Saturday, January 02, 2016

Vogue Knitting, Winter '15-'16

Hello and welcome to a new and better year, my lovelies! I've been wanting to get back into VK reviews, among others, and this issue is about Bohus Stickening was right up my alley. How could I resist? (For further info on me and Bohus Stickening, look at the "blue shimmer" posts under "projects of infamy" in the sidebar, and I also offer THIS for street cred.)

As always, quotes from the magazine, pics from the web site or my own "reactions" folder (I think it's clear which is which), commentary mine. You want a pattern, buy it, I'm not giving them out. And if you haven't read it yet, I suggest reading up on business models in my discussion of Twist Collective, HERE.

And then the articles!

There's the new yarn section, on fun fur again (may all the gods save us). They're calling it "Hot Fuzz" which makes me wonder if they got a new copy editor. As usual, they've just plonked down some balls of yarn and taken photos of them, rather than actually knitting a swatch that would make us want to buy some.

The advertising, as always, is leaving me going "...wut." They're pushing bulky yarns again and claiming they're warm (you're far better off with two layers of stuff knit with thinner yarns) and also season-inappropriate weirdness.

Little blurbs on different things, new yarns, new trends, new designers.

Book reviews. I've been at the knitting thing since '87 so it's rare any more that I see a book that's revolutionary or new. There's a new book out on Bohus Stickning, available through Schoolhouse Press. It seems to be in Swedish. I'll probably buy it. (Just did.)

"Bits of Bohus" by Meg Swansen. More about Bohus, and a good introduction if you're sitting there going "WTF is the big deal?" Good pictures, nice tech discussion. It's all about the purl stitches.

Their art article (as I think of them) is "Thinking Big" about someone who does just that. The photo shows an artist/craftsperson standing in front of a knit hanging in which each knit stitch is bigger than her head. Some of the concepts are very cool, some... not. But definitely thought-provoking for how to decorate with knitting, or use knitting in new ways.

Bohus article, "A Bohus Revival" with history and tech. Who puts a picture of a Bohus sweater in a magazine and makes it BLACK AND WHITE?? And then the next page, two color photos yay, but very nearly the same sweaters. Da fuq? AHA! Page three, some variety, in color! Anyway, more detail if you're wondering what the hell the big deal is.

And then, heavy sigh, the patterns.

First section, SWEDISH MODERN!! Like Danish modern, but not furniture or architecture. Har, they're so funny! But yay, stuff in the tradition of Bohus Stickening! Let's hope they don't call it Fair Isle and I can skip foaming at the mouth and waving my arms around. That would be nice.


1. Turtleneck pullover by Amy Gunderson.
Four sizes from 38-48in/96-120cm. Turtle-neckie thingie with a yoke, which is very Bohus. They used the little purl color blending thing that's the hallmark of Bohus. The colors are a bit not, but that could be fixed. Gauge is on the large side, but not everyone wants to knit a sweater on size ones (original Bohus yoke sweaters were knit at nine stitches to the inch). So... fixable? Use some colors that blend a little better. But definitely wearable.

2. Bohus Cardigan by Pat Olski.

Five sizes from 37-52in/94-132cm. ABSOLUTELY WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT. Really really nice interpretation. I'd switch and put the really elaborate sleeve pattern at the yoke, and put the not so elaborate yoke pattern at the end of the sleeve (plus the dark green at the cuff would hide dirt; always go with dark colors on the cuffs WE ARE HERE TO HELP AT SAMURAI KNITTER). Really, really nice. They're claiming it's in plus sizes. HOLY SHIT, FIVE SIZES UP TO 52in/132cm!!! Knit this. For serious. Worth the cost of the magazine. However much she got paid for this design, it wasn't enough. I am adding this to my to-knit list. It is very, VERY good. (Hopefully the tech editing doesn't make me regret this entire paragraph and want to eat the yarn.) Also knit with Cascade yarn so it's reasonably priced. Someone catch me. I'm gonna swoon.

3. Fitted hat by Kate Gagnon Osborn
One size. Hat. Again, Bohus' colors were usually blendier than this, but they got the gist of it. Maybe adapt it to a beret/tam sorta thingie, which was more Bohus' speed? I dunno. It's a hat.

