Posted by: ritsukurimono | February 1, 2011

Knitty Winter 2011 Review


Gosh, this model is gorgeous. She reminds me of Sharbat Gula, the famous Afghan refugee girl from the cover of National Geographic. The cowl itself is, you know, okay. The stitch pattern is simple enough to work with the uneveneness of handspun yarn instead of working against it.

I don’t like the stiffness of the bulky/small version–this is not the middle ages; you don’t need a gorget. It’s already knit on size 17 needles, though, so instead of bumping up the needle size to get a drapier fabric, I would try knitting the large size so that the cowl’s own weight could stretch it out a bit.

In fact, just knit the larger size in general. It’s much more attractive.


Again, gorgeous model with crazy beautiful eyes. I love her motorcycle gloves and love what I can see of her bubble-hem coat. It’s such a shame about the shawl.

I’ve said this in reviews before, but bad sample knit blocking (especially for lace shawls) is a huge pet peeve of mine. If you know everyone who reads a knit publication is going to see your work, why would you not take the time to block it perfectly? I can’t even fathom why anyone would choose this photo of all the photos obtained from a photoshoot with an amazingly photogenic model to include in the pattern. Those drooping, uneven points on the right are killing me.

I also just don’t think that this is a great combination of yarn and pattern elements. I don’t like the combination of bold vertical chevron stripes and the horizontal trangular edging; they clash with each other. Neither do I like the effect of changing between chart B, chart C, MC yarn, and CC yarn all at random. Furthermore, it’s a lacy stole, but the Zauberball drapes about as well as cardboard. It’s a mess.


Well, it’s reversible, and that’s kind of neat, but if I’d wanted to knit something that looks like a Candle Flame Shawl, I’d have knit a Candle Flame Shawl. Ten years ago.

This is an excellent photo to demonstrate the reversability, though. I like the Holmesian checked trench too.


This is basically Caireen from Knitty Deep Fall 2010, by the same designer, updated with softer cables and open-gauge alpaca yarn. I do think Gweneira solves some of the problems that its earlier incarnation had, but do we really need both these patterns in consecutive issues of Knitty?


Extraspicy patterns in Knitty? I feel like I should support this on principle. The “cartouche” motif is very pretty.

But holy fuck, this shawl is TOO BIG. You should not have to move the point of your shawl out from under your ass every time you sit down. There’s also a problem of scale between small, fine twisted-stitch motifs and the HUGE ACREAGE of the shawl. It’s visually monotonous. The only thing that draws the eye is that eyelet spine arrowing down towards your ass like a racing stripe. If you’re going to knit this, even if you don’t play around with the scaling issue, at least use a less-incongruous double center increase.

Strangely, I think perhaps that doubling Cartouche to make it a square shawl would fix many of its issues. Instead of being a comically huge triangular shawl, it could just be a typically-enormous square shawl with a sort of Victorian-by-way-of-Bavaria-to-Japan feel. Part of the problem with allover motif field is that doesn’t feel very youthful or in tune with current knitwear design trends. But by making this a square shawl, I think that you can totally embrace that 19th century aesthetic in an ultimately more successful way.


Dear Reader, I have a confession to make.

I hate art yarns.

I think that the finished objects they make are hideous.

At the end of the day, I’m a product knitter, and if I don’t wind up with a beautiful, wearable, useful FO, then what was the point? I loathe sari silk and freeform crochet for the same reason.

So really, this pattern is a no-go from the start for me (“artful moments?” What is this, the Rachel Zoe project?) If I wanted to knit a keyhole scarf that maximized yardage, I would knit Urbana by Stephen West instead (mustaavillaa made a particularly beautiful one, ravelled here.)

Turn of the Glass

I feel conflicted about this sweater. It’s all right, you know? But only all right, and I can’t quite put my finger on why that’s so. It’s a cute concept–using cables to draw in the waist to naturally define it. I support that! But when you look at this sweater from afar, that’s not what you notice. All you wind up seeing is that seed stitch border, which is really assertive .

