Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2008

Welcome back to another round of 'is this supposed to be high fashion?' starring your Vogue Knitting editorial team, Zoolander, and some yarn. As always, anything in quotes is from the magazine, all other text is mine, and I refer to the patterns by number, not page. I've tried to summon a good rage for the entertainment of my Beloved Readers, but all I can gather up is disgust.

There are a couple good articles in this issue, which is why I'm not kicking myself harder for paying SEVEN FUCKING DOLLARS for this thing. Meg Swansen discusses Latvian mittens, their social and economic niche (haha, I typed niche - enough sinus meds for me!) and basics of how to knit them. She includes a basic pattern that's as useful - or moreso - than anything else in the magazine. There's more ass-kissing of Nicky Epstein in the 'signature style' article, showing details of how to make the first pattern which should really be included in the instructions and not called an article. (I really like Nicky Epstein's work, but come on, can we profile SOMEONE else?) Excellent article by Lily Chin, again, this time on waist shaping and making it work for you. An article on women who knit their own wedding dresses, which seems to be needless torture on a stressful day, but to each their own. Shirley Paden has an article on how to design and work with lace patterns, which is probably worth the cost of the magazine.

1. Bag knit with beaded silk, with crocheted accents. Looks like something straight out of the Victorian era. This is cutting edge high fashion?

First section, "EcoLogic". "Enviro-friendly fibers are easy on the earth and look cool in the heat." Yeah. They are. But most of these aren't enviro-friendly.

2. Cover sweater, a short-sleeved lace cardi-thingie. Nice, if casual. Closed with wooden buttons chopped out of a dead tree. Happy Earth Day!

3. Pullover knit from bamboo tape - mucho chemical processing there. Elbow-length sleeves, cable down the center front to just above the belly-button, after which it hangs open to that just-below-the-hips length that makes most of us look like we've got butts the size of Alaska. But it comes in plus sizes. You know, because plus sizes enjoy having their belly hang out and their butt look bigger as much as the rest of us.

4. Short-sleeved pullover, much like a tee shirt. It's got directional cables for shaping, but they seem to add bulk to the waist instead of making it look better. Also knit in bamboo, with dead-tree buttons. VERY earth-friendly.

5. Tank knit in more happy-planet bamboo yarn, in stranded color. Because TWO layers of yarn are SOOOoo cool and light for summer. And the horizontal stripes! So flattering! Actually, the shaping on this is kind of cool, and probably flattering if it were knit in a solid color. As it is, the pattern placement makes it look like a kangaroo pouch.

6. "Bark colored" sleeveless vest knit with soy silk (hug a soybean today!) Again with the big-butt length, the gut-exposing opening, and, didn't I see these at the last Grateful Dead concert? VERY avant-garde.

7. Bag knit with what looks like kite string. With the way the handles are sewn on, it will stretch all to hell out of shape if you put something heavier than a cell phone in it. THE HANDLES ARE LEATHER! AAAAH! SAVE THE COWS! MOOO! MOOO!

8. Who in FUCK shapes a dress by bunching fabric at the waist??

9. Pullover tee in HORIZONTAL STRIPES of pea green and brown. Soy and bamboo yarns used. So not flattering. So not environmentally friendly. But it comes in plus sizes!

10. Kind of cool shrug/cardi thing. Nice for sitting around in air-conditioning on full blast, I bet. Flattering. Not sure about those buttons on the boobs, but that could be worked around. And knit with corn fiber! A double whammy on the environment! I wonder if Monsanto sponsored this one. Looks like just their thing. (Didja know crop circles are really aliens protesting Monsanto? Yup, they're disgusted too.)

11. This one's misleading. Looks nice on the model, doesn't it? Neat idea, with the asymmetric cables. But a closer look reveals that there is NO shoulder or neck shaping. I don't know how flattering it would be when you actually, say, MOVED AROUND while wearing it. And I KNOW that neck line would make you feel like you were being choked. Still, if you wanted, you could alter the pattern to make it work. Sure isn't worth the seven bucks to re-write the pattern, though. And it's knit with bamboo. Har.

Next section, designer discussion of Rebecca Taylor, who is knitter to the stars. Lots of celebrity name dropping. Apparently her designs have "Grown-up Girl Power". I'm rolling my eyes so much over that one, I'm afraid they'll get stuck under my eyelids.

12. Knitted dress, made with Baby Cashmerino - so cool and light for summer. And all that fluff makes the butt look so SLIM. Sorry, it looks like seventh grade home-ec class, or a first attempt at design that came out just a little wrong in all directions.

Next section, "Floral Fixation". A floral theme for spring. Wow. That's original and cutting edge.

