Friday, September 02, 2011

Vogue Knitting, fall 2011

It's that time. Actually, past that time. Had trouble getting motivated. As usual, photos are from the magazine or web site, quotes the same, all else is mine. (Also, I've figured out a way to do the review without breaking my momentum, which means a longer review... both good and bad, I guess. If you're here for just the patterns, scroll on down. They're here.)

For those who think I get off on criticizing people, guess again. I actually feel kind of bad about some stuff in this issue. But my job, as I see it, is to save KNITTERS time and frustration (and money). And some of this stuff has to be pointed out, if I'm going to do that. A great deal of this stuff is fine (other than crappy size selection), but most can be improved with an eye toward fit and optical illusion.

So, the magazine. The usual advertising-as-article. Rowan's making a new bulky yarn, may the gods save us. Plymouth is pushing matching his and hers sweaters - again I appeal to the gods.

There's a free pattern available on the web site (somewhere unmarked) that's a knock off of the white angora cardigan that Kate Middleton/Princess Kate wore during her wedding. I'd tell you if it was free to all or just free to those with a magazine, but, uh, I can't find it.

A page of knitting art that's kind of cute; I may need to get some for the living room.

Trendsetter Yarns is advertising Big Fuzzy Things.

The weather gets cold, and people start knitting super-bulky. I could cry tears of blood.

The 'new yarns' section is balls of stuff. AGAIN. No gauge swatches, AGAIN. Fuckers. Anyway, it's about 'chainette' yarns, the ones that are basically loosely-knit I-cord. Considering that Clara Parkes' all time favorite yarn is said to be one of these, in cashmere, they may be worth trying out. They aren't cheap, though; think scarf, not coat, no matter what VK tells you. Debbie Bliss is doing one in alpaca/merino; Lana Grossa has one in wool/silk/poly, and Rowan has one in 98% alpaca with enough poly to hold it together. HELLO, HEAT STROKE!

Ad with Maryilyn Monroe's hair photoshopped to wool. Creepy.

Franklin (Habit) interviews the winner of last issue's mohair contest. No idea why it wasn't in the LAST issue, but he's always interesting.

"News" is pushing a Nicky Epstein book from 2008. Some woman is knitting her way through it. I wish her luck with that. Sincerely.

Signature Needles is making circulars now, short and long.

UNICORN BOOKS IS PUBLISHING ANOTHER COLLECTION OF NORWEGIAN PATTERNS. "Norwegian Knitting Designs: A Collection From Norway's Foremost Knitting Designers" by Margaretha Finseth. MUST HAVE! Wait. It's a reprint from 2002. How very helpful for VK to leave that out. Anyway, if you didn't get Norsk Strikkedesign in 2002, now's your chance. (I love my copy. Just saying.)

Spotlight discusses the new "Principles of Knitting" and INSISTS that it's coming out this year. I hold not my breath, but I would like to give a copy to my MIL for Christmas.

Meg Swansen writes about how to do short rows. Three different methods; Barbara Walker, Yarn Over Method, and Japanese Method. Being cool, Meg also credits who taught them to her.

Technique is with Nancy Marchant, who shows how to do two-color cables in brioche knit. A brain-bender, but very cool. Have you bought her book yet? No? Why not?

The "Special Advertising Section" has a free sock patterns available on line at VK, from Kollage yarns, Alpaca with a Twist, Mountain Colors, Simply Socks, and Tilli Thomas. "Download this free pattern at" what, they couldn't bother to set up the actual pages and PRINT THE EXACT URL to make the patterns easy to find? Sheer laziness and bad planning. (Let me know if y'all find 'em.) There's also a free cardigan pattern from Classic Elite. This one's actually on paper. Y'know, so you can find it.

And then, the patterns.

Section one is "Masterpiece Classics". When I read the word "classic" in regard to knitting, I think of classic FASHION knitting, as in stuff created since 1920ish that's really iconic. Not FOLK KNITTING, which is a whole other category - and all the stuff in this section. Don't get me wrong. I love folk knitting. Most of what I do is considered folk knitting. I think it's timeless and produces sweaters you can wear until they fall apart, so there's not a thing wrong with it. BUT IT ISN'T FASHION. For folk knitting to cross over to fashion, it needs to be adapted in some way. In other words, "inspired by", not "a copy of". The majority of stuff in this section is plain old Folk Knitting, so again I wonder why in hell VK calls it fashion. But the few fashion bits they've got are pretty cool. This sort of thing, along with weird and/or dumb names and mis-labeled techniques, is not the fault of the designers, who have nothing to do with how the magazine is put together (or how their designs are modeled); it is on the heads of the editors, who should REALLY know better, particularly if they knit. (Allegedly. I hold not my breath.)

