Wednesday, January 24, 2007

REVIEW: Vogue Knitting Winter 2007

As always, things in quotes are from the magazine, and all photos are from the web site. Patterns are referred to by the number assigned in the magazine, not the page number.

First thing I noticed about this VK was that it's thin on patterns: twenty-nine of them. A quick flip through the backlog of VKs laying about shows that usually there are thirty-five to thirty-seven patterns in a winter issue. Considering three of these patterns are hats, they're really cheaping out this time around.

The new yarns are shown (on page 16) in pom-pom form. And just in case you might possibly be able to make out the yarn structure, some idiot sprinkled fake snow on top of them. So all you see are balls of puff. Anyone making pom-poms out of pure cashmere yarn should be flogged. Repeatedly.

There's an article on knitting and knitting books from Canada, like the US has suddenly realized people knit in the Great White North. Duh.

Meg Swansen discusses two-end or twined knitting, with a hat pattern as an example. It's an old Scandinavian technique covered in "Two End Knitting" by Anne-Maj Ling. If you like the technique in the magazine, get the book. I've got it, and it's worth the money. (A sweater made this way is listed in the Year of Me goals.)

Nicky Epstein discusses embroidery which I don't think belongs in a knitting magazine, but I'm a grouch and a purist. They can eat their crochet directions, too.

Article on Brandon Mably. Eh. Is he totally overrated, or is it just me?

Nice article on Scandinavian knitting, for anyone interested in that Strikke-along we've been kicking around. The suggested reading list contains several books in other languages that I've never heard of before, so that's nice.


First section is called "The Big Chill". VERY original. They've got a quote from Shelley to start it off and the whole thing is shot inside a house with fake snow and snowballs laying around. Not the lamest shoot I've ever seen from VK, but it's up there.

1. Lace sweater done in two kinds of yarn (silk and silk/mohair), giving it a cutaway look in the places it's done with thinner yarn. Kind of a cool idea, but in the magazine photo the yarns are two slighly 'off' colors - one greenish, one reddish, and looks really, well, bad. If I could find two perfectly matching yarns and wanted a lace sweater for winter (yeah, that would keep me warm) I'd consider it. Except for that silk/mohair hatred I have.

2. The cover sweater. Modular cabled hexagons sewn together into a shrug thing, with ribbing for the sleeves and neck. This is potentially a cool sweater, if it were made longer and not shown on a model that looks like an anorexic albino. As it is, it looks like complicated-to-knit shoulder pads.

3. Short lace jacket in thick-and-thin yarn. Because if you're going to the bother of knitting lace, you should always use yarn that obscures the stitch pattern. And what is the point of knitting a short sweater out of bulky yarn? Are you trying to stay warm or not?

4. Cabled sweater knit with bulky yarn. Because the sweater just isn't big enough and won't make you look fat enough, with JUST the bulky yarn. Probably is damn warm, though, if you used it as an outside pullover. The neck is pretty horrifying. Not one but TWO layers of bulky ribbing and cables.

5. I bet if the model sat up straight, those bobbles would poke out like a row of nipples on the belly of a pig.

6. Is it possible to come up with a more unflattering shape for a sweater? The idea of knitting a Fair-Isle pattern with variegated yarn is a good one... why not just knit the damn Fair-Isle? Why this patchwork weirdness that not only looks stupid but adds hours to the seaming time and requires two-stranded purling?

7. A knitted patchwork skirt in, among other things, brushed mohair. There are no words. Even the model looks pissed. And the styling... is that a jersey dress that's been sliced up the middle, over top of it??!!??

8. Sideways-knit Fair-Isle. I've been looking at patterns like this for a while now, seeking something with a vertical line that's more flattering to the female figure. While this is the best of the lot that I've seen, what the FUCK is up with the total lack of edging? Are they allergic to it? It looks unfinished as it is. And would curl like crazy if it weren't starched, or the model moved. As it is, I bet they've got it pinned down around that neck line.

