Saturday, November 10, 2007

Vogue Knitting Holiday 2007

Before I take this any further, I realize that often Vogue dictates EXACTLY what they want to the designer, down to color and yarn used. The only choice the designer has is whether to do what Vogue asks and earn a pay check, or go without eating. I get that. And most of the things they put in Vogue Knitting are decent projects, I just wonder how Vogue they are. (And want to shoot the stylist.) Occasionally they publish a project of horrible workmanship that disgusts me. But for the most part, I realize it's the Vogue's Editorial department that's responsible for the schizophrenic message they send ("We're Vogue Knitting! We're avant garde! We're doing folk sweaters! We're doing crochet! Who are we again?") and not the designers.

The Vogue Knitting web site is down, so I took photos of the magazine with my camera. The photos suck. They're blurry and I almost didn't use them, but they ARE just good enough to give you an idea what I'm talking about. I refer to the pattern numbers, not page numbers, and anything in quotes is from the text of the magazine.

There are two articles worth reading in this issue. One by Lily Chin on fit and tailoring garments to fit you, and one by Meg Swansen about fisherman's ganseys. Lily Chin's series of articles over the last three or four issues has been worth the cost of the magazines; all you need to know about fit and how to make it work for you.

1. An upholstered chair by Nicky Epstein. I honestly don't know how I feel about this one. My first reaction was "I didn't realize I'd gotten an issue of Vogue Furniture Refinishing". But I like it. I like it enough I'm thinking about redoing an antique chair of mine with something similar. But this is more of Vogue's weirdness. A CHAIR? How in fuck is a chair high fashion?

2. A hat and muff, CROCHETED. We all know the "Is this Vogue Crochet, motherfuckers?" rant, so just mentally re-run it through your head, here.

RUSSIAN DRESSING: Har. What a clever name for the next group of projects, a salad dressing. Isn't that FUNNY? And it's supposedly a Russian theme, but damn if I've ever seen any of this stuff while studying fashion OR Russian history. But what do I know?

3. Short-sleeved cardigan in a large gauge, with deer knit into it. Call me crazy, but I thought deer were a motif in Native American "Cowichan" sweaters, not Russian. But the model's wearing a big fuzzy hat, so that's okay. This would be nice in a solid color, but how warm is a winter sweater with short sleeves?

4. Beige, long-sleeved, long-waisted, wool sweater with lace motifs. Eh. Nice enough. I wonder about the construction of the neck, though. That doesn't look like it would go together easily.

5. More hexagonal madness from Norah Gaughan. I desperately want to knit this coat, so I am not remotely rational on the subject. I will say that it's got very clever, very smart construction (you knit the pieces together as you go, so it's almost seamless). Probably the cleverest knit in the magazine. But it's about as Russian as I am.

6. Intarsia-knit floral wrap with a simple crochet edge. Nice.

7. On the left in the photo, a grey cabled vest. With pockets. Pretty run of the mill, but okay.
8. On the right in the photo, a knitted hat with ear flaps and fake fur. Looks like Snoopy should be wearing it while flying his dog house.

9. Everyday purple mohair cowl-neck sweater. Nice enough, but it's probably cheaper and easier to just go buy one at a mid-range department store.

10. "Delightful Turkish motifs" make a fair-isle looking short-sleeved tunic thingie. First, I thought we were doing Russian styles, and second, if it's that unflattering to the model, why do I think I'll look better in it?

11. Now THIS is Vogue. Fitted, flattering, unusual. Two cabled columns follow the contours of the body to accentuate the waist and boobs, while at the same time looking warm enough to actually wear in winter. The edging is done with crochet, but I guess you can't have everything.

18 CARAT KNITTER: Paulina Porizkova talks up her new book (a novel of some sort) and discusses knitting. Vladmir Teriokhin does all the design work; usually I like his designs, but these seem pretty uninspired. I wonder if it was some joint design deal between Vlad and Paulina. The article's unclear on the subject.

12. Metallic gold cardigan with oddly puffy elbows combined with 3/4 length sleeves. If this were in gray wool instead of lurex, it would look like half the sweaters my grandmother owned.

