Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The History of Guerrilla Knitting: A Video

At the 24th Chaos Communication Congress that took place in Berlin, Germany in 2007, one of the speakers was Rose White, who gave a presentation on the history of guerrilla knitting. I've hesitated to post this video because White isn't the best speaker, and she gets some of her facts wrong (i.e., she claims knitting did not exist before the Renaissance, when knitting is currently believed to date from at least 800 A.D.), but she does have some interesting insights on the evolution of knitting from what she calls "proprietary knitting" to the kind of subversive and democratized knitting common today, and I found the video well worth a listen.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Interweave Knits Gifts 2015: A Review

Interweave Knits has released a special gifts issue in time for us to make things for the upcoming holidays. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

Sugar & Spice Hat. Cute and cleverly worked out as to colour and design, if it is more my idea of a hat to wear when one is going out for a beverage and/or baked goods, rather than a hat to sport when one is baking at home.

Felted Entrelac Potholders. These potholders are not bad looking, and rather eye-catching, which is a good thing in an item with a diabolical ability to hide itself away just when one wants it. These could also be made in colours to match your kitchen.

Buck Jacket. This is rather a nice, wearable piece, though it deserved a less blah colourway.

Felted Snowmen Pillows. Way too kitschy and slapped together for my tastes.

Mega Aran Throw. Classic Aran afghan.

Lucky Hearts Pullover. Quite like this beaded child's sweater, which is very wearable and the kind of thing many a little girl would love, but I would leave off the beads that appear on the bottom hem, as they look to be a touch too much to me. I would also neaten up the fit through the bottom. I don't like to put very fitted clothes on a child, but I don't like putting them in things that fit like a tent either.

Bulky Waves Scarf. This is definitely a more attractive and graceful-looking warm piece to pair with a winter coat than the usual bulky knit rectangular scarf.

Sister Legwarmers. The stitchwork is pleasing enough, but I can't say I find such short legwarmers flattering or attractive on even these models' legs.

Sweet Little Cardigan. Pretty and classic child's sweater.

Alpaca Poncho. This isn't an unattractive piece at all, though it does look a little constrictive to wear. But then this woman also puts her books under glass, so perhaps she has some compartmentalization issues.

Compordach Mittens. Nice mittens. I like the idea of using a different colour for the lining. Little hidden touches like that do add something to the pleasure of using an item, even if the wearer is the only one who knows they are there.

Gotland Mittens. Pretty, but I wish they were more shaped. I can see why they aren't though, shaping the wrist would spoil the looks of the pattern.

Appliqué Mittens. I would have taken this idea steps farther by say, making the appliqués more decorative and better coordinated.

Ragg Convertible Mitts. I wish I'd been able to make my father a pair of these mitts back in the day when he was doing construction work and he was wearing a pair of mittens over a pair of gloves and would take the mitts off to do anything that required manual dexterity. Such mitts would perhaps have made his work days easier and they would have matched his socks.

Starflower mittens. So pretty!

Damask Mittens. The child's version is very cute, but the adult version looks a little too unfinished.

Olivia's Journey. Very nice!

Newfoundland Mittens. I get that the index finger makes these mittens more practical, but man do they ever look ridiculous and even a little disturbing.

Madder Mittens. Another very pretty pair of mittens.

Fancy Braid Mitts. Not a bad pair of fingerless mitts.

Trapper's Hat. I am sure this is quite warm and practical, but it does look more than a little silly, like something a hipster mushroom farmer would wear.

Badge Cowl. This is handsome, wearable piece.

Homestead Shawl. This is Mrs. Hipster Mushroom Farmer, but at least she has better taste in knitwear than her husband. This is a rather nice understated piece, and would be a good project for a beginner.

Sampler Stole. When Mrs. Hipster Mushroom Farmer goes out to inoculate the mushroom logs, she likes to throw an afghan on over her coveralls. She was dressing like a couch before it was cool.

Plain & Fancy Hat. Mr. Hipster Mushroom Farmer felt that being a good mushroom farmer meant being one with the mushrooms, which in turn meant dressing like one.

Winter Thyme Cowl. Mr. and Mrs. Hipster Mushroom Farmer were generally mocked and shunned by their neighbours, but a few of them did deign to ask for Mrs. Hipster Mushroom Farmer's lovely cowl pattern.

