Saturday, August 04, 2007

Vogue Knitting 25th Anniversary Issue Part Two

So, the patterns. I refer to them by pattern number in the magazine, not page number. And anything in quotes is from the magazine. Having REALLY looked at this issue, I've decided that not only does the stylist need flogged, but the copy editor should be shot, too. I've been really thinking about it lately, and what frustrates me so much is that Vogue Knitting claims to be all about high fashion and glamour. Which, okay, fine. But why, then, do they produce so much stupid, dumpy crap? It's like they've got multiple personality disorder - they're very Vogue and very glamorous, except for when they don't feel like it. HUH?

SUBLIME SHINE: is the first section. Apparently six designers were invited to produce silver scarves to celebrate the 25th anniversary. 'Cause we aren't tired of the whole silver thing yet. Which is really gray. And we all look like shit in gray. Can't get enough of gray.

1. "A ravishing ruffle wrap, secured over one shoulder via a single arm slit." Very easy, very Vogue, very dorky. If you knit it as a regular scarf, I suppose it would be all right, but I suspect this has been steamed to death to hold it's shape; it's silk and mohair. Further quote from the designer about how great Vogue Knitting is.

2. The actual cover scarf. A silk floral thing from Nicky Epstein, in four shades of gray and white. I think it could be pretty in green and colors - like actual flowers - but the gray thing is, as usual, really unflattering.

3. Fairly elaborate rectangular lace scarf. Knitted with a gray and silver-shot yarn. Trimmed with crochet. Is this Vogue Crochet? Did they change it when I wasn't looking?

4. A fist full of monkey's assholes. (That's the husbeast quote, when he looked at this.) It appears to be an irregular hunk of garter stitch done with grey beaded yarn (metallic FX by Berroco) and then curlicues knit on it with another beaded yarn (lazer FX again by Berroco). I can't imagine making a pattern for this. It looks like random, free-form knitting.

5. Run-of-the-mill embossed (knit/purl patterns like basketweave) scarf knit with GLITTERSPUN in silver. If this is supposed to be Vogue Knitting and all glamorous and elaborate, why are they dressing models in stupid shit? Could they make up their minds, please?

6. Freakazoid collar with a train, knit with really huge silver and white woven ribbon. This thing really is a round collar with a long bit knit off it. I'm not sure what purpose it's supposed to serve.

TEXTURED MESSAGES: "The warp and weft of knit/purl combos connect to take a fabric from flat to 3D fabulous." Warp and weft are WEAVING terms, assholes; knitting doesn't have either one. And for some of these patterns, their idea of fabulous knit/purl patterns seems to be ribbing. The photo shoot takes place in a studio hung with dirty canvas and stacked with boxes. VERY VOGUE. (If they're going to be glamorous, could they BE GLAMOROUS? Is that too much to ask?)

7. Sleeveless, almost knee-length fair-isle sweater vest. Supposedly there is ribbing at the waist for shaping, but the ribbing doesn't hit at the model's waist, doesn't suck in, and is darker than the fabric of the sweater, so it actually makes the waist look bigger. It is worn with a brown dress, grey tights, and knee-high, oversized, brown leather boots.

8. Fairly standard cropped cardigan in some kind of relative to moss and seed stitch. Held together with a leather string instead of buttons.

9. An almost ankle-length brown ribbed dress. It is sleeveless, with a turtleneck, and slits up the thighs almost to hip level. The model is all twisted up, trying to look skinny. Worn with a very odd necklace, and with ANOTHER SKIRT UNDER IT. And big black boots. ???

10. The slouchy cardigan with a belt; a variation of this pattern can be found in every Vogue Knitting ever published. This one is gray (can we get done with the fucking gray?) with cables and a garter-stitch belt. Worn over TWO skirts, including a slashed up blue dress that I am positive was in last year's Winter issue.

11. Brown coat with textured knitting on the front sort of like basket weave. Nice, certainly wearable, but this looks like something my grandma would wear to the grocery store in winter, not something out of the hyper-glamorous VOGUE KNITTING.

