It's that time, again. As usual, photos from the VK web site, anything in quotes is from the magazine, everything else is mine. (Text, opinion, white spaces...)
This issue was kind of disappointing. I don't know why I expect otherwise. Usually the fall issue has a lot of good-if-not-high-fashion stuff, but this time around I feel like I was ripped off. Though that could have to do with the seven freakin' bucks I paid for this thing.
Advertising contains a lot of cardigans and pullovers knit in clever ways with fairly light/thin yarns. Worsted or lighter. I'm glad to see it, because the lighter stuff is more flattering. A quick flip, and I'm not seeing anything in the super-bulky range. Hopefully that is a fad that is on its way out. Alchemy Yarns has a new book out on color in knitting. The designs I've seen are stunning. Must have.
Meg Swansen discusses EZ's Ganomy Hat. She's doing a generational thing; this issue contains her mother's hat, next issue will be her version, and the issue after will be her son's. (He knits, and from what I've seen in Swansen's books, he's easy on the eyes, too. Yow. Unfortunately, he's married. Oh. So am I.) Cute idea, I'm curious to see what happens next.
Another article on Afghans for Afghans. Exposure for an excellent charity. Cool.
Article about Iris Schreier, designer. She's the one who made this:
Which I think is one of the classiest things VK has published in the last five years. It's a variation on scribble lace, using three different yarns, and very clever (fall 2007 issue). She does a lot of directional knitting and fitted stuff, and she's got a new book out, "Reversible Knits".
Article from Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed about switching knit-flat patterns to circular.
"Art Knits - A new generation of knitters is blurring the lines between craft and couture, putting art on your back and bringing garments into galleries." ...yeah. Well. This one left me staring blankly, going 'but is it art?' Maybe we'll have that discussion another day. But the article discusses - with photos - knitters who are getting stuff into galleries. I wouldn't call much of it garments, but it's interesting.
Needle felting, again, in case we didn't get it the last two or three times they've given directions for it. This time they make a scarf. Not to my taste, but it's a scarf.
The designs: More plus sizes this time. Sort of. If you consider a 48 inch/122cm bust a plus size. I think maybe our bitching is getting through. Or maybe they realized offering patterns that only 1/3 of the women in the world could wear was plain old bad business practice. For the record, I'm a size ten to twelve, firmly in the middle of average women's size, so if something won't fit me, it won't fit at least half the women in the world. Which, all else aside, is a bad way to sell patterns and stay in business.
Section one: The warming trend. Everything's red. I put the designer's names on everything; apologies if I spell them wrong, the font they used is a bitch to read. The photo shoot appears to be in a studio with a gray cloud type backdrop, then VK photoshopped autumn leaves around the edges of the pages.
1. Long coat by Coralie Meslin.
Bust sizes 36 to 48 inches/91 to 122 cm. Gauge 18 sts to 4in/10cm. Knit from Cascade Yarn's 'Cash Vero', merino/microfiber/cashmere blend. $158 USD to knit the medium size. Back, left front, and sleeves are knit bottom to top traditionally, right front is knit in a spiral. Neat idea, but the seam between back and right front would be a bear to work, and the edge of the coat from button down seems to be extremely stressed.
Plus, without the model working it, I fear it would look much like a bathrobe.
2. Belted cardigan by Heather Carlson.
Bust sizes 34 to 52 inches/87 to 132cm. Gauge 14 sts to 4in/10cm. This is a simple knitted jacket with a belt; VK offers at least one every issue. It's nice enough. Bet the bobbles add at least a full skein of yarn, extra, to the yarn requirements. Oh, and it's alpaca. Hope it's cold where you plan to wear this.
3. Sleeveless dress by Sauriell Connally.
Bust from 32 to 44 inches/81 to 111 cm. Gauge 20 sts to 4in/10 cm. No waist shaping. I think it'd look much better as a vest. And I think the pockets at the hips are kinda dumb 'cause who needs the bulk on their hips? Definite big butt length.