1. Nordic Gloves by Lone Smevik Soleng (apologies if I got the name wrong).
One size, measured by hand circumference and length. They ARE Nordic, and are called such in the title, but the blurb on the page calls it a "Fair Isle snowflake". Methinks the editors need to TALK TO EACH OTHER. Or PAY THE FUCK ATTENTION. Or both. Photographed in such a way, I've got to look at the schematics to know if they're mittens or gloves. And I'm so used to VK fucking up the names of things, I can't trust the title “Nordic Gloves” to actually mean gloves. But they do, and they are. Want a high-fashion pair of gloves that look like something knit 200 years ago? Here you go. HUSBEAST: "What, is she fainting, her hair is so bad? Or is it because the cat around her neck farted?"

2. Squirrel Cardigan by Yoko Hatta. Again with the term "Fair Isle" in the page blurb. SERIOUSLY, VK? SERIOUSLY?
Four sizes from 36 to 48 inches/92 to 122 cm. Knit with alpaca, so really better suited to the winter edition. Ask me, the squirrels would look better across the shoulders, give a more flattering line, and you wouldn't have to worry about having wild animals hanging on your ass if the fit goes a little wrong. Hey. It's possible. Oh – those of you worried about plagiarism because there's an identical sweater from a Japanese knitting mag? No sweat. Same designer, slightly different gauge, AND A STUNNINGLY ORIGINAL PATTERN FOR VK! (Thanks to my readers who directed me to the copyright issue over on Ravelry.)

3. Nordic Cardigan by Shiri Mor.
Two sizes. 32 and 36 inches/81 and 91 cm. They are calling a 36 inch bust a size medium. FUCK YOU, VOGUE. “A modern take on the timeless XO motif”. NO. IT IS A TAKE ON THE NOT-MODERN NORWEGIAN LUSTKOFE, MOTHERFUCKERS. Thank you, VK copy writers, for fucking up AGAIN. (“Everyone here knits”, my ass.) As part of the modern take, there is actual FITTING. Take a look: See the darts, to add waist shaping?
Yup. A lustkofe that's flattering. Impressive. (That's harder to pull off than you might think, given the originals.) Unfortunately, 36 inches in a cardigan meant to go over other clothing means very few people - even fit, "thin" people - can wear it. 

4. Oversize[d] Nordic Pull by Kristen Nicholas.
Five sizes from 38 to 53 inches/96 to 136 inches. THIS. This is just appalling. No effort whatsoever was made to match up the diamond patterns on the shoulders. NONE. What's really pathetic is, it's easily solved! All you do is pick up the sleeve at the shoulder, in pattern, then knit downward to the wrist. It was pioneered by EZ and her daughter Meg years ago, in the Russian Prime. And since Meg writes for VK they could have done a technique article tie-in, and made things really helpful. OH YEAH. BUT THEY DIDN'T. While I'm ranting, have a look at this:
Okay. Red circles are obviously where the shoulder seams don't match up. (SERIOUSLY?) Now let's take a look at how this hangs. See the yellow lines? Yup. It's an A line, on purpose or accident, and in and of itself, A lines are okay. Except then the horizontal pattern is put on at the hips, creating an optical illusion making them seem even wider, which they already are due to the A line. Um. NO. HUSBEAST: "God, I thought that was her butt in front. It's camouflaged, apparently."

5. Colorwork Vest by Cheryl Murray.
Five boxy sizes from 40 to 52 inches/101 to 133 cm. Steeked alpaca (??!??), so make sure you use a sewing machine or hand sew very closely, to hold the cut stitches. Also more appropriate to the winter issue. If it's a 'colorwork' vest, WHERE'S THE COLOR? Seriously? Anyway, this is a take on a North Sea style, the precursor to Fair-Isles. Before synthetic dyes existed (1860s, ish), they used the natural colors of their sheep. You'd get things like this as a result. Except the zipper's new. Those have only been around, what, a hundred years?

6. Snowflake Jacket by Yoko Hatta.
Four sizes from 36 to 48 inches/91 to 122 cm. A yarn company special; one yarn is discontinued, but to knit the medium size without the carry-along is $423 USD. Ha. I will never get this type of fashion. If it's cold enough to warrant a long coat/cardigan thing, with a big collar, why then, does it have short sleeves? 

