Sunday, August 10, 2008

Vogue Knitting Fall 2008

Here we go again. As always, I use the pattern numbers in the magazine instead of page numbers for the patterns. Anything in quotes if from the magazine, all else is my editorial commentary. All photos from the Vogue Knitting web site unless very obviously not. (You'll know.)

I've been reading histroy books (still? Again?) and that has bled over into this quarters' review. As has the design research. The lag on this review has been finding certain photos. But anyway.

This issue's issue is not so much the patterns - most are pretty decent - but yet again the schizophrenic "We're Vogue Knitting and we're super cutting edge and fashionable, and Oh, look! Norwegian mittens!" I wish they'd make up their goddamn minds.

ARTICLES: First, I can't help but note that the 'sweater map' thingie is gone. That lasted, what, three issues? One of the few technically useful things in the magazine. Of course they killed it.

There are two allegedly technical articles with sort-of patterns attached. One by Nicky Epstein showing how to make scallops:

And another one discussing miters (very cutting edge; we've been doing modular knitting for what, fifteen years now?) with a sort of cool cape pattern in it.

Ravelry has made the big time; there is an article about them which is kind of nice. Another one on the fiftieth anniversary of Schoolhouse Press (Elizabeth Zimmerman's company, now run by her daughter Meg). Some sucking up to Kaffe Fassett, and another article on knitting in Canada, presenting it like it's news.

Nothing from Lily Chin, which is too bad. Her articles were good. Basically the only reason I was glad to buy the magazine, in several instances. Did I mention I paid seven dollars for this piece of shit? Oh, and the letter from the editor is a long, maundering page of drivel about 'back to the future' and how wonderful it is that everyone's knitting again. HELLO. OLD NEWS. FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO TALK ABOUT. Gah.

Judging from the ads, once again yarn manufacturers are attempting to make super-bulky knitting popular and 'in'. No fucking idea why. It's ugly, looks stupid, is unflattering, finishing is a bitch, and worst of all, COLD. I assume there's a bigger profit margin for bulky yarn? Why else push it like this? Some of this shit is one stitch to the inch, for crying out loud. The husbeast commented 'they might as well just knit it out of manila line'. Manila line is the really super-thick hemp rope they use to tie up war ships.

I don't know who is designing over at Moorehouse Merino, but those lobster claw mittens are fucking hilarious.

PATTERNS: Whole lot of 'uh' this issue. Brace for it.

1. "Kaffe: spheres of influence"

A couple paragraphs of sycophantic ravings about Fasset, claiming this idea was cooked up out of Japanese prints. Mostly he's riding on his own coattails. And as always, there's no fit; the body is a box with drop shoulder sleeves. Anyone else had submitted this, I bet it wouldn't have made it into the magazine. Oh and look. A full-page Rowan ad on the opposite page! What a coincidence!

Mitten patterns: "Haute in Autumn. Our richest fall harvest yet". Barf. They're fucking MITTENS. Some are NICE mittens, BUT THEY ARE GODDAMN MITTENS TO KEEP YOUR HANDS WARM. Bah.

2. 'Yellow Harvest' mittens knit at 14 sts to 10cm/4in.

3. 'Green Autumn' mittens by our buddy Jared over at Brooklyn Tweed. Knit at 32 sts to 10cm/4in.

These two mittens make a fine comparison for 'what not to do'. The yellow ones have visible holes between the stitches and the bobbles are so big they'll snag on everything. The green ones, knit at a much smaller gauge, not only look and fit better, but the bobbles are properly decorative and not snaggy, and the yarn traps enough air - without holes - to keep your hands warm. Go, Jared. Way to knit some mittens.

Of course I can't help but point out both these syles are FOLK STYLES that have been knit for HUNDREDS OF DAMN YEARS and are about as cutting edge as I am. That's the editor's fault.

4. Who in hell is going to knit and wear elbow length gloves covered in oak leaves? Seriously? A Druid with hand problems?