13. Little tank top knit with soy yarn. Lace pattern at the bottom to prevent curling, cabled shoulder straps. Cute, but the stylist blows it. I don't know whose dumbass idea it was to put it on over a peter-pan blouse. With the styling it looks totally fucking stupid. Not sure about that pea green color, either. And what's with the HAIR?

14. HOLY FUCK KAFFE FASSETT DESIGNED SOMETHING WITH SHAPING IN IT!!!! CODE RED, CODE RED, WOOT WOOT WOOT! ALERT THE MEDIA!!! Ahem. Not sure about the, shall we say, strong horizontal striping effect, but it does come in plus sizes and I do like the pattern. Fifty bucks says he designed the actual color pattern and had an assistant do the shaped design.

15. They're calling this a tunic. It's that Big Butt Length. In a color that's almost impossible to wear without looking like you've been dead a week.

16. Very simple boat-neck, sleevless tank sort of thing. Ribbing around the waist so you look like you HAVE a waist, a contrasting colored ribbon around the top to hold the shoulders in. Clever, simple design, in plus sizes.

17. Yet another deceptive photo. Looks kinda cool, doesn't it? Neutral colored cardi with a bright, floral border. Yup. Nice idea. Shame about the lazy pattern-writing. And lazy knitting. See how the bottom front swings out? That's because the stitches along the sideways-knit border were picked up wrong and essentially there's too much border for the fabric of the jacket, so it oozes sideways and makes the edge droop. And the edge itself? There's no facing or hem. I don't have any idea how they kept that edge from curling up like a shrimp in a hot skillet, but I'm betting it involved pins, glue, starch, or all of the above. From the photo, it looks like the upper front corners are trying to curl and someone pinned them down and hung the collar over top to hide the evidence. If there's one thing I despise, it's lazy knitting in high-cost magazines. Oh. But it comes in plus sizes.

18. Run-of-the-mill lace pullover tank with ribbed waist. Knit in some non-color they probably call taupe. The lace is wrong-side out; they're making it sound like some cool design feature, but I bet some dumbass assistant sewed it together wrong and they didn't have time to fix it. Very Vogue. Especially how it looks inside-out; I hear that's hot on the runways this season.

Next section is on knitting for weddings, called, har, The White Way. "Say I do in resplendent knits fit for a fairy-tale wedding." Because, you know, you don't have enough to do in the months leading up to a formal wedding, WHY NOT KNIT YOUR OWN WEDDING DRESS??

19. Lace net shrug. Knit with some clever shaping, neat cuffs, and workable edging. Not sure I'd wear this for a formal occasion, though, even if it is knit with silk. And that white? Makes me think of fish net. Sorry. The pattern is written for only one size. Lazy again. Really lazy. Fuckers.

20. Lace cardi. Nice, but this thing is straight out of the Edwardian era and I fail to see the Vogueness of it. (But then I fail to see the Vogueness of 90% of this stuff, so what do I know?) There's some very clever structural engineering going on with the peplum and cuffs, and I bet with some ribbon threaded through some of those eyelets, it would look REALLY cool. Unfortunately this sonofabitching pattern only comes in ONE SIZE - a 34 inch/86cm bust. Assholes. I think the part that pisses me off most is someone got PAID for this.

21. Lace dress. I can't decide if this is an atrocity or an insult. Maybe it's both. Among other serious problems, there is no straight shot of the front of the damn dress. The one front shot they have, the model is holding a dorky bundle of daffodils at a weird level that completely obscures any bust shaping - if there is any. But from what I can see of the neckline, I would say there's something wrong, structurally. The fabric is bagged up in the front of the neck, and pulled down low in the back, which says 'no neck shaping' to me. There's a zipper in the back. Because, you know, putting a zipper in knit lace is SO easy.

22. A lace trench-coat/peignor/half-assed coat sort of thing. It's lace, with big holes in it, so I don't think it's for warmth... But it comes in plus sizes!

23. Lace skirt. We've discussed THAT topic before. But may I add, I think it's pretty stupid to knit a floor-length skirt with mercerized cotton, if for no other reason than because it'll be impossible to hold up. Cotton is heavy. This pattern uses almost TWO POUNDS of yarn. Come on. Who is going to look good in that? If they can keep it on?

24. Ribbed camisole knit in what looks like more kite string. Upon investigating, I find out it's WORSE than kite string - Lion Brand Cotton Ease. Not the most flattering thing I've ever seen. And it has crochet accents. Is this Vogue Crochet??!!??

Urban Outfitters is our next section. "Must be able to communicate dazzlinglly in basic black and white." If this is dazzling, my ass is a paint sprayer. And... and... ZOOLANDER!!! SNAP!

25. I'd consider knitting this in a solid color and wearing it as a casual dress. If it came in my size. Fuckers. As it is... well... I used to work at a newspaper and we had stuff that looked just like the front of that, when the press was messed up and the ink wasn't feeding right.