7. Nordic Yoke Pullover by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud.
Four sizes from 31 to 37 inches (really? REALLY?)/78 to 94 cm. Yet another sweater that fails to take into account the difference between regular stockinette and stranded color. I don't know if the idea was for the sweater to be super-tight across the shoulders ('cause it is) to hold it up, or if that was just an, um, accidental design element. Possibly it's because of who they chose to model it.
But it looks like crap on the model, from the back. Whatever else there is to say, that is DEFINITELY not a proper fit. Also, stylist, what in HELL is up with the hair??!

8. Fair Isle Hat by Mary Ann Stephens.
One size, 20 inches/51 cm. Adorable. According to my books, Scandinavia and the North Sea islanders were producing hats like this for 150 years. There's a lithograph from 1857 with a hat just like this depicted.

9. Fair Isle Cardigan by Rosemary Drysdale.
Five sizes from 34 to 56 inches/87 to 143 cm. Another copy of old styles, rather than an adaptation. Unless you count only doing the color work on the front an adaptation of style. “...fetching Fair Isle cardigan”. IT IS NORWEGIAN. IT HAS SOMETHING CALLED A NORWEGIAN FUCKING STAR ON IT. IT HAS LICE KNIT IN. GET WITH IT VK, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. YOU LOOK LIKE IDIOTS. (I know I keep harping on it. But this mis-labeling makes VK look really, really, REALLY bad.) Also, check out the hand-on-hip to make it look like it's got a waist. It doesn't.

Section two. (Please no more mislabeled folk knitting, my heart can't take it.) "The New Trend; Captivating twists pop against a field knit in the comeback color of the season". Please note, this 'comeback color' makes most of the population look like shit. The model is a striking woman with the best coloring possible to wear this lime green, and SHE doesn't really look good in it. So, you know... be ware.

10. Cable Raglan Dress by Sarah Hatton.
Note they don't show the whole body, anywhere. Ha. THAT'S a good sign, all right. Four sizes from 35 to 39 inches/89 to 100 cm. It doesn't even look good on the model. Shorten it and wear it as a pullover.
Also: Arm trick!

11. Cabled Cardigan by Mari Tobita.
For the love of all that's holy, KNIT THIS THING IN A DIFFERENT COLOR! Five sizes from 34 to 48 inches/86 to 122 cm. If I had the time, I'd knit this one for myself. In, you know, another color. This one's pretty cool. The lace panel in the middle kind of stretches and creates an optical illusion of an hourglass figure that makes the person wearing it look slimmer and curvy. See? (Blue lines.)
The way the sleeves are set in, though (red circle), you're gonna need the finishing skills of a god to make it look as good as this sample does. The collar is picked up in pattern and knit on after... finshing skills of a god, I tell ya. But if you CAN pull it off, it's definitely one of the best choices in the issue. In another color.

12. Cabled Shrug by Devin Cole.
Three sizes from 38 to 43 inches/96 to 109 cm. Which is too bad, 'cause big-busted women look good in styles that define the waist. Like this. Fuckers. Mmmm, pooled blobs of color. BEWARE THE VARIEGATED YARNS, PEOPLE! I'm assuming VK demanded this yarn be used (Prism, high cost, $160 USD for size medium.). In a solid color, it'd be a nice pullover. But the way that neck is set in? You're back to needing a god of finishing skills. Interestingly, they don't show the neck in the picture (shock!) but the ribbing meets sideways reverse stockinette RIGHT SLAP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CHEST, so do it right or not at all.

13. Wave Cable Jacket by Ellen Liguori.
Four sizes from 40 to 55 inches/101 to 141 cm. Finally! Someone sizes a coat properly! Kinda cute fuzzy coat-jacket-thingie. “...provide a cool backdrop for graphic cabling.” HAHAHA. In the magazine, you can't even SEE the cables, for all the busy yarn, between fluff and shifting color. I had to look at the pattern to be sure the cables were THERE. REALLY well planned pattern/yarn choice combination, right here. Make a note under “what not to do”. Knit with a less busy and fluffy yarn, it looks like a nice pattern for a light jacket. (In these situations I assume VK dictated yarn choice, 'cause designers should really know better.)

14. Ribbon Cable Cardi by Helen Sharp.
Four sizes from 34 to 47 inches/86 to 119 cm. Rather run of the mill cardigan with ribbon strung through the holes in the cables. The collar. THE COLLAR. What the hell is that, a giant snap the size of a pocket watch? Or is it some kind of brooch? I can't tell. Wut de heww? Also: CODE RED ON THE RIBBON. The pattern calls for WIRED ribbon. (Ribbon with wire in the edges.) DO NOT USE. I'm something of a ribbon expert, due to crazy stuff like this... Wired ribbon is nearly impossible to straighten out again, once it gets bent. So the first time you fold this sweater? You've permanently fucked up the ribbons. Use regular, it'll be fine. If you fall in love with a wired ribbon, that's okay: get a pair of pliers and pull out the wires and you're good to go. HUSBEAST: "WIRED ribbon? Bitch, please. Do you want Dracula's collar or some shit?"

