Posted by: ritsukurimono | July 11, 2010

Knitty First Fall 2010 Review

I found this a frustrating and disappointing issue on many levels. There was a distressing tendency for bulky, body-swamping sweaters and a slightly outdated feel to several of the other patterns. I think that I am most disappointed because fall is traditionally a strong issue for Knitty; cool enough to use wool again but not cold enough to force designers to compromise between style and warmth. This issue was not a strong issue. I hope that Deep Fall will be better.

Purlieu

It’s a basic scarf with inexplicable stuff added on. Like Tentacular. Or Loopy & luscious. Oh, Knitty. Nice to see some things never change.

This is my problem with this scarf: it is a total tourist scarf.

It’s like this: You arrive in New York City in March, all jazzed for your rush tickets for Phantom of the Opera, but 5026 other people from out of town had the same idea as you and now you’re in Times Square gawking at the huge neon signs and the wind is howling down the urban canyons and you’re freezing so you send your partner off to buy you a scarf from a street vendor and they come back with Purlieu, having paid the princely sum of $6 for it.

Except you’ve hand-knit it. With yarn that costs $68. And you still look like a tourist.

That is my problem with this scarf.

Also:

It might be advisable to either ease up the Hue/Saturation pedal a little bit, or not include pictures of the source yarn that reveal how much Photoshop color enhancement was done on the (admittedly, well-done) pattern photos.

Iced

And here is where I start my weak head-tilty …if you like that sort of thing…….? part of my Knitty review. Because this, here, is very, very much not my thing: a loose-fitting, bulky-weight sweater with rolled hems that is designed to erase every semblance of a figure that you might ever have. It’s cotton/acrylic at a loose gauge, so despite its snuggly appearance, I can’t imagine that it’s the warmest thing ever.

It just looks so homemade. The combination of rustic shape, lack of detailing, and slight imperfections in the sweater gauge all give it a very my-first-knit-sweater! sort of look. Which is a look. But not my look.

Victoria

That is a lot of extremely aqua fabric, you guys. And while I understand and support the idea of the “boyfriend cardigan,” the recommended ease (35″ bust for an XS?) one sort of reads like one that you stole from your father or grandfather. Again, this is a sweater that will render you entirely figureless. I do not know what is up with this issue. I kind of want to cry already. I like the texture, though, and the yarn choice is an excellent one for this pattern. MerLin blocks out so beautifully, doesn’t it? The sample knitting is also really high-quality work.

If you do knit this, please do not wear it with the collar flat like this. Remember what I said a couple of days ago about the Essential Cardigan and how it was SQUARE and how the tiny v-neck was struggling futilely to break up the knitted expanse of the garment? Apply all of that here, except instead of SQUARE read RECTANGULAR.

It’s much more flattering with the lapels turned down.

Whatever you do, please do not wear it with the collar flat and unbuttoned. It hangs like a barn door and makes the shoulder seams hang off your shoulders instead of sitting neatly on them. And it makes the model, who has a great figure (I think? I’m pretty sure!) look wide as hell.

Mythos

Interesting construction on this one–probably one of the more flattering side-to-side knit garments I’ve seen. And hallelujah, waist definition, as provided by the adjustable pin!

The back view is my favorite–I like the bateau neckline and the test knit flatters the model tremendously.

From the front, it’s a little bit problematic for me. It’s perfectly nice, it really is, but by all rights, Mythos should be as flattering as hell. I feel like it doesn’t reach its full potential to flatter and that’s frustrating. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

I think it’s a combination of a number of things–the placement of the closure pin (I wish it had been a little more over, both to tighten the waist and to bring the neckline higher on her shoulders a tiiiny bit), the yarn choice (wool/silk drapes beautifully, but at an open gauge that can translate to “limp”,) and maybe a color choice issue? You see, when a garment has a v-neck and a shallower reverse-v curved hemline, that obviously means that the widest area of fabric is around your waist area. Putting a brighter color and attention-grabbing horizontal pin there (especially when the layering tank underneath the sweater is a dull brown that recedes) can be visually widening despite the vertical lines of variegation.

Anyway, just be aware of that when/if you knit this cardigan. It’s all stuff you can easily take care of, so this totally has the potential to look great on you.

Jewels

The shape of it really reminds me of Tappan Zee from the 2010 Spring/Summer issue of Knitty, by the same designer. I guess when you’re working with limited yardages of handspun, short-sleeved cardigans are the most reasonable sweater shape choice.

That said, I really disliked how the variegation and thick-and-thinness of the handspun obscure the cabling of the sweater–so much so that I can’t tell whether the first pattern photo is out of focus or whether it’s just the kaleidoscopic effect of the yarn making things look a little blurry.

I think the Spud & Chloe version is more flattering in all respects, including fit (it is so flattering!) It is also longer and hits the model at a better place on her body. I wish it had been fastened more properly so that the left front isn’t an inch longer in the hem than the right front in the photo, though.

So all in all; it’s pretty decent sweater option for bulky yarn. I would recommend using a solid or semisolid colorway and knitting the full length, but do as you like.

Milly

…..nice in concept. The execution…look, that front fabric is just not structured enough for the fitted, menswear-inspired look that it’s going for. That’s why it’s limp and floppy-looking and bags unattractively around the waist. The alpaca content of the wool doesn’t help the whole flaccidity issue. It also looks a little weird because increases and decreases are made directly on the edge stitches without any selvedge or edging treatment.

It’s just not a polished look, and menswear for women has to look polished to be successful.

Trout River

This design so prioritizes function over fashion that I don’t even think I can critique it . It would be like throwing matches at a dolphin–what’s the point? And also, mean.

It looks warm. It’s probably useful for the hiking and camping, as intended. The handspun for the edge treatment is really pretty.

Let’s move on.

