It's that time again. After really thinking about it, I've decided to keep buying Vogue Knitting. That's always been my defense when I get "Who the hell do you think you are?" - my reply is "I'm the one who bought the damn thing." So I'm going to keep doing it. Otherwise, we'll see if I can teach you something.
Vogue - Designer Knitting to those of you outside the US - has decided to put out five issues a year. So this is the first ever 'early fall' issue. According to the letter from the editor, they decided to put the extra issue here to offer "designs for late summer, which also work in places that are warm year-round, and lightweight knits for the transition into cooler weather." Keep that little quote in mind when you look at some of these patterns. Stuff for warm and transition weather, right? Not the pit of winter.
So. Articles. As always, things in quotes are from the magazine, photos are from the VK web site, and the numbers of the patterns are not page numbers but the magazine's indexing system.
Meg Swansen discusses Elizabeth's Percentage System and the basic raglan for the two knitters on earth who haven't heard of it yet. But she takes it a step further and discusses ways to fine-tune it for different body types and shows different decrease methods. I've been knitting on the EPS System for twenty years and there's stuff here that's new to me. So, yeah. Cool.
Carol J Sulkoski wrote an excellent tech article about seaming, and when to knit circularly or go to the trouble of knitting something in bits and seaming it together. In general, the more fitted and complex a sweater, the more you want to consider seaming it. But there are lots of details and thoughts on the subject. Very interesting.
There's a bit about Hannah Kearney, the skier who got the first American gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics. She knits. Likes lopi 'cause it's versatile and warm.
Nicky Epstein contributes a knitted knecklace (I'm leaving that typo 'cause it makes me laugh) of flowers, crystal beads, and tulle. I assume it's one of the thirty patterns they talk about on the cover, because there are in fact only twenty-nine actual patterns in the magazine, plus this. And, um, do YOU wanna swag your neck with wool, mohair, and tulle in warm weather? A big no from me, thanks.
The yarns section features the usual: a stack of yarn cakes no one could be bothered to knit a swatches with. The theme is blended yarns of more than one fiber, and treats it like it's a new, fascinating idea. Most of these yarns are blends of fibers that would be hotter than hell for late summer and early fall - wool, silk, alpaca, cashmere, bison. Riiiiiight. I assume they make advertising revenue off this. Though if I was paying for it I'd at least want my yarn knit into a swatch.
Sometime I'm gonna get bored and critique the advertising in one of these, but it won't be today. Sorry. As always there's a lot of good stuff, some questionable, and a few clinkers.
And so, the patterns.
Section one, "Purl Gray". Because late summer and early fall is JUST the time to wear gloomy colors. "Confident, sophisticated, timeless: knitwear as a way of life." You know, I love knitwear and I think "knitwear as a way of life" sounds dumb. This section is brought to you by Lutz & Patmos, Fifth Avenue designers of knitwear, specializing in bulky knitting and luxury fibers.
1. Long cardigan by Lutz & Patmos.
Sizes from 38 to 53 in/96 to 134 cm. Knit with single-ply wool at 13 sts to 4in/10cm. I wonder, as always, how a "standard fitting long coat" has short sleeves. What's the point? Who needs a COAT in late summer/early fall? Why jump the gun on the depressing gray of winter by wearing it in early fall? That collar looks like it would repeatedly whap you in the chin as you wore it... don't know about you, but I'd find that irritating.
2. Cropped jacket by Lutz & Patmos.
Sizes from 32 to 52 inches, 81 to 132 cm. Gauge, 8 sts to 4in/10cm. With ALPACA WOOL BLEND!!!eleventy! Now, other than the gloom and doom color, I sorta like this. For, you know, the depths of winter. Super-bulky wool-alpaca for early fall? Are you SERIOUS? WHAT? I'm getting hot just looking at this thing. $135 USD to knit the medium size. And then die of heat stroke. See how the model's pulling it together over her chest with her hands? Either it's the wrong size for her (possible) or the fitting sucks (also possible).
3. Mid-length cardigan by Lutz & Patmos.
Sizes from 48 to 53 inches/122 to 136 cm. Only two sizes, kids. Gauge, 20 sts to 4in/10cm. This one's knit with pure alpaca. Yet again I wonder at short sleeves on otherwise super-warm garments. I don't care if it's fashionable or trendy, it makes no fricking sense.
If you knit any of these three cardigans in a cheerful color and long sleeves, and wore them in the dead of winter with three feet of snow on the ground, I think they'd be great. Really nice. As it is, they make me go WHAT??!?? But you probably got that.