5. Yet again with the folk styles. They've been knitting variations on this in Scandinavia for hundreds of years. Nice, but Vogue, my ass. Considering how many knitters I know knit because they hate sewing, I think the modern response to all that embroidery is likely 'no fucking way'. But whatever. All that extra wool will help keep your hands warm.

6. I never understood the English term 'twee' before. Now I do. Excuse me while I go throw up.

7. Convertible mittens with fingerless gloves underneath. Nice, useful, and a really old style.

8. Traditional Norgi mittens. Fucking brilliant. Totally new and amazing and cutting edge. And whoever knit these, think you could have avoided laddering the knitting where the double-points meet? Sheesh. You're submitting to Vogue, for crying out loud. (Look at the back of the right hand mitten.)

MADE IN CANADA: "From the land of the maple leaf and the Mountie hail many of today's most gifted knitwear designers." No shit. Really? They KNIT where it's COLD? Holy fuck. Let me write that down. Oh, and they're using the VERY MOTHERFUCKING VOGUE packing crate photo shoot again. The little play button symbols on the photos means you can hit the Vogue Knitting web site and watch a fashion show video of the sweater. No. I'm not linking to it. It's bad for my blood pressure. (Terby, I owe you a smack in the head for that link, you booger.)

9. Green tunic thingie. Very Vogue, Very Eh. Done it, seen it, what's wrong with the neck?

10. Damn. NEVER seen ANYTHING like this before. How cutting edge. (It does come in plus sizes, and would be flattering.)

11. Green caridgan. Ditto on 'never seen anything like this before'. Don't know what in fuck's up with that belt, either. Looks like it belongs on a Viking Berserker. Nice enough if you want a tweedy knock-around cardi; comes in plus sizes. So Vogue it gives me a migraine.

12. Fiona Ellis comes through with something flattering and wearable that looks interesting. Dunno if I like the bow on the neck, but that's personal and easily fixed. What in FUCK is up with the leaves and the LEIDERHOSEN? SHOOT THE STYLIST!!! TWICE!

13. Koigu jacket. This thing is, essentially, a sleeveless kimono. (Everyone together now, never seen that before.) They have done everything possible both in the magazine and on line to disguise the bottom edge, which is ribbing and sucks in so the whole jacket looks like a mushroom. I'd put in a hem if I were knitting this, personally; or garter stitch to match the side edges. And there is an actual intarsia color pattern knit into the body, but there's so many colors screaming you can't tell. Maybe, I don't know, use two colors that CONTRAST?

14. Felted bag. You say Vogue, I say Oh please. Honestly, I like this. I might knit it. That as much as anything else says 'not Vogue' to me.

15. Floral socks. You have got to be fucking kidding. Okay. Yes. They're cute. Yes. I like them. But if those are high fashion, my ass is a paint sprayer.

16. Beige cable-knit cardigan. Goddamn. Never seen ANYTHING like this before.


17. Fucked up black dress. First thought on seeing all those necklaces; what's wrong with the neck line? I suspect if you fixed the arms and knit it with something that draped, it would be okay. If you were into knitted dresses.

18. Sleeves too short, hem isn't straight. The collar? It's symmetrical, according to the pattern. You just can't tell, looking at it. Oh yeah, let's knit something that looks like a mistake. BUT IT COMES IN PLUS SIZES!

19. "Dynamically duotones, a short-row shift emits mod magnetism." There are probably ways to make this flattering. But I'm not knitting anything with Big. White. Arrows. pointed at my crotch. And get over the Audrey Hepburn thing, you aren't pulling it off.

20. Oscar de la Renta on crack.

No Zoolander. Snap.

SIGNATURE STITCHES: "Just as Seurat had his dots and Degas his dancers, today's greats knit mood and muse into fabric distinctly their own." Yeah. My pudgy white ass.

21. Too much. Too much color, too many bobbles, too many leaves, too many cables, total visual overload.

22. Twinkle foists yet another super-bulky piece of shit off on the world trying to tell us it's high fashion. And you know what it looks like? What it really looks like???