The cardigan also looks really short-waisted, which is great in this case because the model also happens to be short-waisted and it fits her well. If you’re not shaped like that and you knit this cardigan, you might need to adjust the cable placement to suit you.

I think the very busy midsection (seed stitch + cables + shawl pin) might be making the model appear more short-waisted than she actually is, though? I’m not entirely certain. Short-waisted readers, is this the sort of shape that works on your body? Educate me, please.

I think that this would look better with the cuffs done in that cable pattern. That would orphan the buttonband/hem, but if I were knitting it, I would change that anyway, so it would be a win/win decision all around.

Lady Lovelace

If I told you that this was a sweater from Hip Sweaters to Knit in No Time Flat, published in 2000, you would believe me, wouldn’t you? I think that’s basically all I need to say.

Wait, no, I have more.

The view from behind is undoubtedly the most flattering. The ribbing at the top of the caplet is really neatly done, and from this angle the chunky lace looks a little Anthro-ish in its rusticity. But it’s not enough to save anybody from looking like this:

I am a fan of layering, but if you have a foot of shirttail hanging out of your jacket, then it’s time to look at your life and look at your choices. You’re doing it wrong.

That buckle, I can’t even.

Also, holy intro essay, Teva Durham. I got weird secondhand embarrassment from reading that.


From cuddly-warm to daring-hot in just an instant: Button it up and you will have a cowly collar keeping the cold wind away under your coat. Leave it open to show some shoulder when you arrive at the bar.

…for real? You’re trying to assert that this is a sexy knit to wear to the bar?

Completely regardless of the (quite pretty!) model, there seems to be a mismatch between expectations and reality here. Joan Holloway wouldn’t be caught dead in a sweater that boxed out her hourglass figure. Would a single soul among you actually wear this sweater while trying to pull?

It’s a cozy, slouchy sweater with an interesting neck closure. You’ll wear this to drink coffee and do the crossword puzzle on a Sunday morning. There’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t need to be anything it isn’t.

Broad-shouldered women, this will probably make you look more broad-shouldered than you are.


This is cute! I like the saddle shoulder top-down construction that makes it easy to fit, even for a cape. But isn’t it funny how different the seed stitch in Constantine and Turn of the Glass look? It pops heavily and boldly (too boldly?) in Turn of the Glass, but here as an allover stitch it recedes in a harmonious fashion. The downside to this being, of course, that it’s allover seed stitch. I don’t even hate knitting it like some people do, but I’m not sure if I can face knitting that much of it, even if I have been looking to knit something like this.

Minor concerns: See how this is riding up a little in the back? Depending on your personal shape, you may want to add short rows in the back or front in order to get more even coverage.

And okay, this is a design that can look a little bathrobe-y. I’m not 100% sure how to best combat that–part of it, I think, is that the icord bindoff is too slight for the robustness of this garment. I think it would look better with a deeper folded hem. And maybe you could tighten up the gauge for a more structured, less floppy knit? This is Cascade Ecowool knit up at 14st/4″, which is pretty middle of the road. You could go a little tighter.

But yeah, my overall impression is that it’s really cute! I also like that it gives the knitter a lot of leeway to make it her own–if I were knitting it i would use a scarf or a necktie (too 2002?) instead of the knit belt because I don’t like them (bathrobey) and knit a HUGE FLOPPY COWLY TURTLENECK since it looks good with a higher neckline on the model.


Another pretty attractive sweater. I think the buttons are a great match stylewise and the raglan shaping is both beautiful and beautifully done.

The collar is a nice touch too. I think it looks best in the asymmetric configuration; otherwise this heads past Jackie O and lands at Judy Jetson, which is 60’s all right, but probably not really where you want to go with this.

Two notes: This sweater needs a little more positive ease to stop the buttonband from pulling like that. And I don’t really get the styling. The cardigan says casual chic, but the hair says just-came-back-from-the-gym. Perplexing!