4. Rib and cable cardi by Irina Poludnenko.
Bust from 31 to 35 inches/78 to 98 cm. Gauge 23 sts to 4in/10cm over "slightly stretched" k3 p2 rib. Yeah. That's helpful. This thing's a lot more involved to knit than it seems at first glance, because there are panels at the cuffs and waist that are knit sideways. The designer did have the wit to pick up and knit from the panels rather than have the knitter sew the whole thing together. There's a random rib aspect to this that's pretty cool, and if you tweaked the pattern so the sideways panel hit exactly at your waist, it could be really flattering. If you're a 35" bust or smaller.
5. Cabled cape by Mari Murinonen.
One size fits all. Gauge 16 sts to 4in/10cm. If you need a cape, this one's kind of cool. The graduated cables that get smaller as you knit up toward the neck are pretty clever. The stitch glossary is extensive, including a 'decrease nine stitches' that reminds me of doily knitting. And there's an I-cord edging that would take forever. That doesn't make it a bad design, it just makes it an involved one. I also have doubts about VK's ability to print this pattern without errors; that's no fault of the designer, but it's a potential problem.
6. Multi-pattern cardigan by Shiri Mor.
Bust from 32 to 42 inches/86 to 100cm. They're saying this is available in plus sizes, so apparently VK thinks a 42 inch/100cm bust is a plus size. Assholes. Gauge is 21 sts to 4in/10cm. This is another design I think is just fine, but I fail to see how it's high fashion. It's a cabled cardigan. It's nice enough. There's a big butt length thing going on, but that's easy enough to fix with a quick tweak to the pattern.
7. Cable and guernsey pullover by Jodi Snyder.
Bust sizes from 36 to 56 inches/91 to 142 cm. Holy crap! Real sizes! Gauge 34 sts to 4in/10 cm. This is the pick of the section, if not the entire magazine, if you want a flattering pullover. The 'guernsey' patterning across the chest adds a horizontal line where you want one, then the cables add a vertical line around the waist where you want vertical, PLUS the cables suck in and add waist shaping through fabric structure. Clever, flattering, and in real sizes. Definitely one of the best of the issue.
8. Lace panel gloves, by Lisa Hoffman.
One size fits most, 8in/19cm around palm of hand above thumb. Gauge 28 sts to 4in/10cm. All I can do, looking at the photo, is wonder how warm gloves are when I can see the model's skin through the holes in the back of the glove. You could always make these more sensible by using another increase instead of the yarnover.
Next section, "Head Trips". Ten designers make stocking caps. "Our ten top hats are smart, sophisticated, and so very knittable." Now. I've got nothing against the designers. These are all nice hats, well-made and designed, and will keep your head warm in winter; they are all one would ask for in a hat. But HOW IN BLOODY HELL IS A STOCKING CAP HIGH FASHION??!!?? They are calling stocking caps SOPHISTICATED. IN WHAT FREAKING WORLD? Wait. I forgot. VK is totally divorced from reality. Because that's what it takes to say a stocking cap is freaking sophisticated. (To repreat: Nothing wrong with the designs or designers, I just think VK is, as usual, promoting everyday knits as high fashion and looking schizophrenic.)
One thing, as a knitter: A close inspection of these patterns shows that all of them were knit using a long-tail cast on (except for the koi hat). That's about the worst, least-stretchy cast on you can use, for something like a hat brim. I'd use a tubular cast on, or some kind of sock cast on for these edges.
9. Eyelet cap by Cathy Carron.
One size, 20in/51cm. Gauge 29 sts to 4in/10cm. Uses two skeins of possum yarn; this is a nice way to try out luxury fibers you couldn't afford to knit a whole sweater with. Plus hats don't get the wear and tear mittens or gloves would, so you can use the fragile stuff and have fun.
10. Cabled cap by Suri Simola.
One size, 21 in/53cm. Gauge 19 sts to 4in/10cm. This would be a good first project if you wanted to learn cabling.
11. Vine and leaf beret, by Angela Hahn.
Size, 20 and 22in/51 and 56cm at brim. Gauge, 24 sts to 4in/10cm. A good first project if you want to mess around with lace. I'd block it a bit more rigidly than this one was blocked, but that's just personal preference. Usually people put plates inside berets and leave them to dry when blocking; leaves a nice edge. That's what the directions suggest here, but from the looks of it, they may have needed a bigger plate.