That's a re-creation of an outfit pulled out of a Danish peat bog and dated to the bronze age. THE MOTHERFUCKING BRONZE AGE. THIS IS NOT CUTTING EDGE, BITCH, THIS IS LAZY DESIGN. GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING ORIGINAL. Ahem.

23. Tunic cardigan with a nice drape, slight ruffle, and a bit of lace across the back. Nice. Really nice. Perfect for fall when it gets a little chilly. And sort of stylish. Oh my gods, I may swoon.

24. Too bad Elsa Schiaparelli isn't still alive. Then she could sue.

AN ENGLISH GARDEN: "Lushly cabled cardis transform you into an Austen heroine ready for a proper turn about the bedgerows with your very own Mr. Darcy." Do I have to be tiresome and point out that cable-knit cardis didn't exist in Austen's era? No, of course not. SHOOT THE COPYWRITER!

25. Looks like Martin Storey ran out of yarn before he put on the peplum.

26. Run of the mill cabled cardi. There are deliberately run stitches that I always think look like mistakes. And they don't do shit to keep you warm, which I assume is the point of a cardigan. (Oh, excuse me, I'm sure Vogue would tell me that warmth is not an issue, it's about LOOKING GOOD.) Anyway. Yet another cable-knit cardi. Can't get enough.

27. Have I mentioned that texture stitches get lost in variegated yarn? Yeah. Yeah, I have. Have I mentioned designers should KNOW this? Yeah, probably have.

28. Giant cables faked with twisted stiches. Cool. Semi-original. I'd find a way to replace that hood with a collar, though; there's something not right going on with that hood.

29. COCO CHANEL RIPOFF. You see this??? The color, the cut, the STYLING with the fabric rose and the junk jewelry and the FREAKING HAIR CUT. Coco Chanel. 1920s. Vintage. Classic. My grandma dressed like this. It's a good to great look, but about as original as... as... STEALING FASHION IDEAS FROM A DEAD WOMAN. Grrr. Argh. Grrr. My grandma's gonna come back from the dead to register a complaint at the Vogue offices. Watch for reports of zombie attack in NYC next week. She'll be wearing her gunfighter wig (pulled down low on her forehead, 'cause she means business). Fuckers.

30. Slouchy cardigan. Is it symmetric? Is it not? We can't tell, because THE PICTURE IS SHIT AND THERE'S NO SCHEMATIC FOR THE PATTERN. Vogue, you assholes.

31. Yoked cardi knit in pattern-disguising varigated yarn. I could swear I've seen this before... wait... wait..

Why yes, I HAVE seen this before. It's Mrs. Weasley!!

32. Yet another totally average, done-before cabled cardi. Nice enough. Comes in plus sizes.

THE OL' BOYS CLUB: "Sharp takes on men's wear, altered oh-so-softly to fit a woman." Yeah, maybe if the old boys were boys in the 1980s. Bah.

33. Hat. This pisses me off for several reasons. First, the styling. The hair, the eye shadow, the sleveless blazer with the collar turned up, the plaid, the pins. This is EXACTLY how I dressed in 1986 when I thought I was fucking cool. (Except my hair would have been pink.) Oh, and the hat?


34. Slouchy, unflattering knit coat. Eh.

35. Ohmigawd. It's almost... Vogue. Flattering, unusual construction, fashionable without being silly. I'd change the colors and make the sleeves longer, but that's just a personal thing.

36. If Piet Mondrain got dysentery and shit out a sweater, it would be this one.

37. Scarf. Eh. Interesting texture pattern, and in a muted color like this it would make a nice Christmas gift for a guy. I'll probalby use it with some of this carbon fiber.

There you go. Lots of cool stuff this issue, really, but not much of it 'high fashion'. I'm good with that, I just wish they'd quit claiming it was high fashion. This was probably the most wearable issue this year. And if you've got an urge to knit fifty slightly different cabled cardigans, this is the issue for you.

I need a drink.


