Posted by: ritsukurimono | March 22, 2010

Knitty Spring/Summer 2010 Review

Hooray, spring/summer 2010! Knitty’s moved to a new publishing system that aims for April, July, October, and January. There are some nice designs in here, and some clunkers. I will say this: in this issue, I see a move away from the “generic Knitty-ness” that has dulled down previous issues. Almost everything, good or bad, is at least interestingly good or bad, as opposed to inoffensively milquetoast. I also salute the designers for this issue. Many of them have stepped up with interesting construction methods and uncommon techniques. Personally, though, I’ll probably only knit one thing from this issue.

All right, let’s start the show!

Emmaline

Sort of cute, but I hate how the yarn knits up into that subtly uneven texture. It just screams “unblocked,” even though I’m sure the garment has been. It’s a cute, basic raglan tee, and the ruched front is flattering for gals who don’t have much by the way of breasts. I’m not really sure about that solitary purl ridge, especially how it continues (unevenly, ugh, it’s killing me) across the plain back. If I were knitting this, I would change that–maybe into a simple lace band?

La gitana:

What awkward proportions. Those thin cables look puny and lost relative to the real estate of the sweater. It works in theory, if you have the cables follow the princess seam lines, but they’re not placed correctly in the front, and it doesn’t look like the shaping that flares them outward is hitting the model in the right place (in the spare tire/high hip area, not at the more fortunate natural waist.) It’s also kind of….generic Knitty boring, a low point in that regard for this issue.

The view from behind is much more flattering–the cables are shaped more dramatically and flatteringly, and the pixie-point on the hood is kind of cute.

Que sera:

What fantastic styling and photography. Notice how the straps on the boots pick up the orange in the skirt and ukulele, and how the glass panel reflections echo the blue in the both the skirt and the pendant. The acid green of the door is just the right shade to set off both the skirt AND the sweater– I can’t say enough good things about that balance of color. Extra styling points for how the pendant echoes the shape and detailing of the buttons. Kirsten could teach classes about this stuff.

As for the sweater, it’s pretty. I like the combination of dainty lace done at a relatively chunky gauge. The double moss-stitch edging adds to the whole vintagey feel of the garment, and notice how it’s carried throughout the garment? Neck bands, cuffs, button bands, and hem. I’ll never take consistency in trim for granted again after that mix ‘n match Western vest from last winter’s Knitscene.. My only qualm about this sweater is just my personal dislike for geometric lace. Overall, it’s really a knittable, wearable, attractive garment with great touches.

Petrie:

Impeccably finished. It’s all in the details for this one: the neatly turned hems, the chained, finished armholes. Petrie is really simple, but in a graceful, timeless sort of way. I would love to knit it with with some colorblocking to take the 60s mod theme even farther. Maybe in navy with the hems and armhole edgings in white? You could put a cheeky little intarsia anchor right at the nape of the neck, or even mod it into a sexy go-go dancer minidress.

Inamorata Tank:

Really busy. This is basically the anti-Petrie; even the details have details. There are the buttons and the eyelet columns and the sawtooth lace edging and the garter stitch bands and the cable motif and the garter stitch straps.

It’s not that it’s inconsistent; the designer actually does an okay job of tying the elements together (notice the garter stitch inside the cable motif, and how the edging continues the eyelet theme.) It’s just way too much. To quote Tim Gunn, the designer didn’t use their editing eye. It’s exhausting to look at.

And I wish that either the sample had been knit at a smaller size, or modeled on a model with a bigger bust. It doesn’t fit correctly or flatter the model.

Tappan Zee:

Eh, it’s basic and wearable. I think it’s great that it’s modeled over both white tee and a black tee; that really helps in seeing the stitch definition. If I were knitting it, I would switch out the diamond lace motif (there I go again with my dislike of geometric lace, but I truly think it’s not the most attractive option here. Your mileage may vary; I admit my bias.)


The buttons are really uneven–check out the difference in the the distances between button #1 and #2 and #2 and #3. It’s gapping pretty badly, too. You may need to add a few more buttons to get it to close properly.

Torreyana Shawl:

Pro: Interesting bottom-up construction! I think the worsted weight version is gorgeous, and that the shawl looks better at a more solid gauge (like worsted and handspun versions) than open and filmy (fingering and lace versions.) It looks really good in handspun, but its bottom-up construction means you have to be quite certain you have enough yarn to knit the entire thing before starting. However, the designer has thoughtfully provided three sizes to knit it in. It’s definitely not just another pick-a-stitch-from-a-stitch-dictionary, cast-on-at-the-neck, knit-until-it’s-big-enough cookie cutter shawl pattern. I appreciate that.

Con: It’s strangely…deep, though, don’t you think? I have this same problem with the Luna Moth shawl; it’s practically a heart shape. And god, I wish someone had done a better job blocking the black and the blue test knits.


Fantastic!


Pretty decent.


Hmmmmm…….


YIKES.

Summit:

I want to like it, but I just…don’t. It’s an ingenious knit, super plus points to the designer for having reverse engineered the stitch pattern, and perfectly blocked (a sight for sore eyes after the previous mishaps.) It’s just that I dislike both large swiss cheese holes and dropped stitches, so this was pretty much a wash for me before it ever began.

One note: It doesn’t look like the stitches on either side of the dropped stitches are twisted. Is the holey element enough to keep from those stitches from taking up the ladder with repeat blocking, or will you very eventually end up with a swiss cheesy wrap at a looser gauge?

