Saturday, 31 August 2013

Knitter's Magazine Issue 112: A Review

Knitter's Magazine has released issue no. 112. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

I'm not a poncho/capelet fan, and I don't like this colourway personally, but this Square Fare pattern isn't a bad design. It has some shaping and was made with care, which gives it some character.

This Diagonal Ribbons piece has a really interesting texture and I'd love to see what could be done with it if it were used in an actual design (something with, you know, shaping and finishing), instead of just being randomly whipped up and slung onto a model so that it hangs on her like a remnant torn from an old curtain. I don't speak against curtains, mind you. All I'm saying is that when Scarlett O'Hara made a dress out of curtains, she took the trouble to actually make a dress.

Ripple Ridge. I wish I could see the whole length of this top, but from what I can see this is an attractive, polished piece that can be worn with a suit or jeans.

Career Checks. This one is very Chanel-esque. I almost think I should add it to my post on Chanel-like sweaters. The loopy detailing down the front is rather unusual and not something I'd ordinarily like, but I think it works on this design and keeps it from being too staid and run-of-the-mill.

The All Ears hat isn't for every adult, but I have to admit it made me laugh (in a delighted rather than a sardonic way) and that that model's laugh also looks very much like one of genuine enjoyment. It's a playful, well-constructed design and could be fun on someone with the sense of fun and chutzpah to carry it off. Just don't go down to the woods in it during hunting season, because you'll be in for a big surprise.

This is the Eggplant Tunic, and I can't sign off on something that looks like a dreary pinafore that was named what it was because you can spill eggplant on it and not make it any worse-looking than it already is.

The Points on the Curve design is referred to in its description as a "fichu". This designer has gone for a modern fichu look, because this looks like nothing that would ever have been worn by say, the ladies of Cranford. I can see this working on a woman with a very modern dress sense.

I wish I could see the front of the Forest Hoodie as I'm not sure about how that front pocket will look dead on, or about the finishing on the front, but I think I like it. I can't help liking the tweedy elbow patches.

The Cirque Jacket is one of those designs that made a brave beginning but didn't get where it deserved to. I like the vertical bands on the front, I like the garter stitch, but those lapels and button fronts look just awful and I'm more than a little concerned about the shaping through the hips, which looks like it flares out too much and won't be at all flattering when viewed squarely from the front.

I like the Red Line sweater except for one thing, and you can probably already guess what that one thing is because, like me, it's all you see when you look at this photo. I know the zipper is supposed to be an accent, but it just isn't passing for one. It's just too nuts and bolts to be aesthetically pleasing, especially on an otherwise sharp and polished design. I'd omit the zipper, because this sweater can easily be pulled on over the head without it, and maybe put a stripe or two in the cuffs if I felt the sweater needed something more.

The Tribal Jacket pattern isn't bad. I think I'd suggest just one tweak: that it doesn't need the contrast trim around the body of the jacket and cuffs. It just seems to be that one thing too much that makes a jacket with a lot of visual interest too busy. I'd make the trim in the same colour as the bodice pieces.

I very much like the Red & Wine jacket, which could be knitted in either attention-grabbing colours as it is here to make it a statement piece or in neutrals, to make it something a woman can wear with many of her outfits.

This is the Street-Smart Stripes design, but I can't imagine that anyone who ventured out on a city street in this would look like anything else but country cousin in her 4-H knitting project. I think there might be a good design in there somewhere, if someone would attempt to make this in two or three colours that actually go together, but I can't look at it long enough to be sure of that because it's making me cross-eyed. And for some reason Knitter's Magazine chose to make this their cover look. Lord.

I actually rather like the Lush & Lacy Trapeze design. Ordinarily I'd have nothing good to say about all that bulk around the hips, but one can get away with that kind of thing in a sheer. And it's still not for everyone, but I do have a friend with a very modern dress sense whom I can see totally rocking it.

I can only say I love the Glacier Lake design unconditionally and without end. It's a fresh new take on a traditional pattern and it's striking and lovely and totally wearable.

I very much like the Cables and Saddles design, which is a simple little number with perfect detail and that will probably become indispensable to any woman who owns it.

The Pewter Pair design, which comprises both of these patterns. Again, I'm not a capelet fan, but this is a good example of one, and it was great thinking to turn it into a part of a modern sweater set by pairing it up with a matching tank.

The Garter to Go shawl is quite a pleasant little piece. It's not easy to make a garter stitch project look polished, but this designer has succeeded, so much respect for that.

I'm just not liking the stripes on the Glimmers in Rust design. Maybe it's the colour combination that isn't working for me – why are designers so fond of that dreary tan? I'd like to see this done either in a different colour combo, or all in one colour, even if it's variegated.