15. Ribbed Turtleneck by Pat Olski.
Four sizes from 30 to 39 inches/85 to 99 cm. What. WHAT. WHAT??!!?? is that tie thingie doing on the side of that sweater? WHAT??!?!?!?! It's like someone knit a perfectly nice turtleneck with an asymmetric cable, and then stuck some dumbass bow on the side for some crazed reason. WHYYYY?!?!?! No one try to explain that bow as fashion. FASHION IS NOT DORKY-LOOKING. Leave the bow off. If you can fit into it, it's a great sweater.

And our next section, my eternal favorite, the super bulky designer WTF section! "Bold bands of color invigorate that unmistakable Twinkle Silhouette." Oh, suuuuure. You betcha. HUSBEAST: "That's some bulky-ass shit. Is that for wearing around the house, is that what that is? It's gotta be. Plus size? HORIZONTAL STRIPES. That doesn't make sense."

16. Striped Cardi by Twinkle.
Sizes. Ha, it comes in sizes. Three sizes from 54 to 62 inches/137 to 157 cm. “Everything about Twinkle's short-sleeved cardi is oversized...” SO WHY ARE YOU GOING TO HANG IT ON YOURSELF? It makes the model look like a heifer! Also, this sucker is knit with SUPER bulky yarn. WHYYYY do you want to wear something called “SUPER BULKY”???? Wait. Wait.
THERE YA GO. Oh, and $124 USD for the size medium. HOOK ME UP.

17. Striped Back Top by, yes, Twinkle.
Three sizes from 40 to 48 inches/101 to 122 cm. More of the same. Another super-bulky monster. Want carpal tunnel? Knit with this stuff. Six stitches to four inches/ten centimeters. $150 USD for medium. THERE SHOULD BE A LAW. Oh, and want to make yourself batshit crazy? Knit this. There are different gauges for the front and back. Oh, won't THAT be a joy to join together. Because seaming super-bulky is so easy WITHOUT a gauge difference. Seriously, Twinkle? SERIOUSLY?

Section, uh, three? Four? Next. Section next. "The Art of Lace." Blah, blah, blah. Giant portrait of Marie Antoinette looming over the photo shoot; not sure that's quite the way they wanna go, historically speaking. Then again, VK doesn't seem to know KNITTING history, so, why am I surprised? LET ME EAT CAKE, BITCHES. (Do not bother telling me that quote wasn't historically correct. What do you see around here that's historically correct? Hey. Is that a cupcake?)

18. Lace Cardi and Cowl, by E J Slayton.
Five sizes from 36 to 52 inches/92 to 133 cm. I really don't get this new concept of knitting a perfectly good cardigan and plopping a cowl on top of it and calling it sophisticated. It's not. It's a cowl on top of a cardigan. Anyway, it's nice enough. A-line, knit with sock yarn so it's a transitional weather piece. The lace pattern itself is easy too. If you want a beginner lace garment, this one's a nice choice.

19. Lace Turtleneck by Jenifer Stark.
Three sizes from 31 to 43 inches/80 to 109 cm. HOTTER THAN A SUMMER IN HELL. Two layers of knitting, one of them mohair. If you live somewhere that gets cold, then yeah, go for it. But, damn. HOT. Also, it's TWO SWEATERS, which will obviously take TWICE AS LONG. And also cost, well, twice as much? $184 USD for the size medium. But, still. Nice if that's what you're looking for. (HOT.) HUSBEAST: "What's wrong with this? She's twisted all out of shape." Nothing, she's just posed that way for some unaccountable reason.

20. Lace Bodice Top by Laura Zukaite.
Three sizes, measured at lower edge which makes no sense to me. Silk/cashmere blend. No tensile strength, so a tunic will grow to a dress while giving you heat stroke. I assume this is another Yarn Company Special. $245 USD for size medium. Economy? What economy?

21. Lace Shawl by Candace Eisner Strick.
Width along top edge, 52 inches/132 cm. If you want a lace shawl, this is a nice one. It's even got some fitting to it, so it will stay on your shoulders better than some. Do I need to editorialize on how long knitted shawls have been around, and how non-fashion they are? No, I didn't think so. It's a nice shawl. If you wear them, you could do a lot worse.

