Posted by: ritsukurimono | December 26, 2010

Interweave Knits Fall 2010 Review

Interweave Knits Fall 2010

For obvious reasons, fall issues of knitting magazines tend to be the strongest, and Interweave fulfilled expectations with this pretty engaging and innovative publication. There were a couple of missteps, but I’d like to highlight the Check and Stripe section of the magazine for being the most delightfully cohesive mini-story that I can remember ever seeing in Interweave. The different sections of Interweave often have a color story, a costumey gimmick, or a logical similarity of construction that ties them together intellectually, but this is the first time I can recall a section having a real emotional consonance. It looks and feels like a collection of garments. Good job, editors, producers, and designers!

Alpen Socken

A pretty and delicate twisted-stitch sock and a nice way to kick off the issue. I like the picot cuff ad the twining cables up the gusset and side of the sock; they remind me of Tsock Tsarina’s Nine Tailors Sock. I have this thing against cables that stay “on top” of the design without wrapping, though, so the front motif is not my favorite.

I wish the detail shots for these socks were a little more “detail” and not as much “scenery”–I feel like socks, of all the garments or accessories, need the least styling. For a complex design like this, I would have traded some of the midrange Mary Jane shots for another like the detail shot of the rear of the sock.

Also, is it a trick of web encoding, or is this photo actually out of focus?

The Proverbial Cap

This hat is all right, but the design elements feel mismatched to me. Both the clover cross motif and the DNA double helix have a lot of visual space around them–a wide purl field behind the DNA motif, the desolate stretches of twisted rib between the clovers. The vertical repeat is pretty tall for both stitch patterns.

The mock cable is incredibly tightly wound by comparison. It has so much perceptional momentum! It’s also situated in a dense prison of twisted rib–no free space around it. It doesn’t fit in with the other two motifs, and I find that really strange and jarring. I also wish that there were more ribbing around the brim of the hat; I don’t like it when design elements go straight to the edge like that. And the styling for this photograph makes no sense.

The crown of the Proverbial Cap comes together very neatly, though.

Bavarian Tulip Mittens

Not much to say about this; they’re cute mittens. They look a little thin (I prefer my gloves thin and my mittens chunkier, because that seems thermally logical to me) but I suppose might be all right for a fall issue of a knitting magazine. There’s something a little off about the motif-to-background ratio–the mittens look a little sparse–but it’s not too bad.

I will now pretty much directly contravene my complaint about the detail shots for the Alpen Socken, because this photograph is beautiful. Can you tell a lot about the finer details of the pattern? Absolutely not. But the mittens pop against the violet and indigo backdrop. Even the grey housepaint is nearly lavender; her eyes pick up all those blue tones and her complexion just glows. You can almost smell the frost in the air, even though this photoshoot must have taken place in the spring. It’s beautifully well staged.

Leitmotif Cardigan

This is absolutely my favorite design of the issue. How graceful and well-proportioned is this garment? It’s a great wardrobe segue from the Whisper Cardigans and Geodesic Cardigans of the world.

The open front of the sweater leaves a slimming, lengthening column of color down your front and gives you the opportunity to nip it closed with a pretty shawl pin (or, if you’re L and utilitarian like me, an aluminum paper clip). The braided band around the hem is a nice, cohesive touch, but the plain cuffs keep Leitmotif sophisticated instead of matchy-matchy. Nice editing, Carol Feller!

I love the combination of the oatmeal color and the slubby texture of the yarn; these aren’t wheat-ear cables, but the overall effect is harvestlike without being too blatant.

Hawthorn Pullover

This is an unremarkable, classic sweater. It’s nice for slouching around the house or maybe wearing to the office on casual Friday, but a bit plain. The niche in my queue for a fall classic-casual sweater is already preferentially filled by Beatnik. More on that in some other post, though.

Plein Air Tote

This is nuts. Look at how huge it is! But I kind of love it; I mean, if you want to go big, then you should go big or go home, right? It would make a great cushion cover.

If that dog were any smaller, it could fit inside the tote bag.

Point Gammon Pullover

Eh, sort of boring, but I doubt it’s boring enough for very many men to favor it as a gift option. That diamond motif on the front is kind of a boner-killer.

Inversion Gansey

I’m not a fan of this sweater, sadly; I don’t like how it’s sectioned off into so many unflattering parts. The front/sleeve/hem lace stitches are all different, which is strange, and the twist columns are too widely spaced. And I hate how the garter stitch waistband cuts her in half.

God, her hips look huge, and they’re not. Who has time for clothes that aren’t on your side? Omit the garter band waist, continue the vertical motifs, and add a couple more evenly spaced twist columns to break up some of the stockinette real estate of the sweater, and then maybe we can talk.

Cloisonne Jacket

It’s not always easy to mix colorwork and lace in the same garment, but I think Cloisonne pretty much manages to pull it off. It helps that the colorwork pattern and the colors chosen for the sample knit are quirky in that Anthropologie sort of way; it makes it fall on the “statement sweater” side of the statement-monstrosity divide.

It’s not perfect, by any means–Cloisonne desperately needs some form of closure and it’s pretty boxy. The collar’s a little to minimalist to balance out the unabashed extravagance of the rest of the sweater. But I think those problems are fixable. I wonder if you could pick up and knit a contrast-color facing for the collar? And perhaps you could cast on a few extra stitches of lace to start and knit a buttonband in the main color concurrently with the colorwork section. I think that would look Anthro-cute and whimsical.

Leyfi Pullover

It’s not unattractive, but I’m not really a fan. The boxy, leafy lace stitch, the rolled edge treatment, and the basic pullover shape combine to make it look pretty My First Vogue Stitchionary.