12. Side cable hat by Mari Muinonen.
One size, 21 in/53cm. Gauge 16 sts over 4in/10cm. Kind of clever, with an asymmetric panel of cables in an otherwise plain stockinette cap.
13. Lace beret by Kate Gagnon.
Sizes, 18 and 20in/45 and 51cm. Gauge 32 sts over 4in/10cm. This one also looks like it was blocked wrong... maybe it's the way the fitter or stylist put it on the models' heads? At any rate, the chart for this looks way cool, in terms of how the decreasing was done at the crown. A quick check over at "VK 360" (video of each design) confirms that the decreasing at the crown does look really interesting.
14. Blossom hat by Norah Gaughan.
Size, 17in/43cm. Gauge 18 sts to 4in/10cm. Cute cabled hat.
15. Double knit hat by Elli Stubenrauch.
Size, 21 in/53cm. Gauge 26 sts over 4in/10cm. If ever you wanted to learn how to do double-knit, here's your golden opportunity. A small project that's practical when it's finished. I think I'd add a ribbing around the edge, or make the hat itself longer... it kind of looks like a beanie and hard to keep on your head, from the photo. Though that may also be the fitter/stylist and not a real problem with the hat. It looks more wearable at VK 360. Let's blame the stylist.
16. Koi hat by Tanis Gray.
Size 20in/51cm. Gauge 23 sts over 4in/10cm. Knit with good old Cascade 220. That'll keep your head warm. Wanna learn Latvian braided cast on? Here's your chance. The koi is duplicate-stitched onto the cap after it's knit, which seems like cheating to me, but it does let you knit in the round without the fuss of doing in-the-round intarsia. (Which is possible, three or four different ways, but a royal pain in the keester no matter how you do it.) On the other hand, if you wanna learn to do in the round instarsia, here's your test project.
17. Colorwork hat by Kristen Nicholas.
Size 20in/51cm. Gauge, 20 sts to 4in/10cm. Here's another 'wanna learn?' hat. In this case, here's your chance to learn stranded color on a smaller, less complicated project that will have a practical use when it's done. Are 'chullo' hats still in with the younger crowd? This could be a good Christmas/Yule/Hanukkah/solstice present.
18. Fair Isle tam, by Anne Featonby.
Size, 18in/45cm at brim. Gauge, 20 sts to 4in/10cm. Okay, I'll come right out and say it: I don't like the colors. It looks like they 'flash' - are the same intensity so your eyes can't focus and go all squidgy on you. Which is a shame, because the design itself is pretty cool. The scrolled colors worked into the crown decreasing is really neat, and it's another great project to learn stranded color.
Next section, "Natural High". Ah... yeah. "Green fiber and great design resonate through the seasons." Since I'm always ragging on the copywriters, lets see if I can do a blurb instead. Ahem. 'Natural knits. Projects for knitters who like to knit green.' ...nah. Too straightforward.
19. Sleeveless cardigan by Faith Hale.
Bust sizes 46 to 62 inches/117 to 157 cm. Real sizes! Gauge, 24 sts to 4in/10cm. Knit with 'humanely harvested' Silk Purse from Alchemy Yarns. $252 USD to knit the 41in/105cm size. Otherwise, it's a fairly straightforward loose, sleeveless jacket sort of thing. With the silk it'd have lots of drape, be very warm, and pill like crazy. Pretty, though. Someone take out a loan and buy me the yarn, so I can knit this.
20. Duo-tone cardi by Amanda Crawford.
Bust sizes, 32 to 52 inches/81 to 132cm. Yay! Wearable sizes! Gauge 16 sts to 4in/10cm over pattern stitch (a 'knit in the row below' deal). Knit with Lion Brand 'LB Collection Organic Wool'. I wonder exactly what 'organic' entails in that name. No waist shaping. A regular old sleeveless jacket using an interesting pattern stitch. Nice enough.