Anonymous said...

It's McCall's -- it USED TO BE Vogue.

Bells said...

you know, the Australian issue has that big chunky pale blue dress on the cover (yes, it's shit). Is that because they think Australia is too warm for mittens, but not so warm that we wouldn't wear a big ugly cable knit dress????

I drove home in snow yesterday. I think they should put mittens on the cover. I also think they should do more research (as your article clearly shows!)

Donna Lee said...

I saw the ladders in the mittens and thought, that's shitty work for a magazine shoot. And what's with all the belts on sweaters? I hate that. The article on EZ was more than fawning. I swear that writer is getting a kickback from Schoolhouse Press. I thought there were some wearable sweaters in the magazine but nothing innovative. And while I like to see wearable things, mostly I like to see design features that are new or used in a unique fashion. Sort of like Cat Bordhi's socks. They're socks but very different.

Terby said...

Glad you enjoyed the link, Julie. You know you love me. :D

Anonymous said...

Now that I've picked myself up off of the floor from laughing so hard, I think you are very cutting edge.

I am also glad once again that I didn't buy this magazine.


TinkingBell said...

Sniffle - sorry - you made me cry laughing - and I'm going to have to clean this keyboard - Do vogue know about this - becuase they soooooo should - how can they get away with such crappy knitting and such appalling photography... (Oh I liked the sweater map too) - and the 80s - right with you on that one - only my hair would have been black black black - just like the looks I'm giving VK!


Carolyn said...

"If Piet Mondrian ever shit out a sweater..." Funniest line in a Blog EVER!!!!! (I'm usually a lurker but I just laughed so hard I shnorked my coffeee out my nose!) Thanks for starting my day with a great laugh!


Roxie said...

I'm with Carolyn. Only I wound up rolling on the floor, laughing my ass off, scaring the cats. Gods, what a wicked barbed tongue you have!

Cindy said...

What kills me is how hard the stylists work to make decent sweaters looks butt ugly (I hated the belts). Do they think crap accessories will make it high fashion?

Galad said...

I also snorted coffee through my nose. My husband, looking over my shoulder, couldn't figure out why I was laughing so hard about knitting patterns. You do have a way with words!

Melissa said...

So. awesome.

Possibly better than usual, if at all possible! The Piet Mondrian line made me laugh so hard my co-workers were wondering if I'd finally lost it. Pure comedy gold. At least VK is good for something. :)

Ellen said...

Great review, as usual! I didn't even bother to buy this issue. I just read the Ravelry article in B&N and then left it there.

Lia said...

And the icing of the cake is that the Molly Weasley sweater was actually on the last Winter issue as well!

A 1000 wrongs won't make a right.

Amy Lane said...

MRS. WEASLEY! ROFLMFAO... Yeah... I'm going to carry THAT one around for a VERY long time!!!

Amy Lane said...

(Well done, Julie--and right on. And btw? I love the way that 'comes in plus sizes' means, 'has a bust size of 40 inches, sometimes'.)

Roz said...

I've started knitting the hooded "cable" cardigan. Had the same thought about the hood -- when I get there, I'll improvise a collar and let you know what happens.

AFter all, it's only Wool-Ease in Chunky -- I think I can waste $12 (two balls of yarn) making shit up.

Alwen said...

And what's up with the make-up in the mitten shoot?

It looks like "I have a black eye heavily concealed with make-up" make up. On both models. Yellow-mitten model even has her left eye slightly puffy.

#20 looks like it was photo-shopped onto her, not like she's really wearing it.

Is that an actual string skirt worn with the bog dress? I want string skirts to come back. No. Seriously. They're the most fun a woman can have walking.

#28 is eating the model's head!

An' I'm gobsmacked that the Monmouth cap is Vogue. Whoa.

MLJ1954 said...

Thank you. I was having a bad morning. Now whenever anyone gets in my face, I'll think of your comments and not slap them silly. I do think I will have to shell out the $7 for this one though.

Julie said...

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

Comments have been closed.