Anyway, here's another lovely springtime magazine cover, and it feels Irish to me. I've never been to Ireland (although I'd like to go someday) and I have no idea if the spring sky is such a lovely pale blue against the new grass. Regardless, this photo says Irish countryside to me, even if it was shot somewhere in Pennsylvania. Pretty cover sweater too: deceptively plain with subtle detail.
This choice for the cover sweater excited some pretty heated commentary in Ravelry's Patterns forum. I got the feeling I was the only person who actually liked it. Apparently the majority of readers (or at least those who are vocal in the forums, which I am not — I'm more of a lurker, although I put a word in now and then) thought that virtually any other item in the magazine would have been a better choice for the cover.
Onward to the inside….
Ooooh, Spotlight on Ecco Cashmere by Plymouth Yarns. Mmmmm, cashmere. But it's laceweight. *sigh* I'm not up to dealing with laceweight yarn. I have enough trouble with sock yarn as it is. But someday….
Artist Spotlight on Michelle Vitale Loughlin: As I've noted in previous entries, yarn/knitting as "high art" generally isn't something that floats my canoe. But the Jackson Pollock-inspired "Bound" and the enigmatic "Shroud 1" pictured in this article piqued my interest. But the third featured piece? A beautiful crocheted pineapple lace blanket covered in paint, and titled "Knitting Lessons 2". I can deal with the paint bit ("Shroud 1" was also a painted crocheted blanket) but….It's crochet! Do NOT call crochet knitting! And don't give me that "artistic license" line of BS. You will be pilloried by the Crochet Liberation Front for this! (Trust me on this one, because I'm gonna tell 'em.)
Okay, yarn review feature: This issue Interweave takes a look at cotton yarns. Nice variety from several manufacturers, including a budget-priced yarn from Lion Brand ($6 USD for 103 yds). Knit magazines which acknowledge not everyone can afford Rowan and Blue Sky Alpaca and other high end yarns earn my respect. Now, if only they'd feature these budget-priced yarns in their pattern offerings more than once in a blue moon….
Vicky Square tells us to "Start as many NEW projects as you can!" Umm. No. I have too many UFOs right now as it is, and I find it frustrating to have them all clamoring "Finish me first! Finish me first!" every time I open the door to the yarn closet. Once I get everything that needs finishing finished, my goal will be to have only ONE knit project and ONE crochet project going at the same time.
Book excerpt: A pattern from French Girl Knits! LOVE LOVE LOVE! The pattern is Delphine, a pretty lacy tank vaguely reminiscent of a Victorian undergarment, and it's in my Ravelry queue. I've been wanting this book since I first read about it. Must. Buy. Soon.
Beyond the Basics feature: A lesson in shaping circular lace shawls with short rows. While I am sure this lesson will be most helpful at some point in the (far far distant) future, I have no plans to knit lace shawls, much less lace shawls that require short rows, any time soon. Excellent illustrations and diagrams, though. Plus a math lesson. Nifty!
And now, the patterns:
The Florist Knits — Wearable pieces with floral inspirations. I queued only a couple of these, but I liked most of them, even if the designs were intended for a younger version of me.
- Silk Cocoon Cardigan — A simple wrap cardigan, mostly stockinette stitch but with pretty detailing on the shoulders and cuffs. I liked it well enough to put into the queue, but I'm not in any hurry to make it.
- Millefiori Cardigan — LOVE LOVE LOVE! This was the piece most people in that Patterns forum discussion mentioned above thought should have been the cover. I don't necessarily disagree, although I was perfectly satisfied with the cover as it was. Regardless, it's beautiful with a jewel neckline and 3/4 sleeves and that pretty bit of lace above the ribbing. It was the first thing out of this issue I put in my queue. When I make it, though, I don't think I'll have quite so much negative ease (wait, the pattern says it's modeled with 2" positive ease? Huh?), and I'm more likely to use Patons Grace instead of the Rowan Milk Cotton specified in the pattern.
- Blooming Cotton Scarf — Pretty, but otherwise, as shown, meh. Interweave's added a nice touch, however, by listing alternate colorways for this scarf in the preview. I suspect I'd like the "Peacock" version, judging by the colors listed, so this scarf isn't completely out of the running.
- Posy Slip — Once upon a time, I would have jumped all over this understatedly elegant slipdress. Sadly, I no longer have the necessary body proportions to carry it off. I think a solid yarn, rather than the variegated colorway shown, would show this dress and its stitch pattern to much better advantage.
- Petal Halter — A beautiful piece with intriguing (and probably challenging!) overlapped construction. I wouldn't in a million years make it for myself, but I can certainly see it being worn by some sweet young thing. Perhaps in slightly brighter color, though.
- Fountain Pen Shawl — I am not a shawl person. This is lovely, though, and if I were a shawl person, I'd be tempted to make it. And I'm giving extra points to the stylist who put the model in a print dress that echoes the shawl's stitch pattern. Clever touch.
- Sweet Tea — When I was a teenager and into my early 20s, I wore this type of cap-sleeve modified-jewel-neck form-fitting top all. the. time. And so, I like this. A lot. Because my mind tells me I'm still 17 years old. It is betrayed by the 47-year-old body it sits atop, however, and that 47-year-old body would look ridiculous wearing this. Still, it's a pretty little knit with that ring of posies around the neckline. *sigh*
Clean & Simple — Exactly what the name implies: knits with clean lines and simple details. I liked every piece, and put two of them in my queue.
- St. John's Wort Cardigan — At first glance, this is a "no". Although I like the color, and the stitch detail on the sleeve, and the wide collar, I do NOT like the gathered hem or the fact that it ends right at the natural waist. It's not a flattering fit at all, even on the model. But then I read the pattern. Hey, it's a top down raglan! Which means I don't have to use that gathering bind-off stitch at the hem, and naturally it's a breeze to knit to whatever length I prefer. So, it's a possibility.