21. Cabled pullover by Cathy Carron.
Bust sizes 35 to 46in/89 to 117cm. Gauge, 13 sts to 4in/10cm. Knit with doubled up 'Lorna's Laces Green Line Worsted' which is another "organic wool". This is a nice enough pullover, but it leaves me wondering where the high fashion is. This is a knock-around sort of thing you wear with jeans to rake leaves in the yard. Nothing wrong with that, but why's VK claiming it's 'fashion'?
22. Cut out pullover by Kristin Omdahl.
Bust sizes 34 to 40 in/91 to 101cm. Gauge, 24 sts to 4in/10cm. Knit with "Be Sweet Bamboo". Didja know bamboo yarn is processed with sulfuric acid and lye? Yup. It's about as environmentally friendly as a 1970s paper mill. I think this one's got potential, but most of us would need to re-work it to make it fit, since the size selection stinks. There's no waist shaping, either, so without the model working it, it would fit like a sack. Still, you could fix that too. Of course with all that 'fixing' I start to wonder at the end of it whether the design is still the designer's, or if it's mine.
23. Shawl collared pullover, by Amy Polcyn.
Bust sizes 34 to 46 inches/86 to 117cm. Gauge 14 sts to 4in/10cm. Knit with 'Classic Elite Yarns Cheapskate', organic cotton and merino. Yet again I wonder at what the term 'organic' really means. That it contains a carbon atom? Regular old cable-knit pullover. I like the bottle green color, and the fit is good, but it's a regular old cable knit. You can't see it well in this photo, but in the magazine the skirt is horrific; there's a big, draping bag in the front that makes the model look like she's got a giant gut pooching out. Considering the model is probably a size four with one percent body fat, well, I think we're back to 'shoot the stylist'.
Hey, look! Upholstery is high fashion! They're shoving chairs down runways now! Next section, "Gather Ye Rosebuds". Nicky Epstein upholsters a chair and VK calls it "retro glamour" (quote from the website). More schizophrenia from VK.
24. Flowered chair by Nicky Epstein.
Yarn used, Cascade 220, felted. The flowers were glue-gunned to the chair, but personally I suggest sewing them on, if you're gonna get serious about it. This is a cool chair. I like it a lot. I'm going to keep it in mind if I have a studio when we move, and room to put a chair like this. Or, heck, I may just slap it in the living room in the midst of my Arts and Crafts decorating scheme. Funky, fun, involves knitting and yarn, you just can't resist it. But I still completely, totally, and utterly fail to see what this has to do with fashion. Yes, it is clever design, but it is still furniture.
Next section, Goldrush. "The burnished bravado of precious metal makes any jacket that much richer. Mine it for all it's worth." Whisky tango foxtrot?
25. Ballerina wrap jacket by Mari Lynn Patrick.
Bust sizes, 32 to 38in/81 to 96cm. This is one of the best designs in the magazine and it only goes to a 38 inch bust. Vogue YOU ASSHOLES. Gauge, 28 sts to 4in/10cm over rib pattern. This is a really clever design, and Patrick uses the directional stuff to fit the jacket. There are actual bust darts. The ruffle around the hips is in a small gauge yarn and so adds as little bulk as possible. There is a waist. AND IT ONLY COMES IN SMALL SIZES!!! AAAARGH!
26. Cropped jacket by Anne Farnham.
Bust sizes, 34 to 43in/87 to 109cm. Gauge, 13 sts to 4in/10cm. The trick/problem with cropped designs is doing them so they look cropped, and not just too small. Unfortunately, this one just looks too small. At least on this model.
27. Fair Isle collared jacket by Nichole Reese.
Bust sizes, 36 to 42in/92 to 106cm. Gauge, 12 sts to 4in/10cm over stockinette. A fine illustration of why you shouldn't do stranded color with chunky-weight yarn. See how the collar seems to sit above the body of the jacket? That's probably because it's so stiff and thick it won't lay flat. The body itself lacks any shaping, which is weird considering it's knit top-down and adding shaping is really easy that way. If you look at the photo closely, you can see how the model is working it (red lines):
Without her arms in the way, and the artful draping, this thing would hang like a sack.