4. Three-quarter sleeve pullover by Jaqueline vanDillen.
Four sizes from 36-45in/92-115cm. If I were gonna put a sweater in an international magazine, I'd make sure the fucker was blocked right. Or maybe the gauge in the stranded color vs. the plain color stockinette is funky enough to allow the puckering? Hell, I dunno. I do like this, but it's not very Bohusy. Bohussy? Bo. Hussy hussy hussy. INTO THE MOSH PIT. Right. Anyway. Nice enough, possibly consider some short rows 'round the neck to make the back higher than the front so you don't look like you're choking. And I dunno what's up with the slits at the cuffs, but they look like a mistake. Maybe some edging would make them look on purpose? Are they on purpose?

5. Blanket poncho by Deborah Newton.
One size, which for once isn't making me roll my eyes. I want to yell about this, but I don't. I don't know why I don't. It's shapeless, the gauge is hunormous which loses all of the cool blendy-ness with the purl stitches. But, um, am I the only one thinking acrylamide gel electrophoresis? 

6. Chevron pattern cowl by Lars Rains.
One size, which again is appropriate for once. This is actually a pretty direct take of a popular Bohus pattern, um, hang on let me look it up. Aha! The Red Palm! It was done in five or six related shades of red and pink. I think this too would be better in more blendy colors, but I guess it's all in what you like, but, yeah, Bohus was usually blendier.

I know I keep harping on the color, but REALLY FUCKING AMAZING COLOR was what Bohus was about. They had their yarns custom dyed and spun. Because COLOR.

Anyway. We are out of Bohus knits to look at. I am sad. The new section is neon, which should cheer me up. However.

Next section!

NEON SIGNS! Lets do bright colors and shit! I love me some brights, I'm ready to be happy. (I once bought a pastel yarn at the shop and the manager asked me if I was feeling all right. She also tags me whenever they have bright pink in stock.)  

7. Welted cowl by Laura Bryant.
This right here is the kinda shit that makes me foam at the mouth. Why is there an all grey cowl in a neon section? I DON'T UNNERSTAN. Seriously? Do the copywriters and the editors every talk to each other, or just randomly produce stuff they hope matches up?

8. Pull through wrap by Jacqueline vanDillen.
One size. Rolling my eyes anyway. Second try at brights. Slightly better. Let's give them credit and assume that green is SUPER NEON and just didn't print right. Right? Yeah. Totally bright green. Absolutely. It's a grey... thing... with neon edges. Outfuckingstanding. Did someone get paid for this? WAIT! It's not a plain rectangle, it has a HOLE to pull an end through. THAT'S TOTALLY DIFFERENT. It must be awesome, because the model has her hand over the join so we can't see it. (Also I looked up the yarn, not neon green. BUT IT'S NEON BECAUSE IT SAYS SO.)

9. Garter-stitch capelet by Lipp Holmfeld.
One size. Where do I even start. Okay. I like the idea of this. I even like the execution of it. I wanna do one in handspun. If anyone wants a fast and easy shawl-shrug thing, this is a really nice project. WHAT IN THE FUCKING HELL IS WITH THE POMPOMS. Hub has a theory it's the head-liner from a low-rider that dropped on her head. “It's got the little dingleballs, like the head liner in a low-rider. Why isn't she holding a chain link steering wheel.”
I don't even fucking know.

10. Keyhole scarf by Rebecca Kevelson.
One size. More grey with allegedly neon edges. They're calling this yarn brushed cashmere. Looks like dryer lint. And all that fluff is gonna pill like a motherfucker. Otherwise it's another rectangle with a hole in it. Seriously?

Another section. Hooray. I love that. Still busy being disappointed about the promise of neon and getting grey. "Everyday Brilliance". Shimmering metallics, blah blah, daywear, blah. They used the term “glam-girly”. Draw your own conclusions.

11. Aran pullover by Rosemary Drysdale.
Five sizes from 34-50in/86-127cm. Cable-aran thing with a collar and half-length sleeves. Silk-mohair-lurex blend. Heat stroke AND scratchy. $235 to knit the size large. Have fun with that.

