Magazine review: Vogue Knitting Holiday 2009

When IK's winter issue landed it my mailbox a couple days ago, I realized I was behind on magazine reviews.  Again.  Good thing I don't get paid for this:  I'd starve.

First impression:  Wow!  That's some red lipstick.

Second impression:  Pretty sweater.  Not too sure about that bow.

What's New showcases an entire page of cable needles, made from materials as mundane as plastic and exotic as rosewood.  I especially like the cable needle as necklace:  an abstract silver and brass heart with a tail on a leather thong from Leslie Wind.

News:  After reading about Mary Taylor and her plans to knit her way through Nicki Epstein's Knitting On Top Of The World over the next four years, I've been vacillating between (a) thinking she is absolutely insane and (b) wanting to join her or, alternately, start my own similarly insane knitting quest.  That Rowan Vintage Knits sitting on my bookshelf might make a good candidate….  And, of course, now that I've taken a look at KOTOTW, it's gone on my list of knit books to buy.

Yarns: Bison and muskox yarns in a variety of weights and blends.  The more I read about these fibers, the more I want to buy a skein.

Library features books from several familiar names, such as Nicki Epstein and Debbie Bliss.  The most interesting offering is Knitting Art: 150 Works from 18 Contemporary Artists by Karen Searle.  Keep in mind, however, "interesting" doesn't mean "I like it."  Most of the knitted art pieces I've seen featured in magazines over the last couple of years are simply butt fugly.  Still, that chair and the abstract human forms on the cover are intriguing.  I wouldn't mind at least paging through the book, although it's not a likely purchase.

Spotlight on Regia Yarns, which celebrates its 60th birthday this year.  Did you know the company, founded in post-war Germany, pioneered the production of synthetic blend washable wool yarns?  Neither did I.  Considering I've heard nothing but accolades about their yarns, one day I must actually use Regia to make a pair of socks.

Meg Swansen
writes the second of three columns about family hat designs.  This month's featured design is a tri-color watchcap with a "belt" about the brim which can be made in multiple colors and switched out at the wearer's whim.  Okay.  It's kind of cute.  And the huge yarn means it's a superquick knit.  I'm beginning to think I'm some sort of knitting heretic, though, because I've yet to see a Zimmermann/Swansen design of any sort that impresses me.  But then again, perhaps I don't know enough (read: anything) about Elizabeth Zimmermann's contributions to modern knitting techniques.  Perhaps one of her books should be my next knit library purchase.

Speaking of Techniques, Jared Flood continues the "convert that flat knit to a seamless knit" tutorial he began in the VK Fall 2009 issue.  In this issue, he discusses yokes and sleeves.  Good stuff, with diagrams and everything.

Veronik Avery is the featured designer in KnitLife, discussing design, yarn, family, and launching her own company, St.-Denis.

Hey!  Patterns!  You can see the previews here, but probably only until the next issue of VK is published.

VK's first story in this issue is "Color Vibes" — an array of vibrant hues and bold patterns, both traditional and cutting edge.

#1 Empress Jacket:  15 different colors of a fingering-weight yarn, mitered squares, multi-directional knitting, wow!  A beautiful long-sleeve kimono-type tunic-length jacket.  Construction: multiple mitered squares make up front and back panels which are then sewn to each other and to the sleeves.  A project that will consume much time, but the result?  This is art that's actually wearable.  What a shame it's modeled over a badly-clashing orangy plaid jumper.  While I love this piece, and it's wearable, it's not something I would ever wear, nor would anyone else I love enough to invest the kind of time required to knit this.  So, let me express my admiration from afar, and not place it in the Ravelry queue.

#2 Slip Stitch/Cable Cardigan:  A long-sleeve boatneck multi-color cardigan with a cabled rib on the bottom half, and a slip-stitch Faux Isle pattern from the waist up.  With the bulky yarn specified, this should be a fairly quick knit.  Its predominately crimson color scheme is just the thing to brighten up a gloomy winter day.  Not in the queue, but it's a possibility.

#3 Heart Yoke Cardigan:  The most traditional piece in this story, this long-sleeve purple cardi is knit in the round and sports Fair Isle hearts in black and white on its yoke.  Traditional fit, raglan sleeves, sport-weight yarn, really really cute.  A plus-size pattern.  Not in the queue, but it's a possibility.

#4 Dolman Pullover:
  Your basic dolman-sleeve sweater rescued from the ordinary by its clever use of color.  To quote the magazine copy, Kaffe Fassett "reverses his intarsia stripes diagonally"…aw hell, that doesn't tell you anything.  Go look at the picture.  What's cool about this piece is it uses only two colorways of Rowan's Colorscape, and the yarn does all the color-change work for you.  Dolman sleeves do not flatter my figure, however; this particular piece will not go in the Ravelry queue, although I'm storing the stripe reversing idea in the back of my brain.  A plus-size pattern.