- Jeff's Pub Sweater — I wish my husband wore sweaters. Or any of the men in my family. Because I would sooo like to make one of them a casually simple unfussy cardigan like this one. And it's reversible too!
- Diminishing Rib Cardigan — The cover sweater, photographed indoors this time. I really like this piece, and it's in my queue, although I want to modify the front so it buttons at least as far down as the beginning of the midsection ribbing. I do not want a cardigan that I can't fasten. The suggested yarn is a worsted silk/wool blend. I'm tempted by the idea of using a silk/bamboo blend instead.
- Soap Bubble Wrap — A beautiful wrap cardigan with a delicate lace detailing over one hip and the opposite shoulder. Although it's modeled in a casual manner over a teeshirt and slacks, I can see it worn in a much dressier environment as well, perhaps over a swirly black skirt and shimmery camisole for a special night out. In my Ravelry queue. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you like this cardigan, you better download it now, because the pattern is not in the magazine. It is only available online and free until May 14, 2009. (After that date, it will more than likely still be available, but I sincerely doubt it will be free.)
Side by Side — Um. Color me not impressed. In fact, this segment on accessories could have been left out of the magazine entirely, as far as I'm concerned.
- Saoirse Shawl — First thing, why is it called a shawl when the model is wearing it around her hips? Second thing, Norah Gaughan, what were you smoking when you designed this? I must be hopelessly out of touch with what those skinny young things (like I used to be) think is fashionable and hip, because this looks to me like a completely shapeless waste of good yarn.
- Sweet Lily Shawl — Did I mention I'm not a shawl person? This pattern puts the lessons learned in this issue's circular knitting with short rows segment to use. But I'm not a shawl person, and I have absolutely no desire for this piece. I'm not even sure I like the lace patterns.
- Net Duffel Bag — Marginally worth considering, but that's an awful lot of very expensive yarn to use for a grocery bag. If I ever decided to make this, I'd substitute an inexpensive DK cotton instead.
- Baa Rug — Knitting with unspun roving and then needlefelting make this project seem like a mind-blowingly time-consuming and fiddly piece of work. I still kind of like it. But not enough to consider making it.
Sheer Bliss — More pretty and (mostly) wearable pieces with lightweight yarns, generally intended for much younger (or at least thinner) folks than yours truly.
- Whisper Cardigan — Pretty little sweater with a shrug-like construction. However, I'm even less of a shrug person than I am a shawl person. And I don't like sweaters that I can't fasten. I'm sure I've said that before too. Still, it looks wonderful on the model, although I'm curious why the stylist felt it was necessary for said model to wear an apron. Outside.
- Sculptured Lace Scarf — Nicely detailed unisex scarf combining cables with a teensy bit of lace and made with a bamboo/wool blend yarn. A possibility, and I wouldn't change a thing about it, except perhaps the color depending on its eventual recipient.
- Watered Quartz Tee — I think I'd like this better if it had actual sleeves instead of just the extended shoulders. It's a possibility even without them. I especially like the contrast between the tightly knit ribbed stripes and the loosely knit stockinette stripes.
- Float Stole — I may have mentioned once or twice that I am not a shawl person. That includes shawls that are otherwise called stoles. Regardless, the alternating eyelet and welt construction of this wispy piece is visually striking. But I'm still not interested.
- Bettie's Lace Stockings — Bettie can keep them, based on this photo shoot. Lace kneehighs worn with open-toe ankle strap heels and a knee-length dress? This has got to be the most unattractive styling I've seen in a long time. I understand wanting to show off the featured knit, but there had to have been some other, more appealing way to shoot these stockings.
- Parker Cardigan — LOVE LOVE LOVE! Deep V-neck cardigan with an unusually solid lace pattern below the bustline to the hem and on the sleeves. And it's so versatile! The pattern calls for a cotton/linen blend, but I think a silk and/or bamboo yarn would be equally suitable. Depending on the yarn chosen, I can see wearing it to the office, or on date night with my husband, and even casually with jeans and a tee shirt. A definite must-make.
- ZickZack Tunic — While this lace tunic with a cowl neck and a banded and buttoned ribbed hem looks great on the model, it's not for me. I'd probably like it better if it were long-sleeved (somehow, cowl necks and short sleeves just don't work together for me), but even then, it's a "no." Not because it isn't pretty, mind you, but because I'm 5'2" and round. Even when I was a sweet skinny young thing, tunics looked ridiculous on me. I just don't have the height to carry them off.
So, out of 22 patterns (23, if you count the book excerpt), I queued six, or just over 25%, with several others under consideration. Not bad!
I am not someone who expects to love every project in every issue. Sometimes I do, and then my Ravelry queue grows and grows and grows, but I'd be a fool to expect such a thing every time. Each issue of each magazine must appeal to a wide variety of individuals: some issues may focus a little more on one particular segment of its readership while other issues focus on other segments; but each issue generally offers a little something for everyone, including pieces which utterly baffle me (Saoirse shawl, anyone?) but are adored by the young and hip and trendy. One out of four patterns in this issue appealed to this round middle-aged woman. That's a perfectly acceptable percentage for my money.
To close the issue, Beth Hemke Shapiro reveals her knitting journey in a column entitled "Late Bloomer". I too did not learn to knit until my 40s, and I appreciated every word.
And that's it for this spring's round of magazines. Well, except for Interweave Crochet's spring issue, which hasn't come yet. I think it arrives next month. In the meantime, I have knitting to finish.