12. Mystery sweater. Knit with space-dyed pink and blue yarn, the colors have pooled and zig-zagged over the sweater. There's a big wide collar, and three-quarter length sleeves, and an empire waist that hits too high across the boobs, and odd stripes of ribbing and stockinette that leave horizontal lines and bagginess across the body. NO idea what is going on, but it sure as hell doesn't look glamorous to me. Looks like something I tried to design and got mad and ripped back out again. Or a dust cloth.

13. Sideways knit cabled sweater. Nice. Someone designs at least one sweater like this every winter; personally I'd knit it at a tighter gauge so that the knitting would hold it's shape, and get something less fuzzy.

14. A bucket hat at large gauge. Puhleeze. What's glamorous about this? Or original?

15. Sweater on left in above photo. A sort of kangaroo-pouch thing, whith horizontal stripes on the chest and sleeves, 'cause that big blue pouch and collar won't make the wearer look large enough. Worn over THREE SKIRTS.

16. Sweater on the right in above photo. A fairly standard shawl-collar V-neck pullover. Some kind of puffy texture stitch for interest. I think it's the most wearable sweater in the entire section, but we're back to 'this is glamour?' I'd wear it with khakis and boots, myself. And what in hell's up with the two skirts?

17. Diagonal cable turtle-neck in, oh we love it so, GRAY. Styled with a four-inch-wide toolbelt and a pleated silk skirt. The model has feathers in her hair. THIS IS GLAMOUR?

VK'S TOP TEN HITS: "It's a list 25 years in the making; golden oldies from the VK vault remixed to climb today's fashion charts..." I'm not sure quite what they're trying to say here. These are their ten most popular sweaters? Or that these are their most wearable older sweaters? HuH? Keep in mind, I've been reading VK almost from the beginning, and remember when most of these patterns were issued the first time (in some cases, I still have the original magazines in my office). Mysteriously, there are not photos offered for all of these amazingly great knits. Go figure. Also interesting is the fact that of all their horrendously high-fashion patterns they've produced, these ten popular ones are all very average, blue-collar, jeans-and-tee kinds of things. How very NOT Vogue. Do they learn from this? No.

18. From 1989, a throwback to the days of the giant-sweater-with-tights look. They're calling this a 'bubble sweater' and claiming 'the ultra-oversized still has legs'. No. No it doesn't. This sweater - a rather standard overgrown yoke sweater - manages to make a size eight model look like a size fourteen. Plus it's knit with two strands of mohair yarn held together; I figured out that at today's prices it will cost almost $300 to knit. They should have left it in the archives.

19. From 1990, an inoffensive lace-motif pullover. Unfortunatley they're going with oversized again, so it looks like shit. But if you were to knit one in your size (in a COLOR), you could wear it around without a second look. Most people have one or two of these in their closets already. I'd rework the pattern entirely so it was fitted, myself. But I think I've got one that's almost identical, in a coral color.

20. From 2005, one of the most original patterns VK has ever published. The circle sweater. Annie Modisett is the one who came up with the idea; knit a center-out circle, put in some sleeves, and it morphs into a shawl-collared cardigan. The construction is brilliant, and has been re-worked dozens of time since, including the Pinwheel Jacket I'm knitting right now. Even if you don't like the (rather bland) version they show here, the construction method was revolutionary, and somewhere out in the world is a variation on this that will suit everyone. The original was done in shades of pink, purple, and blue, and much more to my taste.

21. From 1991. An A-line mini-dress that is, essentially, a giant yoke sweater. More gray (gag) but with a little bit of length added (or a lot taken off to make it a sweater), and some color, this might possibly be wearable. Maybe. With pants. And no dorky boots. AND SOME COLOR. ARE WE TIRED OF THE GODDAMN GRAY YET?

22. From 2004, Nicky Epstein's Felted Rose bag. The original, if you remember, was black with green lattice, and red roses around the top. The new one is done in TWO SHADES OF MOTHERFUCKING GRAY lattice and lavender and purple flowers on top. I always liked this bag, but the original would cost $150 to knit, if I remember right. I'm considering doing a version of this IN COLORS, with Brown Sheep Nature Spun. WITH COLOR.