Lamina, Kink, & Eda

Collectively, very Knitty 2005. Lamina is kind of Argosy/Edgar/Spike, Kink is kind of Tudora, and Eda…is a set of armwarmers that makes you look like Wonder Woman. That was styled with a sun hat and halter top (I find that combination so, so baffling.)

The color of the Lamina sample knit is pretty. The construction of Eda looks interesting. Kink was modeled by someone who looks quite like Abby from NCIS.

Ms Clarke

Ms Clarke perfectly illustrates my strong bias against variegated lace. Also, I wish the blocking job had been done better.

Coquille

A design with a lot of potential that uses simple construction techniques in an interesting way. I look forward to seeing more of these pop up around Rav in different gradual color transition yarns.

I do wish that there were a picture of the large blue shawl that illustrated its size, though.

Lanesplitter

This skirt is not officewear. You might be able to wear it to the office, but it is not officewear, and I’m irrationally annoyed by the pattern’s claim to be such. It has that homemade-not-handmade look, and let’s face it, it’s like you started your first bias-knit swatch with some Noro and got so enthralled with the changing colors that you kept going and ended up with a lap blanket and you were like, what do I do with this now? so you sewed it up the side, added a waistband and called it a skirt.

Mystery | Manners

Pretty–I find the spindliness of the peacock feather motif near the fingertips kind of creepy? But I realize I have no rational reason for this; it’s just me. I would knit the cuff longer; I hate it when my mittens gape around my wrist. But all in all, a strong design, if one that’s styled a little lacklusterly in the photo shoot.

The other thing that made me go “bwuh?” while scrolling down the page was the description of the main color, “The Italian Job” colorway, as “gold/olive.”

I don’t know about your monitor, chickadees, but on mine, that is not gold or olive. It is lemon yellow (#f8f100). And here’s a photo of Italian Job from the dyer’s Etsy:

Wow, that’s super different! I don’t mean that as a criticism, just as a “dyelots are a strange thing” observation that I thought was interesting.

Minty

That’s an attractive hat–kind of like Ysolda’s Ripley by way of Leethal, in a good way. I like the crown decreases in the striped version, and I’m sure it would make great Christmas gifts. Also, A+ dedication in doing one photo shoot in snow and the other one at the beach; it really helped sell this hat as an all-weather accessory. Nice work, designer.

Coralie

Totally gorgeous. this is probably the only pattern from this issue that I will actually knit. It’s a fantastic use of stainless steel content yarns, and the coral-branch shape is really elegant.

I like the mostly-coordinating color combinations that were sample knit, but I would also love to see these earrings done with brown yarn and bright, berrylike beads–I think that would be very wintry and beautiful.

Winnow

This is the other pattern from this issue that’s going into my queue, because I love the orderly eyelet panels marching up the side. Nothing much else to say about it; I just think it’s a well-done, appealing design.

Mad for Plaid

Well, they’re plaid socks. I peg this as a polarizing, what-you-see-is-what-you-get pattern. If you were the type to fall all over this, you’d be falling already. If you’re not, you’re not. ::shrug::

Celtic Triad

It’s a hat-heel sock, which is interesting, but I really don’t find this sock attractive at all. I think it’s the distinctly lumpy line running around the arch of the foot and the abrupt transition between the reverse stockinette foot and the ribbing leg. It is definitely not for me.


Responses

  1. Always love your reviews.

  2. Amen!

    Knitty hasn’t really been doing it for me lately, which is kind of sad, because they were so instrumental in getting me into knitting in the first place. Maybe knitting trends are just weird right now? Or maybe I’m weird right now? Either way, I just don’t see a lot of their more recent patterns working on my body.

    Those earrings, however…!

    • I think that part of it, for me, is that I see several things that sort of call back to previous designs in Knitty that were contemporary and fresh when they appeared but now just feel quite dated. I mean, 2005 was five years ago. That’s fifteen fashion seasons! (Twenty if you count resort, I guess. :|)

      I realize that the handknitting world isn’t quite the same thing as the high fashion world, but trends definitely come and go quite ephemerally, and I expect publications to be aware of that.

      But Coralie *is* gorgeous, isn’t it? I want to knit seven pairs and wear them every day of the week.

  3. Great review! I agreed with almost every one.

  4. Great review. I really enjoyed reading it, and nodded along with most of it. I like both Mythos and Plaid because they say early fall to me (lightweight cardi and back-to-school socks). The rest are kind of blah… nothing inspiring or new. Keep up the writing! Can’t wait to read what you have to say next.

  5. First time I read one of your reviews, and I couldn’t agree more! Great review, and I’ll definitely be back for more. (Thanks for commenting on my rather disappointing Giselle, hopefully the next sweater will be more wearable.)

  6. Wow! I have gotten so used to never seeing people criticizing other people’s knitting/designs that at first it felt really strange to read this… I had started to think it couldn’t be done, not out loud anyway.

    But I have to say, I agree with almost everything you say. Those were the things that struck my eye as unflattering or uninteresting, as well, when I saw this issue of Knitty (other than that I love the hat heel socks). I just could never have articulated my thoughts as well as you have here 🙂 I will definitely be reading more. What you’ve written is refreshing.

    • Thank you! I try to be honest and as fair as possible while still maintaining my point of view–every piece gets judged on its own merits, no pet designers or pet hated designers, and everything is my opinion only. Hopefully that comes across.

  7. Nothing really spoke to me in this issue either.

  8. I love your review!

    My favourites are Minty and Coquille. I added them to my favourites on Ravelry, which is saying something, as I primarily crochet.

  9. I love how detailed and well thought out your review is!

  10. I agree with almost every pattern review here – I was so bummed over this Knitty. The earrings and the red socks were the only patterns that made me squee, lol. 🙂


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