Lace Ribbon Scarf. I'm not sure I would care to wear this one. It's so literal a rendering of a ribbon that it would make me feel gift-wrapped.

Orchid Scarf. When Mr. and Mrs. Hipster Mushroom Farmer decided to add start growing orchids as well as mushrooms, Mrs. Hipster Mushroom Farmer made a lovely orchid scarf to commemorate the occasion and to help her dress the part. As their neighbours agreed, those hipsters might be unbearably pretentious and have a incomprehensible suspender fetish, but they did usually know their knitwear.

Lace Basket Scarf. This one's a bit rough-looking for my tastes.

Galax Shawl. The lovely shawl that Mrs. Hipster Mushroom Farmer made and donned in an effort to entice the hired man to run away with her and start a new life as owners of an ironic bowling alley.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Knit Simple Holiday 2015: A Review

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

Ten bootie designs. Cute but basic.

Bunny, Mouse, and Bear. Not bad, but I've seen much cuter knitted toys.

Bobble Cowl. Please do not try to cut back on your holiday decorating expenses by putting a mini Christmas tree skirt and Christmas lights on your child. What money you save on a Christmas tree now will be more than negated by the therapy bills later.

Woven Lines Cowl. This cowl isn't bad, but I would forego the contrast yarn that's woven through it as I don't think it's adding anything.

Bows Cowl. This looks a little too thrown together for my tastes, but it isn't terrible. The bows are kind of working. I do wish the body of the cowl looked a little more finished.

Marled Cowl. Nice on the whole, though I am not liking those colour transitions, which makes the cowl look it's wrong side out.

Striped Cowl. Not bad. I like the stripes and the colour combination. The decorative pom poms are working better than I would have expected.

Cat Blanket. Move over, Grumpy Cat; Malevolent Cat has come to town. Not a bad child's afghan though. It is cute and fun.

Knitted Mice. These knitted mice are more than a little trigger-y for me right at the moment because I a) live in an old house with a chronic mouse problem, which means I sometimes have to deal not only with live but dead mouse and watch my cat Trilby crunch down his latest hunting trophy in under 30 seconds. So yeah, my reaction to the idea of a knitted mice pattern is basically WHY THE HELL WOULD I ADD MORE RODENTS OF ANY KIND TO MY LIFE. I know a reviewer is supposed to be more objective than that, but you see how it is.

Cat Scarf. The idea of a cat scarf for a kid is kind of cute but I don't think it got the execution it deserved here. Those cat paws look a little too disturbingly like teeth.

Cat-Motif Mitts. These will do. They're cute and easily whipped up.

Cat Bag. The pouch isn't badly made at all, but the eyes and the nose could be much more attractively done.

Cat Bed. Not a bad plain crocheted cat bed.

Cat Hat. The autumnal colour is making this present more like a Leaf Hat.

Cabled Turtleneck. Classic cabled sweater and therefore it's fine, though I suspect it could do with some waist shaping.

Cabled Cowl. Basic, but it's definitely presentable and quite wearable.

Basket. Basic as it gets, but if you can use a knitted basket, go for it.

Ribbed Pullover. This could be a sample shot from the 1980s, but (at least in this case) there's nothing wrong with that. A classic shaker knit sweater is always a nice thing to have in one's wardrobe. I will say I'm not crazy about the colour and that I'd neaten up the fit a little.

V-Neck Cardigan. I'm liking this one more than anything I've seen in this issue yet. Nice texture and detailing. It does deserve a better yarn choice though. What's with the pinkish yellow yarn choices?

Cropped Jacket. If you have been looking all your knitting life for a design that will make the wearer look as though she's mushroom-shaped, the search is over.

Cabled Afghan. It's hard to go wrong with a classic cabled afghan.

Textured Cowl. I like a cowl, but cowls can sometimes stray into that unfortunate "inner tube around the neck" territory, and this one has not only gone there but has also set up shop there.

Crocheted Squares Afghan. This one has a nice graphic appeal.

Knit Blocks Afghan. Quite nice. The chevron pattern is simple yet striking and effective.

Snowflake Mittens. Cute. Though I'd be more inclined to put these on a child than on a grown woman.