ETA: Designer Mandie says: To answer your question, I’ve been wearing it since December and the dropped stitches aren’t stretching out. I swatched it both ways and twisted stitches were weird. The way the stitches bias is enough to keep them open.

Anthemion:

I know, I know, I don’t like geometric lace. But this stole is outrageously attractive. I’m not even a big mimknits fan, but that’s gorgeous.

Gams

Oh, sad hipsters, I would be depressed too if I were wearing ugly knit shorts with those insane crotches. God, this pattern is so self-conscious about its hipsterness. 1970s NBA shorts + faded black tee + Urban Outfitter expression + unkempt hair + 80s makeup = IRONY. Pat yourself on the back and grow a beard.

Bonus points for having a men’s garment in Knitty, but then all of them disappear for making it a 100% wool short-short.

Know It All:

Fantastically neat. It’s the sort of thing that I would expect to find in Make or Craft, not Knitty. I’m going to read through the pattern just to learn. Regardless of how awesome this purse is conceptually, though, from a design perspective, it’s still pretty hideous. (Less hideous or more hideous than Gams, though? That, I suppose, is the question.)

Wanderer sock:

Love the interesting construction of the sock. The designer thoughtfully mocked up a number of color combinations in Photoshop, but the graphic is tiny, compromising its usefulness. In any case, if I were knitting it, I suspect I would negate the entire point of that exercise and do it in menswear-inspired grey on grey, or something equally boring. I like the look of the sock with the background color sole; it makes the colorwork look like a floating cage.

Tribute:

Probably the project in this issue that I have the highest probability of knitting. It’s just a Frost Flower sock, nothing new under the sun, but I’ve been craving Frost Flower recently. I’ll modify these into knee socks.

Twisted socks:

Oh my god, that is the ugliest sock yarn I have seen in my entire life. I was going to start this review with a different sentence, but the nastiness of that pooling knocked it clean out of my head. I don’t think it’s a particularly good pattern for highly variegated yarns in general; even though slipped stitches are supposed to be good for such yarns, there’s such a high plain stockinette to slipped stitch ratio that it pretty much fails to work.

I appreciate the reversability of these socks, though. I prefer the stockinette side to the reverse.

Buttonhead hat:

Sort of boring? Haven’t we all fudged a hat from the top down without measuring gauge before? Also, I’m sorry, Version 5 is a beanie, not a cloche. The hat does look really good in stripes, though.

Off-topic: Is it just me, or could Leethal totally be Shaun White’s sister? They even have the same rangy, charismatic attractiveness in the face.

Duck:


God, adorable, and I don’t even like children.


Responses

  1. I agree with you on most of Knitty’s offerings this time around… I dunno, it seems kind of… almost like Amy stopped caring, or people stopped submitting really interesting, innovative things.

    The only patterns that really catch my eye are Summit (for the unique factor, mostly… I still like Clapotis a lot more), Emmaline and Anthemion. The Petrie is very classy for being such a simple garment, but not really my style.

    The Gams are just laughable. I guess if they wanted the “hey, look what I made out of yarn instead of fabric, isn’t that clever?” effect, there are many many many other items they could have chosen. I was really hoping that Knitty would escape the hipster wave, but so much for that.

    • I actually find this issue of Knitty at least on par with some of the earlier ones–better for sure than, say, Fall or Summer 2009 (gosh those were dull.) For me, the low points of this issue were Tappan Zee, Innamorata, and La Gitana, but even if I wouldn’t knit other things like Que Sera or Know-It-All, I find them interesting.

      I really hope Gams was a fluke. I almost feel bad, because male knitwear designers are so relatively rare, but everything about those shorts–design, test knit, styling, and photography–was so self-conscious that it was really annoying. The general reader response seems to have been negative, so I suppose we’ll see about future issues.

      Also, wool-cotton at that loose gauge is going to block to your ass the instant you sit down for any length of time.

      What do you think about the new publication schedule?

      • Most of them are interesting, but not quite in the same way as like, Fall ’07 which had a little bit of everything and the patterns were mostly really nice either to admire or to make.

        This seems more like a curio issue than anything else. That sleeveless hoodie with the horrid shaping and awkward vertical cabling doesn’t seem knitty-worthy, to me.

        The gams… oh, the gams… really, they seem like they belong more in The AntiCraft than knitty, lol. They’re like a woolen Lovecraftian horror.

        The schedule, I’m iffy about, but open to seeing where they take it. On one hand, the negative nancy in me thinks they’re doing this to save time by condensing seasons and using it as a way to cope with a decrease in submissions (or a decrease in quality submissions, anyhow).

        On the other hand, maybe they’re doing it to streamline things, so they don’t have to split up submissions as much over the course of the year, stretching things thin when there’s a lull in submitted patterns or when there’s a tough time coordinating them with the season to make them appropriate… Like in Summer ’09 when half the patterns were for winter.

        I love Knitty in general; I think it’s a great thing and I wish it the best… but, this issue leaves me a bit cold and I’m really hoping it’s not a recurring trend.

  2. hahaha.. I love this honest take on knitty’s designs. you’ve got a good eye. they could hire you to screen designs! honestly, I haven’t looked at knitty in ages, the only time I go is if I see an interesting pattern on ravelry.


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