Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Vogue Knitting, early fall 2011

It's that time. I'm looped and am dealing with swimming lessons, so yeah, a fine time to editorialize. As always, pictures are from the VK web site, quotes are from the magazine, everything else is mine. Yee haw whee. Go copyright.

This time around, I'm not going to draw on the pictures. I'm going to try talking YOU GUYS into seeing what I do, just by looking. Oh, and those of you who wonder how I know this stuff? My cousin was a model, and had actual modeling textbooks. My mother decided in my early teens I needed poise, so I was fired off to my cousin to do hair and makeup and posture for a week. It was fun. I read the textbooks. I also learned how to walk in heels. Good stuff. There should be required courses in high school with that stuff.

Anyway, what, where was I? Review. Right.

The letter from the editor flogs VK Live, and their new iPad app. " many of the garments we feature are season-spanning". Indeed. Keep that gem in mind, further on.

The featured yarns still lack gauge swatches. Everybody there knits, my ass.

Articles! I think they know I enjoy the articles and are cutting back. It's personal. I swear. Really. IT IS ALL ABOUT ME. -ahem- Meg Swansen discusses the new book coming out, "Knit One Knit All", which is a book of EZ's all-garter-stitch designs. It sounds like it was quite a project - the ideas may have been EZ's, but Meg, her son Cully, and a bunch of others had to work from vague notes, half-documented ideas, and other madness. Looks like fun. Carol Sulcoski discusses schematics, how to read them, and use them. Beginner-level stuff, but if you need the information, it's a good article.

That's it. I think there's something in here somewhere with winners of the mohair design contest, but I can't find it, so what's that tell you? So, two articles, in a magazine I buy for the articles. Delightful.

Section one! (Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.) Brioche socks by Alexandra Richards.
They stuck the photo of these socks on the index page, and nowhere in the editorial content of the magazine. They're like an afterthought, and I'm confused. But they look like nice socks.

Section two, "Into the Woods". Models roam around a barren wood, carrying candelabras and trying to look atmospheric. Everything's red, which is a HUGE relief because after a year of red sections, the last issue DIDN'T, and I JUST COULDN'T COPE. Red is the ONLY fashionable color.

2. Pompom capelet by Yoko Hatta.
Five sizes (?) from 38 to 50 inches/97 to 128 cm. It is a tube of knitting with some pompom cord tied on it. There is no schematic. Finishing requires a safety pin. I would be embarrassed to sell this as a pattern.

3. Reindeer Capelet by Yoko Hatta.
Bizarre sizing that makes no sense to me, 20 and 25 inches/52 and 63cm. No schematic. They have an article on schematics and then don't use any. Cute, innit? Near as I can tell, it's a rectangle with a button. If you decide to knit this, I suggest yarn colors that contrast more - the reindeer are getting lost in the color blending. Also? Fornicating reindeer. Best. Capelet. Ever.

4. Tied capelet by Yoko Hatta.
Four sizes measured at lower edge, from 44 to 56 inches/111 to 142cm. Considering you'd wear it over other clothing, I'd skip straight to the 56i/142cm size and adjust with the draw string, unless I had a REALLY small frame. This is essentially another knit tube, again with no schematic so I can't really say.

5. Cabled Capelet by Yoko Hatta.
Another rectangle with a button. Measured at lower edge, five sizes from 38 to 51 inches/96 to 130cm. Um... yeah.

6. Zippered Cape by Mari Lynn Patrick.
I think the zipper runs diagonally along the edge in the front, where end and side meet. "Neck edge measurement [??!!??] 26, 28, 30"/66, 71, 75cm". Riight. Okay then.

And then, the mohair design contest winners. All of the seem to be pros. Wait, no, one is a student at Parsons School of Design. I wonder if they won for their resumes?

7. Mohair Lace Dress, by Laura Zukaite. (Grand prize winner.)
Five sizes, from 27 to 40 inches/68 to 101cm. They say it is adjustable with back lacing. Hmmm. It looks like a jumble of lace patterns to me, like she sat down with Barbara Walker and knit one stitch pattern for a while, then shifted randomly. It's kind of cute, but you'd have to wear it over stuff, and silk/mohair blend - it's knit with two strands of Silk Mohair held together - is really hot. Plus, $170 USD to knit.