Section next to last! YAY! "All About Ease" Knit these timeless fashions to look utterly boxy and waistless. No. Wait. "Unwind in generously sized toppers that give you room to breathe." Am I the only one who thinks "topper" sounds like a dominatrix? Yes? Okay then!

22. Bulky Topper (HA! A plus sized dominatrix?) by Mari Lynn Patrick.
Five sizes from 35 to 44 inches/90 to 113 cm. Hot damn, once again the Boobs of Doom work in my favor! Oh yes, kangaroo pockets. SO FLATTERING. DOUBLE layers of fabric over your gut! What could possibly go wrong? “Casual charm” my ass. Awesome necklace, though.

23. Cowl Neck Pullover by Maie Landra.
Five sizes from 40 to 53 inches/101 to 141 cm. Slightly schizophrenic pullover... is it a tunic? Is it a turtleneck? Is it multi-color or solid? I do like the idea of knitting with two strands of Koigu for color variation, but that isn't gonna be cheap. In fact, $478 USD for the next-to-largest size. DUDE. Holy SHIT. SERIOUSLY? IT DOESN'T EVEN HAVE SLEEVES!

24. Lace Belted Cape by Kristen Omdahl.
One size, 80 inches/203 cm. A poncho with a belt, so you can't raise your arms. Uh huh. I don't... just... WHAT??!!??

25. Rib Yoke Topper [insert your choice of dominatrix joke here] by Anna Cohen.
Five sizes from 48 to 56 inches/122 to 143 cm. Another schizo sweater. It's like they started knitting a businesslike pullover with the tuxedo shirt front sort of thing that's kind of cute (but needs better increasing around the edges). Then they got bored and slapped some short sleeves on it that stick out like wings:
and don't 'fit' the rest of the sweater. In fact, they don't fit at all, style or actual size.

26. FUN FUR COWL, BABY! by Vladmir Teriokhin.
Size... you know, fuck it. No one cares. No one's gonna make this thing. A FUN FUR COWL. In Vogue Knitting. In 2011. Oh no, NOT OUT OF TOUCH WITH KNITTERS AT ALL. Not a bit. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??!!?? Oh, wait. It's crocheted. THAT'S TOTALLY DIFFERENT. (I kid, I kid. No one hook my brain out my nose.)

27. Jacket by Vladmir Teriokhin.
"Very oversized" three sizes from 52 to 60 inches/132 to 152 cm. At least the man knows how to size a freakin' coat. You could actually WEAR IT OVER OTHER STUFF. Unfortunately, that's about the best that can be said. It doesn't fit right. It buttons over the shoulder, oddly, and results in no waist at all. And there are double – triple?? - layer pockets adding bulk to the hips, which, you know, ALL WOMEN LOVE THAT. Plus, that eternal question, IF IT'S MEANT AS A JACKET, WHERE IN HELL ARE THE SLEEVES?

28. Cropped Topper (HA! Short dominatrix!) by Faith Hale.
Three sizes from 38 to 46 inches/96 to 116 cm. It is what it is, which is a really casual, bulky short-sleeved jacket. One of the yarns is named Vagina? Wait, what??!? Hang on...
There. Is that REALLY what you want to look like, from behind?

SECTION LAST! HOT FUCKIN' DAMN! "What you want NOW!" Allegedly fast knits for allegedly instant gratification. "Knitterly [WTF?!] enough to hold your interest, small enough to wear almost instantly." Some of these WOULD make nice gifts. And at least everything isn't freakin' red again.

29. Hooded Neck Piece by Kalurah Hudson.
One size by neck circumference. I can see the usefulness of a hood separate from a jacket; you can add it on to anything, when you need it, in changeable weather. What I can't see is the fashion, high or otherwise. I'd use fewer buttons so they didn't bunch up and stick out in front. Just sayin'.

30. Lace Scarf by Carol Sulcoski.
Someone knit a scarf with lace patterns from a Barbara Walker book. Did they get PAID for this?

31. Textured Hat by Simona Merchant-Dest.
Stocking cap. Yup. Useful. Nope, not fashion.

32. Fingerless Gloves by Judy Sumner.
Fingerless gloves. Am I the only one thinking we've hit market saturation for these types of patterns? It's like rectangular mohair lace wraps, a few years ago. Had enough, thanks!

