Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vogue Knitting Holiday 2008.

As always, patterns are referred to by number, not page or name. Anything in quotes is from the magazine, all else is from me. Photos from the VK web site. This time I got bored and did some cost calculations. Since I'm broke and we're in a recession I began to wonder at the ridiculousness of some of these hand-knits, in terms of cost. All dollar figures are in USD.

The article section was pretty eh this time around. Lots of advertising pretending to be articles, and a massive amount of sucking up to Nicky Epstein, AGAIN, because it's her 25th year in the design biz. I like Nicky Epstein, think she's pretty clever with embellishment, but could VK PLEASE find someone else to fawn over? At least one issue a year? Please? There are plenty of other good designers out there to suck up to. Let's suck up to Debbie New for an issue. She's probably the most original knitter living at the moment. Or Cat Bordhi. That would be good, too.

Meg Swansen's article was about hats. Eh. There's a pretty good short blurb on Habu Textiles, which I was happy to see, because they're a pleasure to do business with and they could use the exposure.

And then, the patterns.

The Midas Touch is the first section, apparently a grouping of quick-knit gifts with gold as the theme attempting to tie them all together. The copy writing is so bad I refuse to repeat it here.

1. Knitted bangle bracelets. Really they're knitted COVERS for bangle bracelets - you need a wood or metal bangle in there to give it shape. Eh. Not sure how fashionable it is, but it's a cute idea and would be a fast gift. And I'm impressed at the variety of patterns offered. There are eight different covers, from stranded color to smocking to lace to cables. Points for creativity anyway.

2. Bag. Good idea, bad execution. See how the model is holding that bag? Yeah. That's because the handles are too small and stringy for the the size of the bag and if she wasn't holding it up at the bottom, it would stretch all to hell out of shape and leave the knitter wondering what the fuck happened. In fact, you can see it happening on the bag already, where the I-cord attaches near the model's boob. (And this is WITH something inside the bag to shape it - probably a box. Imagine if it were filled with the usual jumble of non-square real life stuff.) Personally, I'd take those two lobster-claw cable patterns and continue them upward and graft together at the top, to make the handles. What moron puts I-cord handles on a bag that big??

3. Clutch purse. When I looked at this photo I thought it was actually two fingerless mitts, laid one on top of the other. WHY is the band around the center sucking in the whole bag? WHY does it have to look so lame? WHY did the designer knit it out of Lion Brand God Knows What?? WHY???

4. Choker. So cutting edge, it's a hundred years old. Hundred and fifty? Wasn't it Princess Alexandra of England who made these popular? In, what, 1900? Goddamn, that's cutting edge. Good grief.

5. Wrap knit with Tilli Thomas beaded silk yarn. (Incidentally, Tilli Thomas does price-fixing and other vaguely illegal methods of price control, including blacklisting vendors who put her yarn on sale. FYI.) A quick web search and some calculator work estimates that this wrap would cost $200 to knit. Now, I don't know about you, but if I loved someone enough to spend $200 on them, I'd find the time to knit something a little more elaborate. But I suppose it's nice enough if you have money coming out your ears. OR you could knit it with Art Yarns equivalents for $375. I wonder how cold those glass beads would feel against your skin in winter. I bet pretty damn cold.

6. Fingerless gloves. The human race has been making variations on these since the last ice age, at least. See the hem on at the fingers edge, on her upper hand, there? The way it flares out? For those who know, that is screaming "KNITTED IN HEM THAT IS TOO LOOSE!!!!!" If you're going to knit these, do some measuring of the hands of your intended victim, and knock a couple-ten stitches out of that edge and add them in later. Total beginner mistake. I don't want to think what someone got paid for this pattern.

7. Eyeglass case. In Vogue Knitting. IN VOGUE KNITTING. The only way this would be cutting edge is if you stomped on it with eye glasses in it, and the lenses shattered. An eyeglass case.

8. Cabled scarves. a) cables like that look like ass on the wrong side, and a scarf should be reversible or at least not look like ass on one side, and b) who in FUCK wears two scarves over a sequined tee shirt? and c) is it me or does this model look totally vapid?