8. Sheath and Wrap by Lynette Meek.
Sheath, four sizes from 35 to 47 inches/89 to 120cm.
Wrap in one size, back between sleeves 20in/51cm.
Personally, the idea of mohair in a close fitting sheath dress makes my skin crawl. It could work as a layering piece for winter, but eeeesh. The wrap is kind of cool, I can imagine swanning about in that in cooler weather. Both have been hand-paint-dyed after knitting; the exact colors chosen aren't to my taste, but that's really easy to change. $223USD to knit the medium dress, $...well, I'd love to tell you how much the wrap is to make, but I can't find the yarn for it. Anywhere. At all. On the INTERNET. Very cute.

9. Bobble Tank Dress by Monica Hofstadter.
Another skin-crawly dress that you have to wear over something else, thereby increasing your chances of heat stroke. Four sizes, from 25 to 38 inches/64 to 97cm. All I can think of when looking at those bobbles is maggots.

Next section, our beloved designer section. Anna Sui checks in with "her signature brand of hippie chic". This stuff looks like the kind of crochet that people have struggled against for years, trying to show crochet can be pretty and not look like, well, like this. It's like everything that was bad about the seventes.

10. Flower Hat, and
11. Flower Vest.
The most appalling abuse of yarn I have witnessed outside a church penny market. Boye is trying to revive the horror that was the Bloom Loom, and I assume roped Sui into making these to demonstrate how cool they are. I hope to hell Sui got paid a lot, because if I were a crocheter I'd be ready to burn this in effigy. As for Boye.. WHAT THE FUCK, PEOPLE?

12. Granny Square Vest.
I just... what... what in fuck? I've been staring at this for days, wondering how in fuck I'm supposed to review it, and I don't know where to start. This is so horribly, awfully cliched. Crocheters feel like they're struggling against a stereotype of stupid-looking, dorky projects, having to live down the avocado and orange granny square monstrosities of the sixties, and now, here's another one. Way to go, Ana Sui and Vogue. You're so far out of touch with reality, I'm not sure you're on the same planet. Everyone, please go look at THIS for some real crochet beauty. It does exist. Just, um, not here. Gods. SERIOUSLY, VK? A project that's actually OFFENSIVE to some crocheters? It's not your grandmother's crochet, YET IT IS! MADE OF GRANNY SQUARES!

Sigh. I've run out of adjectives.

Next section, "Easy Knits, Easy Fits", where you can wear really loose stuff and if you pose JUST RIGHT, still look like you have a waist. Maybe.

13. Cowl by Faith Hale.
One size, so, okay. Call me crazy, but if I were a designer, I wouldn't use a lace pattern made famous by EZ. It would look too much like I ripped it off and slapped it on an unshaped tube and collected money for the 'pattern'.

14. Scoop Neck Top by Faith Hale.
Four sizes from 51 to 63 inches/129 to 160cm. Shown in size 55in/139cm. With the cowl on there, my first thought is "what's wrong with the neck?" Might be nothing, but I can't know that, can I? Schematic (yes, finally) shows a crew neck. I know it's meant to be oversized, and I am a huge fan of 'oversized', but it's knit with bamboo/viscose blend, meaning the fiber has no memory or tensile strength, so while it may START the way it looks now, it will continue to grow until it's around your ankles. Perhaps a nice wool/nylon blend?

15. Cropped Pullover by Lori Steinberg.
Four sizes from 33 to 45 inches/83 to 114cm. This is probably the safest knit in the magazine. Also not the least high fashion, but you can't have everything, right?

16. Boucle Vest by Lori Steinberg.
Three sizes, measured across the back between the shoulders. "Because front pieces are designed to wrap and overlap, vest will fit a wide range of bust sizes within the standards for the sizes given." Oh yeah, you betcha. $144 to knit the medium size. Are you fucking kidding me? Wait, all right. Lesson, grasshoppers. See how the model is holding the front together? That means it probably hangs REALLY strangely if left to its own devices. And look at the actual silhouette of the thing. It's an A-line, sure, but it's stiff as a board, with no draping. So you're going to look like a giant cone with legs sticking out.

17. Tapered Pullover by Renee Lorion.
Five sizes from 36 to 52 inches/91 to 132cm. Another winner for this issue. It'd be flattering to everybody, the edging is interesting, and the color is even flattering (also easily changed). One potential drawback: The shaping is achieved with changes in needle size, rather than increasing and decreasing. Meaning if you knit with a really strange gauge, use caution and work up a LOT of swatches first.

18. Cable Rib Jacket by Vladmir Teriokhin.
Three sizes from 46 to 54 inches/116 to 137cm. An interesting idea that's been used by other designers for a while - a jacket worn either way, right side up and upside down, so to speak. Interesting idea, decent execution. The shoulder seams kind of worry me, but it's possible that jacket was really dragged at before being photographed. $339 to knit the medium size. But it's just wool, so substitute at will.