23. From 1986, a cabled hat and pair of gloves. This is glamour? They did the new version in silvery gray. AAAAAAAAH!

24. From 1991, the World pattern. Anyone else remember this, or is my age showing? There was a chart made of the world, and an afghan and a sweater and a couple pillows knit from it. This is it again, but done in shades of green, brown, and gold (thank Bob, no gray). Not terribly glamorous, if you ask me. And if we're going to do complicated intarsia knitting, can we find someone with enough skill to do it properly and not have all kinds of fucked up uneven stitches along the edges? I confess, I do like the new touch of the Compass Rose on the left sleeve.

25. From 1992. This one also lacks a certain... high fashion... if you ask me. It's an overgrown cardigan with dropped shoulders (SO flattering) and cabled trees. Nice enough, but I'd expect to find it in "Cast On", not "Vogue Knitting".

26. From 1998, a fitted, angled-ribbing pullover. Originally in blue, now in black (sigh). This was another original idea at the time, the angling of ribbing to shape a sweater and draw the eye to where it should be (boobs) and away from where it should not (waist). It's tunic length, which is kind of risky for larger-sized women, but I've considered knitting it for myself. I would NOT use the moronic yarnover increases on the sleeves though. Big holes in ribbing? Uh, no.

27. From 1991, a Missoni-style knockoff. This was from the era when people were wearing all kinds of textures and patterns and styles all jumbled up. I remember when the original came out; it was black and white stripes, with red, blue, and green triangles. It reminded me of a brodcast test pattern. The new one is shades of brown with navy blue and dark yellow. It still looks like a mess; it's too much everything. Too much color, too many shapes, too many stripes. And not enough shaping; it's a box with a hood.

A TOUCH OF THE CLASSIC: If this stuff is classic, I am Queen of the May. "Just like the femmes fatales and plucky heroines of eras past, you too can subscribe to the power of cables." WHAT? Someone shoot the copy-editor. Again.

28. A blue pullover with the body knit in four directions, like an old-fashioned afghan square. Kind of neat, if you like big yarnovers right across your boobs. And no shaping.

29. Gold silk cabled gloves. Right. Very durable.

30. The obligatory Norah Gaughan "What the FUCK?" pattern. This one's very similar to the Circle Coat above, but instead of a circle, it's a hexagon. The pattern itself leaves a bit to be desired, on details. But I have a burning desire to knit this. It's a sickness. You'd need a really drapey yarn for this; I'm thinking llama or alpaca blend. Heck, it's supposed to be a coat, right?

31. Green A-line sweater that might look kind of cool if they took the moronic four-inch-wide black patent leather belt off it. And what is up with the gloves that don't match? I think this one has the potential to be cool. With really excellent finishing technique and a full figure.

32. A blue keyhole scarf that should be up for free on Knitty and not in a supposedly glamorous fashion magazine.

33. Elbow-length cape. Nice enough, I suppose, if you go for capes.

34. Interesting construction on this one. The sleeves are knit up all the way across the shoulders, and joined with a twist in the front of the neck. Then the body is knit downward from there. It'd be a lot more visible if the sweater had been knit in a slightly lighter color. And what in FUCK is up with the gigantic belt?

35. Purple sweater vest in that length I hate - you know, the one that hangs down past your ass to gurantee it looks big. This fashion model looks like she's got a big ass with this thing on, and she'd be a size eight, most likely. Ridiculous. Probably a nice enough vest if you cut it off at waist level. But not what I'd call high fashion.

36. This one is utterly insane. A raglan-shaped cable knit that almost hits the model's knees. And she's not wearing it as a dress (I would, why in hell not, if it's that long?) she's got on PANTS with it. Yet another recipe for BIG ASS. No shaping to speak of. And the leopard scarf and gloves just make it look all the more silly. In fact, with the hat added in, there's a certain resemblance to Boy George going on.

WELL RED: "The color of romance plus the romance of lace makes for quite an affair."

37. THIS is what I'm talking about. It's glamorous. Pretty. Wearable. Not sure I'd ever wear it, but then I don't do a lot of high-class stuff. THIS sweater could go to a fancy dinner party with no trouble. Vogue should publish more stuff like this, if they want to cling to their alleged reputation for high fashion.

38. They're calling this a cloak, but what it is, is an oversized scarf with sleeves. I have a big personal problem with patterns that make the knitter look like they screwed something up, when the pattern is executed properly. And this is one of those patterns.