26. Lazy-ass pattern writing at its worst. Knit in two parts, with horizontal stripes and no neck or shoulder shaping. Hangs to that lovely Big Butt Length (I'm making that an official term). And it comes in plus sizes, so we can ALL look like we have big butts! How Democratic!

27. Yet another half-assed Chanel Jacket knockoff, this one knit with what looks like dryer lint. With a soupscon of dust bunnies.

Next section is called "Shore Leave". "Meditations on a Mediterranean idyll, our sailor blues radiate a femininity that has nothing to do with the regimented world." In my sinus-addled state, the only reply I can come up with to that is, 'my ass'.

28. Casual pullover with asymmetric lace pattern. Eh. Nice enough. Don't we all have ten of these in the closet already? Is this cutting edge?

29. Blue lace tee. Clever shaping and directional knitting, to make it more flattering, nice cut, reasonable length. Very nice. Even comes in multiple sizes.

30. Lace mesh pullover. Nothing terribly original, but not bad. Comes in plus sizes. It's at Big Butt Length, though it'd be easy enough to shorten.

31. This one's the pick of the issue, I think. Nice, fitted style, classic, vertical line to the texture pattern. Not avant-garde, but I'm good with that. You could wear it forever. I'd consider knitting it with linen; it would never wear out and you could literally leave it to your grandchildren.

32. Tank with criss-cross straps. Neat styling, and it's summery. If you have no boobs or gut, go for it.

33. Short-sleeved, cross-wrapped... thing. Again, if you've got no boobs, and no gut, and not much of anything else, go for it. I think these last two are the off-the-wall-but-cool patterns of the issue. Average women aren't gonna wear them, but they're kinda cool.

I still can't believe they're charging seven bucks for this thing.


Amy Lane said...

Is it wrong that I like 'Big Butt Length' because it hides my Big Gut better? That's okay--because 'Bug Butt Length' is now an official term for me...I"m good:-)

(made with dryer lint w/a soup`con of dust bunnies...cracking up!!!)

debsnm said...

I always wonder if the folks at VK every google themselves and find your blog. Apparently not, or half the stuff they put in their issues would be different, if not gone. Since 'the Devil Wears Prada', I have a hard time taking any 'high fashion' stuff seriously, anyway.

Bunny Queen said...

As sad as it is that you are 100% right about all this, I may not have to worry about "big butt length" designs since I'm pretty sure I just laughed mine off while reading your comments. Glad to know it isn't just me. :)

an said...

I hate to say this, but I think the inside out lace was intentional. Old Navy was selling inside out fair isle a little while ago, its the newversion of deconstructed.

Fun, huh?

Anonymous said...

I bought the issue because of the lace shrug & Kaffe Fasset sweater with shaping! If I exercise enough this summer, I'm knitting that slutty cable thing #33. Never ever knitting anything big butt length. Don't need any ass-istance ther.

Caffeine Faerie said...

You know, I live for your reviews.
Thank you for reminding me why I shouldn't spend hard-earned cash on Vogue Knitting, and for being the voice of reason.

Rose Red said...

It's probably worth paying $7 just to read along with your review. Oh, except I pay $17 here in Australia. Sigh.

Was it #11 that they described with "boat necks are flattering for everyone"? Because as soon as I saw that I thought, "I don't think so. Not if you've got boobs, ed. A boat neck just makes them look like they are sagging to your (probably exposed) stomach".

And I'm with you on the one-size lace cardi in the wedding section. Criminal that it doesn't have more sizes. Clearly only skinny chicks have time to knit stuff for their wedding.

Anonymous said...

...inside out Fair Isle? For real?

Alwen said...

#7 looks like my great-grama Ruth's white chenille bedspread.

In #15, I'd bet good money that model did look dead before they photoshopped the color of her face, going by the way the flesh tones on her arms don't match her face, neck and chest.

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog!! The review was excellent as always and has left me laughing all the way to the shop to buy a copy and laugh some more!!!!!


Unknown said...

Sigh, I've got big butt, big gut and laughing them off did not have any measurable effects. Every once in awhile, I will buy a horizontal strip thingee for myself . . . its like I have a chronic memory lapse that forgets that horizontal strips will make the BB and BG look BIGGER. Maybe they should provide a label that we could attach to the bottom edge on the back that says "these items appear larger than they really are."

Thanks for the review.

Deb Legg said...

Haha! Cranky Much! Can't remember when I've read anything so true.

BTW. I adore your blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. Should I get the magazine (if it's not too late) or not??? I'd definitely like the Lily Chin article and the working with lace article. And maybe one of the plus size patterns (thoough NOT one that's BBL -- my butt is plenty big already).

You have a deft turn of phrase. LOVED the "a soupcon of dust bunnies" comment.

Thanks for providing the warning!

Julie said...

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

Comments have been closed.