Three unnumbered hat patterns, all knit in bulky yarns (which makes finishing a bitch), none flattering. The stocking cap with the rolled brim probably sticks out from your head three inches. VERY Vogue.

"New York Noir" is the next section, with the photos taken in what looks like a studio set up to be a roof top. What with being based in New York and all, I suppose it was too much to ask, that they get outside and take photos of the actual CITY.

9. Knitted jacket. What in HELL is up with that pose? Does the model have scoliosis? Flipping to the back, I can see from the schematics that it's a rather nice tailored jacket. But if your bust measurement is over 45"/114cm, you're shit out of luck.

10. The obligatory knitted dress. Because even if you had the figure to wear one, you'd be SO ready to spend five months knitting it and be done just in time for summer. Assholes.

11. Every girl needs a row of eyelets right across her tits.

12. Striped bolero shrug thingie. Okay. Is it me, or does this model look freaky, like one of those composite photos where they turn a person's eyes upside down?

13. I like this, but does "Knit a garter-stitch rectangle with short rows on one side for ruffles" REALLY count as a pattern? And for some dumbass reason it's not listed as a "Very easy, Very Vogue" pattern.

14. For some reason I can't explain, I like this. Even though it's really fussy compared to what I normally wear, with all those ruffles. But as a coat? You'd catch pneumonia with that open chest. And it would turn into the Knit from Hell if you used the recommended yarn - a boucle mohair. Boucle mohair. Hahahahaha. Right. I'd rather cut off a few of my fingers.

15. Cabled pink cardigan with 3/4 length sleeves. Nice enough, but I'd knit it in cotton and wear it as a spring jacket, not for winter.

16. Ditto for this one. Pink bolero with short sleeves and a lace inset. Not terribly warm for winter. And the construction method is INSANE: knit everything, even the ties, as separate pieces and sew together. 'Cause knitters love seaming so much.

Next up is a section entitled "Designer's Resort Crochet". Resort. Crochet. It's shot in a makeup studo, so so much for that resort thing. AND IT'S NOT FUCKING VOGUE CROCHET, NOW, IS IT, MOTHERFUCKERS?


17. Grey crocheted dress that's so openwork you'd have to wear it over another dress. Ugly color and about as warm as fish net.

18. Little lace camisole/tank top. Also about as warm as wearing nothing. And what is UP with the model's hands? She looks like she should be auditioning for the role of the alien in "Alien: Resurrection".

"Man to Man" is the next section, making me roll my eyes before I even read the text. "Men can be such finicky boys when it comes to knits." Let's not be patronizing or anything. And FYI, the husbeast would not be caught dead in any of them. The gimmick is, they had men design all these. Yeah, like that made a difference.

19. By Brandon Mably. Maybe if you left out the giant, honkin', stupid hand print on the front. And dropped shoulders are SO flattering on men. Har.

20. By Leigh Witchel (??) Uh... yeah. Fussy enough?

21. I am imagining giving the husbeast a sweater with an asymetric hem line and having him ask me what was wrong with it and how come I screwed it up.

22. Sweater vest with a pattern of purl squares over it. In red, white, and blue. Not bad if you changed the colors. If you know a guy who wears sweater vests these days. Anyone? Maybe I hang out with too many engineering types.

Next section, "Coat Check" also shot in a photography studio. They went to great lengths on this issue, I can tell.

23. Knee-length coat in five shades of brown. The yarn is held double throughout. Nice enough, but it'd cost a fortune to knit and the weight would have it down to your ankles after the first wearing.

24. Cabled-all-over coat. In beige. Eh.

25. Knee-length ribbed coat knit in CAMEL. Yeah, that's affordable. Probably the least inoffensive of these coats, but it reminds me of a bath robe.

"The Subject is Roses" is our last and final section. More like flowers, but the Plant Freak in me will let that one slide. And of all places to do a photo shoot, yeah, let's have one in an over-cluttered kitchen. Grand idea.