28. Side wrapped jacket by Deborah Newton.
Bust sizes, 33 to 45in/85 to 115cm. One of the best designs in the issue and the sizing sucks. 45in bust for a jacket THAT YOU WEAR OVER OTHER THINGS sucks ass. That's too fucking small. Vogue, you assholes. Gauge, 16 sts to 4in/10cm over textured pattern. See that? IT HAS A WAIST. The sleeves are fitted to emphasize the line of the shoulders without making you look Joan Crawfordish. And the texture pattern, with the short little lines, adds a vertical look to the whole thing. Excellent design. And not enough sizes. ARGH!
Next-to-last section, "Private Lives." They're using the term 'staycation'. Urrrgh. How about 'lovely loungewear for knitters' down time'? Wait. I'm too straightforward again.
29. Hooded vest by Elsebeth Lavold.
Bust sizes, 41 to 56in/104 to 139cm. Gauge, 17 sts to 4in/10cm over seeded rib pattern. Okay. They may be calling this a vest, but if it is a vest, it's on growth hormone. It looks a lot more like a sleeveless bathrobe to me. $210 USD to knit the 48in/122cm size. It's a wool/camel/alpaca blend, so it'll be warm. Shorten it, put on sleeves, and call it a coat?
30. Drawstring waist cardigan by Josh Bennett.
Bust sizes, 36 to 48in/91 to 122cm. Almost plus sizes. Gauge, 24 sts to 4in/10cm. Nice, casual hemmed cardigan. The flowers are taken from Nicky Epstein, and I saw something in a Rowan mag a year or so ago that did the same floral spray. $167 USD to knit the 44in/111cm bust size. It's pretty, though. And wearable.
31. Leaf motif jacket by Melissa LaBarre.
Bust sizes, 32 to 37in/82 to 95cm. Gauge, 10 sts to 4in/10cm. Super-chunky yarn is gonna make a girl look super chunky. That model is looking kind of porky in that thing and she's, what, a size four? Six maybe? Plus if you look, the buttons are straining to hold it shut, so that's the tight version and it still makes the model look pudgy. Super-chunky. Sigh. $140 USD to knit this. That's another thing about super-chunky. It's expensive.
32. Hoodie by Dina Mor.
Bust sizes 41 to 54in/104 to 137cm. Gauge, 12 sts to 4in/10cm. This one's getting a lot of buzz on the internet and I'll bet you will be the most-knit design in this issue. It's a simple seed-stitch hoodie, with a zip front. (As always, I fail to see the haute couture in a zipped hoodie, but I've ranted enough for one day.) Of all the designs in this issue, this is the one I'd wear the most, and I'm tempted to knit it as some instant gratification. Unfortunately, my size, the 48 in/122cm bust, would cost about $95 USD to knit, and it's in cotton so it wouldn't keep me warm. I'm looking into silk-wool blends of bulky yarns, but those aren't cheap, either. But it's a nice, wearable pattern. Oh - I'd knit it in the round, not flat the way the pattern's written.
Last section, "Talking Fashion". High-profile designers are brought in to share their work.
33. Peplum cardigan by Nanette Lepore.
Bust sizes, 35 and 44in/89 and 104cm. VK is claiming this is 'plus sized'. Gauge, 16 sts over 4in/10cm. Is it me, or does this remind anyone else of the doily jacket from the cover of the last VK? Except this one has sleeves? I'm not so sure about a bulky-weight peplum over someone's butt, for the slimming factor. And if I were to knit this, I'd find a different cast on; if you look closely at the picture, the ribbing seems to 'suck in' at the cast on edge. I also wonder what this would look like without the leopard print belt on it.
34. Fair Isle cardigan by Rebecca Taylor.
Bust sizes, 35 to 47in/89 to 119cm. Gauge, 16 sts over 4in/10cm. This seems to be a fairly straightforward reworking of the famous Cowichan jackets, only this has colors. But the designer used a bunch of yarns that knit up to vastly different gauges, made of vastly different materials (polyester/viscose, wool/acrylic, nylon/polyamide). Look at the different bands of color; some are bigger and fluffier than others. I imagine this is considered a design feature and was done on purpose, but it looks accidental and... not coherent. Maybe knit it with all one yarn?
So there you have it, the latest VK in all its... VKness. Next up, I think we're gonna have the 'is it art?' argument. Brace for collision.