Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bugger it.

(How's that for a new title in my apparent stream of profanity-ridden posts?)

The baby's down for a nap and I should be knitting neck ribbing or eating breakfast, or napping myself, and here I am in front of the computer. I SWORE I would never again do a project-by-project review of Vogue Knitting, but... but... it's a compulsion. I can't help myself. And now that the folks over at "You Knit What?" have hung up their keyboards, SOMEONE on the 'net has to point out how insanely awful some of these patterns are. (Plus I'm in a bitch of a mood and this is a fine outlet that doesn't involve kicking my cat.) I don't intend to point out the hideousness on a full time basis... maybe, you know, quarterly, when VK comes out.

As always, all images copyright Vogue Knitting. All images from the VK web site, except for the Kors Monstrosity, which I scanned from the magazine (shoot me! shoot me now!). But it's all theirs. Text is my own unless it's in quotes, then it's from them.

And away we go.

First off, I must comment on a few of the articles:

There's an Entrelac workshop that'd be useful if you've never done it before, but the final project is a freaking COAT (uh, little large for a trial run, don't you think? How about a scarf? A hat? A dishrag?) that is insanely unflattering. Just the wrong length, just too bulky, and in case your waist hasn't been totally lost, they hiked the belt up to just under the model's armpits. They're going to claim that's an empire waistline, but I've seen empire waistlines and that's not one; it's a belt under someone's armpits.

Meg Swansen wrote a quickie article on sock knitting, mostly about her mother's forays into it, as she herself doesn't enjoy it much. (Interesting.)

Didja know Tracey Ullman knits? A lot? Neither did I. Probably the best article in the lot, and maybe the only thing worth spending money on in the magazine.

There's also an article on the history of socks that I take exception to (having done some fairly extensive research on the history of knitting myself), but that's a rant for another day. The person writing the article cannot possibly have ever studied archeology (yes, I have; though I don't have a degree I get the basic gist of it). At least they attribute the invention of knitting to the Middle East. But gloves knit before socks? Please. There's no fricking way. (Will not rant, will not rant...)

Photos from the fall runway shows, giving trends in knitwear. Whoever coined the term 'retrosexual' should be flogged. Or at least bitch-slapped.

Maybe if I'm still feeling bitchy tomorrow I'll do a review of the sweaters in the advertisements. The best part is often the look on the model's faces. "Get me out of this piece of shit, NOW."

THE PROJECTS: (I'll refer to them by number, not page.)

1. Got enough going on, in this sweater? Cables, Fair-Isle, belts, buttons, shawl collar, a partridge in a pear tree? I wonder at the knitting method, too; stranding the fair-isle colors across those cables is going to make for some real snag-ability on the inside. But knitting it any other way would be a royal pain in the keester. And it's JUST long enough to make your hips look like they belong on a rhinocerous.

2. This is nice, in that the shape/cut itself is figure-flattering, but can we get any more obvious about BIG HORIZONTAL LINES ACROSS OUR BOOBS? It's a big drawback to traditional designs, that horizontal stripe factor, but it IS possible to work around it. Oy.

3. Deep V-neck pullover with ruffled/gathered hem line. This is one designed to wear over something else, and anyone with even remotely generous boobs would be sending the message HEY LOOK AT MY TITS when she wore it (not saying that's automatically a bad thing; just saying). Plus I'm fairly sure that pretty waistline would add enough bulk to make the average waist disappear. (Dunno about you, but my waist needs all the help it can get.)

4. Cardigan with 3/4 length sleeves and a 'cutaway cropped' waistline. I kinda like it, but I suspect this is a Yarn Company Special (something a yarn company paid to have their yarn used in) because it's made of Muench's "Touch Me" which is so weirdly unappropriate for this style, and would cost a FORTUNE to knit. As I recall, "Touch Me" is 100% Rayon which would sag down to your knees in a second.

5. They're calling this a shawl, but it looks more like a scarf on growth hormones (you need to see it full length for the total effect; they cropped the photo for the web site). If they hacked it down to a useable length and width, I think it'd be really pretty. I like the floral stripes in the solid color. (Oh, but wait! If they make it small it won't use as much Rowan yarn that they're trying to sell!)

6. Blue cardigan in a light-weight yarn with multiple textures. Fifty bucks says they had to pin down the waist to make it hang right for the photo. Even with the pins it looks kinda wonky.