39. Another pattern that has a shot at being high fashion. They're claiming it can be sized by moving the buttons, though, and that's both lazy pattern writing AND total bullshit.

40. Purple lace hoodie/cardi, knit with pure silk. It'd make a very nice addition to an average person's wardrobe, to dress up an otherwise everyday outfit; put this on with khakis and a turtleneck, and you'd look quite dressy. Very nice.

41. Lace overdress. Long sleeves and knee length, but the holes are so large you'd have to wear it over something else. In this case, it's a red satin sheath dress. It could probably be worked up to look quite glamorous, though this version looks very odd, like an afterthought thrown on over the dress.

42. This is probably the most original sweater in the magazine. If you get right up on top of the photo, you can see that it's done with a variation on scribble lace; there are alternate rows of a thicker silk yarn, and a very thin silk/mohair, giving it a sheer quality. The shaping is very nice, with bell sleeves and drape at the waist. The fastening in the front is a little weird and could stand to be fixed. Then I flipped to the back and found that the largest size offered is for a 38 inch/98 cm bust. VOGUE, YOU ASSHOLES!

DESIGNER PANACHE: "Seventh Avenue stars go to great lengths to hit new heights of haute knit." My ass.

43. "Only Twinkle can coax such ladylike luxury out of bulky yarn." Wanna bet? This is a knee-length coat knit in SUPER bulky GRAY yarn. WITH EYELETS. The holes are at least an inch across, all over the coat. WHAT IS THE POINT OF WEARING A COAT WITH HOLES IN IT? No shaping. The sleeves are too short. The collar is a mess. The buttons are the size of hub caps. Can we just make bulky knitting illegal, already?

44. Cardigan. The styling leaves a lot to be desired (the skirt looks as if it was made from someone's basement couch), but if the sleeves were made full length, I think it'd be nice enough.

45. Cabled dress train wreck. The collar is too big, the raglan shoulder decreasing is messed up somehow, or it was sewn together badly... No shaping anywhere, and the sleeves are too long. Horrible. If this is glamour, I don't know what I am, 'cause I usually dress better than this. Oh, and it's by Michael Koors. Big shock.

46. Double-breasted cape. Oh please. Nothing like having big black coat buttons resting on each nipple to make a girl look Very Vogue. It's machine knit, too. Cheater. Yet another Michael Koors design. Can we fire him, yet?

47. Goofy-looking red, gray, and brown stocking cap knit with Tilli Thomas beaded yarns. Probably a hundred bucks to knit this hat. Pah.

48. The disaster of the issue. There's always one sweater that makes people shriek; this is the one. It wasn't bad enough, as-is, so they threw in a zipper and a bunch of fur stripes. There are no words. Other than EEEK!

49. Skirt in alternate panels of black and self-striping pastels. What is a seventh grade home ec project doing in the great and glamorous Vogue Knitting?

50. Koigu coat. I suspect that with a little more care, this could be cool; use fewer colors on the meiters, and something other than black for the joins. Blues with yellow, or something. But all these colors make it look like grandma's afghan.

Anyway, that's it. Fifty patterns. Too bad there weren't more photos, but you get the idea. There actually is knittable and wearable stuff in this issue, but as always there's other crap that makes the head spin.


Becka - The Knitting Wounded said...

Great, now I have to go to the bookstore, if just to see the fist-full of monkey bungs.

Jessica said...

"A fist full of monkey's assholes."
I love it. Amen.

BTW, every few minutes my husband will start snickering and mutter that to himself. He really liked that particular description. hehehe

gemma said...

No 48, OMG, she lookes like a dalek!

Alwen said...

It stuns me how they can take models about the weight of my 8-year-old and make 'em look fat.

37 is interesting. How do they get that shoulder-cape look across the sleeve cap/bustline? Looks like it should be worn with a big picture hat.

44, Hey! That's Jeff & Paula's old basement couch! I used to lay on it & read while DH played Squad Leader with Jeff! Now I know what happened to that couch when they put the weight room in.

48. She IS supposed to go on top of a big GRAY cake, isn't she?

somebody needs to study style a bit more said...

