Two, count 'em, two new magazines landed in my mailbox this week. Let's take a look at the first to arrive, Interweave Crochet, Spring 2009:
Pretty cover! Light and fresh and, dare I say, springlike? I dare indeed. The cover promises "Full Figure Fits that Flatter". Hmm. We'll see.
"Strands" (the editor's column) indicates a change in leadership. Goodbye, Kim Werker; hello, Marcy Smith! Ms. Smith points out a hitherto unknown-by-me connection between Interweave Crochet and CrochetMe! Interesting. (I'm a member at CrochetMe, but don't have much of a presence there…I mainly use it to look for patterns I might want to make. Don't find too many, sadly.)
"New and Notable" has the usual assortment of kits, accessories and hooks, plus a book that seems to be right up my alley: Contemplative Crochet: A Hands-On Guide for Interlocking Faith and Craft by Cindy Crandall-Frazier.
Judging simply by the title and the brief blurb in the magazine, this will more than likely be the next yarn-related book purchase (the last being French Girl Knits). Working with yarn gives me a deep sense of satisfaction and feeds my soul to a certain extent; it will be interesting to get another perspective on the spirituality of yarncraft, crochet in particular.
This month's "Crochet Around Town" column, written by fellow CLFer Aimee Woolwine, takes us to Atlanta, Georgia, on a jim-dandy yarn and restaurant crawl that even features the Atlanta Botanical Garden!
Lorna's Laces Pearl shines in the "Yarn Spotlight." A silk/bamboo blend that sounds simply lovely, it's a DK weight put up in 220-yards skeins. Marcy Smith makes a point of mentioning its "precious price point", which led me on an unsuccessful search for the actual dollar figure. If anyone out there can tell me the cost of a skein of this yarn in US dollars, I'd be most appreciative.
"Back to Basics" teaches us the "linked crochet" stitch with detailed pictures, and the "Reader's Gallery" shows us four projects from previous issues modeled by their stitchers. I love this feature, even though this issue doesn't show any patterns I've considered making. "Beyond the Basics" discusses crocheted lace, including exploding the pattern and reading the fabric. Lots of good information in this article, and some great example photos. An interview with Julia Vaconsin and an article on the history of crochet round out the non-pattern sections of this issue.
Before we go on to the patterns, however, I am compelled to point out an error in the history article, "A Tangled Trail to Crochet's Origin" by Dora Ohrenstein. Well, not so much an error in fact as an error in interpreting a fact. Ms. Ohrenstein quotes from the book Victorian Lace (by Patricia Wardle) that crochet arose from tambour work …"some time around the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century…." and "…may be found in manuals from the 1820s onwards…". Ms. Ohrenstein then declares this dating is a discrepancy. She writes: "If it appeared in manuals of the 1820s, why does the writer date the transition [from tambour work] several decades later?" Um. She didn't. The late 18th century is also known as the late 1700s; and the early 19th century is also known as the early 1800s. An 1820 date is perfectly in keeping with a date referenced as "early 19th century." In other words, the dating is internally consistent within Ms. Wardle's book, and Ms. Ohrenstein needs to review basic historical date terminology.
Ms. Ohrenstein's error is bad enough. What I really want to know is where was the editor? The fact checker? The typesetter, for Pete's sake? This piece had to have crossed multiple desks and been read by multiple pairs of eyes and no one caught this boo boo before publication? 'Scuse me? I certainly hope this blunder is not an indication of a quality shift due to the change in editorial staff. </end gripe>
Okay. Patterns. This is what we're really here for, right?
- Forest Flower Pullover by Kristin Omdahl — Kristin has another winner here! I love the slimming vertical striping (worked in the linked stitch method mentioned above), made by working the body from side to side; and the lacy flower motif yoke gives this pretty piece the perfect springtime touch. In my Ravelry queue.
- Rib & Fan Socks by Carol Ginsberg Brown — The very idea of crocheted socks sort of creeps me out….I like very smooth delicate [read: knit] socks, and crocheted fabric by its very nature is relatively thick and bumpy: I don't think my tootsies will like such footwear. Therefore, I've never crocheted a pair of socks. I'm sort of open-minded, though, in a creeped-out manner of speaking, but I'm not likely to crochet these socks as my first attempt. They look more like my husband's gym socks than anything I'd wear. But they look interesting.