Section, oh, whatever the hell.

19. Lace Pattern Cardigan by Lisa Hoffman.
Four sizes from 37 to 50 inches/94 to 128cm. Another classic you can knit, and wear for forty years until it falls apart. (Which means it probably isn't Fashion, but whatever.) No shaping, which is hidden by the Arm Trick, but it is what it is. And that's classic.

20. Lace Vest by Kristin Omdahl.
Two sizes, 35 and 38 inches/89 and 98 cm. They're calling the 38in/98cm size Large/X-Large. And mind you, it's something meant to go over other clothes they're defining as "loose fitting". Shouldn't VK allow for boob jobs, even if they don't allow for plus sizes?

21. Lace Trimmed Top by Shiri Mor.
Four sizes from 33 to 38 inches/84 to 98cm. VOGUE, YOU ASSHOLES. 38 INCHES AS THE LARGEST SIZE FOR JACKETS AND VESTS IS TOTAL AND COMPLETE BULLSHIT. For the two of you who can fit into this when worn over other clothes, I'd consider altering it for a button closure instead of the belt. That way it'll look less like a bath robe, and you'll look less like a stump with four layers of knitting swathed 'round your middle. Oh, and VK? A 38 INCH BUST IS NOT EXTRA LARGE, PARTICULARLY NOT FOR A JACKET, FUCKERS!

22. Lace Jacket by Iris Schreier.
ONE size, 38 inches/96cm. Uses only two skeins of ArtYarns' Beaded Mohair ($87USD), so if you can fit into it, and are looking to try the yarn, this'd make a cool project. If you can fit into it.

Next section, "The fashion blueprint: Lithe, drapey tunics with vertical detailing lengthen and strengthen the knit silhouette." Apparently, the copy writers (or their editor) don't know the diff between vertical, horizontal, and diagonal.

23. Welted Pullover by John Brinegar.
Three sizes from 35 to 41 inches/89 to 104cm. I suppose if you want a welted tunic, this would work. The yarn choice is a cotton/nylon blend, and I'm not sure the nylon is enough to keep it from 'growing' until it's around your ankles, though.

24. Drop Shoulder Top by Rosemary Drysdale.
I fail to see any "vertical detailing". Anyone else? Six sizes from 43 to 58 inches/109 to 147cm. A yarn company special; uses tencel yarn from Prism. $163USD to knit the middle size. Bet you could do it cheaper.

25. Cabled Poncho by Daniela Nii.
Wow, that's not fantastically unflattering or anything. Put the cable on the front of a regular sweater and call it a win. (Also: When did ponchos acquire sleeves? No one told me.)

26. Boatneck Top by Sinje Ollen.
Three sizes from 50 to 67 inches/127 to 170cm. Another winner. Really pretty. It's a silk/alpaca blend, so it may be too freaking hot for between seasons, but it'd be easy to substitute something else. Try to get a decent percentage of rayon, bamboo, or tencel, so it'll drape properly. This version uses two colors to emphasize the wavyness of the Old Shale pattern. If you'd rather de-emphasize, use one color and switch the purl-on-right-side to knit-on-right-side rows. I'm tempted to knit this myself, but it's on size 2/2.75mm needles and I swore off crazy knits for the year. Maybe next year.

27. Striped Tunic by Josh Bennett.

28. Colorwork Poncho by Deborah Newton.
IT IS A SWEATER, PEOPLE! PONCHOS DON'T HAVE SLEEVES! Four sizes from 39 to 46 inches/99 to 118cm. $375 to knit the next to largest size. Not a typo. But the gauge being what it is, you could knit it with Cascade 220 for a hell of a lot less. Oh, and that's $375 for 100% wool.

29. Long Vest by John Brinegar.
Yup. That's what it is, all right. Six sizes measured by width of back. That's whole lotta stockinette to grind out. It's also really unshaped.

30. Relaxed Cardigan by Mari Lynn Patrick.
Six sizes from 34 to 45 inches/86 to 114cm. Fastened, it's loose and baggy and unflattering, and unfastened, it's chaos and confusion and baggy and loose. And unflattering. I don't get it.

Well, thankfully, this wraps up another VK review. As always some real gems in with the WTFery. Until next time, knit wisely.


Alwen said...

When I see the stuff they accept, I always wonder about the designs they reject.

And yes, my 11-year-old boy laughed out loud when I hid the back of the granny square vest with my hand, then showed it to him. Is high fashion supposed to DO that?

CraftyGryphon said...

I always look forward to your reviews (and then forward the link to everyone I know).