Section two, "Make Me Blush". "The sugar and spice of childhood grow up beautifully." Hey, guys? Pink? Ur doin' it rong.
4. Multi-texture top by Maryse Delatour.
Three sizes from 35 to 50 inches/90 to 127 cm. Gauge 24 sts over 4in/10cm. Knit in wool, which I think is skating the line on appropriate fiber. I think it'd be awesome in cotton, but switching over would totally mess up the way it hangs. This is nice, but I think it's tailored enough that those three sizes are a little crazy. It needs more like five or six sizes in that range to assure proper fit. Plus I would go all master knitter on it and do it from the top down (not that hard to switch around, really) so that the waist hits exactly at the wearer's waist. It's not so obvious in these photos, but in the magazine, the model looks hunched over to get it to hang right. Not the designer's fault - she had no chance to fit the pullover to a specific model. But VK could have done a better job of finding someone built differently to wear it.
5. Drop stitch pleated tank, by Cathy Carron.
Sizes from 26 to 31 inches/67 to 79 cm. Gauge 25 sts over 4in/10cm. Okay. This is a vest sort of thing, and knit of ribbing that stretches quite a lot. The sizes are measured in the unstretched form. But I still think that size range is fucking ridiculous. Otherwise, it's a nice enough top, but as a hand knitter, I'm not wild about the dropped stitches in the peplum. (I'm also not wild about peplums, but we already knew that.) Dropped stitches, even when obviously done on purpose like this, always look like mistakes to me. However, it's knit with a cotton/rayon/linen blend, which makes it actually appropriate for the season it's claiming to be for.
6. Lace cardigan by Jennie Atkinson.
Five sizes from 37 to 55 inches/94 to 140 cm. Gauge 21 sts to 4in/10 cm over lace. Knit with bamboo rayon. Every VK has a few gems, and this is one of the gems from this issue. Perfect, for season, body type, everything. There is short-row shaping in the shoulders so it won't make you look like a linebacker; the drawstring will make the person wearing it look like they have a waist, even if the fit isn't perfect. The lace makes it breathe a bit and the short sleeves also make it good for the layered dressing most of us do during seasonal changes. Very nice.
7. Pleated blouse by Kara Gott Warner.
Three sizes from 33 to 46 inches/85 to 118 cm. Gauge 22 sts over 4in/10cm in stockinette. Knit with linen/wool/ALPACA blend, which makes me kind of boggle. Maybe for those oddly cold occasional days in late fall? I'd knit this one from the top down, too; even if that band is meant to hit at the hips like it does on the model, it'd be more flattering to the majority of people if it hit the waist instead. Feminine without fussy, even if you don't knit it in pink.
Section three, "Crystals and Purls". Knitted 'jewelry' from Shadowplay Jewelry. "Beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces that mix the etheral with the earthy". Uh. Hm. Yeah. Hm. Okay. At best, in my mind, 'jewelry' made of fiber is an article of clothing because, um, it's made of fiber. Jewelry is, you know, metal and gems and like that. Yeah, I know, I'm too literal-minded and fail to appreciate the art. Sure. Whatever.
8. Shaped necklace.
To knit this the way it looks here requires five balls of Be Sweet's "Magic Ball" in different colors. It's $32 USD per ball, meaning it costs about $160 USD to knit this hairball, not counting the beads, which are Swarovsky crystals and expensive too.
9. Long necklace.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Section four: Urban Cowgirls. "Ranch dressing at its finest." The closest these copy-writers have come to a working ranch is a bottle of salad dressing. "Chic knit toppers branded with the hint of the old West." Note to copy editor and stylist: Plaid, jodhpurs, hunt master's boots, and ENGLISH FUCKING SADDLES are not authentic old West anything unless you mean old Western Ireland. And if that model is a master of the hunt, I will eat those boots.
10. Hooded jacket by Josh Bennett.
Four sizes from 34 to 46 inches/87 to 118cm. Gauge, 20 sts to 4in/10cm over check pattern. Near as I can tell, this is knit flat in stranded color, but listed as "Very Easy, Very Vogue". Which makes no fucking sense to me. And as always, I am confused by jackets with short sleeves and hoods. Is it to be warm? Then why the short sleeves? Is it to be cool? Then why the hood? I don't get it.
11. Cable paneled vest by Erica Schlueter.
Six sizes from 33 to 51 inches/84 to 129cm. Gauge, 19 sts to 4in/10cm over stockinette. Knit with wool. If you shortened this so your ass didn't look like it was wearing a circus tent, I think it'd make a cute addition to a fall wardrobe, for more of that layering I was talking about earlier. At this length, it looks sort of like a sleeveless bathrobe, and that much stockinette would make most knitters go bonkers.
12. Tunic vest by Mari Lynn Patrick.
Five sizes from 33 to 48 in/84 to 123cm. Gauge, 17sts over 4in/10cm over double seed stitch. Knit with wool/possum/silk blend, a heat stroke waiting to happen. This is knit in "Zealand Kauri". Impossible to find in the US, apparently. Gee, I wonder if the yarn company paid to have it used? You think? Well, looking at prices for yarns of similar weight and fiber composition, it'd be about $235 USD to knit the next-to-largest size. I don't know if it's the gauge, the fiber, or the stitch (probably a combination of all three), but this vest doesn't seem to drape well. They don't show it in these photos, but there's an awkward sideways leaned-over pose in the magazine. All these shots are designed to obscure the fact that this thing has no waist. See the "Fuck you, bitch" look on the model's face? That doesn't bode well for the design on a normal person, either.
13. Long vest by Tanis Gray.
Six sizes from 37 to 54 inches/94 to 137 cm. Gauge is 18 sts to 4in/10cm over 'ridge stitch'. Knit with alpaca wool blend. For those late summer days when you want heat stroke. (A cotton/wool blend would make a good substitution for alpaca/wool, since alpaca has no real spring in it, either.) This is the standard VK hippie vest with big butt length and no waist shaping. See how the model's dragging at it with her hand? That usually means no shaping, or bad shaping. Shorten it, add a waist, and you'd have something.
14. Cables and lace vest by Cheryl Murray.
Four sizes from 34 to 55 inches/87 to 141 cm. Gauge is 25 stitches to 4in/10cm over lace chart. Knit with wool/silk blend, which puts it on shaky ground as a late summer piece, but it'd be nice for layering on colder fall days (wool/cotton blend would be a viable substitution for this type of yarn, too). See how there's a belt around it? And she still looks waistless? That usually means no shaping, and that's just what it means for this pattern.
15. Cabled topper by Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton.
Two sizes, 56 and 67 inches/142 and 169 cm. Gauge, 26 sts over 4in/10cm over cabled chart pattern. Knit with baby alpaca/merino/silk blend. So you can get heat stroke while looking like Jabba the Hutt. (To clarify: The model does not look like Jabba the Hutt. The PULLOVER will make nearly anyone look like Jabba the Hutt. This is not a commentary on the person wearing said pullover.) I really feel for the model. In the magazine, she looks like she's going to cry.
Section...next, "The Weekenders". "Inspired by the best of the Brit-Knit tradition." Think 'bad attempt at imitating Rowan'.
16. Lace cardigan by Fiona Ellis.
Four sizes from 34 to 42 inches/87 to 108 cm. Gauge, 27 stitches to 4in/10cm over stockinette AND lace patterns. Knit with wool sock yarn, which makes it perfect for layering. See how the lace 'stripes' sort of zig-zag over the body? That's because Ellis uses short rows to move them around. Very cool. I'd consider putting buttons all the way down the front, or not at all, since that just-at-the-neck buttoning is unflattering for just about everyone.
17. Cable/lace cardigan by Renee Lorion.
Five sizes from 35 to 56 inches/89 to 142 cm. Gauge, 20 stitches to 4in/10cm over chart pattern. Knit with wool, so it'd work as a light jacket on cool days. Not much else to say about this one. It's the typical sorta-bathrobe pattern that Vogue has published dozens of. Not terribly flattering, not terribly unflattering. Big butt length IS warm.
18. Cropped cardigan by Jean Moss.
Four sizes from 37 to 43 inches/95 to 109 cm. Gauge, 15 stitches to 4in/10cm over stockinette. This is knit with wool/bamboo blend which is nice for between seasons. I'd avoid the horizontal stripes of garter stitch at the waist and do it the same color as the body (you know, the unflattering stripes they aren't showing in this photo). If you keep to the general color scheme - lighter background color on yoke, darker color below - it will be slimming. Not sure if that scarf around the model's neck is just lame styling, or if the neck of the sweater is too big.
19. Cardigan by Kate Gagnon Osborn.
Five sizes from 33 to 54in/83 to 139cm. Gauge, 18 stitches to 4in/10cm over SEED STITCH. Yes folks, this thing is knit almost entirely in seed stitch. Purl-haters, take note. Now. Look at the photos. See that scarf? You can't see the neck of the sweater. So what's wrong with it? See how the model's all twisted around? It makes me suspect no shaping and big butt length. Referring to the pattern and schematics, hey, look at that! No shaping and big butt length! Knit with baby alpaca/wool/silk blend. Another heat stroke special. $320 USD to knit the next-to-largest size. Color's pretty, though.
Next to last section, "Sun Salutation." That's a yoga reference, in case you're missing it. I can't do sun salutations. They trash my knees. Anyway. "...the season's new yellow - a rich sunflowery shade". Um. Not really on the sunflower - they're oranger than these yellows. A word to the wise: almost no one can wear yellow without looking like they have liver disease. But all of these would be nice in another color.
20. Lace pullover by Joan Forgione.
Four sizes from 35 to 43 inches/89 to 110cm. Gauge, 23 stitches over 4in/10cm over eyelet pattern. Knit with Tilli Tomas silk. A heat stroke bargain at $170 USD for the next-to-largest size. You could knit this with cotton, or a cotton/viscose blend. Okay. Look at the photos again. See how there's no bottom edge? See how the model's holding the edge down in the photo on the right? Yeah. I'd really put ribbing or a hem on that if I knit it. Also, do you think the model's goal in life was to appear in an international magazine with elephants on her butt? (Yet again I'm feeling really bad for the model.)
21. Cabled tunic by Debbie O'Neill.
Four sizes from 32 to 45 inches/81 to 114 cm. Gauge, 26 stitches over 4in/10cm in cable pattern. Knit with sport-weight merino wool, which would probably breathe enough to work for between seasons. I like the vertical line from the cables. The length... well, I'd either shorten this to a sort of tee shirt, or I'd lengthen it and wear it as a dress.
22. Sleeveless tunic by Star Athena.
Five sizes from 35 to 52 inches/89 to 132 cm. Gauge, 22 stitches over 4in/10cm. Knit with wool/microfiber/cashmere blend, which might be on the warm side, but it is sport weight. The horizontal line at the shoulders and the vertical line of the body is really flattering, and the side slits would make it very comfortable to wear. Not wild about the length, but that's a personal call and easily altered.
23. Pullover by Lois Young.
Three sizes from 39 to 57 inches/99 to 146 cm. ??!! Gauge, 24 stitches over 4in/10 cm. Another nice sweater with a vertical line to the texture. Sizing kind of sucks, though.
Everything in this section is really wearable, except for the color, which is, again, easily fixed.
Last section!! "A fine romance. On late-summer nights, lovely lace toppers are de rigueur. Here, six looks in shades of lilac and plum, all with a certain je ne sais quoi." Oooo. They typed en Francais. They must be STYLISH. Many of these are simple rectangles, about which, there is not much to say. Just sayin'.
24. Lace stole by Erica Schlueter.
One size, 16x66 inches/40x167 cm. Gauge, 21 stitches to 4in/10cm over reversible lace pattern. Supposedly it has a 'subtle razor edge' (?) but I'm not seeing it. Yup. It's a lace rectangle.
25. Lace cardigan by Amanda Crawford.
Five sizes from 31 to 46 inches/80 to 117 cm. Gauge, 20 stitches to 4in/10 cm. Knit with our old friend Kid Silk Haze, which is pretty darn warm. No waist shaping, though this should drape quite a lot. The model's pulling on it in the magazine photo, so I wonder if it hangs properly.
26. Parachute top by Sharon Sorken.
Two sizes, 28 and 32 inches across/71 and 81 cm. Gauge, 20 stitches to 4in/10cm. No shape or shaping whatsoever. Wear it at your discretion. Or not. $195 USD to knit the size large in pure reeled silk.
27. Wave stitch wrap by Maie Landra.
Rectangle of seafoam stitch with crocheted squiggles on the sides. 21x54 inches/53x137 cm. $130 USD.
28. Lace wrap by Yoko Hatta.
Two sizes measured in width from sleeve to sleeve. 43 and 48 inches/190 and 122cm. Yup. It's a big pink shrug. Knit with wool, which is pretty appropriate.
29. Cropped lace jacket by Shiri Mor.
Two sizes, 30 and 40 inches/78 and 101 cm. Sized by altering the gauge, which makes me wonder if I can get MORE sizes by tweaking yarn selection and gauge some more. Because this is another gem, and it only comes in two sizes. VOGUE, YOU ASSHOLES!
So, that's it for this issue. I assume the thirtieth pattern is the necklace by Nicky Epstein. No matter what Vogue says, I think they're paying attention to what KNITTERS want, not what haute couture wants us to want. And the sizing issue is getting better. I'd actually knit a few of these things, and wear them. If I had time.