regularly, you're really paying for things like the rarity value of an item and the cachet of their ownership. Not to say that you're wrong in that, especially when by buying vicuña wool you're helping to support industry in the none too economically advantaged Andes villages, but for most of us cashmere is luxurious enough.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

We're Going to Go Back, Way Back, Back in Time... and Steal Their Knitting Patterns

If you love vintage patterns, I recommend you pay a visit to Free Vintage Knitting, a web site containing a library of vintage knitting patterns, all free for the downloading. There are many, many patterns in their archive already, and the collection is only going to keep growing. If you enjoy the website and would like to give back by contributing to it, you can do so by donating your own old leaflets and pattern books to the site operators. Here are just a few of their patterns that caught my eye, with links.

A Vera Cruz dress. This could look quite contemporary if done in a different colour. Or even if done in a similar turquoise yarn from a modern dye lot. The dyes used date garments astoundingly. Dyeing technology has changed radically and the dyes from the sixties and seventies are always unmistakable.

Smart and classic cardigan. You'll be able to wear this one as long as it fits and holds together.

I like the striking effect of the cording on the front, but I would update this cardigan's shape a little by making it longer with a little waist-shaping and loosening the crew neck. The fit looks a little too prim here, like something a little old lady would wear because it's what she used to wear when she was young.

Socks with fancy tops used to be, to use a historically contemporary expression, all the rage back in the twenties through the fifties. We don't see them now, which is a shame.

Really pretty and striking little girl's sweater.

Very smart little boy's sweater.

This tiger-striped afghan isn't attractive at all in this colourway, but I can see it looking really sharp in a cream with black stripes.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Guys With Yarn and the Women (and Some Men) Who Ogle Them

You're looking at the images from a 2009 wall calendar created and published by Franklin Habit of The Panoptican. Habit planned to publish another calendar the next year if it sold well, but inexplicably it seems not to have done so.

Oh well, at least we'll always have those twelve images.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

When Two Become One

I suppose this laptop-viewing sweater is one way to make sure that pesky real life events (i.e., your kids are playing with the electrical outlet, or your spouse announcing a decision to divorce you), doesn't distract you from your oh-so-important video game or internet chat or porn. But upon reflection you might prefer to knit your laptop its own little Irish cabled sweater so as to be able to store your laptop snugly away and do a little more living in the real world.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Moby Ripped

In 2007 Greenpeace Poland aired this anti-whaling commercial. It uses knitting to convey their point, and the imagery was so striking that it made me do a little Googling to find out whether I agreed with Greenpeace's stance that commercial whaling needs to be banned worldwide, so I'd say it's a success.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Gulliver's Knitting

After a previous post on miniature knitting, it seemed only fair to do one on gigantic knitting.

Laura Birek of Nocturnal Knits saw a picture of a very large-gauge Anthropologie blanket and got inspired to try making one of her own. She bought about six pounds of roving, slightly felted it, split it in two, and tried knitting it up using broomsticks for needles. The broomsticks proved too small, so she went to Home Depot, bought a 10' length of 1.5" PVC pipe, had it cut in half, added some tips fashioned out of duct tape, and set to work. She called the result a Giganto Blanket. You can see Birek at work on a Giganto Blanket on YouTube (it's a lot of fun to watch her wield those PVC pipes), and read more about the project on her own site.

If you want to try making your own Giganto Blanket, you can buy the pattern and a tutorial from Birek on Ravelry. Birek estimates it takes two to three hours to felt the wool and two to four hours to knit the blanket (it's only 28 stitches wide), so it won't be the biggest time hog of a project you make all year, although it will almost certainly be the biggest hog of a knitting project you ever make.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine 53: A Review, Part 2

So let's finish up with the review Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine's Issue 53, the first half of which we looked at yesterday.

This pullover is another of those items that I would never wear but that works in its own way, as a very contemporary, striking piece that's even reasonably flattering. Though if I saw it on anyone I'd have to suppress a joke about standing too close to an exploding photocopier.

This colour-blocked pullover is fun and colourful. Though as usual I'd fix the dropped shoulders.

This is a perfectly nice man's pullover, but if you are knitting this for a man, run the colour scheme by him first. The chest stripe bears a more than passing resemblance to a Gay Pride flag, and even a guy who's not at all homophobic may wish to avoid having to field some unwanted... offers... whenever he wears this sweater.

This is a man's sweater that will make people look. And then look again, to make sure their eyes aren't playing tricks on them or that they haven't hit bottom and must join AA. It's a good design, although I would have done it in a slightly higher-contrast colour combination.