The upside-down-or-not jacket is actually why I bought this issue after flipping through it. (And yes, the shoulder seams will be changing in my version.) I hadn't done an in-depth go through yet, but I'm appalled at the lack of articles, too.

And don't get me started on 38"=XL. I think you summed up my feelings quite nicely.

Helga said...

After reading through this I'm glad I subscribe to Interweave Crochet...

Carrie S. said...


I'm so sorry, where my brain immediately went was "Castles don't have phones, asshole!"

I do love the boat-neck lacy thing; sadly boat-necks make me look like all there is in the world is my boobs, so not so much. The sleeves are great, though. Wonder if I could mod the neckline.

Gauss said...

I flipped through the magazine at my LYS today, and I think this is the ugliest, most disappointing issue they've put out in a long time. The capelet section is laughable - can I submit "designs" that consist entirely of tubes or rectangles? The whole magazine is a mess.

Thank you for another great review - your review is the only good thing about this issue, I think.

Jessica said...

You know, your quarterly (is it published quarterly?) excoriation of VK is becoming one of my favorite internet events. And I don't even knit.

Leonie said...

Those socks were the first prize winner out of this issue weren't they? I'm wondering if "High Fashion" just equates to "Expensive crap" in the world of VK.

scifiknitter said...

My DD, also a knitting fanatic, and I enjoy the over-the-top ickiness of VK's worst, and we just enjoyed sharing this review over chat.

My sub to VK is worth it for the laughs alone. Which is good, because sometimes that's all there is.

amy said...

I chose to knit instead of crochet precisely because of the squeaky atrocities my mom & aunts produced in my childhood. I'm wishing I knew how to do more because I see people making beautiful crocheted items, but that granny square thingy just set my recovery back decades.

NeedleTart said...

Odd. I bought a copy of this issue partly to read the articles and look at the knitting just to be prepared for your review. I agree with almost everything you said (as a woman with a 46" bust that is mostly ribs and muscle). The three sweaters I likes the best were the three you supported. As for #18, I think the problem with the shoulder seam is that you are supposed to sew wrong sides together, probably for "texture".

Anonymous said...

I just saw this today at Wally World. I also looked at Interweave Knits... It seems that EVERYTHING these days sucks. I used to LOVE IK and VK... I keep thinking I should start trying to publish patterns because so much sucks out there now... I feel bad for all the really talented designers who now use their names to peddle trash.

I had to agree with everything you wrote and I laughed hard.
And really? 38 is XL? Scary! I am normally a size M, but nursing has skewed my size and now im like a 42. I started to work on a sweater pattern the other day and had to stop my schematic was so scary... Like Hunchback scary in reverse.

Thanks for the review!

Amy Lane said...

Okay-- the entire cf of fashionry was made better by the addition of the fornicating reindeers to the capelet thing. And do they ever realize how REALLY bland their colors are? Seriously? If they scrolled through the issue like I just did, it would seem... just damned tame. And as a crocheter--who has made some really pretty garments with choice yarn and interesting stitch patterns and some clever designers, I'm appalled. seriously?

Anonymous said...

OMG! I have crocheted for 40 years and ... OMG! I swear it makes the weird shit of decades ago look great. That stuff is.. is... abominable.

And they really hit a new level of "sucks big time" with so very much of this issue. Some of it is just hysterically funny looking! That one jacket thingy is truly awful, open or closed. I can't even decide which way it looks worst.

As for the sizing... will they EVER live in the real world?


ocbchick said...

I would love to watch you writing this at your daughter's swimming lessons. do you yell at the editors of VK through your computer? I bet the other moms love it.

Donna Lee said...

When I was a kid, there was a huge push to keep kids busy during the summer to keep them from drugs. I ended up in a month long "modeling course" where we learned how to sit, stand, walk and dress ourselves. It's funny but I can remember almost all of that stuff after all these years. It's funny what stays with you.

Anonymous said...

If you wouldn't want your child to use the filthy language, why do you?

kayT said...

They sell this?

And please ignore the person who doesn't understand that this ... magazine .. needs cursing!

Linda said...

"All I can think of when looking at those bobbles is maggots"
Leeches. How about leeches.

The crochet looks like stuff my great aunt would have made for me in the 60's and I would have refused to wear. Even then.

I so agree with your comments and thank you again for the enlightenment and entertainment.

Brenda said...

Design #17 was my favorite and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I have the Aslan Trend's Artesanal in my stash. You can buy a bag of this yarn at Little Knits for $27 and that is enough for most of the sizes. Not bad for a long sweater.

KnitTech said...

I was more amazed that models need text books.

Louiz said...

