Monday, January 31, 2011

Vogue Knitting, winter 2010-2011

The cover this time says "FOREVER COZY! 34 CLASSIC KNITS YOU'LL WEAR AGAIN & AGAIN". So we've gone from last issue's glamour to this issue's cozy. I think I have fashion whiplash. I do agree, though, that 'cozy' suits more hand-knitters, and is a more accurate description of the patterns published by

As usual, the articles kick ass. Great stuff, again worth the cost of the magazine. I've actually been saving the last, oh, two years' worth of VK for the articles. I assume the pattern editor and the article editor are two different people? Can we put the article person in charge of patterns? Please? At least for one issue?


-Meg Swansen writes about the "Nalgar" sweater, a backward raglan (get it?) that has the shoulder decreasing in the sleeves. Leave it to her and her mother to cook up something so wild, crazy, and workable. Lovely examples shown in stripe/solid stockinette, stranded color, and twined knitting (!). Awesome.

-The technique article is by Nancy Marchant, and covers ALL ALL ALL the needed basics to do her wild and crazy (and genius) form of brioche knitting. FIVE pages of technique, and I'll bet you haven't seen 90% of it before, unless you have her book, "Knitting Brioche". Once you read the article, you'll want the book.

AND a bonus scarf pattern not counted 'officially' in the magazine, which is too bad, 'cause it's a definite pick of the issue.

...and that's about it for cool articles. Everything else is advertising pretending to be articles.

Nicky Epstein phones it in with some I-cord macrame.

Are you kidding me?


Section the first, "Winter Wonders". "...celebrate high knitting season with the cream of winter-wardrobe knit couture." First, seriously? SERIOUSLY? Nose in the air, much? Second, if we're gonna be all Vogue and shit, could we PLEASE find something other than beige and tan to knit in winter? THERE IS A WHOLE WORLD OF COLOR OUT THERE, and I can't be the only person on earth who wears bright colors in winter to cheer up and look at something other than white, grey, and BEIGE outside.

1. Man's Cable Turtleneck by Josh Bennett.

Four sizes from 42 to 48 inches/106 to 123 cm. Note to stylist: The 20's Brylcream style hair? Seriously NOT. Otherwise, um, it's a cable-knit. What's the point of putting ribbing on something and then letting the edges curl anyway? Is that a Unique Design Element, or a mistake? If I can't tell which, I lean toward mistake. Husbeast comment (I have debated for three days about including this): "That neck looks like his head's sticking out of someone's butt."

2. Woman's Cabled Top by Josh Bennett.

Three (!) sizes measured by waist circumference, 30 to 44 inches/76 to 111 cm. It is, essentially, a horizontally knit tube with a hole for the neck, seamed at the under arms, and a waist knit on. Sort of a glorified poncho. Not horrible, but not the most flattering thing in the world. The model is working it:
She's doing the Arm Trick (red lines) to draw the eye inward and look more like an hourglass with a waist. But if you follow the yellow lines, you can see it widens the body as a whole. It is what it is; and that's a nice little pullover to keep warm.

3. Reversible Cable Scarf by Josh Bennett.

13x65 inches/33x165 cm. Yup. It's a scarf made with reversible cables. Kudos for making it reversible; scarves with one side looking like ass is a major pet peeve of mine. On the other hand, what does it take to 'design' something like this? Lily Chin's reversible cable book and a couple hours? I'd love to know what the pay scale is on something like this.

4. Man's Fair Isle Cardi by Josh Bennett.

At least they got the OXO pattern = Fair Isle right on this one. Four sizes from 42 to 48 inches/106 to 122 cm. I have a photo of my great-great grandfather wearing a nearly identical outfit. Way to be cutting edge, Vogue Knitting stylist.

5. Fair Isle Yoke Pullover by Josh Bennett.

Six sizes from 33 to 52 inches/84 to 132 cm. And the copy writers drop the ball. "Fair Isle" refers not to stranded color, but a specific style of motifs knit WITH stranded color. The yoke style of this is actually Swedish (invented by Bohus Stickning), and the eight pointed star is NORWEGIAN. A technical note: The gauge is wrong or adjusted badly or accounted for wrong in the yoke. Stranded color ALWAYS knits to a smaller gauge than plain, single colors, when all other factors are the same. That's why the yoke on this looks too tight; it is. Knit the yoke with a larger sized needle, or the solid colored body with a smaller one. And while you're at it, skip the seaming and knit the whole thing in the round, and save yourself a few headaches.

