Posted by: ritsukurimono | July 7, 2010

Interweave Knits Spring/Summer 2010 Review

I know this is super belated — sorry! I kept meaning to do this and meaning to do this during my blog hiatus, but never got around to it.

The watchword this season, it seems, is shape. The successful designs have it. The unsuccessful designs don’t.

Counterpane Blouse

I know that I don’t even pretend to offer an unbiased opinion in these mag reviews. My opinion is informed by a lot of things, including my personal taste, my body shape, the garments I prefer to knit, and the fibers I prefer to knit in. So maybe it’s my own failing that leads me to dislike this blouse so much.

I think the counterpane back makes it look really juvenile–it’s an element I don’t mind on girls’ clothing, but sized up for a grown woman I think it’s too precious and, a little paradoxically, serves to make the model’s back look as broad as an East German swimmer’s (is that too dated of a reference now?)

I also sort of detest the arrow of lace going straight up the ass of this blouse–that really, really can’t be flattering on anyone.

There is no waist definition at all. At all!

Jali Cardigan

When I first saw the thumbnail of this piece on the IK preview webste, I honestly thought that they had gotten an older woman to model it, and I was like, “Go Interweave! Modeling equality!”

And then I took a closer look, and guys, she’s like, nineteen. The cardigan just makes her look like she’s sixty-three. (Although that’s an awfully cute ruffled shirt she’s wearing under her knit layers.)

There’s nothing wrong with this cardigan exactly. If you need to knit something for your mom or grandmother, this would be perfectly appropriate. Just, you know, be aware of its magical aging properties before knitting it for yourself.

Empyrean Tunic

I really liked this tunic at first glance, but the more I look at it the more my mind changes. It’s just….too much. It’s a high-necked, tunic-length, long-bell-sleeved sweater, and that’s a lot of acreage to cover with the same monotonous, sheer, cabled lacy fabric without anything to draw the eye anywhere.

You know when you turn the television to a channel you don’t have and all you get is static? It’s like wearing a shirt made of that. You just present as an eyewatering block of sameness.

If I were knitting this, I would chop the sleeves off as cap sleeves, maybe lengthen it into a dress, and maybe deepen the neckline into a square or scoop to break up the blandness of the thing–you’d have to sew it a lining or wear a slip under it, but it’s not like this is the most wearable garment anyway.

The one part of this tunic that I really do like is the neckline–it looks so neat and graceful.

Marigold Sweater

This sweater is straight from the forties. There’s nothing wrong with that! It’s cute! I’m just not seeing anything being “updated” about this sweater, as Interweave purports it is.

Impasto Shawlette

Cute! This type of shawl/stole is not my thing, and neither are bold chevrons, but I find it really attractive anyway. I think the color selection has been done very elegantly.

A note about the fantastic styling and staging of this shot– The pairing of this shawl with that buttery yellow sundress is inspired, both in terms of color matching and in terms of wearability–that’s pretty much exactly how you would use it in real life–and check out how the blue in the shawl picks up and intensifies the blue in the mosaic behind her. I love how the shawl cascades down in ripples of color like that. Plus the brick color harmonizes with her hair–the model just looks utterly, utterly strong and in-place. Beautiful work, art director or photographer.

Ruth’s Tee

Here’s another sweater that I’m just totally ambivalent about. There’s nothing wrong with it that I can pinpoint–the shape is attractive, the yarn’s a good choice, the texture is interesting in the closeup, the color is really flattering on the model–but I have no idea why I would ever knit it.

The shape is casual, but if you want a casual layering tee, why don’t you just wear a tee shirt? As a layering tee, you could wear it under a blazer or cardigan for the office, but if you need an office layering piece, why don’t you just go with a blouse?

Maybe the problem is that I’m a total product knitter. The process isn’t enough for me; I need to make things that I’ll use and enjoy. Your mileage may vary.

Lacy Leaf Satchel

It looks well-made. I like the hardware. But let’s not kid ourselves, those pleats are fucking hideous. The color of the sample knit isn’t great, either.

Stria Art Jacket

This is my anti-Empyrean: I didn’t like it at first, but it’s growing on me. I think my dislike was due to the yarn/colors that this was knit in–if you’re doing colorblocking like this, why would you punk out and use yarns that are (a) variegated and (b) so similar? Colorblocking is a go hard or go home endeavor! And variegateds are just no good for the type of bold graphic impact that colorblocking requires.

Beside that, though, I think that this is a pretty well-done design. The chevrons are cool and placed nicely, and it’s a perfect opportunity for those colors that are great near your face but overwhelming for an entire garment. It’s like that snuggly at-home jacket that you’re not ashamed to pull on to run to the grocery store in, or that weekend sweater that you toss on and take everywhere.

I wouldn’t put in the pockets, but I am not a fan of pockets on my cardigans anyway. They look sort of dinky and break up the lines.

Persephone Shell

Now this is how you colorblock! The heart in my small-busted breast went pitter-pat when I saw this sweater and I itched to start it. Sure, it’s a little wenchy, and the shape’s not for everyone.

But dude, look at the side view! Look at how the model is basically an AA cup!

Now return your gaze to the original photograph–doesn’t she look willowy and curvy? Doesn’t she look like she has a modest but perfectly adequate hourglass figure? MAGIC.

Plus, how fantastic does she look from the back?

Box 96 Pullover

Easily my favorite sweater in this issue. The color is lovely, and the shape promotes the illusion of an hourglass figure. The v-neck broadens the shoulder line of the garment and the wrap part nips it in at the waist, and then it broadens again at the hips with that flared hemline.