33. Leaf Mittens by Pat Olski.
Mittens. Yup. They're mittens, all right.

34. Lace Scarf by Nancy MacMillan.
Another Barbara Walker Special. Pretty sure that central pattern is Chinese Lace from book three, but I'm not looking it up. It's late and I'm wishing for vodka. I'm damn tempted to look up the patterns, chart them, and offer them for free, but I don't need the bullshit copyright headaches it will lead to. (Someone paid Barbara Walker a percentage, right? RIGHT?)

35. I-Cord Gloves by (ha) Karen Kendrick-Hands. Ha.
Gloves. Is it me, or do those look weirdly, oddly bulky? Or is it just that she's wearing really light sleeves?

36. Cabled Leg Warmers by Yoko Hatta.
Fitted leg warmers. Or footless socks. Or. Um. Something.

37. Braided Cowl by Laura Zukaite.
Interesting cowl-capelet thing. It would be nice to wear with a coat, to fill in the neck and keep you warm. It's got really unusual construction, though, and given VK's track record with errata, KNIT WITH EXTREME CAUTION. Too bad, 'cause this one's kind of cool and potentially useful. Maybe one of these days VK will hire someone to actually pay attention to errata and I won't have to worry about this stuff, and neither will you.

That's it. Stick a fork in me, 'cause I am DONE. Until next time, knit wisely.


Amy said...

Once again, your refreshing review stops me from buying the magazine!! Thanks...there are only 2 or 3 things in there that I would even think about knitting. Wish VK would hire YOU!

Alwen said...

Thanks for the laugh.

I don't know fashion, but I do know mittens/gloves, and wow. Bulky much? You're hardly going to be able to pose holding a brand-new snow shovel in some of those.

Alicyn said...

i always love these reviews, but i think this is one of the first times that i've looked at the photos and seen the knitting details. i have yet to actually increase/decrease on a project (aside from hats) but i looked at that tuxedo-y one and thought, hm they should have used something else there. :) this grasshopper is learning.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a great (as always!) review!
Here is a princess thing:

And socks:
Not sure which one was mentioned in the fall issue.

metalouise said...

That last braided cowl thing is the only "fashion" item there. IMHO.

Emily said...

Wow! Again. Great review. I haven't seen this issue yet, but I'll want to read the articles. The patterns: no. No. None.

I was terrifically nearsighted all my life until I had cataracts removed, at which time they "corrected" my vision. To age-appropriate vision. Gulp. There went my myopia & my microscopic close vision; for some reaon, this possibility never dawned on me. I miss that close vision horribly. Treasure yours.

And! Keep writing!

Knot By Gran'ma said...

Thoroughly enjoyed the review... I like your eye for the details, and even though my knitting skills are no where near good enough for this magazine I only liked 2 designs. Husbeast's quips are hilarious too.

Nicole T said...

Damn. And here was me, thinking that VK might've gotten their act slightly more together. (They seemed to be leaning towards it.) Nope. I think I would knit ONE (1) thing from this issue. Urgh.

You're a brave woman, trenching through these issues every few months.

Kathleen said...

Informative review as always. It's funny that a few people have liked that last cowl thing, since I don't (different strokes). I found myself with similar thoughts as I leafed through my copy (subscription): it's not Fair Isle, it's stranded! And the "color story" always makes me crazy. Strictly speaking, a hand-knit pattern, with the exceptions of stranded and intarsia, are not about color but texture. Yet I get fed up with the oft-recurring "grey story", too. I will continue to enjoy VK for the articles, but my dear husband will attest to the "editorial well" making me very cranky (almost apoplectic), especially as I work on expanding my pattern writing skills and extending my size range.
The frustrating thing for me is that I live in New York City, am an art director as well as budding knitwear designer, and would love to be a part of a knitwear publishing venture, but not the current VK. Their high-handed attitude does a disservice to knitters and designers. I still get worked up about the comment from Stacy Charles at VK Live that designers who have a pattern hit it big in a publication should get over it and move on to design more. How are we supposed to "get over it" when we are paid, basically, a nickel for lots of hard work and a high degree of skill, while editors and yarn buyers are profiting from all that effort? If they keep selling the pattern (electronically), shouldn't we get a portion of that? Oh, we should be grateful to "work" with some fancy yarn? Oh, thank you, thank you! Wait, I don't get to keep the handknit? *You* keep it in some box in a closet in the oh-so-cool Sixth and Spring offices? What a waste of time, effort, and skill.
Gah, sorry to ramble, but clearly my dander is up.
Thanks, again, for your insightful review!

Laurie (Moo!) said...

Loved the review! Who needs the magazine - tho a review of NO magazine would review at all.

#29 - Perfect, if you have an unsightly goiter. Now I'm thinking of Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther movie.