I'm really impressed by the texture in the Ivory Leaves design. Just think, knitting designers have only two basic stitches to work with, yet after over 1000 years of knitting design they're still coming up with new effects. This sweater is going to be more than a tad on the bulky side, but it will be warm and it's certainly attractive.

The Triple Threat design looks to me like a Tetris game in progress. And I like Tetris, but I'm less than impressed with the sweater version. I don't like all those rough colour changes.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine Fall/Winter 2013: A Review

Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine has released its Fall/Winter 2013 issue, and it does its best to take us from fall through the winter with vintage-inspired knits, clever beadwork, back-to-school, and Christmas patterns. Let's have a look, shall we?

Pattern #1, Cream Jacket. Not sure about this one. It's styled as an evening jacket, and while it looks passable in this professionally styled and modelled sample shot when viewed from the back, I'm inclined to think that on most of us it'll just look like we have our cardigans on backwards.

Pattern #2, Gold Bead Necklace. I'm not a fan of knitted yarn jewelry, which tends to look like something made by a ten-year-old at summer camp, but I'm always hoping to see successful examples of it. This is one of the best attempts I've seen, but it's still not quite a success. It still looks more like a collar than a necklace, although that's an improvement on looking like a lanyard.

Pattern #3, Gold Sweater. I like this sweater, though I think it was a mistake to style it as evening or dressy wear, as they've done here. It's too casual and heavy-looking for evening wear, and would look better done in a non-metallic with some pretty beads, and worn with jeans.

Pattern #4, Pearl-Beaded Sweater. This pearl-beaded Aran is very pretty, though like the pattern above it does look as though it wandered into the wrong photo shoot. It's too heavy to be worn with a sheer floaty skirt. A tailored wool skirt or trousers would be a better complement.

Pattern #5, Beaded Collar Sweater. Love this. It's so severely simple but that beaded collar is all it needs. It has three-quarter length sleeves which can be unflattering on some women, but sleeves can always be lengthened or shortened as desired.

Pattern #6, Ribbed Cardigan. Er. Not sure about this one, though it has its good points. The buttonhold band, which is described as "gently rippling", looks from this photo to be pulling away from the buttons below. The lace peplum hem is pretty but isn't going to be flattering for most women. The ribbing isn't flattering either and doesn't really work with a dressy detail like a lace peplum, especially when combined with a tulle skirt and satin sash. I'd suggest some mods to fix all these issues (i.e., ditching the ribbing for a slightly lacy pattern, finding some other way of edging the button band so it doesn't look pulled), but you'd basically have to rewrite the pattern.

Pattern #7, Sleeveless Dress. Very serviceable and classic sheath dress pattern. The yarn choice was a good one for this design – it's "Milano", which when knitted up passes at a glance for tweed fabric.

Pattern #8, Peplum Jacket. This jacket was inspired by the iconic Bar Suit from Dior's 1947 New Look collection. And it's a very competent piece of work and does indeed look quite a lot like the jacket from that famous Bar Suit, but I think it didn't quite translate into a knit – the lines (inevitably) aren't as crisp and it looks rather blah. And yet I hate to suggest mods because it's, you know, the Bar Suit. Making it in another colour and with some statement buttons might help.

Pattern #9, Boxy Jacket and Skirt. Here we have a valiant effort to translate the classic Chanel-type suit into a knit. Unfortunately that boxy suit style was really unflattering to anyone who didn't look like Gabrielle Chanel and transforming it into knitwear isn't going to help. Even the model isn't working this, though she's giving it a hero's try.

Pattern #10, A-Line Jacket. This jacket is an interpretation of another Dior design, this time from his Alphabet line. I don't think it the most flattering look, but it's simple and a classic and can look good over something quite fitted and streamlined, as has been done here.

Pattern #11, Handwarmers. I'm not a fingerless glove fan, but I must admit these are kind of cute, and probably a good compromise for a parental-child conflict regarding what the child will wear on a nippy morning. And I bet they stay cleaner than mittens do, and are more likely to remain on and therefore less likely to get lost.

Pattern #12, Legwarmers. Legwarmers do look cute on little girls. Do check with the little girl they're for before you knit though, and inquire as to as their current status among her social circle: in or out?

Pattern #13, Satchel. Love this satchel, which has a great shape and seems very well designed. It's an absolute necessity to line a knitted bag of this sort (you may want to add a sturdy interlining if the pattern doesn't call for it) and you can pick a fun, coordinating fabric as has been done here.

Pattern #14, Fox Boot Toppers. I've made fun of boot toppers in reviews before, but I think they were all supposedly intended to be worn by grown women. It does seem like a different ball game when they're on a little girl; they look fun and cute.