26. Floral dress. It's hydrangeas on it, matter of fact, not roses. (I know this 'cause it's by Annie Modisett and I read her blog.) I'll bet the model is holding that pillow the way she is because it makes even her ass and hips look fat. By the way, Modisett was told to knit a floral dress, so she did... it's not really the deisgner's fault on a lot of these things. Often even the yarn is dictated.

27. Boxy, off-the-shoulder blue sweater with bigass roses done in intarsia. This model is probably a size six and she looks huge. Oh yes, I'll have one of these. (Still, it'd be nice to rip off the rose pattern for a knitted bag.)

28. Little floral shirt thingie. I like it, but it says 'spring' to me, or even 'summer', not 'winter issue of Vogue Knitting'. And that cute little lace edging? It's machine-made and sewn on. Isn't that cheating?

29. Black chenille kimono with big floral motifs duplicate-stitched on it. Nice, but with that pose over the stove I keep waiting for the sleeve to catch fire.

And that concludes this winter's Vogue Knitting, because they ripped us off for about six patterns.


Amy Lane said...

Laughing my ASS off...seriously--I'm yelling at kids to shut up and busting into giggles here..too damned funny, and it summarizes all the things I hate about Vogue most of the time anyway...I mean, I live in the Nor-Cal bible belt--if any man I knew tried to wear those sweaters he'd get the snot beat out of him, and that includes the ones who've been out of the closet since puberty. And I'm a fat woman--it should be against the law for a fat woman to get within ten yards of giant flowered ANYTHING, so to see those flowered things make a model look fat, it just kills me that someone thought that would be a good idea.

debsnm said...

Knit N Style - a magazine I quit buying because their stuff was so bad - had 3 coats in the winter issue, one of which is a cabled coat (one-size, finished chest is 50"). I bought it for the coats, and am currently screwing up the cabled one. Sounds like VK thought a cabled coat would be good for the winter, too. I haven't seen the new issue yet, but I'd like to have a look at that coat.

April said...

Tom Cruise wears sweater vests; maybe I should knit him one.

Nah, he's freak. Forget that idea.

VK, we hate it and yet we keep buying it. Hope springs eternal.

Anonymous said...

*sigh* you OWE me a new keyboard, woman. I just spit green tea all over it...

I'm with amy--I'm DYING over here. THANK YOU for my you knit what fix.

::toddles off for a tea refill::


Bells said...

I can safely say I will never buy this magazine. Why bother when all I need to know about shit I'm never gonna knit is right here in the most entertaining summary you could imagine.

I can almost face my day at work now that I've cracked a smile.

Catie said...

I will likely still buy this issue. They usually have something that I like - and I do like the articles. But this is from someone who also buys the even worse K1 Magazine (also from Vogue, no wonder). I'm on the verge of stopping myself from buying K1 but the things they knit are just SO wierd that I can't help myself. In contrast though, I just subscribed to Interweave Knits. I wish that one came out more often. What do y'all think of Knitscene?

Just so you know though, if any of you intend to start sewing don't buy Vogue sewing patterns - my mom says they are unnecessairly complicated. And she's been sewing for over 30 years at least.


Melissa said...

I just was flipping through VK at Chapters (like the US Borders or Barnes & Noble) today, so this review was quite good timing. I wondered if it was just me that found the styling idiotic, the models rather albino-esque, the knitwear horrendously ugly, and the entire issue rather skimpy on patterns. I'm not! Huzzah! But you said it much more humorously than I ever could.

PS. I hate VK, but I buy every issue just in case it's changed. Why? It's like constantly being stood up ... you keep waiting and waiting, thinking they'll change, but they never do. I need to just permanently dump VK for Interweave Knits already. Oh yes, and Catie - I buy Knit 1 just to laugh at the patterns. My husband particularly enjoyed the Valentine's themed issue, what with the anatomically correct knitted heart and all. If I'm going for funky, pseudo-hip patterns, I'll pick KnitScene anyday - I just wish they'd make it regular magazine size. I hate that tiny size. And thank goodness, last time I checked, Knitscene avoids knitted body parts.

