Posted in Knitting, Magazine review

Magazine Review: Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2009

After threatening you all with it for weeks, today I'll finally take the time to write the review of the latest offering from Vogue Knitting.

First impression upon retrieving the magazine from the mailbox:  "OMG, look at that cover knit:  it's gorgeous!"  Second impression: "OMG, look at that cover knit:  it's so complicated!"

We'll skip right on past the editor's column, the gadgetry plugs (some very cool scissors featured in this, umm, feature), and the news & notes columns because, frankly, there's really nothing worth noting here.  Except those very cool scissors.  Oh, and a link to download a sweater pattern worn in the film Coraline.

Silks are the focus in Yarns, with VK's top 10 culled from the usual suspects like Debbie Bliss, Rowan, and Nashua Handknits, as well as a couple of unfamiliar yarn companies.  I was especially intrigued by Tsumugi Silk from Habu Textiles, a laceweight yarn with some 40 colors, available in a 450-yard (50 gram) cone for about $14.00 per cone.

VK's Library column features the fabulous French Girl Knits by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes, which I purchased several weeks ago, after the first time I read about it in some other magazine.  Other noteworthy volumes include Knitting in Tuscany by Nicky Epstein (more about that later), and Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy D. Johnson. 

Although the sock book looked interesting, what really grabbed my attention was Country Weekend Knits by Madeline Weston, with its focus on traditional ganseys, Arans, and Fair Isle patterns.  I may soon be adding yet another book to the ever-growing avanta7 knit library.  Just don't tell my husband.

Frugality is the watchword in the Spotlight, with a special emphasis on repurposing old sweaters, especially those found in thrift stores, by frogging them and using the yarn for new modern projects.  The column includes a detailed how-to on taking apart that thrift-store find, information easily found on the web and elsewhere, but always good to review.

Meg Swansen's column discusses the Bohus Stickning movement of the late 1930s through 1960s, an era in knitting history previously unknown to me, and a subject which I found fascinating.  I only wish Ms. Swansen had gone into more detail; however, one of the column's purposes was to plug a book on the tradition available through Schoolhouse Press, so it's understandable she left some mystery in the subject.

Of course, this also means there's yet another knitting book to be added to the above-mentioned ever-growing knit library.  Again, please don't tell my husband.

Skipping over a lengthy article on internships for fashion students in the fiber arts industry (which I read but didn't care about), we come to the Techniques column, which talks about my newest love, skinny yarns!  Yes, it often takes longer to knit a sweater with a fine-gauge yarn but, as this article points out, the results are worth it: a more tailored garment with a more flattering fit that can usually be worn throughout most of the year.  Besides, who wants to wear a sleeveless tank or camisole made from some bulky wool?

Runway Trends:  Glitz.  *sigh*  If I have to read the word "bling" one more time in any article about shiny sparkly fashion items, I may commit a crime against humanity.

And finally, the patterns:  The first pattern offered in the magazine was back a few pages in between articles:  an excerpt from Nicky Epstein's Knitting in Tuscany, the Tuscan Sun Scarf.  The book itself is a combination pattern book/travelogue/tour guide.  The scarf is a sparkly thing constructed from multiple sunflower-shaped medallions knitted in a sequinned yarn.  Looks like a fun accessory, casual or glamorous as the wearer chooses.  Not to my taste, but I can see how other knitters might love it.