Thanks for the laughs!

Julianna said...

thanks so much for another great review. laughed my through your spot-on observations. would love to hear your take on other knitting magazines -- in your spare time. :-)

=Tamar said...

Thanks for another detailed review. I do have some minor quibbles.

3. My copy of the Norwegian book spells it Lusekofte, not lustkofe.

4. Oversize(d) Nordic Pullover
It bunches under the arms where they yanked it forward to make it look like an A-line. I think it's the standard box shape.

5. The modern zipper dates from 1917, more or less, though Elias Howe had the general idea back in 1851.

6., etc.: Those heavy sweaters with short sleeves are to wear indoors, because we can't afford to heat our houses while winters are getting ever colder. Short sleeves let us do stuff without getting caught on things.
The doubly-thick stranded knitting around the waist is a disguised "kidney warmer" still believed by some to prevent disease.

9. Monster ribbing on the edge tries to disguise the misplaced buttons. The pattern often called the Norwegian star appears on 12th century Egyptian stockings.

18. Rumor has it that Marie Antoinette did actually knit.

19. The bright side: as soon as that lacy upper layer gets caught on something and yanks out, you can cut it off and have a nice blue turtleneck.

27. It's a car coat. Pity about that cuff getting caught on the gear shift.

29. I'd overlap the long ends to make a v-shape with buttons on the side edge(s).

36. Fitted leg warmers might stay up while you walk to the office; footless means you can still wear the nice shoes.

Roxie said...

Again, I rejoice in being able to make my own patterns. And I revel in your humor.

Roz said...

I thought the exact same thing about the poncho with the belt. What the hell????

I subscribe, but I almost never knit anything from it anymore. I can truly say I only read it for Meg Swanson.

Sara K said...

I have to disagree about the posing on 19. I think that she's bent that way to stretch the two layers together. Look at her right side and the way the fabric bunches down it. I bet the white layer hangs away from the blue one, if you let it.

Heidi said...

When my honey asked what I was reading so intently, I told him it was a review of the most recent issue of Vogue Knitting. He misunderstood, and said "Vulgar Knitting?" Hahahaha!

Anonymous said...

Pattern 11: has anyone come across the Matthew Shepard seamen's scarf?

Pibble said...

As a new-ish designer, I love reading your "what not to do" take on these patterns. I can't imagine submitting a pattern anywhere and including only 2-3 sizes.

I did not notice the darts on #3 until you pointed them out - what a nice touch!

The hair, I think, is an homage to the big Edwardian hairstyles (like here: that may or may not have been popular at the same point in history that these knitting patterns are from.

Anonymous said...

if you dislike Vogue Knitting so much, why do you continually buy it? Maybe TV Guide is more your speed. Like my mamma used to say, "If you don't have something nice to say, say nothing at all".

Gwyndolyn O'Shaughnessy said...

Thanks for another fun review!

Tuxedo-front thing: the collar is obviously wonky, in addition to your other comments.

#35: Muppet hands! I recall from 6th-grade drawing class that hands are about the same size as a person's face. Those gloves are clearly made for Sweetums.

note to Anonymous, Comment #19: "Nice" doesn't mean "Drink the Kool-aid." Julie's comments are educational, astute and often hilarious, though occasionally profane. I always appreciate her willingness to throw herself on the, what, $7.99 grenade so the rest of us don't need to.

Donna Lee said...

The bulky gloves make my fingers itch just looking at them. I am a confirmed mitten wearer and hate all that fabric between my fingers.

I also had the dominatrix thought. I wonder what that says?

Ruby Louise said...

Oh, I really needed the laughs generated by your always enlightening and entertaining VK review. Thank you!!

Amy Lane said...

I am continually amazed by your ability to spot the details... And by Husbeast's ability to make me spit water up my nose when I'm reading. That double layer thing LOOKS cool, but I agree with the poster who said the model's wonky pose is meant to disguise the separation of the layers.

Anonymous said...

Really, where are your scathing reviews of Knitters, a truly horrible knitting magazine?
Or Interweave Knits with its steady flow of short-sleeved, too tight, two buttons at the top cardigans?

Also, your thoughts on fashion and what's desirable are a joke.

Anonymous said...

Apparently you missed the detail on #6; it's not a really big collar but a cowl. This sweater would be great over a long sleeve turtleneck and a less expensive yarn can easily be substituted. That's the beauty of knitting your own sweaters. Also, a number of these garments are perfect to wear to the office but may not be as appealing to a SAHM. This was a great issue. Past reviews have been better but now attempts at humor appear to be the priority.