13. One of the greatest fashion models of the twentieth century is wearing this jacket, working it for all she's worth, and it looks like a bathrobe. Why on earth would anyone else think they would look better in it than freaking PAULINA??? ...on the other hand, if you wanna knit yourself a bathrobe, this is the pattern for you. It would make a nice one.

14. Knitted vest with matching knitted tie. How very 80s. I'm having Duran Duran flashbacks. Dear gods, make it stop!!

15. Fairly average seed-stitch cardigan in two colors. I kinda like it, but it's not stunningly sophisticated or anything. (In fact, if I like something it's almost guranteed to not be stylish.) Do you have ANY idea how skinny someone has to be, to put on a giant belt made of several layers of leather, over a sweater AND a shirt, and look like they have a waist? I'm hating this new belts-over-sweaters fashion for that very reason; mere mortals would look like a barrel in a getup like this.

BRIT KNITS: Holy fuck, the British knit!! Did YOU know that?? Whoa. Amazing. I never knew!

16. Speaking of schizophrenic. This is a knitted tee shirt. I don't know about you, but knitted tees mean SUMMER to me, not FREAKING HOLIDAY IN WINTER. And what's with the multiple patterns? It looks like someone slashed up four sweaters and grafted them together. And horizontal lines are SO FLATTERING.

17. Cable-knit sweater with no outstanding design characteristics. It's nice enough, but I've already got about ten of them in my closet in different colors. How Vogue is a hundred-year-old sweater style?

18. Multi-colored cable knit jacket in neutral colors. Kind of a modern take on an old style, which is cool. And it's got a vertical line to it, which is always good. Still annoyed by skinny people belting bulky sweaters, though. SHOOT THE STYLIST!! (I hadn't yelled about the stylist yet.)

19. Sweater vest with intarsia leaf-thingies in earth tones. I've been seeing vests like this since the seventies; very preppy, very warm, very businesslike. Is this Vogue yet?

20. Fair Isle sweater (really Fair Isle, with the traditional motifs and colors) by Alice Starmore. Ooooh. Aaaah.

21. Sort-of Fair Isle sweater with snowflakes and A BIG FREAKING RED BELT. They put this and the previous Starmore sweater on opposite pages, so with the book open, you have the two of them laying there. It was a dumb way to lay out the magazine; next to Starmore's small gauge and subtlety, this is like putting a kid's coloring next to a VanGogh.

22. A cardigan from Brandon Mably. It's got a giant British flag motif done in self-striping pink and gray yarn. Riiiiight.

23. Nice-but-average blue Fair-Isleish vest, with an inset of puprle lace (??) down the left side. It's certainly different. I'd knit this without the inset, personally.

GREAT SCOTT: Oooh, lookie, another clever title. I'm gonna laugh so hard. This is a section of designs by Tom Scott, who is some kind of Fifth Avenue knitwear designer.

24. Short-sleeved, oversized, super-bulky pullover with cowl neck. This is knit with Baby Alpaca Grande. I looked. Inch-thick alpaca is never going to be flattering, and it's a heat stroke waiting to happen. No finishing on the edges, either. I'm a snob about this stuff, and I realize it, but I think of stuff like this as 'lazy knitting'.

25. Wrap/poncho thingie. The stitch pattern has long strings of yarn hanging off it, making it look like either it was badly finished, or it was snagged to hell. I look at it and wish for a darning needle to fix all the ends hanging out.

26. There's one in every issue. You know, the design that makes me go "What the FUCK?" meet the WTF design for the holiday issue. It's this cardigan sort of thing, with one side reaching the model's waist, and the other side reaching past her knees. No photo of the back, but I bet it's a train wreck. The whole thing is held together with what MIGHT be a kilt pin, but I swear it's a stitch holder. And there are ends hanging out all over it, like the last pattern. WHYWHYWHY would you knit a sweater that looks like a giant mistake?? My first thought when I looked at this was "You know, I knit something just like that once, that year I was on Percocet four times a day and had a steel plate and two screws in my hand. I should have kept it and submitted it to VK."