This scallop-pattern top isn't appealing to me, but I think it's the colourway that's detracting from it. It's too afghan-like, and of course the ripple pattern is very afghan-like, and the result is a top that's entirely too much like a fitted afghan. Switching out the colours would turn this top into something quite nice, because the shape is really good.

I don't think a single man of my acquaintance would willingly wear this man's geometric-pattern cardigan, even if there were money on offer. The colourway doesn't help the pattern and the pattern doesn't help the colourway.

I quite like this striped and flowered pullover, but I would knit the intarsia flowers in more subtle or monochromatic colours. The design is striking enough without being punched up with bright, contrasting colours.

Very pretty floral cardigan, though it doesn't meet in the front. I'm really not a fan of the open cardigan style, because the sweater tends to end up looking like it just doesn't fit, and it isn't flattering.

See what I mean? Not flattering, even on this probably tall, slender model. And this isn't a pattern it would be easy to modify without ruining the look of it, as it appears to be knitted in one piece and the floral motifs are meant to curve around the sides.

Very pretty lacy top. I'd knit this pattern up exactly as it's written, and it's rare that I do that.

No wait, scratch what I wrote above about making this pattern exactly as written. I'd modify it to get rid of these ridiculous tails in the back. What the hell, Rowan. Now I'm having paranoid thoughts about what's going on in the backview of all your patterns.

The rose motif on this pullover are impressively detailed, almost to the point of photorealism, but the overall effect is too much like they've been randomly découpaged on the front of a plain sweater. I'd add a little rose detail somewhere else on the sweater, such as the sleeves, to make the design look more integrated.

A landlady I had during my college days once whiled away enforced bedrest during a difficult pregnancy by glue gunning some flowers cut from wallpaper remnants to a perfectly good, if plain, lampshade. The end result looked something like this cardigan.

Another cute summer top from Kaffe Fassett. It's very Summer of Love, no?

Very pretty eyelet-trimmed top. You will want to be sure you don't get the keyhole detail too low. The sleeve length looks rather awkward, but that's easily altered to whatever length you want.

Pretty, serviceable crocheted summer top, and there doesn't appear to be anything bizarre going on in the back view.

Very pretty floral pullover, which as you can see from this photo, will look wonderful with a coordinating print skirt, trousers or shorts. Alas, you'll never be able to find either a ready made item or any fabric like this.

I very much like this wrap from the front, but my enthusiasm was dampened by my first sight of the back. I'd envisioned the shawl as being something the wearer just slipped on over her head and that crossed itself in the back instead of tying. I don't wear shawls very often because I don't like the way they get into everything or having to fuss with them. They're fine for evening wear but it's too much hassle for every day. This shawl appeared to have solved that problem beautifully, but I don't care to see a tie at the back. Seeing underpinnings like that detracts from the look for me — it's too much like having brassiere straps show. Of course I may just be needlessly picky. The tie at the back doesn't look bad by any means, and even adds a little waist definition. And of course when it comes to evening wear, a woman doesn't want to be pulling an item of clothing on and off over her head.

This floral motif top looks a little less like a random design découpaged on the front than the one above, probably because the main colour yarn is a flecked colour which ties it to the stippled floral design. But as always, I have suggested tweaks: fix the dropped shoulders and the longer back hem, and make sure the entire sweater is no more than one size too large.

And that does it for the Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine issue 53 review. This time it really will be six months before I need to review another issue.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine 53: A Review, Part 1

So it's time again to review Rowan's latest semi-annual issue. If it seems like just a few weeks ago that you read my review of Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine 52, it was. This is what I get for procrastinating on a review.

But let's have a look at the first twenty of the thirty-seven patterns in Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine 53. Part 2 of my review of this issue will be posted tomorrow.

I had to tilt my laptop screen back so I could actually see the sweater in this photo. The white background, pale model, and pale colours made it look more than a little bleached out. The pattern is called "Vanilla" so I suppose the tone of the photo could be some sort of oblique reference, but I doubt it. However, I do like this cardigan sweater. Good use of colour blocking and the striped trim sets it off. It's a beginner project that looks finished and well-designed.

This pullover works. Striking and inventive graphic design, classic fit.

This wrap is one of those pieces I have to try to put my personal preferences aside to try to review fairly, because my first instinct was to snipe that it looked like one of those crocheted ripple-pattern afghans, which isn't fair. This shawl has a sharp, graphic design and drapes well. If you have a modern dress sense and would wear a wrap, go for it.