- Glittering Capelet by Lily M. Chin — I am not a shawl person. (Is there an echo in here?) However, I was up late reading in bed the other night, the heater had turned itself off for the evening, and my shoulders got cold. "Gosh," I thought, "I need to make myself a bedjacket so I can read without fighting with a blanket around my shoulders." If this little cape, with its delicate filet yoke and open shell body, had sleeves, I'd consider it for that very purpose. Otherwise, sorry, Lily. It's pretty, but it isn't for me.
- Simply Bibs by Lisa Naskrent — Aaauughhh! I think I just died from the cute! Okay, not so much from the bibs — they're fairly basic — but that baby! I just want to eat him up nom nom nom, oh lookit dose toesies, nom nom nom, and his wittle bald head nom nom nom… ahem. 'Scuse me. Got carried away. Sorry. Nice bibs. Yeah.
- Malabrigo Top by Julia Vaconsin — Hey! It's our interviewee! No, not the model, the designer. Nice design on this vest, too, with vertical ribbing on the body and a delicate shell-stitch V-neck bodice, all done in laceweight yarn. Perfect for the office over a blouse or under a jacket or both; or perhaps over/under nothing at all for an evening out. The length as shown is a tad short for my taste, so I'd lengthen it by at least a couple of inches. In the queue.
- Amazing Grace Wrap by Ellen K. Gormley — A "Plus Size" pattern, up to a 56" bust. Personally, I'd call this a cardigan rather than a wrap. It's got sleeves. To my way of thinking, the defining characteristic of a wrap is the lack of sleeves. But maybe I'm just a pedant. Anyway, lacy join-as-you-go motifs, long belled sleeves, and a single tie closure at the scooped neckline make for a sweet just-light-enough layer on a breezy spring day. Deep slits at the hem allow for plenty of ease over the hips. I like it, but I don't want to make that many motifs for anything, join as you go or not. (This from the woman whose last several afghans have been constructed with either motifs or strips. Which is why motifs are currently on my not-to-do list for the near future. Seaming is a pain in the…ah, neck.)
- Tremendous Tote by Marlaina Bird — LOVE LOVE LOVE! About the top third of this bag is felted, with the remainder done up in colorful stripes according to the Fibonacci sequence. (NOTE TO SELF: Someday do a little research and find out exactly what that means when it comes to striping, because it's a phrase that gets slung about all over the yarn world.) Inexplicably, the pattern doesn't give the finished dimensions, but I think the bag may be bigger than what I usually carry. Otherwise, with its leather handles, an interior pocket, and a magnetic closure, this is just about the perfect bag. In my Ravelry queue.
- Seaside Throw by Rhonda Davis — Want to know the colors and theme in my guest bath? Look at this blanket. Blue, cream, chocolate, with a hint of gold, and the suggestion of starfish. This couldn't have been more perfect as an accessory to drape artfully over the etagere had I designed it myself. Of course it's in my queue. Even though it is a motif design. A girl can make exceptions, can't she?
- Fan and Petal Neck Lace by Doris Chan — Although this side-buttoned lace collar is beautiful, I honestly can't think of an occasion when I would wear such a piece, nor with what I would wear it. The pattern calls for a cashmere/silk blend yarn, which would make the collar deliciously fuzzy and soft, though….
- Sólás Caomh by Jodi Euchner — A cabled Celtic knot-inspired baby blanket in a beautiful shade of green. I know just the Irish baby (and her mama) that this blanket needs. In my Ravelry queue.
- Spring Shell by Simona Merchant-Dest — A "Plus Size" pattern, up to a 52" bust. Call me a pedant again, but if it has sleeves, it's not a shell. And I'm not crazy about this particular type of sleeve anyway; from past experience, I know they are not flattering on me. Otherwise, I really like this top. The varying stitch detail means it will be a fun-to-make project, plus it's interesting to look at. Pffth to the sleeves. Sleeves are easy to modify. In my Ravelry queue.