YOU judging what's stylish, fashionable, useful and attractive.
THAT'S what's hilarious.
Where'd you get the idea that EVERYONE looks bad in grey?

And by the way, it's you who are behind. The fitted look has been going on forever.
Vogue's not behind the curve--they know that roomy and big is the next chic.

Oh, and before you throw stones at copy editors, please buy yourself a dictionary--your spelling's atrocious.

Cindy said...

Great review, thanks for offering it up. While I was tempted by the green a-line, most everything else seemed a little lacking, especially since I've a chest bigger than 38/40 inches (vogue's idea of a super x-large size) and would have to do reworking on the patterns to make them fit.

Julie said...

Hey, Somebody, at least I have the courage to put my name on my opinions instead of hiding behind a fake account name. An opinion without a name isn't an opinion. It's just whining.

Julie said...

Oh, and by the way? Thanks to Stat Counter and the time stamp on your comment, you aren't that anonymous.

Have a nice day.

Brenda said...

I like grey. It goes very well with colors. I think the grey and silver are symbolic for 25 year anniversary.
Otherwise, I agree with your verdict of "who would wear it?" for most of the examples shown. (I'll still buy the magazine, just for inspiration.)

amy said...

In defense of copy editors everywhere (being a former copy editor), I think it's actually copy writers who are to blame for the stupid commentary. The copy editors just fix the commas and stuff, and get paid less, too. ;)

I love your editorializing. I wish there were more pictures, too, since the ones I saw were so...horrifying. Also, flashbacks to high school with #25. Let me get out my leggings and my big oversized sweater now...

Amy Lane said... I'm reading this again, tomorrow, this time with my newly purchased issue in hand, to check it against your descriptions...which, by the way, ahd me rolling on the floor.

Brewgal said...

I agree with Gemma- #48 looks like a Dalek.

Catie said...

I think that grey was cute in some sections, but I agree that they went overboard. I think (without the magazine in hand though) that if they had only done one section in grey that the effect would have been nicer. I don't care that fitted is in fashion now so Vogue is doing something different (large bulky) to be avante garde - the truth is that fitted looks better on the majority of people. I find it sad that I am often at the top of the sizing measurements given that I am within the BMI for my height. I wish I knew more about resizing a garment so that it would fit.
I liked your commentary and will likely re-read it once I find a copy of the darn magazine.

NeedleTart said...

Just a note: I knit the "world" sweater for the Olympics and the pattern calls for the compass rose on the left sleeve. In fact the pattern suggests you knit it for a swatch, which led to some panic as I didn't like the colors. Maybe I should have used more grey *ducks*

Lola said...

Good review. You forgot to point out the length of the sleeves - don't these look awfully long to you? I can just imagine trying to eat soup while wearing No. 42. I don't know why VK thinks everyone should be walking around with long sleeves down to their knuckles.

Louiz said...

48 *would* look like a dalek if it were in grey (ducks, and runs for cover!)

Can't wait for my copy to arrive so I can read it with this as a reference.

Leanne said...

There's a reason why I let my VK subscription expire. I guess I'm just not "avant garde" enough to get it. I'll just stick to giving my money to IK - at least it has some garments that real people would wear, and lots of inspiration.

debsnm said...

I bought the magazine for 30 - LOVED it the instant I saw it online. Then I found #38 - which I love. I love the idea of a shawl with sleeves - so I'm already plotting which Elann or KnitPicks yarn will work the best for each.

ekgheiy said...

I also picked up my copy of this edition. I find that I could never wear most of the fashions without looking really odd; however, still so many sts and so little time! :)

Bells said...

Dalek. So appropriate, Gemma. Very good.

I agree re the red lace piece. Really very beautiful. The rest of it, well you just look in horror.

I don't see many blogs boasting, 'I made this from VK.'

Maybe I need to get around more, but I just don't see it.

mc78 said...

Delurking to say that you can't wear most of the stuff featured in Vogue (without the knitting) magazine either.

Rose Red said...

I know I'm late to the party, but I just got my edition (what can I say, I can't resist an anniversary collector's edition). Anyhoo, pretty much agree with your assessment of everything. Was surprised you didn't comment on the matching mitred Koigu pants to #50. OMG!!

Julie said...

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

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