This top is crocheted, and it's not bad, but it is a very open openwork stitch. You'll probably need to wear something underneath it, and you may not want to do that in summer.

Let's see, a pullover with a stringy front panel that will necessitate the wearing of something underneath, unflattering dropped shoulders and a slight boxiness of shape, and a sleeve-length that matches exactly with and extends the hipline. I'll pass, thanks.

In 1957 dancer and choreographer Paul Taylor stood stock still in total silence on a bare stage for four minutes. Critic Louis Horst subsequently ran a review in Dance Observer that consisted of nine inches of white space. I feel like doing something similar here, because I can barely see the sweater in this pale photo. However, I won't, as I do like the sweater. It has such an interesting construction. It'll be figure-hugging, so make sure you've got the confidence to feel comfortable in it.

Nice cardigan, but do be warned it's not for every figure. You'll need to be small or flat-chested and to have a waistline you don't mind emphasizing for it to be flattering.

I'm a little divided on this lace pullover. It is very oversized, which normally I condemn, but it's also of a delicate and intricate openwork stitch and lightweight enough to not bulk up the wearer. Who would still probably need to have a model's figure to carry it off. And she'll also have to wear a camisole or something underneath. It's a garment that is, while not a failure of design, of very limited wearability.

This striped pullover is definitely an item you'll be able to throw on with a pair of jeans and just feel happy and relaxed in. It has a good, flattering shape and you can have some fun figuring out your own colourway for it. You might even use three colours instead of two, i.e., black and gray for the body and wide stripes of gray with narrow stripes of red for the arms. I find the two blues used here to be a little lacking in imagination and verve.

A very simple, cropped, openwork top. There's nothing wrong with it and it would probably make a handy coverup for the beach, but you'll probably want to wear a layer under it.

Let's see, dropped shoulders, boxy shape, cropped length, horizontal stripes. This pullover has it all. And by "all", I mean, "all the characteristics that can detract from your appearance individually, but when combined will conspire to make you look the worst you've ever looked in a sweater". And wait, there's more! The transparent interstices between the stripes and the off-the-shoulder neckline that will constantly gape at the front and slip off your shoulders will also help rid you of any vestige of dignity. It's a lot to ask of any knitting pattern, but this one is does it all by a mile and still gets aided along its way by the stylist, who paired it with a baggy drawstring jumpsuit. This is a Murphy's law design.

This generic pullover isn't a bad thing of its kind, though I would fix the dropped shoulders, make the sleeves the right length, and add a little waist shaping.

This beaded pullover is pretty, but I would make it the right length. Cropped tops just aren't flattering on anyone. Oh sure, if you've got a model's figure, you can get away with it, but even then wouldn't you rather wear clothes that work in your favour rather than act as a litmus test of your looks? Also, be aware that you'll need to wear something under this item.

The cabled detail on this sweater is sewn on after you've finished knitting it. And it's not unattractive or ineffective, but it does look a little like the result of a drunken collision with some sailboat rigging. If you make this sweater for yourself, be prepared for some America's Cup and/yacht club/sailor jokes, some of which occur to me immediately.

I actually quite like this striped cardigan. Striped sweaters can look juvenile or beginner-ish, but the variation of the stripe width and the sophisticated colourway elevate this to a polished, adult look. I would fix the dropped shoulders and make it waist-length rather than cropped, however.

This striped man's pullover isn't bad, though to me there's something a little discordant about the stripe pattern.

This striped sleeveless top looks like a late-sixties or early-seventies pattern that doesn't quite work as a contemporary piece. The shape isn't flattering and the stripes aren't going to help in that department either.

The pattern on the front of this man's polo sweater is eye-catching and innovative, but the neckline and collar, which are probably supposed to be innovative as well, just look as though the designer couldn't decide which neckline to use, put both on to see how they looked, and then never got around to removing one. I'd make this item with either the v-neck or a regular polo collar and placket, not with both. The pattern on the front automatically makes this sweater really striking and any crazy detailing is just going to put it over the top.

I'm pretty sure I've seen a pattern almost exactly like this in some eighties-era knitting pattern pamphlet. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. If you want to make this colour-blocked vest, which admittedly isn't a bad shape or badly constructed, I'd recommend making it in a different colourway altogether. These candied/dayglo type colours are just too random and dated-looking to be really attractive.

This Kaffe Fassett top is actually really cute and playful.

Look for Part 2 of the Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine issue 53 review tomorrow!

Update: You can view Part 2 here.