Pattern #15, Pencil Case. This pencil case is quite pretty, and I see it's been made to match the satchel that appeared above. Do make sure that whatever fabrics and yarns you choose for this project are machine washable, as pencil cases get grubby and ink-stained.

Pattern #16, Purse. Now this is a pattern that can be used to advantage by females of all ages. Very cute, and it should hold your coins or what have you securely.

Pattern #17, Jacket with Pattern Border. I very much like this pattern, which is a fresh use of fair isle patterns and would suit most women and most wardrobes. Make this in your favourite colour combination and you'll be able to slip it on over a number of your outfits.

Pattern #18, Boxy Jumper. I love the pattern on this sweater, but not the shape. The name of this design tells you everything you need to know, doesn't it? The inclusion of the word "boxy" in clothing description never bodes well. It's like the time I was couch shopping with my mother and she insisted we check out a store we happened by called "Excellent Furniture", even though I told her no good could come from our visiting a furniture store named Excellent Furniture. Nothing, that is, but in-jokes that are still funny 12 years later.

Pattern #19, Brocade Jacket. I was just complaining the other day in the last post of my Twentieth Century Series about the lack of intricate patterning in today's patterns compared to those of the nineties, so it's lovely to see something like this, with a rich pattern and great finishing details. I'm not crazy about the colourway, but that's just personal preference. I think it's a smart idea for Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine to style it this way, to encourage people to think out of the box in terms of what can be done with colour.

Pattern #20, Kelim Sweater. I am so not finding this appealing, but then the colourway is unfortunate and the shoulders are dropped, and both of those can be changed. Surely we can enjoy intricate colourwork in our knitwear while leaving dropped shoulders back in the nineties where they belong, along with some other unfortunate fads, such as Vanilla Ice.

Pattern #21, Elf Onesie. This is cute, but do you really want to go to all that work to make something your baby can only wear for the month of December? I suppose if you plan it right you can have it fit baby as a Halloween costume as well as for Christmas events (though it looks a little Christmassy for Halloween), but even so that seems like a lot of knitting for a special occasion outfit.

Pattern #22, Reindeer Onesie. I like this even better than the Elf Onesie, but again... that's a lot of work for an outfit that won't get worn very much. I'd say get a crazy indulgent childless aunt or uncle to knit it for your baby, but I am a crazy indulgent childless aunt, and I wouldn't do it.

Pattern #23, Holly Wreath. Now here's an item worth the work it will take, because you can use it Christmas after Christmas for years. This really looks fantastic, and I'm especially impressed by how real it looks to a glance.

Pattern #24, Christmas Chains. I can't say I care for pattern, but then I don't like paper chains either – they're the kind of things grade school students use their decorate their Christmas trees because it's easy and inexpensive and traditional rather than because they meet any kind of aesthetic standard. I can't see putting all that work and expense into that inelegant kind of decoration.

Pattern #25, Santa Dog Coat. Oh boy. I'm going to have to try to put aside my bias against knitting for pets for this one. This is a very clever design that's obviously been made with great care and I suppose it will amuse all your Christmas party guests no end, but be warned that your dog will know it's being laughed at, and that he or she may not like that at all, which may cause some retaliatory peeing.

Pattern #26, Heirloom Christmas Stocking. Cute stocking.

Pattern #27, Christmas Tree. This is cute. I think it would work best in a country/craftsy type décor.

Pattern #28, Entrelac Hot Water Bottle Cover. This will come in handy for those Christmases when the furnace breaks down. If you regularly use a hot water bottle and care to take the time to knit it its own sweater, I'd recommend a different colourway so it can be used all winter long.

Pattern #29, Cabled Cravat. I was going to say I didn't like this, but I think I'm put off by the way this casual, heavy scarf has been thrown on over a suit, where it really doesn't belong. I can easily imagine it working over a sweater and khakis, or with a pea coat and jeans.

Pattern #30, Double Breasted Coat. I'm not sold on this design, which though it has a certain classic appeal is a bit shapeless and too blah to appeal to a child, and won't look good when worn open.

Pattern #31, Contrast Band Sweater. This sweater is fine except for the two-tone colourblocking at cuffs and hem. It just looks as though the knitter ran out of yarn. I'd do them in a single colour.

Pattern #32, Cabled Scarf. You'll have to wear this "scarf" pinned, or it will fall off almost immediately. And I suppose it's nice to have a chance to wear one's shawl pins more often, but honestly this looks just like a scarf for which there wasn't enough yarn. I'd make it much longer and/or turn it in a cowl.

Pattern #33, Paloma Scarf. Classic textured scarf. I'd be inclined to fringe the edges, or crochet a border on them, because they do look a little unfinished as is.