- Audrey Hat by Christina Marie Potter — I want to like this hat. Really I do. I wear hats like this all the time, both because they keep the sun out of my eyes and because of a family history of skin cancer. (I don't go outside without sunscreen. Ever.) But floppy brims drive me insane. The pattern calls for starching the crown and brim with heavy spray starch. If I decide to give this pattern a try, before committing to the entire project, I'm likely to swatch and test with real liquid starch, like I used on my candy-striper hat way back in the dark ages when nurses and their aides actually wore starched caps.
- Blossom Kimono by Robyn Chachula — A "Plus Size" pattern, up to a 57" bust. More motifs. (And more pedantry — this is sooo not a kimono. I owned a kimono once: a real one with an obi and everything, made by a Japanese pen pal. Sadly I was too young and stupid at the time to store the 100% wool garment properly; it was utterly destroyed by moths. But I digress, as usual.) One of these days I must get over my dislike of seaming. A lot of very nice patterns out there are constructed of motifs. Like this one. Its long sleeves and deep scoop neckline with that center fastening just below the bust line make this an elegantly wearable cardigan for office or special occasion. The main colors chosen for the sample shown are subtle enough that the black accents really pop. In fact, they're almost jarring. I love the black on the border and around the hem, but I think I'd leave it off the sleeves. Not in my queue, but it's a possibility. By the way, be sure to download the charts from the Interweave site. The charts in the magazine are nearly too small to be read without a magnifying glass.
- Tulip Skirt by Annette Petavy — A "Plus Size" pattern, up to a 48.5" hip. More vertical striping, with a flared hemline and a drawstring waist. This is another pattern I want to like. It seems easy to wear and the vertical stripes would help hide an expansive backside (mine, that is). My main objection is the drawstring waist. I think it looks sloppy and I can't stand loose floppy ends dangling in front of me like that. So, if I made this, I'd have to modify the waistline to lose the drawstrings and insert elastic instead. Probably not too difficult a modification, so it's a possibility.
- Still Waters Shrug by Ellen K. Gormley — A "Plus Size" pattern, up to 2X, up to a 17.5" upper arm. This is probably the pattern I ought to make as my reading-in-bed jacket. Too bad I don't really like it. Oh, the stitch pattern is lovely, and the pattern looks like its a breeze to make, but the garment itself just doesn't seem quite right. Or maybe it's just that god-awful empire-waisted paisley dress the stylist made the model wear.
- Emerald Scarf by Tracy St. John — A delicate shell stitch in laceweight Alpaca Silk makes for a beautiful spring scarf, just the right touch of warmth for those chilly spring mornings. I bet Mom (maybe not mine, but somebody's) would like one of these for Mother's Day. A possibility.
- Spring Market Bag by Carol Ventura — Hey, a grocery bag in Lenten colors! I often wonder how many variations on a market bag designers can create. Apparently there was at least one more: this colorful Tunisian crochet bag with a drawstring closure in 100% linen. I'm not quite prepared to spend upwards of $70 USD to make a grocery bag, but it's still awfully pretty.
- Snuggly Hoodie by Lisa Naskrent — And there's that edible baby again, this time in a beyond-precious sleeveless hoodie with patch pockets and buttons up the front. What a sweet little outfit. Why are all the moms I know with infants young enough to wear stuff like this so far away?
- Adalia Tank Top by Marikka Hughes — A "Plus Size" pattern, up to a 54" bust. It doesn't happen all that often, but every now and then a pattern comes along that elicits an automatic "ugh." This was one of those patterns. The front view isn't all that bad: it's actually kind of cute with the skinny straps, scoop neckline and flared A-line shape. But the back? Racerback style I can deal with, but racerback crocheted lace motifs? Not so much. I'm sure someone somewhere thinks this is the greatest pattern ever. But not me. Even when I was young and skinny, I wouldn't have worn this.
Overall, I think Interweave did a great job with this issue, with only the one real clunker of a pattern and barring the time reference fiasco. I especially appreciated that many of the "Plus Size" patterns were actually modeled by someone with a little meat on her bones, although she could only be considered plus-sized in comparison to the usual walking clothes hangers (I mean, let's get real: a 38" bust is plus sized?). Regardless, thanks, Interweave, for acknowledging that not all women are walking clothes hangers, and the majority of us haven't worn a size 2 since we were, umm, two.