  1. Star Motif Pullover — Short-sleeved lace raglan-style top with deep ribbing at the hem and foldover neck.  Made from a cotton/bamboo blend.  Pretty lace pattern.  Unusual seamed construction, with a diamond-shaped front and back, and triangular-shaped sides.  Not currently in my Ravelry queue, but it's a possibility.
  2. Star Camisole — Pretty tank with a star-shaped medallion knitted from the center outward on the front, and a deeply scooped back.  I like it a lot but would never make it for myself, mainly because I can't figure out how I'd ever wear a bra with this piece.  Frankly, me sans brassiere = not a pleasant sight.
  3. Multi-Shapes Top — If ever a piece were aptly named….Constructed by knitting one geometric shape, then picking up stitches on a side and knitting another geometric shape, and repeat.  Beautiful design, and probably a great deal of fun to knit.  Drawback #1:  Comes in only two sizes, XS/S (31" bust) and M/L (40" bust).  Drawback #2:  The magazine contains instructions for the 31" size only.  The M/L sized must be downloaded from the web.  Still, it's another possibility not currently in the queue.  Perhaps once I reach my goal weight.
  4. Botanica Medallion Cardigan — LOVE!!!  The cover knit, and what a beautiful piece of work this is.  A completely circular knit, with an intricately detailed center medallion surrounded by an equally intricate wide band which makes up the shawl collar and lower half of the back, with slits left for armholes when attaching the band to the medallion.  If you plan to knit this, make note of the errata, and check out the step-by-step instructions.  In my Ravelry queue.
  5. Short-Sleeve Cardigan — Feminine, lacy, short-sleeved, crew-neck cardigan with intentional gaps between the front buttons.  Multi-directional knitting and construction, and a unique lace pattern.  I like it, after a fashion, but I'm just not crazy about gappy front openings.  A plus-size pattern, though, and that's a good thing.
  6. Feather and Fan Dress — Lace dress in a classic stitch knitted in the round from the scalloped hem upward.  Tiny cap sleeves and a scooped neckline.  I put this in my queue with the intention of making it much shorter and using it as a summer top.  I'll probably add set-in short sleeves, as well.
  7. Lace Tunic — Sleeveless tunic-length fastener-free cardigan would be perfect for the office over a dress, as shown by the model, or perhaps over a fitted shirt and slim-fitting trousers.  Very nice back yoke detail. A plus-sized pattern. In my queue.
  8. Lace Cardigan — Tunic-length flyaway cardigan with belled raglan 3/4 sleeves in eyelet lace for the body and what appears to be a mock cable lace for the bottom several inches of the hem and sleeves.  Moderate V-neck.  Depending on the yarn chosen, could be equally suited to the office or a night out.  Probably best worn with a skirt or dress — I think the dense pattern at the hem would make this piece too bottom heavy if worn with slacks.  In the queue.
  9. Laced Tank — Sleeveless V-neck tank with eyelet pattern and I-cord lacing on the front.  Nice summery piece.  A possibility, but not currently queued.
  10. Tie-Front Cardigan — Another 3/4 sleeve flyaway cardigan that escapes the mundane in its details: V-necked yoke in a slanting lace and cable stitch, and upside-down eyelet Vs on the sleeves and below the bust line.  The real surprise in this piece is its recommended yarn:  Patons Grace, a budget-priced yarn available at virtually any big box craft store, such as Michaels or Joann.  A plus-sized pattern.  In the queue.
  11. Feather Trim Vest — The defining feature of this A-line surplice-front vest is the ostrich feather trim around the front and neck edge, and that's the detail I dislike.  Feathers are just plain fussy.  Otherwise, this is a well-designed basic wardrobe piece.
  12. Lace Afghan — LOVE!!!  4' X 6' throw in a beautiful scallop lace pattern with ribbed edges.  In the queue, and likely to be the first major lace project I attempt.
  13. Drop Stitch Scarf — Simple, casual scarf in a dropped-stitch basketweave pattern that looks light as the feathers I disliked in #11 above.  The pattern seems to be a quick knit and requires less than 450 yds of sport-weight yarn, making this project a great choice for gift-giving.  Not currently in the queue, but it's a possibility.
  14. Bias Lace Shrug — VK almost always has at least one pattern per issue that I call the "What were they thinking?" piece.  In this issue, it's this piece.  The odd truncated body seems to have way too much fabric below the arms, but maybe that's just the way the model is sitting.  The set-in 3/4 sleeves are odd, too, for a piece they're calling a shrug.  It's as if the designer (Michele Rose Orne) couldn't decide between creating a shrug or a cardigan, and ended up with some mutant cross-breed of both.  Pretty lace pattern though.  And kudos for another budget yarn choice: Lion Brand's Microspun.  
  15. Lace Crochet Coat — LOVE!!!  Kristin Omdahl's below-the-knee duster is constructed of huge lacy crocheted medallions with belled sleeves and a tie front.  I have no idea where I will wear this, nor for what occasion, but I'm making it anyway.
  16. Vine Lace Dress — Knee length tank dress with a scoop neck and delicate eyelet vines from neck to hemline.  The pattern calls for patch pockets which, to my eye, are a completely unnecessary detail which interrupts the flow of the dress.  Otherwise, this is a beautifully simple design, and one I'd consider were I a more slender version of myself.  Even so, it's still a possibility in a much shorter length as a casual summer top.