#5 Fair Isle Cardigan:  An all-over stylized-flower pattern in white and blue with brilliant orange on the button band and cuffs.  Very pretty.  Construction: knit in the round with steeks.  Eek.  I love this cardi but steeks?  *shiver*  I conquered my fear of DPNs.  I have not conquered my fear of steeks.

#6 Fair Isle Yoke Top:
  A short sleeve Tee (for winter?  really?)  in basic black with a traditional Fair Isle yoke pattern in multiple blues and white.  Knit in the round.  I like this a lot, despite the silly lace sleeved undershirt worn by the model.  Stylists.  Sheesh.  Sometimes I wonder about them.  Regardless, it's a possibility, although I expect if I make it I'll lengthen the sleeves.

#7 Fair Isle Hoodie:
  What is it with designers making short-sleeved winter wear?  A fur-trimmed hood on a short-sleeved zipped jacket makes no sense whatsoever.  Ahem.  Okay.  I love the rich brown body with orange, blue, and white Fair Isle detail around the yoke and above the deep ribbing at the bottom edge.  I even sort of like the furry hood.  I do NOT like the short sleeves.  Therefore, if I make this, sleeves will be 3/4 length at a minimum.

#8 V Neck Pullover:  A long-sleeved top with a rich cobalt blue upper body and a Navaho-inspired colorwork pattern in turquoise, cream, and gold below the waist.  This is flat gorgeous, even if the stylist did put the model in shorts.  (For winter.  Go figure.)  In my Ravelry queue.

For our second story, we are to Think Big.  Cowls knit from huge yarn.  I pretty much skimmed right past this section.  Remember how I'm not a shawl person?  I'm not really a cowl person either.

#9 Seed Stitch Cowl:
  A mitered ribbing yoke and a fold-over seed stitch collar form this shoulder-covering cowl knit  in bright neon yellow uber-chunky yarn.  This is so big the model can't put her coat on over it.

#10 Ribbed Cowl:
Another shoulder-covering oversized turtleneck of a cowl with a garter welt yoke and 2×2 ribbing on the fold-over collar.  Must be worn over the coat as well.  Which is okay, I guess, but I don't like it.

#11 Eyelet Cowl:
  The only piece in this bunch I gave a second glance.  A gorgeous multi-hued gold yarn in a bulky wool/angora/cashmere blend, knit in big eyelet with an I-cord drawstring, and deliberately constructed so it can be pulled over one's head as a hood (or wimple) or worn as a traditional neck-warmer.  The best thing?  It isn't soooo huge that it would prevent wearing a coat!  So, even though I'm not a cowl person, I'm giving this piece serious consideration.

#12 Cabled Cowl:
  A giant shapeless pink tube with cables and ribbing.  Woo.  More covered shoulders, too.  I suppose this piece could be co-opted as a hood like #11, but I'm not interested enough to even read the pattern.

The pieces in A Softer Shade of Pale, knit in quiet neutrals or pastels, provide a subdued and elegant counterpoint to the exuberant color we encountered several pages ago.

#13 Cable Tunic:
  A diagonal cable twisting across the front and along the 3/4 sleeves of this cream-colored knit is highlighted by the reverse stockinette background.  The deep asymmetric cabled V-neck adds a subtle finish to the tunic-length pullover.  Sophisticated evening wear as shown over a satin skirt, although I imagine it could be dressed down and worn to the office as well.  A plus size pattern.

#14 Diamond Capelet:
  A shawl by any other name would still smell like a shawl.  Dolman-shaped, with deep ribbing and an I-cord drawstring in a winter white alpaca.  I love the texture of the diamond stitch, though, and may adapt the stitch pattern for use elsewhere.

#15 Bow Neck Pullover:  Here's the cover knit with its richly textured cables and eyelets.  Knit from the bottom up with first three strands of sport-weight merino, then two, then one, and finished off with a laceweight mohair at the boat-shaped neckline.  Full length bell sleeves echo the triangular shape of the body.  Very pretty.  Again, this is modeled with a satin skirt as if for evening, but I can also see it with dark slacks or a slim skirt for office, and even with slim-legged jeans for weekend wear, especially if the mohair bow is left off and the neck finished with a few rows of ribbing.  Not in the queue, but still a possibility.

#16 Nordic Pullover:
  A 3/4 sleeve top with a square neck, cable and lace yoke, and a knit/purl "snowflake" pattern on the lower body and lower sleeve.  (I think they look like poinsettias myself.)  As shown in baby blue, it's sweet.  I'd rather make this in a deep rich jewel tone.  A possibility.

#17 Cable Cardigan:
  Cables, bobbles, and other textures give an Aran-like feel to this belted tunic cardigan.  Knit sideways for the most part using a sportweight merino, this is a piece I'd be tempted to make just to test the technique.  Sure, it's pretty, and I really like the stitchwork on the back, but the garter welts and bobbles around the neck will add unnecessary bulk to my top half.  That loopy freeform cable on the yoke, though, has really caught my attention.  A possibility.