9. Cabled beret thingie. The only point of hand-knitting one of these, in my opinion, is to do funky, cool-looking cabling in the decreases on the top of the hat. Notice they don't SHOW the top/back of the hat? Yeah. And looking at the pattern, near as I can tell, it's run of the mill boring cables. There are at least ten better patterns on the internet that I can think of off hand, half of them free.

MOONLIGHT SONATA: "It's romantic lyricism on a grand scale, composed in a rhapsody of rich purples and grays." Yeah, right. Pass the bong, dumbass.

10. Beaded shawl. Nice enough, but judging from the way that thing hangs, I'm betting it weighs a ton from all the beads. I LIKE some beads on a shawl, it makes it stay where you put it and drape beautifully. But according to the pattern this one uses 1400 #10 glass beads. That may be too much of a good thing. Plus they're cold when they hit your skin.

11. Blue shrug thingie. I really wish Vogue would get over the idea of putting sweaters over evening gowns because 99% of the time it looks really fucking stupid. Like now. See how the model is holding her shoulders, with them thrown back drastically? And how fabric STILL bags up in her right arm pit? Yeah. Bad pattern writing. Plus no edging. Plus the ribbon pulling it in to look like she has a waist. Bah.

12. "Cable arpeggios, loop trills, lace glissandi - major notes in a glorious knit opus." I kind of liked this sweater until I read the copy. Now I just want to go to NY and slap the shit out of the entire VK editorial department. Anyway, this is a cool sweater, very Coco Chanel. But I'd find some boucle yarn to knit the cuffs and collar with, and leave the fur off the waist all together. WHO IN HELL needs to wrap their waist in fake fur??? The loop pattern used on the pattern as it's written is VERY hard to do evenly and snags like a bitch. You probably can't tell in the photo here, but in the magazine it looks like the 'fur' on the left collar has already been snagged once or twice. Otherwise, this is some clever pattern writing. The two major cables in the front actually get smaller as they move up the neck line, helping fit.

13. This is something I would throw on over jeans and a casual shirt to try to look dressy, not something I would wear over a BLOODY DAMNED EVENING GOWN. And what in fuck is she holding that stupid silver star for? Anyway, not the most flattering sweater ever, but not the worst either. My wrists get cold looking at it, though.

14. WILL YOU ASSHOLES QUIT PUTTING SWEATERS OVER BALL GOWNS ALREADY. There is something seriously wrong with the neck of this thing, but I hate it too much to try and figure out what. And that necklace looks like it was put together with bits that fell off a chandelier.

15. Why is this woman wearing a bath robe over her ball gown? Seriously, though, if I were knitting this I'd make those first triangles in the cuffs and hem garter stitch instead of stockinette. Less curl that way. And if you can believe it, this thing would cost $290 USD to knit in medium size. (No, that is not a typo.)

16. A marginally better attempt at a knitted coat. At least this one has a collar. Unfortunately it's knitted in nylon, so it won't do jack shit to keep you warm. And the dollar figure on this one? Well, apparently no one sells the yarn. But a conservative average price of Prism yarns by the skein gives me a guess of about $690 to knit this. Some of their yarn goes up to $130 a skein, so it could cost as much as $3,380 to knit. Isn't that cute? Want to bet Prism paid to have their yarn used? (I just threw these figures at the husbeast, who came back with the Joan Cusak line in Working Girl: "Three thousand dollars, it's not even LEATHAH!")

17. All I can think when I look at this is, "Someone's dog ate a pink lace afghan and then puked it on that poor model." Plus I bet there's something wrong with the lace shaping, from the way they've got that scarf cinched around there.

Designer section! Oh, how I always love these. This issue's featured designer (other than Nicky Epstein) is.... Nanette Lepore. (Anyone heard of her? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) Mostly, looking at these designs, I want to hunt the bitch down and slap her. I'm sure I'll get over it. Eventually.


19. Shrug. It is a rectangle with cuffs. That's not a pattern, that's a half-documented idea.

VANITY FAIR: "Off the ski slope, into the salon: The fairest of Fair Isles." Shapely, my ASS. And I'm getting really tired of the vanity fair theme, I think there's been one in every VK for the last half-dozen issues. Find a new idea already, damn it.