6. Hoodie Jacket by Laura Bryant.

Five sizes from 45 to 59 inches/115 to 151 cm. $265 USD to knit the medium sizes, and the fake fur lining the hood is nylon, so it will do next to nothing to keep you warm. Plus, short sleeves. I've no idea what this is supposed to be, other than a disguised ad for Prism yarns.
Our model is working it to look like she has a waist, with one hip cocked out (green spine line) and the Arm Trick (light blue line). Unfortunately there's still a whole lot of bag under the arms (red circles) so it's not doing much good. Granted, this is a hoodie, so bagginess is probably to be expected, but I just don't get what this is doing in a supposedly high fashion magazine.

7. Cabled Hat by Deborah Newton.

Head circumference 21 inches/33 cm. Yup. That's what it is. ??!?! Hello, hat hair. Hello, glamour.

8. Loop Collar Vest by Lori Steinberg.

Someone killed a poodle, scalped it, and wrapped it around this poor model's neck. Three sizes, from 30 to 38 inches/76 to 97 cm. $120 for the size medium. Price does not include poodle. (I am assuming the yarn company arranged for their yarns to be used. Otherwise... WHY? WHY?!?!)
The model is again doing The Arm Trick to try to look like she has a waist, but it kind of backfires when you can see her hips sticking out behind, thanks to the widening effect of the vest thingie (blue lines and circles). Thanks to the... odd... cut of this thing, the Arm Trick works against her, accentuating her stomach and making her look like she has a gut when I'm betting she doesn't (yellow circle). Oh, and, uh, nice nipples (red circles). Way to accentuate them with the short rows.

9. Pocket Pullover by Helen Sharp.

Six sizes from 33 to 52 inches/83 to 133 cm. Fairly standard shawl-collar pullover, with loose loops of I-cord and some buttons tacked on. They don't look like they'd stay buttoned, and I'm not quite seeing the point, but you can leave them off easily enough. The pocket is too small to be much use in warming your hands and doubles the fabric over your stomach. It could also be left off.

Section two, "The Art of the Cardigan".

10. Draped Cardigan by Norah Gaughan.

Five sizes from 36 to 52 inches/91 to 132 cm. As always, a very nice, very solid design from Norah. There's waist shaping, and everything! The ruffle, with the single color, makes it female without being too fussy, and the ruffle adds a vertical line to the whole thing. But we can still learn from how the model works it:
The green spine line shows how she's got one hip cocked to show a nice waist curve. She's also doing the Arm Trick (blue line) and PULLING DOWN on the hem (red circle) to keep the line smooth.

11. Ribbed Cardigan by John Brinegar.

Four sizes from 41 to 55 inches/104 to 139 cm. $275 USD to knit the next-to-largest size. In chunky alpaca. Heat stroke time. Plus, alpaca has no tensile strength and can't really hold itself up without drooping.
See the yellow circle? That's where the weight of the sleeves is pulling the shoulders apart. The longer you wear it, the more stretched it will get. And it's baggy; see the purple circles? Part of that's fit, but part of it is also the nature of the fabric itself. It just HANGS. The model is doing the hand-on-hip to hold the fabric to her waist, but the fabric still hangs straight down (white line). It also bunches up (white circle).

12. Collared Cardigan by Sharon Sorkin.

Three sizes from 40 to 44 inches/101 to 111 cm. $264 to knit the medium size, in bulky merino wool. In K1P1 rib, in case the bulky yarn wasn't bulky enough; best to bulk it up more with a bulky stitch pattern.
As with the last pattern, you can see how the weight of all that yarn in the sleeves pulls across the shoulders (yellow lines). The bottom hem ruffles out in the back (purple circle), due either to bad fit, no fit (there's no waist shaping), or the fabric itself. The model works it (green spine line) with one hip cocked out, but there's nowhere for all that fabric to go. It humps in on the one side (blue circle) and humps out on the other (blue line), even with a belt on it. (And who wears a ratty old leather belt over a cardigan, with a draped skirt?)

13. Hooded Jacket by Debbie Bliss.

Five sizes from 36 to 54 inches/102 to 137 cm. $240 USD to knit the next-to-largest size. Which isn't THAT bad, considering how much fabric there is in this thing. If you can stand all that garter stitch, it's a really nice, simple cardigan.

14. A-Line Cardigan by Mari Lynn Patrick.

Seven sizes from 35 to 54 inches/89 to 137 cm. There's something wrong with this, I'm just not sure what... I think it's the 'cut' of the whole thing.
You can see from the yellow lines that it just keeps getting wider, the further it goes. Some would argue that's what an A line is, but the purple cardigan above is ALSO an A line, and it DRAPES. So the model tries to fix it (and makes it look worse) by shoving the front together (red circle). NOT the best choice in the magazine.