7. Blue V-neck pullover with a light cable pattern and gathered, almost puffy sleeve caps. (??) Nice enough. Probably not flattering to anyone with wide shoulders, though if you have a big bust/small waist combo it could look good. Though the bust only goes up to 40 in/101 cm in the pattern, so if your bust is bigger than that, VK doesn't care about you. (Will not rant, will not rant...)

SOCKS! There's an actual sock section this time around, which blows me away -- Vogue Knitting doing something that might be considered topical?? Sock knitting has been popular for how many years now? It took them how long? Oh well, pat on the head for effort, anyway. And they did use their pull to get in some good designers.

8. Meg Swansen's 'Arch-Shaped Socks'. A total trip, which I suppose should be expected. I'm considering an all-stripe ankle-high version for myself. (In something fun, like pink and orange, or pink and a variegated blue.) The foot shaping is a total mind-bender.

9. "Embroidered Knee-Highs". I can't imagine knitting these and actually wearing them, unless I had a lot of knitting guild meetings to go to, where I wanted to show off and act nutty. The pom-poms at the knees are... are... eek.

10. These look an AWFUL lot like Pomatomi, but with as long as print publishing takes, I'm not sure it was possible to rip off the pattern from Knitty and get it into VK this fast. Still...

11. Pastel lace socks from Cat Bordhi with some interesting (at least to me, but I don't cruise sock patterns too much) shaping around the ankle/top of foot to fit in the lace sections.

12. Nancy Bush (I worship her) weighs in with some insanely complex yet really wearable traveling-stitch socks inspired by a trip to Estonia. (Where else would a knitter go on vacation?)

13. Ribby-cable socks with red toe, heel, and ankle accents. Kinda traditional, kinda not. Kinda cool.

14. Stockings by Joan-McGowan-Mitchell. Pretty.

15. Scandinavian socks by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts (to whom I also have set up a shrine).

I'm just so blown away by the idea of Vogue Knitting offering up sock patterns - something popular - by well-known sock knitters, I can't think of a negative thing to say. If they keep this up they might sell a lot of magazines.

THE DESIGNERS: "Four utterly diverse yet equally head-turning sweaters". Yeah. That's for sure.

16. The Michael Kors cover sweater. (I cropped the photo off the web site 'cover' page; the web site doesn't offer a full-length photo, for good reason.) This is supposedly 'long, lean, and luscious' and according to the cover, 'the sweater of the season'. My ASS. And everyone else's, too. I checked the pattern to be sure - NO SHAPING. Not for the bust, not for the waist. And it's long, hitting that just-under-the-butt line that makes even the skinniest posterior look like two iguanas fighting in a knitted white bag. If you cropped this thing off at the waist when knitting it, it'd make a nice enough cable knit. Though it's nothing special. (Except the yarn. It's cashmere. Cashmere to your knees. Another ploy to sell lots of yarn? YOU THINK?)

17. The Monstrosity. There are no words. (Well, there are lots of words. I'm trying to keep this post shorter than the Library of Congress.) Bet he was paid to use that super-bulky by the yarn company (which would be Cascade, FYI).

18. Patchwork bolero. Patchwork... bolero... Sophisticated cut... down-home fabric.... riiiight.

19. The standard knitted jacket found in every copy of Vogue Knitting since the dawn of time. (Shawl collar, a few cables, knitted belt.) This one's knit out of cashmere. Another yarn company special, I betcha.

HOBO CHIC. That's right, there's a section known as 'Hobo Chic' this time around. I'm betting this is the same stylist who put the fucking chickens in the summer issue's farm theme. Here the theme seems to be packing material. I bet they spent a fortune on THIS shoot.

20. Fuzzy rust-orange sweater with oddly ribbed sleeves and a cowl neck. With rope tied around it. Yeah. Makes what is probably a size-six model look fat. Oh yeah, knit me one of those.

21. Knitted jacket. Too many pockets, and what's with the gap down the front AFTER it's fastened??!!?? Hello, frostbite. The point of wearing jackets is to STAY WARM, which is kind of defeated if you can't close them. Honestly.

22. By Brandon Mably. I swear I've seen this exact vest somewhere before... darn if I can remember where. Kaffee Fassett probably knit it twenty years ago. And let's make it REAL LONG so it bags around the hips of everyone who wears it! SO flattering!