20. I like the idea of a fitted fair-isle. But puffy shoulders and lazily designed cuffs are probably not the way to go. Plus this is knit out of alpaca and is a heat stroke waiting to happen.

21. A sweater with nipple vents. THAT'S new. Not sure it's Vogue, but it's pretty fuckin' weird. And in case you can't tell, the model's fucked up pose is an attempt to hide the fact that the sonofabitch moron designer put RUFFLES AROUND THE WAIST. Three ruffles, from below the boobs to the top of the hips. To totally obscure the idea of you having any waist, whatsoever. A man designed this. Yeah. That's a shock.

22. I like this pattern, and if it were, say, all over the sweater like normal, it might look kind of cool. As it is, to this knitter at least, it looks like someone got lazy and ran out of time and threw on some solid color to finish it out. And there is something very, very, VERY wrong with the fit; either it's too small on the model or the dresser fucked up or SOMETHING. I'd take a very good look at the pattern before knitting it.

23. OH MY GOD I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS BEFORE!!!! (Pompoms should be illegal on anything other than hats for people over age five.)

In Living Color. "Leopards may not change their spots, but Brandon Mably does. Here, the designer reimagines the intarsia animal pelt of his jungly coat in a pride's worth of palettes." Barf.

24. Yet another idea stolen from Kaffee Fasset and made to look like crap. $140 to knit it, too.

Sizzling Hot Winter Styles! "Compelling doesn't have to mean complicated. Sometimes, the simplest knits speak the loudest." Especially when they're knit in fucked up colors and look like something you got flunked for in seventh grade home ec class. You know, it IS possible to make something simple look good. Not that you'd know it from these.

25. The first sweater I ever knit, I tried on and threw away. It looked better than this. And what colorblind, brain dead moron thought it would be good to combine this with a purple halter top and leopard print tights?

26. Find me one SANE person, in the history of the world, who has gone out in public wearing a knitted maroon vest over a blue sequined dress, and I will eat my own toenails.

27. Bad, bad, BAD eighties flashback. Kind of like a reminder of all the worst the decade had to offer. Please tell me no one really wears metallic knit mini-skirts any more? Please?

28. This sweater makes the model look like a barrel. Not even the dorky pose and the dorky belt can save it. Plus there's no shaping, which means as soon as you move, the sweater will start riding up in VERY strange places. Ever been hung up by your arm pits? Bet wearing this feels just like that.

29. This issue's sweater knit with dryer lint. It might not be too bad if you knit it in a color that doesn't appear on the Vomit Palette. I like how the model's pose looks like she's desperately trying to hold it up.

30. A knitted sweatshirt with the neck too big, the sleeves too short, and the kangaroo pocket so low you can't get your hands into it without rucking the thing up to your waist. Epic fail.

Head start: "With a few hip hats and a passion for yarn and needles, Cathy Carron is giving knitwear design a fresh new spin." Inexplicably, this is at the start of the magazine. I get the head start bit, har, but then why number the damn things LAST?

31. Is it me, or does that look like a slime mold on her head? Maybe it'd look better in a different color.

32. Felted bucket hat. Nice, but about as fresh as I am.

33. This style hat goes back to the middle freaking ages. There are illustrations of peasants wearing them in ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS. This is fresh??!!??

34. This one's kind of cute, but I don't know how Vogue it is... I'd knit it for my kid. Those i-cords attach to the edge of the ribbing and are otherwise loose, up and over the hat and tied together at the top. Originality points on this one, I haven't seen anything like it before and it's wearable.

Aaaaaaand that's it for this issue. We got ripped off again.


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Terby said...

Huh. Personally I shoot for at least 4 scarves over my sequined t-shirt. You know, the hot pink one. I'm sure you've seen me wear it...

I wish I had been in the bookstore with you for this one! Unedited, I can only imagine.

Anonymous said...

Re 12: If you look closely you will see a pin between the top button and the next one. Obviously gaping very badly without that pin.

Anonymous said...