Rae said...

Oh my, how I miss the "You knit What??" blog. You're filling a gaping hole by posting this. ;)

Terby said...


Thanks Julie. I needed that. I did find the capecho (weird non-word there) interesting, not something wearable, but in more of a conceptual way. But no - this issue didn't do it for me either.

Sheepish Annie said...

Saw it...didn't buy it. Didn't even feel guilty or think that I was being less than open to the idea of more challenging patterns. Just put it back and decided to finish knitting a sock.

I am soooo not vogue...

Bells said...

Got a question.

Have YOU ever knit anything from Vogue Julie???

Julie said...

Not that I can remember. But I do have a stack of knitting magazines here, including Vogue, with patterns in them I want to knit. Maybe next year can be my year of 'knit stuff out of this pile of magazines'.

But I can't find anything in this issue I'd knit. Even the sideways Fair-Isle I'd adapt.

Catie said...

I'm knitting #19 from VK fall 2006.

Anonymous said...

Good review. Thought about buying this issue and decided to save my $$ for other stuff.

KnittyLynn said...

Ok, thinking the bobbles look like pig nipples is my fav comment of this review!
Glad to know I wasn't the only one who noticed how light this was. For god sake's winter is THE season for knits, I understand if the summer issue is thin...

Anonymous said...

Ah, now I remember why I discontinued the Vogue subscription - about a decade ago. Yikes! Thanks for the giggles!

Bonnie said...

Oh my! I just had to come out of lurkdom to say that your review was great. Words escape me regarding most of those designs. The man's sweater with the hand on the front is just mind blowing, with the asymmetrical man's sweater coming in a strong second for the WTF were they thinking category.

Thanks...I'll laugh about these all day.

Catie said...

BTW, Canada isn't cold all the time... A lot of the time it is but I think VK is perpetuating a myth that Canadians live in igloos. They talk about Canada in the "big chill" edition, I find this funny.

Anonymous said...

Great post Julie

How dooo you find the time for everything... If you are ever feeling blue, remind yourself of all you get done... its truely inspiring

Julie said...

I grew up just on the other side of Lake Erie from Canada, so I know there are parts of the country that are quite warm in the summer. But it also gets darn cold in the winter, so I'd say it's a fine place for hand-knits. ;)

Anonymous said...

#5 , I was thinking fish gills...

Foilwoman said...

I'll chip in $5 I can't afford to buy this blogger a ticket to wherever VK is published so that she can slap them silly. The comment on the bulky yarns obscuring the lace! Thank you. I love to knit lace. Use sock yarn or, at heaviest, sportweight.

junior_goddess said...

Bravo. Because I am sick of Brandon Mably scribbling yarn on refrigerator boxes and calling them sweaters! I LIKE some of the lines-like the red sweater, but the morse code on the boobs has GOT to go.


Gail said...

You nailed this issue! When I saw the asymetric hem line on that men's sweater the first thing I thought of was how many men would think "hmmm, she screwed this one up good!"

Maybe I just don't get Vogue.

Bev in TN said...

A great big Thanks to you for this knitting public service! When is saw the bit about Meg Swansen and twined knitting I was so close to subscribing to VK. Phew, close brush with waste of precious knitting bucks :-o I've got a library copy of Twined's great but I need a little more visually to get me started with any hope of success.

Anonymous said...

Couple of years from now when you are in the mood for kintting intarsia, you will be wishing you still had that Vogue magazine you hated so much.

I keep buying them too and think, gosh that is awful who would wear that! Then a year or two later I'm looking for that pattern. Guess Vogue is just ahead of their time and you have recongnized that.

I don't know about you, but I cringe at the site of the dowdy sweater patterns in Knit n style, interwesve knits, just to name a few. The patterns look like something an 80 year old woman would wear in a nursing home, now if that is your style.........

Julie said...

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

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