Section three, "Urban Outfits". Har. Vogue Knitting finally realized they're located in one of the most glamorous cities in the world (particularly for fashion) and WENT OUTSIDE to take some photos! Amazing!

15. Leaf Motif Pullover by Renee Lorion.

Six sizes from 34 to 54 inches/86 to 137 cm. Nowhere have I been able to find a picture of this, whole-body, with nothing in the way. Either it's like this photo with the coat, or else on Vogue 360 they keep cutting between details and never get a big picture of it (plus the person on Vogue 360 this time has the gait of a lame Clydesdale and all that bumping and prancing makes it hard to concentrate). Looking at the schematics, I think the problem - such as it is - is a lack of shaping. Yes, it's supposed to be a tunic, but even they benefit from a waist. It'd be easy to put in, and otherwise it's a fantastic pullover. EVEN IF THE CHART IS ON THE WEB SITE. Feh.

16. Cabled Pullover by Mel Clark.

THREE (AAAAH!) sizes from 34 to 42 inches/86 to 108 cm. (VOGUE YOU ASSHOLES!) Cute asymmetric cable-knit in too few sizes. It's got hems rather than ribbing, which is flattering, and is knit in the round.

You can see, the traveling cables need to be worked carefully so the fabric lays smoothly; I wonder how this one was blocked.

This is a pretty standard modeling pose. Hip cocked dramatically (green spine lines), shoulders turned slightly to make the body look thinner, Arm Trick to visually narrow the waist (red lines).

17. Bulky Pullover by Jacqueline Van Dillen.

Seven sizes from 35 to 53 inches/89 to 134 cm. If you HAVE to make a bulky pullover, this is a nice one. (Except for the neck. What's up with the neck? Was that meant to be folded down? What's wrong with neck ribbing?)
You can see how the textured portion of the sweater emphasizes and narrows the waist. You can also see (purple line) how something's funky on that neck. Does that model look like she has a black eye?

18. Cabled Topper, by Michele Wang.

Six sizes from 41 to 65 inches/105 to 165 cm. Am I the only one bugged by the term 'topper'? Makes me think of something that should be poured on ice cream.
According to the schematic, there are sleeves on this, but reading the pattern, I sure can't find anything that sounds like them in terms of MAKING sleeves. There's no waist shaping. Which mean without a belt to pull in all that fabric (red lines), it would just hang there (yellow lines). Not the most flattering thing ever. The yarn is bulky, knit with cables, so that's quite a lot of fabric to bunch at your waist.

19. Cowl Neck Tunic by Lidia Karabinech.

Five sizes from 34 to 54 inches/86 to 137 cm. Yup. Big butt length. Overgrown collar that's not sure what it's doing. Double-thick cabled fabric. No waist shaping. Knit at your own semi-risk.

20. Belted Tunic Cardi by Mari Lynn Patrick.

Four sizes from 38 to 48 inches/96 to 122 cm. I've got no idea what this is trying to be. It's like they made a list of all the most unflattering things in a cardigan - big butt length, belt that just adds bulk, A line that doesn't drape, baggy short sleeves, pockets at the hips, and knit them into one giant conglomeration of I know not what. Not to mention this:
See the dark red lines? That's where the edge stitches were picked up. See the yellow lines? That's the columns of stitches in the neck. Those triangles of fabric between the red and yellow lines are created with decreasing in the neck band, then some very creative picking-up-of-stitches when the front bands are done. With all the fussing, I don't understand why the front edges curl in like that; maybe they need fussed with some more? Maybe it's a Unique Design Element? Hell, I just don't get 'fashion'. Well, at least it doesn't come in my size. For once big tits come in handy.

Section next, "Fiber Optics." Um, something about black and white and how elegant the absence of color is. Or something. The photo shoot is in what looks like a den or office that hasn't been redecorated since 1973.

21. Two-Color Rib Cardi by Lisa Whiting.

Two sizes (assholes), 35 and 39 inches/90 and 99 cm. 39 inches as the LARGEST size for a CARDIGAN, that is MEANT TO BE WORN OVER OTHER CLOTHES? SERIOUSLY? With all the wast shaping, bust shaping, and sleeve caps, in an actual STITCH PATTERN, I suppose it was too taxing for whoever does the sizes there. Which is too bad; this is a really nice design, with actual shaping. Not that you can tell from the way it's photographed. The color choices kinda suck, too. But in a lighter color, the potential is there.