I probably wouldn’t make the crotch point, but I imagine that’s easy enough to mod away. Great styling in this shoot–love the matching of the teal sweater and the teal in the plaid skirt, love the cool pop! of contrasting violet at her neckline. It feels distinctly fall, rather than summer, but summer knitting’s not really my thing anyway.

Gamine Tank

I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but none of the models in this issue are exactly overflowing in the bust department. That wouldn’t be so much of a problem save for the standard lack-of-diversity BOOOO, except for this sweater.

The model is wearing a sweater with fourteen fucking inches of negative ease, and she is still totally swimming in it. Look how it swamps her and makes her look bulky and flat! I thought that was the fault of the designer’s yarn and gauge choice at first, but no, it’s a pure sizing issue.

Look how this sweater both minimizes her bust and makes her bulky through the waist, turning her figure into a straight up-and-down tube. It needs to be worn with a lot more negative ease–the magazine indicates that the smallest size (19″, being modeled) fits up to a 38″ bust, and the model is only 33″. It shows neither sweater nor model off to their best advantage.

Love the stand-up collar.

Thoroughbred Stripe Pullover

Wow, that’s a really, really WASPy name. But! That sweater is really classic and flattering! It’s the most wearable men’s sweater I’ve seen in Interweave in ages.

Cheer up, male friend or relative of an Interweave staffer, you look pretty dashing!

Nautilus Mitts

Boring. Weirdly short.

Essential Cardigan

Oh lord no. This model is a willowy flower, yes? And yet look how broad this sweater makes her look. It’s a combination of a lot of factors:

  • That broad ribbing stripe down the middle basically divides her front into thirds, which only emphasizes the up-and-down SQUARENESS of the garment.
  • The sleeves and hemline both hit her at the same place on the body–not precisely at the widest part of her hips, but close enough to be quite unflattering.
  • And the biggest problem is that the entire shape of the cardigan is one huge square. Let me illustrate that for you:


That teensy tiny v neck is totally out of proportion with the rest of this garment. It’s not big enough to adequately break up the huge expanse of grey that is making her look like a lego. Terrible.

Buttercream Jacket

Wait, I lied. This is my favorite sweater of the issue. Look at it! Ponder how incredibly flattering and slimming it is, and how it makes the model (who is approximately the same size and shape as Essential Cardigan model up there) look tall and slim and not blocky and short.The deep v-neck breaks up the expanse of yellow ribbing really nicely–as a long sleeved, full length sweater, it has a lot more acreage than Essential, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming or claustrophobic at all. (I might still add some waist shaping, though. MOAR WAIST SHAPING!)

Favorite detail–the cabling on the collar that makes it look like a notched collar with no actual notching necessary. It’s a great transition between the ribbing and the garter stitch.

This is hands-down the sweater in this issue that I can see working on the widest range of body types. Again, it doesn’t feel very summery, but maybe if you live in Portland or Denver?

I’d just like to stress that this sweater was worn with more positive ease than the Essential Cardigan: 2 1/2″, vs “minimal” positive ease. Design is a hell of a thing, isn’t it?

Lace Saddle Tee

Unattractive and broadening.

Daisy-Stitch Tunic

Persephone fell on the right side of the RenFaire line for me, but this fell on the other side. It’s just so…formal-seeming, with its high neck and fancy clasp, and the poor model looks like she’s being strangled.

Oh no, I have no neck!

The stifling feeling isn’t helped by how chunky and stiff it looks. It has waist shaping built in, but it still looks so rectangular and up and down…I’m really just not a fan.

I find the square-ness of this placket really unattractive.

Picnic Cardigan

Reasonably cute little cropped thing –the color is good on the model, it’s a light layering garment and you’re presumably going to wear something visibly form-fitting underneath it so it doesn’t matter if it’s boxy–with one besetting flaw.

To paraphrase T Lo, those are INSANE ARMPITS.

It’s not a case of Interweave stuffing a model into a garment six sizes too big for her, either–this shrug is designed to have fitted dolman sleeves. Yikes. The fabric is way too stiff to support that kind of thing.

I’m not super fond of the puffy neckline, but that’s a minor quibble.

Ambrosia Cardigan

Here’s another winner! Love the scoop neck with its neat icord edging and love how the cabled bands are so impeccably finished with the hooks and eyes. Great job, sample knitter! The color isn’t the most flattering, but the design is full of potential.

Kind of ironically, the flaw with Ambrosia is just the opposite of most of the garments in this issue–waist definition.

That band of ribbing at the natural waist? Don’t need it! At all! It’s nice in theory–draws the eye to the slimmest part of a girl, maybe nips in a little to further help with that–but actually, since it’s only about an inch long and the yarn is a 100% cotton, it does neither of those things. Instead, it cuts the model’s torso in half.

Here, a comparison shot. On the left, Ambrosia as it appears on Interweave’s preview site. On the right, a waistbandless Ambrosia that I mocked up with the help of some good old Clone Stamp. Isn’t it more flattering without it?

Beach House Pullover

What a classic, ridiculously good-lookng pullover. I love the deep, snuggly texture and the prim little shawl collar–just enough but not too much. It’s a tiny, tiny bit Martha Stewart soccer mom, but wear it with pride or wear it with irony, because it is a damn good-looking sweater. This would look great on a plus size girl (and look at that, they don’t even size is small enough for smaller girls. That’s fine too.)

That’s a beautiful saddle shoulder.


  1. girl, you know so much about sweaters! i wish we lived closer (than oceans apart…) so we could knit together and i could imbibe your sweater wisdom, the same way i first learned to yarn-over at the kamogawa starbucks in kyoto ;_;

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