#18 Lace V-Neck Top:
  Once upon a time, a long time ago, I had a lace V-neck pullover, knit in pure white cotton.  I wore that sweater everywhere: over blouses in winter, as a bathing suit coverup in spring and autumn, and sometimes, in certain circumstances, over nothing at all.  It was my favorite piece of clothing for many years.  One day, after one too many washes, it simply fell apart, and I never found another one like it.  Until I turned to page 66 in this issue of VK, and found my sweater again, this time done up with sumptuous Alpaca Silk in a gorgeous silvery oyster color.  Horseshoe lace, long sleeves, deeply scooped V-neck.  Oh yeah.  It's in the queue.

#19 Ruffle Edge Cardigan:
  Long sleeved fitted cardigan with knit ruffles along the neckline and front opening, and over the shoulder like epaulets.  Okay.  First thing, let me say I appreciate the creativity here, in both the design itself and in the fact the stylist put the model in a dress with soutache embroidery that mimic the ruffles on the cardi.  The curly-Q knitting around the neck and front aren't that bad, and the fact that the piece doesn't fasten in front is easily remedied with a little widening of the front panels and one hook and eye closure at the waist.  But seriously, knit ruffles over the shoulders and around the armhole seam?  That's just plain silly.

We now go beyond the pale where Plum's The Word.  One of my colleagues loooooves purple, and she is plumb tickled (*snerk*) that this shade is this year's "it" color.  These designs look great in variations of this royal hue, although they could be made in any color you choose.

#20 Crossover Top:
  Short sleeved V neck constructed of a yoke and raglan sleeves, with a long band knit separately, then wrapped around and crossed in front.  Really cute, and really young. 

#21 Cabled Yoke Pullover:  Gorgeous cables on this knit-in-the-round mock turtleneck.  I like the split neck opening with the oversized buttons.  I'm not overly crazy about the reverse stockinette body, but I'm gradually becoming accustomed to the idea of wearing knits that look like they're inside out.  A possibility.

#22 Cropped Cardigan:  All over cables, long sleeves, and a construction that allows the piece to be worn open with a deep front V, or closed with a boat neck.  Intriguing.  A possibility.

#23 Wrap Cable Jacket:
  LOVE!  More all over cables, sideways construction, and a wide V-neck in a one-button flyaway cardigan.  The recommended yarn is a cashmere/silk blend.  I think it would be equally gorgeous in bamboo.  In the queue.

Through The Looking Glass is the "what were they thinking?" section of this issue.  Not the designs so much, although a couple of them are questionable, but the theme.  Alice in Wonderland?  Really?  I'm a huge Lewis Carroll fan, but come on.  What does Alice have to do with knitting?  At least they didn't quote Jabberwocky.

#24 Lace Beret:
  "Too cute" copy doesn't take anything away from the gorgeousness of this cap and its pattern of traveling lace.  The recommended yarn is a sport-weight cashmere/merino/silk blend.  Not in the queue only because I don't know who I would make this for…this sort of hat doesn't look right on me.

#25 Fingerless Gloves:
  I finally figured out who wears this type of lace gauntlet.  The goths.  And maybe the Ren Faire folk.  According to the pattern, the gloves are constructed of different sizes of lace medallions, sewn together.  I think these gloves might be pretty, but I can't really tell because of the goofy way the stylist posed the model.  Drink me, indeed.

#25 Medallion Scarf:
  The trouble with this piece is: I can't see it.  Not very well, anyway, because it's made from a dark blue yarn, and worn by a model who is also wearing a dark blue dress.  Looks like we have circles and bobbles and dangly bits.  And it's worn as if it's a shawl rather than a scarf.

#27 Vintage Baby Dress:
  Utterly adorable dress with garter stitch bodice and eyelet skirt, and a velvet ribbon tie.  *sigh*  I don't know anyone with a baby young enough for this sweet piece.

#28 Lace Socks:
  LOVE!  Can't get enough lace socks, and this is a very pretty, criss-crossy lace down the back, front and instep, combined with an upside-down wishbone lace on either side.  In the queue.

#29 Braided Cowl:
  Skinny knitted tubes braided together.  Uh. No.  But this piece gave me a chance to take a good look at the model.  I think she's 12.

And finally, in Designer Details, we take a look at the cutting edge in knit design.

#30 Fitted Jacket:  Another example of the stylist mucking up the featured piece by dressing the model in a clashing and/or too similar print.  I think this salt and pepper jacket by Anna Sui may have been inspired by the jackets worn by My Chemical Romance in the video The Black Parade.  Unfortunately, the model is dressed in a splashy black and white print dress so it's virtually impossible see any real detail.  Too bad.  Because I think I like it.

#31 Ribbed Jacket:
  A short-sleeved jacket from Twinkle with all over 3×3 ribbing knit in super bulky Soft Chunky.  Structurally similar to #22 above, with the unfastened deep V front or fastened boatneck.  This isn't bad, but I still don't get the fuss over Twinkle.

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