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.
"VISIT OUR WEB SITE FOR CHART, SCHEMATIC AND DIAGRAM."
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.
"VISIT OUR WEB SITE FOR CHART."
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.
"VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR CHARTS #1 AND #2."
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.
"VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR CHART."
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.
"VISIT OUR WEB SITE FOR PATTERN AND SCHEMATICS."
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.
"VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR CHART"
One size, 28x62 inches/71x157 cm.
12. Feather Jacket. I sense a thematic motif!
"VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR CHART"
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.
"VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR COLOR CHARTS."
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.
"VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR COLOR CHARTS"
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.
"VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR COLOR CHART"
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.
"VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR CHART #4"
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.