Interesting review, as usual. I agree, ponchos don't have sleeves. And I did like the upside down jacket thing. Might get the magazine for that.

Anonymous said...

I was contemplating #18, thinking it looks very flattering with the waist-shaping and the peplum. Then I noticed a tiny bit of tension at the waist. Either the model's pulling on it or they've pinned it. Cheaters.

As for the rest ... I'm rendered speechless.

You know how you're watching extreme sports and you Just Know that the athlete will fall (you can see his/her balance going ... going ...) and it will end badly but you can't look away? I really, really wanted to look away from this issue.

I also kept thinking, "Aaaugh, NO! Seriously? Well, the next one will be better ... *Aaaugh, NO! Seriously? Well, the next one will be better ...." Repeat from *

Gwyndolyn O'Shaughnessy (Rav)

Carolyn said...

I sent VK an email about a year ago regarding the size range of their patterns. I politely explained that a 38" bust (which they consider an XL) would fit nicely on my 15 year old 5'4", 107lb. daughter. She wears a 34" bra but when measuring for knitting you measure across the bust. I politely suggested that they might want to consider including sizes for women who are not 15 yrs old and waif-like. I also told them that my LYS no longer carries VK because they can't sell them. I got a polite and somewhat apologetic email response saying that they will include better sizing options in the future. I guess that meant (to them) that for those of us with larger boobs...we get to knit and wear big ugly potato sacks. No thanks, I'll stick with Interweave Knits. Their patterns are much more realistic and wearable. (Just my opinion...) Thanks for the review. Once again you tell it like it is.

Trish said...

I have to admit I secretly look forward to your VK reviews. When I learned to knit 5 years ago I thought I "HAD" to buy VK because it was a must for knitters and I felt bad for not really being interested in wanting to buy VK because the designs are always so "out there" and not anything I would really ever want to knit or wear and not wanting to buy a whole magainze for the "one" pattern that wasn't a dude in a whole issue. I'm so glad I'm not the only knitter who feels this way and not afraid to say it :)

Chris Laning said...

I actually liked the look of #23.... on the model. You'd have to be sized and shaped like a toothpick to wear it, though.

The so-called "vertical" detailing on #24 must be the weird way the side seam bends over toward the front.

Something is wrong with #22, but I can't tell what. Maybe it's too small for the model? The neckline is just barely above the bust, and something is making the front edges that are not under tension below the button bend outward in an odd curve. Or perhaps this is how it's supposed to look, but I'd prefer front edges that hung straight.

squirrelbutter said...

I got this issue just for the boatneck top, and maybe the long vest too. Sometimes the boxy designs work on my boxy shape... even if they are "XL" and I'm really not. >_<

Donna said...

I LOVE your VK review!!! I have a subscription to VK and I really can't figure out why and then your review comes out and I love to read the review and look at the pictures. The laughs are priceless. Thanks again!!

Gracey is not my name.... said...

okay, as a crocheter, that granny vest thingy is atrocious and butt ugly!

Ginger_nut said...

I actually like the granny square vest (from the front only). I think it is kinda alternative and hip. The back is just horrid though. And is it #23 - the dress/tunic thing? Is the model actually pulling the dress in above the waist so it looks like it fits a bit better??

geekchic said...

After a second look I found the "vertical detailing" on number 24... its the model's hair -- speaking of not living in the real world. I found your review looking for something mostly unrelated but as a subscriber to VK who began when they had an awesome -- ie) with articles that I got use of even being a ~12 year veteran knitter-- I agree, they have gone down hill since. Part of the reason I first liked VK was because they were stuff that I could not simply look at from the photo and make without a pattern (and therefore the magazine) a comment negated by the tube and rectangle cape section. Your commentary is fantastic and pretty much just like the one in my head. I will be stopping by more often and look forward to your future reviews. ~LN

AlisonK said...

I am new to your reviews - love it!

Totally agree with you about calling 38in XL - my Mum, about 50lbs wet through - has a 36" bust. Where would that leave the rest of us?!

Walking clothing retailers do it too - women's sizes only - 36 "chest" will be marked as XL & they'll congratulate themselves for offering "plus" sizes. Bah!

aarolye said...

I have read most of your vogue reviews today. I think your reviews are hilarious and true! I love how you keep mentioning big boobs, since I can relate a little bit. I just made a top from VK but realized it's a little short because of my chest area..... :D

candelaria said...

Hello! I'm Candelaria, from Argentina and my english is awful but I want to say that your blog and your reviews are so funny! I can't stop laughing! Because all is a sad sad sad truth... Thank you and my best wishes for you.