  17. Ripple Pattern Cardigan — Standard-issue 3/4 sleeve flyaway raglan cardigan made special by the choice of yarn and the wide collared V-neck.  The more I look at it, the more I like it.  Not currently queued, but I haven't completely ruled it out.
  18. One Button Cardigan — Okay, so this issue of VK has two "What were they thinking?" pieces.  The chief problem with this otherwise interesting design is the wideness of the neck and the narrowness of the caps of the sleeves.  Yoo hoo!  I have sloping shoulders.  These sleeves would slide right off and droop around my upper arms rather than stay put where they're meant to sit.  They even look like they're about to do the same on the model, and we know she has nice square walking-clothes-hanger shoulders.  That's why she's a model.  I suppose if I really loved this sweater, I could widen that very narrow upper right and left front as well as retool the fit of the upper sleeves to make the garment sit properly on my shoulders.  But I don't love it.  I like the texture of the multiple stitch patterns, and the unique twisted cable at the top of the sleeves, but I don't love the sweater.  So I won't bother.
  19. Textured Top — Nifty tee with short sleeves and a Peter Pan collar, knit in several different textured stitches that unfortunately are mostly lost in the choice of a bi-colored yarn.  I like the yarn (which looks great in the ribbing and the cable stitch, BTW); I like the top, but I don't like them together.  Not completely.  In my queue anyway, because I'm sure I can find a better yarn choice for this pattern.  A plus-sized pattern.
  20. Halter Tank — I'm not entirely sure I understand the fuss over Twinkle, because I have yet to see a design from that source that I like.  This racer-back tank is no exception.  It's not ugly, but it's just not my taste.  Maybe it's an age thing. 
  21. Two Color Top — Top-down raglan with short sleeves and a cowl neck in a nylon/rayon metallic yarn.  Deeply ribbed hem, with the ribbing repeated on the sleeves and cowl.  Cute!  But not for me.
  22. Mitered Top — Scoop-neck sleeveless tank knit in metallic yarn with a sparkly spangled carry-along for the neckline and armholes. Ribbed waist detail, A-line shaping below the waist, and a scalloped hem.  Very dressy.  Not in the queue, but it's a possibility for the right occasion.  A plus-sized pattern.
  23. Pleated Top — A (barely) sport weight yarn in a mohair/silk blend knit on just-one-size-too-large needles results in a nearly sheer lightweight confection of a tee.  Pleated cap sleeves and Swarovski crystals decorating the pleated V-neck make this a sweet sexy special evening out garment.  Another piece I have no idea when or where I'll wear it, but I'm making it anyway.
  24. Ruffled Cardigan — Knit in a sequinned sparkly yarn, this cardigan has barely there cap sleeves and a ruffled neckline and button band. Rhinestone buttons and a split hem make this evening topper extra special.  A plus-sized pattern.
  25. Tank Top — Metallic yarn and a shaped silhouette give pizazz to this otherwise plain-jane tank.  The deep-scoop neck is bordered by ribbing, as are the hem and armholes.  A plus-sized pattern, and a possibility.
  26. Diagonal Rib Top — I put this short-sleeved V-neck tee in my queue because I love the diagonal stitch pattern and lace border around the neckline.  I think it will be just as striking, and more wearable, in something other than the shiny metallic and sequinned suggested yarn. 
  27. Fingerless Gloves — A leaf pattern on the back and an elongated ruffle at the wrist give extra feminity to these sweet mitts.  Pretty, but not for me.
  28. Lace Shawl — You know how I keep saying "I'm not a shawl person"?  This piece might make me change my mind.  Knit with an ultra-fine mohair silk blend, this rectangular shawl looks like it weighs no more than a feather ("feather" is apparently the word of the day) and might even qualify as a wedding ring shawl (which, if you are unfamiliar with the term, is a shawl knit so finely that it can be pulled through a wedding ring).
  29. Lace Socks — Pretty little anklets with several complementary lace patterns.  I just realized I haven't queued these.  Will remedy that as soon as this entry is finished.
  30. Lace Scarf — Simple lace repeats make up this straight-edged rectangular scarf.  Currently not in my queue, but I'm thinking I may have yarn suitable for this piece already stashed, so it is a possibility.  Another potential make-it-quick gift item.
  31. Lace Stockings — Spectacular thigh-high stockings with flowers on the back of the legs, leaves on the front…so demure, so sexy, so bridal!  Too bad I didn't know how to knit when I got married.  Spouse might have gotten the surprise of his life on our wedding night.  *grin*

I'm much more impressed with this issue of VK than the last.  Several plus-sized patterns, several "budget" pieces (either in yarn selection or yarn quantity), and some truly outstanding designs make this issue a real keeper.

Happy knitting!

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Mild mannered government employee, fiendishly obsessed with yarn, books, and Doctor Who, much to her husband's chagrin.

10 thoughts on “Magazine Review: Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2009

  1. If you are planning on making the cover medalion be sure to look up the corrections before starting. I was helping Knittingdude start and we found two errors by row 10. I also had him begin the circle using my "New beginning" (see my Blog for details) only with 6 stitches. It got around the first error in row 2.


  2. thanks for a great review. I am looking to start knitting again and reviews like this help me figure out which magazines and books I want to add to my already gi-normous collection of hobby books/mags.


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