Running-Stitch Skirt

I usually steer clear of knitted skirts, but this one has some really nice points. I love the paneling and the interesting contrast stitching between panels; it’s knit side-to-side to reduce sagging. The only design elements I’m dubious about are the edge finishes. A drawstring waist and a rolling hem give the skirt a sort of simple, homespun charm that’s very Japanese, but not really my style. I would try to pick up & knit a hem for the piece, and maybe add some elastic at the waist instead of the drawstring.

How utterly perfect is that blouse, not only for this skirt, but also in general? I covet it desperately. I’m even willing to forgive the stylist their use of jeggings in this shoot.

JEGGINGS, people. That blouse is fucking magical.

Sea and Sky Shrug

The shrug is rather boring, but the dress the model’s wearing under it is beautiful.

Breacan Swing Coat

This entire section is really strong, but this coat in particular is fantastic. I love the use of two yarns held together to make that tweedy deconstructed plaid pattern.

I love the squishy moss stitch cuffs and the perfect huge buttons. I love that the designer stuck with the loose swing coat silhouette without trying to force knitted fabric to behave and be tailored like woven fabric. (Pet peeve! Knitted and woven fabric are different, and that’s okay. Please stop trying to design double-breasted peacoats that pull so much the entire button band distorts in lumps, knit designers. ACCEPT THE STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS OF YOUR MATERIAL, or if you want to push the boundaries, at least be aware of them. Er. Where were we?) The warm lighting, the homey staging, the red drop earrings–it’s all spectacular.

George Street Pullover and Cowl

I’m kind of iffy about sweaters that come with detachable cowls, but I admit that George Street looks good both with and without the cowlneck.

The eyelet rows strike a good visual balance, the finishing on the sweater is impeccable, and in general it’s interesting without being WTF-kooky, which is impressive given that this is a relatively conceptual design (Eyelet plaid? It’s not Norah Gaughan, but it’s not the simplest thing to pull off well, either.) But George Street is not only pretty nice at first glance, it improves upon further study. Well done, Amy Christoffers!

Elementary Vest

Probably the weakest garment in this section, but still not bad. The silhouette and plaid/check colorwork combine to make Elementary too prim for my taste.

Also, it requires extensive embroidery (the blue stitches) during finishing, which seems really tedious to me. Still, it’s not a bad garment.

Peavy Jacket

What a fantastic counterpart to the Breacan Swing Coat. I love how nearly everything is handled differently in this men’s version of the oversized sweater coat, but the end result is so delightfully complementary. The colorwork is true colorwork with long floats, the cuff and collar are garter rib, and it just exudes an aura of classic country farmhouse cool. I know a lot of men who would love to wear this garment.

Chiral Cardigan

What a letdown after the classic, attractive garments presented in the plaid and check section. This garment is way too twee for a grown-ass woman. Ruching, flower buttons, and a ruffle? Are you for real? Not to mention the fact that the sweater chops off abruptly just before reaching the widest part of the model’s hips, which is never flattering.

But most of my problem lies with the thickness of the fabric itself. You might be able to play with ruching the front like that if you’re working with a lighter fabric (like Audrey’s Cardigan from Interweave Spring 2010), but Chiral is knit in a worsted weight alpaca/wool/nylon blend.

1) I have fleece jackets and felted sweaters that are less bulky/lofty than that fabric.

Williamsburg Cardigan

I actually don’t like this sweater very much from the front or back. it’s just too oversized for me; the sweater actually elongates the model too much. It’s practically a duster sweater. However, a huge however, this sweater has a really interesting construction along the side seams–it includes a knit facing that’s turned under during finishing to make in-seam pockets. Isn’t that awesome? Even if you don’t knit the sweater, the pattern is worth a read.

The model is selling the hell out of this 3/4 shot. Well done, madam.

Unrelatedly, while my sister and I were cleaning out her closet at our childhood home this weekend, we found a floor length knit sweatercoat. It had no fastenings to close it and no belt loops to cinch it shut. It was just a floor length red acrylic sweatercoat. What the hell, 2003?

Hoarfrost Mobius

Like I said earlier, the model is doing a marvelous job during this shoot. I love the steely Marlene Dietrich aura she’s bringing to this photograph. This headscarf has a very retro glamour, but the use of stainless steel yarn modernizes it nicely.

I also love how Hoarfrost is thin enough that it barely dims the gloss on the model’s hair. (A wonderfuly apt name, isn’t it?) Can you imagine how gorgeous a green Hoarfrost would be on a lady with flaming red hair? It would be a perfect updated Joan Holloway look.

The styling in this issue has been pretty consistently good, but here it hits an unexpectedly clunky note. That plum-colored jacket is not right for this ensemble at all. It doesn’t fit the model and the ruffly floral embellishment looks so fussy and heavy against the ethereal mobius. I like the color by itself. I even like how it complements the brick wall she’s standing in front of. But I dislike the periwinkle/plum color combination intensely.

Arching Cables Jacket

And sadly, this is the note we end on. That belt . Why would you do that? I understand the impulse to try it out, because it’s sort of interesting conceptually, but I think at some point you have to step back, take a look at your garment, and have the editing eye to say “Oh god, I’ve created a monster.”

This, ladies and gentlemen, is our monster:

Let’s go back to our trusty Photoshop Clone Tool, shall we?

Here is the Arching Cables Jacket as it appeared in Interweave.

Here, I’ve crudely Photoshopped away the part of the waist cable that is making me cry and keeping me up nights. It’s not perfect, but isn’t that so very much better?

And here, I continued with my chop and stamp job to extend the stockinette bands bordering the front edges down over the waist cable, while keeping the braid going around the sides and back of the sweater. That’s a nice second option, I think.

I do quite like the back view of the sweater; I think the triangle near the nape of the neck is really interesting and cleanly done.


  1. i like large buttons and huge buttons

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: