Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Vogue Knitting, Fall 2010

As always, quotes are from the magazine, photos are from the VK web site, and the numbers on the patterns are their indexing system.

There's been some controversy over on Ravelry about this issue, and I kind of see both sides of it. I'll cover that in another post; this one's already longer than War and Peace. Okay, not really, but GEEZ.

Letter from the editor: Trisha Malcom goes on for a page about her new iPad and how print isn't dead. Including the quote "The Internet and mobile devices will simply support and accentuate print and bring the experience more to life." There's also an iPhone app in the works, they claim "...with the ability to size at will." If you read carefully, she never says they WILL make it available, just that it's possible. Normally I wouldn't care, but this becomes more relevant later on when I'm discussing the aforementioned controversy. There are also three web-only sock patterns becoming available sequentially, but you have to sign up for a newsletter to get them. Fairly good marketing strategy, that.


This issue's ooh-ah yarn is boucle mohair (though I'm not sure there are any actual patterns for it in the magazine... odd). As usual, there are no swatches, just some yarn-winder balls of one kind of yarn and a list of eight others.

Lately it's VERY hard to tell the advertising from the editorial content.

A list of knitting apps for phones. One for Blackberry, one for Android, ten for iPad and iPhone. Cute. Did Apple pay for that?

Rowan ad for some pattern called "Russian Romance" or something, covered in NORWEGIAN STARS. I know I'm meticulous. I know I'm a geek. But that stuff drives me nuts. If we're gonna attach a nationality or culture to a design, could we ATTEMPT to be accurate? Or else name it something else? (No, this has nothing to do with VK, particularly, but it still pisses me off.)

Article about Nancy Marchant and her mad brioche knitting skillz. As a fan of brioche, I'm thinkin' I need her book. If you live in a cold climate, you might consider looking into it, too. She says RIGHT IN THE ARTICLE it can make women look beefy. Finally, a designer NOT claiming bulky fabrics look good on everyone! (In the depth of winter with three feet of snow on the ground, I'd rather be warm than svelte. I'm fine with brioche. But I appreciate honesty and realism.)

Article by Meg Swansen. She's working through in-depth discussions of her mother's seamless styles. Last time it was the raglan. At first I rolled my eyes because EVERYONE knows this stuff, but you know what? Meg still knows more. I learn something every time I read one of these, and I've been knitting EZ's seamless sweaters for twenty years. Lots of them. So, for me, as a lifelong EZ knitter, the magazine was worth it for the article.

Our first pattern, from designer in residence, or something, Nicky Epstein. Spiral gloves:

These are cashmere/wool/silk and mohair/nylon/silk/wool blend. So they'd be plenty warm. $56 USD to knit the pair. At least these gloves have fingers.

Jared Flood writes an article about Elizabeth Zimmermann. This year would have been her hundredth birthday.

Carol J. Sulcoski checks in with an article about reading charts. She's been writing tech articles for VK lately, and they're always good. This one goes over why and how charts are used, going from the very very most basic information onward. According to her, the biggest complaint among knitters she talked to is the lack of a common symbol system. I've got to agree (for what that's worth). There's also a little "Tips" list that would help beginners quite a lot. For me they're obvious, but I bet for a beginner they're like a light bulb going on.

Interview and career overview with/of Kristin Nicholas.

The needle guide is a "Special Advertising Section", but it's still interesting and helpful. Unfortunately they don't say who paid for it. Don't like that. But it seems pretty unbiased to my suspicious and cynical eye.

And... the patterns. Sigh.

Section one, "London Calling". "From Savile Row to Oxford Street and beyond, swank knits speak with an English accent." Bollocks.

1. Cabled cardigan by Yoko Hatta.

Seven (!) sizes from 34 to 56 inches/85 to 143 cm. Knit in good old wool as a cable-knit ought. No waist shaping. Not a thing wrong with it. Very nice, fairly traditional cable-knit cardigan. Not seeing high fashion, here. I'm seeing a good, solid knit you'll wear for years and years. Oh, the raglan shaping? I'd knit the whole thing in one piece, seamlessly, rather than trying to sew the shoulders together. Just sayin'.

2. Union Jack cardigan by Brandon Mably.

One size, 68.75in/172cm. You know, this was original. Forty years ago. When Vivienne Westwood did it. Obviously, it is a box with arms. They'll tell you that's a design element. You be the judge.

3. Argyle Turtleneck by Sandy Prosser.

Three sizes from 34 to 52 inches/87 to 132 cm. No waist shaping, horizontal stripes AND big butt length! A trifecta! (Big-butt length shows better in the magazine.)

4. Intarsia Pullover by Deborah Newton.

Four sizes from 32 to 44 inches/81 to 111 cm. I would dearly love to know who decided on this garish color combination, VK or Newton. Newton's been designing since the eighties and usually goes for more subtle colors, so... yeah. While your first reaction to this might be "AAAAH!" try to reconsider. I think it would look really nice on a lot of body types, done in related tones or a more toned-down color combo. Imagine it all in shades of blue or sage green. Light pinks, corals, and peaches would look nice, too.

5. Fair Isle Tunic by Yoko Hatta.

Four sizes from 33 to 42 inches/84 to 106 cm. This is done with an A line. I know not why. It'd be a cute little jumper sort of thing if it was cropped off shorter. As is, even the size four (?) model - that's a size small she's wearing - has her hand plonked on her hip to try to show she has a waist. Or at least, she did in the magazine photo.

6. Fair Isle Hat.

One size, 20.5in/52cm in circumference. The pattern for this one is entirely in the magazine, which is good, 'cause it's one of the jewels of the issue. It's not super-sophisticated, just a pretty, well-made stocking cap. Which is a fine thing to have in winter.

7. Striped Tunic by Faith Hale.

Five sizes from 44 to 56 inches/113 to 142 cm. Shown in size small. Ha. So, let's see... you want to drape yourself in a whole lotta horizontal stripes with a stretched out neck, oddly fitted sleeves, and a Nice. Big. Band. around your butt. PLUS work for weeks or months knitting it, for the privilege! OO! Sign me up! Oh, and it'll cost $200 USD to do it. Ish.

8. Cardigan by Louisa Harding.

Seven (!) sizes from 32 to 54 inches/81 to 137 cm. Nice. Again, not a thing wrong with it. I'm still not seeing high fashion, but it's a cute little cardigan you could wear for all but the coldest days of winter. It's knit in a wool/silk blend, so it'd be nice and toasty. No waist shaping, but with the cropped cut you really don't need it. Only down side, about $180 USD to knit the size large, and the yarn may be discontinued.

Section two: "Head of the Class". As always, super-clever. "For her debut on our pages, Project Runway champ Irina Shabayeva displays the dramatic flair for knitwear so integral to her season 6 win." So there you go.

9. Welted Scarf.

One size, 15x58 inches/37x147 cm. Husbeast walked past, glanced at this, and said "Her head looks like a clitoris." Which is funny, 'cause that's what they were saying over on LSG, and I swear I didn't prompt him with any hints. Personally, I thought she looked more like a box turtle, but as a hetero female I've probably seen more turtles than I... have...

Right then. Moving on.

(By the way? Can't tell what the scarf looks like, so I don't know if it's a good scarf or not. I assume yes, since scarves are just rectangles of fabric and so is this one. That is some SERIOUSLY bad styling.)

10. Welted coat.

One size, 46 inches/117 cm. No way in hell that's gonna hang straight. $385 USD to knit this. If you can find the pattern on the web site and it stays there long enough.

11. Feather Stole.

One size, 28x62 inches/71x157 cm.

12. Feather Jacket. I sense a thematic motif!

One size, 55 inch/139cm bust. Yup. It's a jacket with feathers knit into it. A stunning tour de force of human creativity. I've never seen anything like it in all my years. Ever. Really. Honest. I swear.

Section three, "Ethereal Girl". (I keep reading that and then humming Madonna's "Material Girl".) "Gossamer lace takes wing, sending fall fashion on transcendent flights of fancy." Barf.

13. Lace Jacket by Brooke Nico.

"VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR CHARTS 2 AND 4" But one and three are there. Yeah, that's easy to keep track of.
IT COMES IN SIZES! This is one of those circularly-knit round doily-type patterns with sleeves put in. Not that you can tell from the photos. Diameter when laid flat in FOUR sizes from 37 to 39 inches/94 to 99 cm. Not so sure a half-inch or centimeter between sizes is gonna make much difference; I assume the sizing has to do with sleeve placement. This is a really pretty, feminine jacket. Kind of old-fashioned rather than cutting edge, but very very nice.

14. Lace Gloves by Shiri Mor.

Two sizes; hand circumference 9 and 6 inches/23 and 15 cm. No idea why the sizes are listed backward. And silly me! I thought gloves came with fingers. Huh. Live and learn. I'm so stupid about this clothing stuff. Next you're gonna tell me pants have legs.

15. Lace Turtleneck by Erica Schlueter.

Five sizes from 32 to 43 inches/81 to 109 cm. Shown in size small. No shaping in the garment, so you've got to make it with very little ease to have it skim your body like it does on the model. Pretty.

Section... what, three? Four? Next. Whatever. Rebecca Taylor deigns to share one of her fantastically wondrously famous designer-to-the-stars designs with us. Don't you feel special? "This conversation piece is imbued with Taylor-made [ha] details: extreme texture and smart seaming." Riiiight. Conversation.

16. Textured Cardi.

Three sizes, from 52 to 64 inches/132 to 162 cm. When the magazine was laid open on the dining room table, the husbeast walked past, glanced at it, and said "That poor model was so scared, that sweater sucked right up her butt! Lookie there!" Now, is THAT the conversation YOU want to have over your clothes? I think the construction method is interesting on this - it's knit as a rectangle and stitched into that jacket formation. But this is a loose and floppy slop-around-the-house thing, not high fashion. About $210 USD to knit the size medium.

Next section: Force of Nature. "The power of cables. The element of surprise. Get ready for an intense knitting experience." Intense knitting experience. Seriously? Are you kidding me?

17. Flounced Pullover by Vladmir Teriokhin.

Three sizes from 32 to 38 inches/81 to 98 cm. It's a shame it doesn't come in more sizes, because people with boobs would look nice in this, too. Don't know about the ruffle around the hips - it's shown in size small there. Meaning a chick with a 32 inch bust looks like she's got pudgy hips while wearing that thing. But with the cabled texture pattern, I think you could simply leave off the ruffle-bit at the bottom edge and it wouldn't curl. I'd also go wild and add some waist shaping, but I'm all and like my clothes to fit. Especially the ones I make myself, by hand.

18. Cap Sleeve Coat by Jaqueline Van Dillen.

Four sizes from 33 to 44 inches/84 to 113 cm. Now, notice the term "coat" in the name of this pattern. Meaning they expect us to wear it over OTHER CLOTHING, and still call a 44 inch bust "X-Large". Right. Sure. Kiss my 44 inch butt. Otherwise, this is a nice pattern. It DOES have waist shaping. I always thought coats had sleeves, but I have it on good word that I'm an unimaginative stick-in-the-mud when it comes to fashion. And why are they calling it "Cap Sleeve" when it has no sleeves? Am I over-thinking this?

19. Off Center Zip Cardi by Pat Olski.
Four sizes from 35 to 42 inches/89 to 108 cm. Not only is the zipper off-center, the front bottom hem is asymmetric. Not that you can tell from these helpful photos off the web site. No waist shaping, which you can tell by the model's crossed arms. (Seriously. I see that pose and immediately go look at the schematic.) In the magazine, the model is also hanging on to the front hem, so I wonder if it lays flat without help.

20. Smocked Cable Coat by Mari Tobita.

...which isn't actually smocked, just cabled. Six (!) sizes from 34 to 54 inches/86 to 137 cm. Shown in size small, meaning there will be large tracts of cabling on some of the larger sizes. Pretty, though, has waist shaping, and that cabling means warmth which one would hope is the point of a coat. This one has sleeves, too! Bonus! $375 USD to knit the size extra large, 41in/104cm bust. But I bet you could find a substitute yarn easily enough.

21. Cabled Vest by Norah Gaughan.

Five sizes from 36 to 52 inches/91 to 132 cm. This one pisses me off. (Gee, like that never happens.) Okay, I'm not claiming that bulky cables are ever going to be slimming, but the designer goes to some trouble to shape this thing so it's as flattering as possible while still being warm. And warmth IS the point of fall and winter knitting, no matter what the fashion houses say. So what does VK's stylist do? PUT IT ON THE MODEL OVER ANOTHER VEST. There's a leather vest on under the knitted one, not that you can tell in these photos. Oh yeah, THAT'S gonna make it look good. You also can't see the front, which has very cool exploded heart cables on it. Cripes. Do they set out to make this stuff look bad??!!? This one I'm seriously considering making for myself. Which probably means it's not fashion, but it is nice.

22. Cabled Turtleneck by Michele Wang.

Three sizes from 34 to 45 inches/86 to 114 cm. Shown on the model in size extra small. Ha. This is a nice layering piece for between seasons, which makes it really nice for fall. Knit on size three/3.25mm needles, though, so be prepared for an epic project. Still, thin yarn means a thin and more flattering fit, almost always.

Our next jolly section, Home on the Prairie. "Motifs of umber, ochre and other burnt autumn shades evoke the glory of the American landscape." I have no words. I am out of snark. I'm just sitting here staring at the copy, thinking "you gotta be kidding me".

23. Patterned Tunic by Jaqueline Van Dillen.

Three sizes from 45 to 49 inches/114 to 124 cm. I have no idea what this is supposed to be. A poncho with restrictive arms? A sleeveless yoke sweater? A thneed?

24. Raglan Turtleneck by Kristen Nicholas.

Five sizes from 38 to 57 inches/96 to 144 cm. Iconic work from Nicholas. Stranded color with additional embroidery is kind of her hallmark and it remains popular because it's always nice. Classic, really. You can knit this and wear it every fall for the next thirty years, or until it falls apart, whichever comes first. One of your better choices, this issue.

25. Color Band Cardi by Jan Hurwitz.

Four sizes from 41 to 55 inches/104 to 162 cm. They're calling 41 inches/104 cm small, which I consider realistic for something that's supposed to go over other clothes. This has got one of the cleverest treatments of horizontal stripes I've seen in a while; the ease of stripes without the "HEY LOOK HOW WIDE I AM!" effect.

26. Cropped Jacket by Deborah Newton.

Three sizes from 43 to 52 inches/109 to 132 cm. Again, realistic sizes for something you'll wear as a jacket or coat. It's not terribly slimming, but as it's meant as outerwear, I can't really criticize TOO much - though throwing in some shaping would help. It's pretty boxy. Otherwise, nice enough.

27. Banded Turtleneck by Kathy Merrick.

Five sizes from 41 to 52 inches/104 to 132 cm. HEY! LOOK HOW WIDE I AM!

28. Shawl Collar Cardi by Heidi Kozar.

Three sizes from 36 to 42 inches/91 to 106 cm. This one comes the closest, I think, to the color and feel of the Plains Indians textile work. Really nice. Too bad it would need to be resized for so many of us.

Last section, Steppin' in Style. "All the glam gams this fall will be sporting kicky yet sophisticated knee-highs that demand to be seen." What in the ever-loving... Well. Anyway. They're socks. Which are not now and have rarely ever been high fashion. But they are popular with knitters, so these are a smart way to sell magazines. All knee-high socks are epic undertakings, but darn warm for winter.

29. Lace Stockings by Barb Brown.

One size, "adult woman", 93 stitches per round. Yup. Socks. Pretty.

30. Cabled Stockings by Star Athena.

One size. Cables and other texture patterns are usually lost in variegated yarns like this one. Though I'm betting VK told the designer what yarn to use. Knit toe-up.

31. Stranded Socks by Barb Brown.

One size. These are my personal favorites, but then I'm a big fan of stranded color and Anatolian patterns, so go figure.

And there you go. Another review staggers to a close. There's been some controversy over this issue, so tomorrow I'm going to do a round-up to discuss it. Until our next installment, knit wisely.


metalouise said...

It's a sad state of affairs when the standout item in a self-labelled "fashion" magazine is a pretty, traditional, stocking stitch beanie.

You should make the Husbeast Commentary a regular thing. He makes me laugh.

Alwen said...

I had to laugh at the ironic juxtaposition of the comment by Nancy Marchant and #9. I seriously wanted to pick up the magazine and calculate out how much that thing *weighed*.

It looks like a beginning knitter's bright idea that didn't work out in the real world. On the website, you can see that it's pinned on at least one shoulder so it can't escape.

This is why I can't do fashion. My brain throws up all these logical objections - fashion doesn't do logic.

RC said...

"sweater sucked right up her butt" hehehehe
thank DH for the good laugh

Anonymous said...

Well, Julie, you've done it again. You've seen most of the patterns through MY eyes. I know you are not in my head...there only room for one of us so I don't know how you do it. Your hub has an interesting take on things too.

Unknown said...

HAY, that was my thread you linked! I feel almost famous now. :)

Lisa said...

I read Vogue (fashion) magazine. I know Vogue and Vogue knitting are produced by different companies but I'm baffled by how unfashionable most of Vogue knitting is.

Big sweaters are in, but usually with a belt or with a ribbed band around the waist, so you don't look like a shapeless blob. Usually these are in a relatively fine gauge so that there is attractive draping (not bulky colorwork hint hint). The trendy colors for colorblocking are red and black - not some of the heinous color combinations featured in Vogue Knitting.

I finally learned to design top-down set-in sleeved sweaters with Tuulia Samela's tailored sweater method, so I think most of my knitting now will be making my own classy designer knockoffs. Anthropologie is very inspiring for stylish yet classic cardigans.

Anonymous said...

#12, the Feather Jacket. The picture is the point of the exercise, right? It's kind of cool, the feathery wing thing. Why, then, did they put a BELT on it? (snort)

#23, Patterned Tunic. I am speechless, in between outbursts of "W.T.F.?" The center back has a spot that looks like it was knitted in and sewn shut, like an accidental armscye.

As to the rest of it ... The socks are pretty. Unfortunately, i've noticed that the finished calf-width on many commercial knee-high patterns clocks in at ... 11". That's my ANKLE. I'm height-weight proportional, and my calves are closer to 17".

Sigh. Thanks, as always, for an amusing commentary!

Gwyndolyn O'Shaughnessy

Unknown said...

I really enjoy these reviews... even though I'm not a real knitter and haven't had one of these issues in my hand. I think you're saving me the aggravation of spending the cash and then realizing that I only like one thing and don't have the skills to make it. Commentary is hilarious also.

Catie said...

As always, a pleasure to read. Pattern #22 is very tempting

getalong said...

Thank you for this review. I'm going to go out and buy this and maybe for the issue before it, for the article by Meg Swansen.

emy said...

The only ones I mostly like are from that Section three, "Ethereal Girl" -- the rest are just not workable for those of us in tropical weather and most sizings are way off for me!

Unknown said...

So how does this "Charts on the website" work? Can anyone just go to the website and print off the charts? Without buying the magazine? Can I go to the library, pick up a Vogue Knitting magazine and get all the patterns and charts for free?

Except for the sweater sucked right up her butt, there wasn't anything that made me flinch in this issue. They must be listening to you. GO SAMURAI!

Emily said...

Yeah, I definitely think they're listening to you, Julie, or at least starting to.

Still. I've pretty much decided that "high fashion" means ugly, in the sense of attracting attention by shocking. So, to earn the label, they need to include awful stuff. I decided not to bother feeling annoyed about it. You notice that the good stuff wouldn't necessarily instantly draw the eye out in public? (Unless the observer is a knitter, of course!)

Donna Lee said...

I liked the hat. I'm not a hat person but that one looks like something even I could wear.

Knee socks are a pita if you have calves. I like the large pullover but would have to get rid of the turtle neck. I don't need that much fabric around my neck.

I'll be interested to hear your take on the "you can find the charts online" issue. It's caused quite a ruckus over at you know where.

April said...

I worked for Jan Hurwitz when she owned Knitting Arts in Northern California. She really is a talented designer.

Unknown said...

I do believe that I will buy this issue. They should provide you with a finder's fee or something. I stopped getting most magazines because too many of them were inundated with ads but I have to say most of the knitting magazines have ads that I lust over.

Hope you all are doing well.

Gauss said...

All in all, it's not that bad of an issue. My first thought was also "wtf" but when I sat down to actually look at the patterns a lot of them are nice, classic items. Not high fashion, I agree, but still better than unwearable fug.

Jess said...

What the fuck is a thneed?

Anonymous said...

Your commentary about Vogue Knitting is (as always!) exactly what I was thinking when I thumbed through it at Barnes and Noble and (AGAIN) decided it wasn't worth buying. Since the people at Vogue Knitting seem to read your comments about their issues this is for them: Just so that you know, I don't ever buy Vogue Knitting because the patterns are not wearable. For good pattens, Interweave Knits never fails me! My local yarn shop stopped carrying Vogue Knitting b/c they couldn't sell them. That's saying a lot right there!


Grenadine Girl said...

I've been reading a lot of Vogue Knitting reviews and this one is by far the best. I've linked to it on knitluck. :)

-Angela, knitluck.com

David Austin Smith said...

And now for the guy's point of view: Patterns no. 29, 30 and 31 look pretty good to me (hubba hubba)...

fleegle said...

I laughed myself sick at your overview. I can't believe you actually read the text! Poor you!

The lace sweater thing is similar to one that appeared in the British magazine The nitter a few months ago. But still pretty and I will probably make it at some point.

Thanks for the morning cheer!

Amy Lane said...

I saved this for a time I could really enjoy it, and I'm so glad I did! You never disappoint! Dude, the 'full pattern on website' pisses me off-- but I bet it makes the magazine cheaper. STILL, pisses me off.

It's funny that the 'smocked' jacket was one of my personal favorites too... and the hat... (purty...)

And the 'clitoris' comment made me snort water out my nose. She did sort of look like 'a little man in the boat' didn't she?

Experimental Knitter said...

I don't sub to VK any longer: I read your reviews first insterad.
Thanks for a spot-on direct hit.

Unknown said...

For the past hour, I have been trying to figure out how the cabled stockings would actually fit a real person (literally). The foot circumference is actually 6.5 inches when knit exactly to gauge. I am not even going to atttempt to get into the calf or thigh circumference. I still like the socks, but I have to add 20 sts before I even start to the heel.

Anonymous said...

Great review! I was confused when VK stopped being printed as they said it wasn't being continued and then I found another mag in the same format called "Fashion Knitting" or something (in Aust). VK really has been mainly "weird" rather than "wired" for most of the last 25 years- I have some issues in the knitting pile from the 1980s. The patterns look like the designer catwalk clothing which is never meant to be worn in real life by a normal-sized, functioning human. The occasional gem I would pounce on and knit/adapt several times maybe- like the iconic Cat sweaters (eg. http://www.flickr.com/photos/murfomurf/3287757650/). The bizarre shapes in the current issue, plus the boring and/or nasty colour combinations have been par for the course in every issue I've seen. Good on you- maybe they'll eventually produce a magazine that we all WANT!

Unknown said...

Number 18 is correctly called cap sleeve rather than sleeveless. Sleeveless means that the piece has shoulder straps only. The straps may be spaghetti-strap thin to the width of the top of the shoulder, but must not go over the curve of the shoulder. Cap sleeves go over the curve but only a little way down the arm. They often don't need to be created separately and seamed. Short sleeves can be only a little longer than cap sleeves to just above the elbow, but have a distinct sleeve shape. They would often be created as a separate seamed piece to achieve the correct sleeve shape.

Julie said...

Number 18 is correctly called a drop shoulder. There is no sleeve on the body of the jacket, it is an extended shoulder draping down the model's arm.

And we are back to a jacket or coat without sleeves.

DD said...

Great review! Love Welted scarf! Greetings from Croatia!!