12. Sleeveless top by Mari Tobita.

This is so nineteen sixties, I can't even.

13. Elbow length pullover by Zahra Jade Knott. 
Five sizes from 33-51in/84-130cm. Fluffy sweater in big-butt length. Mohair and bamboo blend, so it'll be at your knees by dinner time. Should I look up how much it would cost? Do I care? But note the yarn is mohair, and there's an actual stitch pattern – blackberry? - and if you screw it up and tink back later, the mohair will make the job like one of the inner circles of hell. $209 to knit. If you can find the yarn, it's new and not carried many places.

14. Houndstooth mitts by Amy Keefer.
One size that doesn't fit.

15. Long sleeve pullover by Lidia Karabenech.
Five sizes from 38-54in/96-137cm. “Graphic style meets subtle sparkle”. Do the copywriters even know what they're writing about, or do they just pound out random words on keyboards? Loose, unfitted pullover in look-how-wide-I-am stripes. I'd just do a percentage system sweater and throw in some stripes if I had my heart set on this. It'd fit better.

Fair Isle Cardi by Yoko Hatta.
Six sizes from 37-51in/94-131cm. Fair-Isle for real, it's got the XO thing going on. It's fitted, which is nice for something claiming to be fashion. It's in metallic yarn, which isn't traditional, but I have lace here in fluorescent pink so who am I to say. However, it is KNIT FLAT, which is a major I-don't-get-it, because our foremothers spent how many centuries developing the knit-in-the-round system to crank out sweaters JUST LIKE THIS, and then we go around and ignore their work. I need a confused squinty face emoji.
There we go.

Next section, "Off the Grid" except it's really ON the grid, because it's about learning to do colorwork charts and I'm back to "WTELF, copywriters?" ANYWAY. Two projects to help you learn to do colorwork from charts. (Is anyone still doing colorwork from written out directions?)

17. Plaid Cardigan by Deborah Newton.
I don't know what in HELL is up with those glasses. Five sizes (seems to be the new thing; sure beats one) from 37-51in/94-130cm. “Roomy plaid jacket”. Yup, that's what it is. I'd probably like it more, if it had some color going. But it's being used to teach how to read color knitting charts, and it's a pretty good choice for that. It's knit with a Berroco yarn so you won't break the bank on a learning project, which is nice. Unfortunately the yarn has mohair in it, which makes pulling out mistakes kind of a pain, BUT the mohair is also going to fluff out and hide minor mistakes. Wow. Intelligent yarn choice with a pattern. I don't see that often around here.

18. Plaid fringed wrap by Ann McDonald Kelly.
One size. Same frigging pattern from the last jacket, in a giant square to practice steeking with. They could have accomplished both lessons with the last project, but that would be thinking. So here's an extra “pattern” for a rectangle with fringe, if you wanted it.  

Okay Julie, we're over halfway done, you can do this. Get some more tea, hug the cat, grind it out. GO TEAM!

Next section, “Snow Days” where they claim originality and high fashion in winter whites. Can we have one fucking winter section of cable knits that aren't beige? No way in hell the beige is traditional (imagine sending YOUR husband out on a fishing boat to work, in a nearly-white sweater, before modern detergents existed; those fuckers were nearly black with indigo). Half the world looks like a week old corpse in 'seashell', and we can BUY sixty thousand beige cable knits in any store in North America or Europe. HOW ABOUT SOME GODDAMN COLOR? I know I think neon pink is a valid wardrobe choice and most people don't, but we've got a world of fucking choices between nearly-white and eye-searing pink. COME ON, DAMN IT.  

19. Shawl collar pullover by Audrey Drysdale. 
Five sizes from 35-52in/89-133cm. Feh. It's a beige cable-knit with a shawl collar at big-butt length. I like it. It's completely inoffensive. I'd just buy one at a store.

20. Poncho pullover by Jeannie Chin.
One size. Rolling my eyes anyway. Is this two or three completely shapeless THINGS for this issue? Overgrown sleeveless not-poncho thing with side seams. Probably cozy for lolling around the house, which is what the magazine is claiming for this thing. Done in BFL worsted, so it'd be darn sturdy and reasonably affordable to knit. (That's a lot of surface area to cover.) So, yeah, have a cabled snug sack? IN BEIGE to show the cheese popcorn crumbs and chocolate smears and wine spills.