Julie said...

Wow, Anonymous! Thanks for the really irrelevant and useless comments! Too scared to put your name?

Rosewort said...

Dear Anonymous:

I wouldn't wear that cowl/collar thing to an office - it's impractical, and ugly. To be perfectly frank, it looks like her head's being swallowed by a giant vagina. The resulting optical illusion makes a skinny woman look like a plump matron with no neck. If a stick figure model can't carry that neckline off, why would anyone else voluntarily wear it?

Your implication that a SAHM can't comment on fashion... really? Really? Way to set the Women's Movement back 50 years. Being a SAHM or working from home does not equal low intelligence, just as working in a fancy NYC highrise office does not make anyone inherently intelligent.

Bottom line, there are designers out there making innovative garments. They are not to be found in the pages of VK, who would rather print ripoffs of Barbara Walker's work rather than come up with anything fashionable. If the contents of the current VK mag were thrown on the London Fashion Week runway, the show would be laughed off the catwalk.

Also? If you want your comments to be taken seriously by the knitting community, stop being a bloody coward and put your name on your posts. If *you* can't be nice, go make your self a steaming cup of STFU.

Louiz said...

Thank you Julie for another insightful review.

I would like to say that as someone who works in an office, I can't see the appeal of item #6. And as I can't see the appeal I can't see shelling out the cash for the yarn!

RP said...

Just stumbled upon your blog.

I was watching a review over at That Guy With The Glasses and thinking that you couldn't do reviews that snarky on a subject like knitting. Then I do a search for chainette (wanted to know if it's a new thing or not), find this post, and you prove me wrong. And that is kind of awesome.

MLJ1954 said...

bulky stripes ... not on my body . . . thanks. Once again, enjoyed the review.

Ruth Garcia-Alcantud said...

Much as I like laughing at your critiques of Vogue, as the designer of #7, I want to offer some words to clear up one of the most complained issues regarding Vogue designs - sizing.

Vogue dictates sizing, not the designers, so the small range or odd range... really not up to us, unfortunately. In my self-published range I try in as much as possible to give a big range of sizes, most of them go up to +50" bust. I know of many other designers who are also trying to accommodate as many figures as possible.

On another note, I agree with you in that the model they chose for the 360 view (which is the ill-fitted back view) has a much bigger cross-back and shoulder circumference than the sample was created for.

For a better view, my project page on Ravelry - the sweater doesn't stretch in an unflattering manner on everyone (

(Oh, I'd appreciate if you tweaked your post to reflect the correct spelling of my name - thanks!)

Audrey Eagle said...

A bit past fall, but... I don't understand the comments about the yarn pricing. With a few patterns, you imply that a huge negative abou the project is the price of the yarn, but make no mentions about substitutions. When picking patterns, I almost never look at the recommended yarn, except to get weight and yardage. Even after my first year of knitting, I knew what fiber type and texture to look for with various garments/accessories. Obviously the more expensive yarn companies are the ones who can afford to sponsor the magazine to get the recommendations listing, but by choosing a pattern, you're not committing to their yarn choice..

That said, thank you for the review. There were a few patterns I'd been considering, and a few of the things you pointed out (such as the finishing skills needed for 11 - not quite there yet). Narrowed down to one pattern I still like (29), and that's so not worth the purchase..

isabel marant said...

I don't know fashion, but I do know mittens/gloves, and wow. Bulky much? You're hardly going to be able to pose holding a brand-new snow shovel in some of those.

David Gaian said...

"Five sizes from 35 to 44 inches/90 to 113 cm. Hot damn, once again the Boobs of Doom work in my favor! Oh yes, kangaroo pockets. SO FLATTERING. DOUBLE layers of fabric over your gut! What could possibly go wrong? “Casual charm” my ass. Awesome necklace, though. "

Oh you had us ROLLING with laughter. Thanks for your candor, your honesty, and for reminding us that this HUNT for the right pattern can be fun!

Carole Ann Geronimo said...

love your review. Was searching to buy this mag but realized, the two patterns I was interested in would be easy for me to make on my own. Also, the errata thing. note that Shiri Mor is very into SUPER DUPER SMALL, her size 34 was probably sized after stretching.

Jezza11 said...

A fantastic and funny site!

So helpful and educational. You show me the pitfalls before I fall into them.

As a relatively beginner knitter who likes to get the garment looking exactly as it's meant to, I find myself pulling out and reknitting most patterns a couple of times before I master each new technique ans resolve pattern errors.

From now on, I'll read your blog first.

Huge thanks.
Jezza11 in Oz