27. More super-bulky at two stitches per inch. This one looks like it's a half-knit sweater that someone got fed up with, said "Fuck this." and wore it out as-is. You can't tell from the photo, but it's got ONE arm hole, you put your arm through, and then fling the rest of the fabric around your neck. I don't have to point out that 99% of the time, asymetric desgins look like mistakes, do I?

I had the husbeast flip through this issue, curious to see what he thought. Having known me for twenty-odd years and been married to me for fifteen, he knows a good bit about knitting, himself. Of this last section, he said it looks like someone ran out of time or forgot the deadline and just threw stuff together at the last minute. That's from a non-knitting person, saying that.

NUTCRACKER SWEET: Hahaha. Another clever title by the brillant copywriters at VK. Golly, the cleverness. And can we track down the stylist who put these poor models in tutus and toe shoes, and kill them? I've worn toe shoes. Unless you're a trained ballet dancer, they're very hard to walk in and a good way to twist an ankle. I bet the models were delighted.

28. Knitted dress. Nice enough, but who in hell would wear this in winter?? A couple years ago they did this kickass, fitted cable-knit dress for their winter/holiday issue. It's possible to knit winter dresses. So what the fuck is this??

29. Fair-isleish cardigan with HUGE horizontal stripe across the boobs, fur trim, and pink satin patch pockets. Urgh.

30. Knitted tee shirt with Fair-isle motifs (what is it with the horizontal stripes, this issue?) and strange, under-the-boobs styling. Not what I'd call winter wear. And if you've got boobs, the sweater will explode.

31. Knitted camisole top. What in hell is this doing in a winter knitwear issue?

32. Beaded lace wrap. Very nice. I may knit this in another color, for a Christmas gift next year.

33. Horizontally striped tank top. With lace panels. Flattering AND warm.

34. HOLY FUCK! It's a Dalek! Call the Doctor!

35. Sleeveless, V-neck, 'racer back' lace dress. But it's knit with cashmere, so it's PERFECTLY WARM!


Anonymous said...

ewww. After reading about how you wanted a darning needle to sew in the ends, I had to get a closer look. Good god that drove me crazy. I had a mitten that looked like that the other day. I was knitting its mate. I was super embarrassed when my professor (a knitter) told me it looked nice. I hoped she didn't think the fringe was a design element. She is the only woman I've ever met who can wear knit skirts.

Lynn said...

Thanks so much for the review. I have to say though, you being painless seems to make you a little nicer. ;)

Becka - The Knitting Wounded said...

I'm so glad you do these reviews, thank you!

Donna Lee said...

I read this issue and I agree with your design comments. I did like the Lily Chin articles because I have only made a few sweaters and they came put so-so. The stitching and patters were ok, but the fit was off. Her articles will help people like me like their finished products more. I also liked the Paulina article because I have always admired her. She seemed like a real woman and not just a clothes hanger. Their designs are mostly un wearable for me because I am not a size 0 and it is hard to size up enough. They are always good for a laugh, though.

Roz said...

"Great Scott" was the VK editors' subliminal way of saying "WTF!" -- why why why would I waste my time on those? I think retired ladies living in Santa Fe or some other artsy retirement colony would make these things -- and then WEAR THEM, because they're artsy and all...

Roxie said...

Love the review! Thank you for saving me a buncha money. No way am I spending my heard-earned scheckles on that rag.

Alwen said...

Those asymmetrical things -yeeks! If any of them had been the first thing I knitted, I would have thrown the needles away and never touched them again.

Funny: and my verification word is . . . "impsy".

Amy Lane said...

Awesome--as always...and I'm totally with you--asymetrical knitting looks like a published mistake!!!

Laural said...

Those stringles hanging off the designs just make me think that the poor yarn is trying to make a break for it.

Anonymous said...

Thank god! I've been waiting for your VK review since I got my issue :). And of course you did not disappoint. I knew the kilt pin scarf/sweater thing would be what you hated the most!


Poshyarns said...

Brilliant review, very witty and very useful. I am now pretty sure that I can live without this magazine for the moment.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the shock of disapointment in this holiday issue is what caused the website to go down when it was released. Your review was fabulous. It also saved me the money and time of rushing out and getting a copy. Thanks and keep up the great work! XOXO

Julie said...

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

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