#13 looks very much like the EZ's February Lady Sweater too me.

And I laughed out loud at the idea of nipple vents. We need those. :P

historicstitcher said...

26. Find me one SANE person, in the history of the world, who has gone out in public wearing a knitted maroon vest over a blue sequined dress, and I will eat my own toenails.

I seriously would do this, just to see you eat your toenails - and I'm generally considered sane. Should I go out to a restaurant? The mall? Or better yet, if I wore that to the local Salvation Army store, they might give me a voucher for free stuff, assuming I'm too broke to buy it!

Love the review, as always. And sorry, darling, but you're the only one ripped off, since you have so graciously convinced me not to waste my precious pocket cash on it!

Amy Lane said...

Oh boy! Those miniskirts are coming BACK? EXCELLENT, because my ass CAN NEVER LOOK TOO BIG!!!

Wow. Even if I were a size six, there really wasn't anything in there I'd wear, much less knit! (And I LOVE the Working Girl comment... spit out cheerios when I read it!)

Sarah O G said...

no historicstitcher, I got ripped too. I'm a sucker for knitting mags even if they blow, cause just maybe. Okay I have a knitting related shopping addiction but who here doesnt.

Like always Julie, I love your commentary on the f*tards at VK.

Anonymous said...

The thumb that you can see on the fingerless gloves (#6) is ENORMOUS. Given the flaws, i'll bet they just knitted it to fit ... say, Andre the Giant.

~Gwyndolyn O'Shaughnessy

Shea said...

Thank you so much for your reviews. They completely crack me up. I've been enjoying your blog for a while now and just wanted to pop in and tell you so.

Bells said...

I live for your vitriol. Always.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for saving me the time of flipping through this thing at the store.

Donna Lee said...

Don't hold back, Julie. Tell us how you really feel. I had the magazine in my hands at the bookstore and put it back. I just didn't want to spend the money.

Btw, I nominated you for a blog award. I think you are so unbelievably curious and am always fascinated to see where your brain will take you next. And i learn things. Which is always a good thing.

Anonymous said...

K, I'm a little late commenting here, but I had to get the magazine and read it first before I read this post.

I totally second that #13 is much too similar to the February Lady sweater for comfort. Scarf #8 at first I thought was a variation on my favourite Celtic Plait cable, but no, it's just *full* of miscrossed cables.
Most of the sweaters in the Vanity Fair section (as well as #15) all look like the top of one sweater paired with the rest of another. Should I not be knitting the same sweater from top to bottom any more? Is this passe?
And I've looked at the Sizzling Winter Styles section a half-dozen times now and still can't tell if that's a plus-sized model or not...
I do like the cabled beret thingie, but would sure have liked to have seen the top.

Anonymous said...

nanette lepore is a high fashion designer. you obviously haven't been to any store more high fashion than kmart. and its not vogue knitting's fault that you have bad taste. and, there are some knitters out there who aren't plus sized.

Alwen said...

Gee, anonymous, I'm a knitter, I'm not plus size, and I still think these reviews are funnier than a barrel full of LOL cats!

Unknown said...

Love the review . . . but again, had to come find it because of the anonymous comments.

Some people are too stupid for words . . . and, by the way, what is wrong with Kmart? I guess I would qualify as not being in vogue. I do basic black and just add lots of color.

Frankly, I wouldn't make most of these, but probably would start the I cord hat thing until I wanted to shoot off my left hand as an excuse not to do another I cord!

Hope you are feeling better.

Mary Lynn

Anonymous said...

just found your blog for the first time, your comments cracked me up will be waiting with bated breath for your next reviews

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know I am the bitch who designed the Nanette Lepore sweater dress and it's called a slip. They work wonders under things that are sheer, and guess what?? They even have these so called slips in kmart.

Anonymous said...

As witty as this review is, I would like to see you write a best-selling magazine full of knitting patterns. If you have the talent to do so then please, create a magazine that is more successful than Vogue Knitting, because I'd love to write the review I imagine this new publication of your would be filled with Red Heart Super Saver in dirty orange colors and would involve lots of dowdy, out of date styles.

Julie said...

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

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