22. Graphic Wrap by Brandon Mably.

27x52 inches/68x132 cm. It's a lap blanket. With stripes. The only thing graphic is what I said when I saw this.

23. Entrelac Cardigan by Rosemary Drysdale.

Six sizes from 32 to 52 inches/81 to 132 cm. Nice, though all that black and white checkerboard is a little eye-crossing. Maybe in, dare I suggest it, some COLORS? The schematic shows that this is essentially a box; no waist shaping, almost no sleeve shaping. So why does it look too small on the model? What on earth did they do to make it look like that? And WTF is up with that belt?

24. Jumper, by Louisa Harding.

Five sizes that should not exceed that of the average twelve year old; from 35 to 56 inches/89 to 143 cm. A PINAFORE WITH LITTLE HEARTS IS HIGH FASHION? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Oh look! Bulky designers section! (Yes, I know how that reads, and I'm leaving it.)

25. Cable Back Cardigan by Tom Scott.

Three sizes from 51 to 58 inches/129 to 148 cm. Shown on the model in size Medium/Large (54in/138cm). The most wearable thing he's published in VK to date. It's oversized chunky, but still. At least it's got sleeves instead of big buttonholes for your arms. Have I ever mentioned, beware anything named chunky when trying to look fashionable? Well, anyway. Have a look:
All that fabric from the oversized torso doesn't know quite where to go. So it hangs in deep ruffles and bags, obscuring the kind of interesting cable on the back. I can't see how this would be flattering, and judging from how VK photographed it, never really showing it, they feel much the same. Still, it'd be warm as heck, and comfortable.

26. Twinkle Coat Dress by, uh, Twinkle.

Three sizes from 35 to 42 inches/89 to 108 cm. If you were to wear this as an actual coat instead of a dress, I think you'd really have a great winter knit. An actual waist, some drape... not bad for super-bulky knit on size 17 needles. $300 USD to knit it. Hahahahaha.

Next section, "Vintage Modern". "Cherry-colored yarns update the look of four designs from our Fifties archives." Shall I translate? Why don't I translate. Look how awesome we are! We avoided paying four designers by pulling stuff out of our archives, and didn't even bother crediting the designers! Another red section; we haven't had one of those SINCE THE LAST ISSUE! And they went SUPER sophisticated and did the photo shoot in a GYM. Nothing says glamour like sweat and the smell of old socks!

27. Tie Front Mystery Garment (it doesn't say).

Five sizes from 32 to 50 inches/81 to 127 cm. This is a classic, and one of the best choices in the magazine. If you fit it JUST right so it hits right at you waist, you'll look magnificent in it. But let's learn something anyway, huh?
See the green spine line on the left? She's got her hip cocked out and her hand there to emphasize her waist. BUT! See on the right? See how the line is straight? That means she's not (particularly) working it, and it still looks very nice. It would look better if she wasn't leaned over so you could see how it drapes when standing normally, but you can see that it's a very pretty pullover. This one's knit with Koigu mori and the medium size is $132 USD. But that's a silk/wool blend and pretty hot, and I'm sure there are other yarns out there of pure wool that knit at seven stitches to the inch/28 stitches to 10 cm.

28. Horizontal Cables Mystery Garment.

Five sizes from 32 to 48 inches/81 to 122 cm. Knit cuff to cuff. Those sorts of things rarely hang in a flattering way. Taking a look at this on VK360, it looks like the cables are pulling in, which means the sweater rides up to just under the boobs. The sleeves probably grow in length when that happens. Fun!

29. Ribbed Pullover.

Five sizes from 32 to 46 inches/81 to 116 cm. Female version of a classic men's sweater. With big patch pockets to double the thick fabric over your hips and stomach. And a trophy. AND BOXING GLOVES? $304 USD to knit a little something to wear with your FREAKING BOXING GLOVES.

30. Ski Sweater.

Six sizes from 32 to 52 inches/81 to 132 cm. Mmm, more patch pockets on the hips, to go with the Sally Jessy Raphael glasses. All that red, none of it matching. Whee!

Section last, "Socks in the City". Welcome to 1998, Vogue Knitting! Thanks for joining us! These are socks. There's not much to say about them. They're socks. Nice socks, with, gasp, a limited size selection.

31. Cabled Knee Socks by Star Athena.

Foot circumference 7 inches/18 cm.

32. Eyelet Socks by Star Athena.

Foot circumference 7 inches/18 cm.

33. Bird Socks by Lisa Whiting.

This says foot circumference is three inches. That's gotta be a typo. These socks are adorable, but I don't think I'd survive the embroidery.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go kick my cat.