21. Chunky fair isle vest by Yoko Hatta.
Do you REALLY wanna wear something named CHUNKY? Five sizes, usual range. Oh, hey, color. At a horrifying price, but it's color. Even pretty color. Knit with bulky alpaca on size fifteen needles. Wait, wait, I need another face. This thing will not look good on you. I don't care who you are, or how thin you are. It will be literally almost two inches thick. It will not drape. It will not move with you. And it will pill like OMGHOLYFUCK. Take the colors as inspiration (they are pretty) and knit the same patterns in the same colors with sock yarn and have something wearable. But hey, it's actually Fair Isle!

22. Reversible fur vest by Zahra Jade Knott.
TWO SIZES! 36 or 40in/91 or 101cm. A cool idea gone wrong. Floofy fun fur double knit with a smooth wool. They're claiming it's reversible and it might even be. But look at how it's flaring out behind the model's arms. She's doing the Arm Thing to look like she has a waist, but it's not saving her. It looks like a cone of shame upside down.

23. Mock turtleneck pullover by Katharine Hunt.
Four sizes from 39-55in/99-140cm. Another completely inoffensive knit. I think the pattern's from Barbara Walker; I know it's very similar to some of the stitch dictionaries. Just... yup. Beige pullover.

24. Fair Isle hat by Katarina Segerbrand.
One size, and probably even Fair Isle. White and beige hat with rolled edge to look like you don't know how to knit ribbing. This would be a good first stranded-color project. And if you stick with this color combo, you can't tell the stitches apart well enough to easily identify any mistakes.

25. Textured scarf by Lori Steinberg.
One size, thanks be to the gods. A classic yarn company special where they don't know what in hell to do with a yarn an advertiser wants used, so they just throw a few stripes into a scarf and call it good. The yarn's only about seven bucks, but for only 50g/42m. I, just... what? Does anyone voluntarily work with fun fur any more?

26. Aran coat with fur collar, by Mari Lynn Patrick.
Two sizes, 44-47in/111-119cm. Which is a joke for something meant to go over other clothing. A large-gauge not entirely horrible coat. With fun fur collar for extra annoyance. The gauge is big enough that the wind will whistle right through, though it'd be a nice layer with about four others for outdoors.

And that's it for this issue, thanks to Hecatae and Satan. I do think VK is improving, especially on the size issue. Maybe they finally started to believe what everyone said, that more sizes meant more potential customers? Maybe they got over their fat hate? Maybe it's a fluke and the next issue will be full of one-size wonders? Tune in and possibly find out. I think I ran out of new stuff to say about VK somewhere in 2010.

Anyway. I'm actually glad I got the issue for the Bohus stuff and the second pattern. Well worth the cost. Happy knitting!


Melodye said...

Welcome back!

Ruby Louise said...

Happy New Year!

Jennifer Raymond said...

I always love your reviews - really helps put patterns in perspective!

Unknown said...

It is so good to have you back!

Happy New Year.

Alicyn said...

great to hear from you again! i've learned so much from your vk reviews (and the whole blog!) over the years. :)

Alicyn said...

oh, and i was super disappointed by that neon section!!

CraftyGryphon said...

Hooray!! I've been looking forward to this!!

kayT said...

OMG, a new Samurai column AND VK review! I feel like I just won the lottery. You never disappoint. And Hub gets credit for one of the best lines of the whole thing. Thanks so much for this, really. Don't stay away so long.

Anonymous said...

So pleased to see you reviewing VK again, as I've enjoyed the previous reviews and found them educational in the matter of choosing and assessing patterns. As usual, this one made me giggle.

TrishL said...

Yay! I saw this issue at Barnes & Noble yesterday and thought of you. I saw the Bohus and thought of you again, and omg, you reviewed it!

I agree that pattern #2 is the best of the bunch, but have you priced Venezia lately? It's not cheap, but it's closer to affordable than most VK recommendations. There's also no shaping in the pattern, but that's easily fixed.