23. It pisses me off when I see bad finishing on sweaters in magazines. When I can do a better job than what's there, it's pathetic. (Look at the front left shoulder. The edges don't match up. Come ON.) And yet again we have a sweater that makes a size six look fat. PASS!

24. A nice pullover reminding me vaguely (for some reason) of Star Trek uniforms... that big vertical line down the front would be slimming. Epaulets, on the other hand are just... just.. oh, for crying out loud (maybe that's where the Star Trek mental link is coming from?) And it's knit out of alpaca. Hello, heat stroke.

25. Generic overgrown stockinette-with-garter edge coat, knit with a thick-thin variegated yarn that makes the whole thing look like one vast, giant mistake. Ungh.

GRAY'S ANATOMY: An entire section of gray sweaters. You know gray makes most people look like a day-old corpse, right? And they got a model with silver hair to model everything, and her hair doesn't match the sweaters... And people wonder why I dye my white hair purple. Eesh.

26. I like this except I bet the braid around the neckline is insanely bulky. And I wonder why she's posed like that. Bad sleeve caps? I bet. Or bad finishing on bad sleeve caps. Those seams look wonky.

27. Overgrown gray cable-knit. The cables are REAL BIG which means the fabric is REAL BULKY which means you'll look REAL HUGE. And another weird pose, again making me wonder what's wrong with the sweater other than the obvious.

28. A 'rib warmer' that doesn't cover the ribs. Why? WHY??!!??

29. I'm glad we've got a photo of this because I lack the words to describe it. All that bulk, slap on the middle of your chest. I repeat... WHY??!!??

30. Nice little pullover with some knit/purl texture. Wearable, especially if someone knit it in a flattering color. I wonder what happened. They're slipping up in the VK editorial office.

31. Alpaca cardigan. Heat stroke time. Not sure I like the asymmetric collar/neckline thingie, but at least it adds a vertical line to the whole thing.

OPPOSITES ATTRACT: "Black and white and mod all over. Witness the magnetic pull of polar extremes." Yeah, RIGHT. They left this entire section out of the web site preview. Coincidence? I seriously doubt it. And who in HELL uses the term 'mod' any more? Do you guys use it in the UK? Australia? New Zealand? Anyone? Anyone? Leave a comment if you've said 'mod' in the last forty years unless you were imitating Austin Powers.

32. Knee-length coat in black and white diamonds. The bottom hem is ribbing so that it sucks in and makes the wearer look like a mushroom. The look on the model's face might be worth the cost of the magazine, though. She's THRILLED to be there.

33. Sleeveless pullover in some silveryglittery overgrown yarn with black trim. No shape. None. And extra heavy, black ribbing in the vague area of your waist, to bulk it up so it looks like you don't have one.

34. Zippered black and white jacket. When I was a little girl, I had a navy blue and cream houndstooth coat that would make my eyes cross when I looked at it. This jacket reminds me of that.

35. Beige seed or moss stitch vest/boob display/waist disguise thingie. With a bigass shawl collar to use up more yarn. But it's "Very Easy, Very Vogue." I guess that makes it okay.

36. Silver and black, horizontally striped pullover. The silver yarn isn't fuzzy, but the black yarn is, so every other stripe looks an inch bigger than the other. With a matching, half-assed... I can't call it a scarf. Long strip of knitting. Ever seen a woolybear?

37. Silver, short-sleeved pullover with a cowl neck hanging most of the way to the model's waist. (Hello, cleavage. Nice to meet you.) There's a big chunky belt hung around the model's waist so I assume there's no waist shaping and it fits like a sack.

And this concludes the Vogue Knitting, Fall 2006 review.

But probably not the bitchery. Hahaha.


April said...

excellent, excellent review. i've been knitting for 20+ years and have never knitted a single Vogue Knits pattern. apparently that trend will continue. although some of the sock patterns aren't too bad. but pom poms?

and what the hell is up with Nancy Bush and Estonia? where the hell is Estonia?

Anonymous said...

I loved your review, thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting them have it. They deserve it! Idiots making stupid patterns that make people look stupid.

Julie said...

Anyone else wanting to comment on this review is welcome to e-mail me at

Comments have been closed.