Block your sample knits, or I will cry.


I don’t feel that there’s much I can say about this either. It’s exactly what it says on the tin–a bulky, easy mitten pattern in multiple sizes that you can whip out for the whole family. If you need to fill that niche, then these are perfect. If you don’t, then you probably won’t knit these.


This photograph makes me so happy. Like the Tulip Mittens photoshoot from Fall IK 2010, the photograph sets a complete mood. That cloche and that scarf are both perfect (and I covet them both!) The photograph makes me like the mittens more than I would otherwise, because I’m torn about them.

There are parts that I like very much–the chrysanthemum flower itself is lovely, and I love a thumb detail on a mitten (but what is it? I don’t think the designer mentioned it. It reminds me of nothing more than the piranha plants from Mario. )

But it seems strange to have this explosively beautiful chrysanthemum blossom perched on such a spindly twig of a stem. The leaves don’t match, either–too long, too bladelike. It looks like a lollipop stuck into a tuft of grass.

So I would redesign that portion of the hand–maybe something a little more Art Deco-inspired? It’s a beautiful pattern otherwise.


Quite a handsome unisex sock. The relatively quiet stitch pattern lets the unusual arch shaping really shine, and the yarn choice is perfect. And the coffee beans–I kind of rolled my eyes, but I also totally chuckled. That was a nice corny-sweet touch.

Only one thing:

What is a medicine ball doing in this shot? Clear your backdrop before you take sample pictures.


I don’t have any real use for light-worsted weight socks, but they look like they would knit up quickly and it’s a good opportunity to do an afterthought heel if you’ve never done one before.

HOWEVER! I am issuing a challenge. Want to learn or practice your intarsia in the round? Cast the fuck on, because where Nikol Lohr sees sweet hearts, I see…


I will give a prize (some hoot loot, if you will) to the first person who does this and links me to their finished project. I’m not kidding. Let me know if you take up my challenge.


Well, these are nice too. Alternative gussets are really becoming a knitting meme, aren’t they? And I do love a good toe-up sock.

The fact that these are knit toe-up is especially nice because you can really easily make a “just-the-good-parts” (thank you, Princess Bride) anklet-height pair. While those ribbed legs are good design, balancing out the intricate instep, they also look like a totally soporific knit.

S. Lights

Do these earflaps look too triangular to you? Being interested in neither earflap hats, pompoms, nor fun, this is not the hat for me.

Rock Creek

Once seen, it can never be unseen.


Art Deco meets Art Nouveau! I’m not really a toque kind of girl (I like them slouchy, okay? I’m sorry for being picky ;_;) but this is absolutely gorgeous and I have to knit one. This hat has everything going for it–it’s beautifully designed (check out the crown decreases), beautifully knit, beautifully finished, and beautifully styled. Impeccable, Mandy Powers. Good job.


I really wish I had the right hair length/bone structure to really pull off a cloche, because this is one of the cuter ones out there. It’s a little coy without being full-on I-can’t-see-unless-I-tilt-my-head-back. The button’s not quite right, though. I would either ditch the notion entirely or pin on an awesome vintage brooch instead.

I have a weird complex about honeycomb stitch patterns. Ballband dishcloth, Ysolda’s Cairn, this Quest variation–they all put my teeth on edge. Blurgh.

So in conclusion, this wasn’t a bad issue of Knitty at all! A definite improvement over Deep Fall 2010. I’ll definitely be knitting Undergrowth, but probably not anything else. What about you guys?


  1. Love your comments, feel the same like you do!

  2. […] Knitty Winter 2011 Review « ritsukurimono I think it would look better with a deeper folded hem. And maybe you could tighten up the gauge for a more structured less floppy knit This is Cascade Ecowool knit up at 14st/4″ which is pretty middle of the road. […]

  3. I have to agree with almost all your comments. I liked the idea of the Chrysanthemum mitts but I agree that the stem as is doesn’t work; it feels halfway between art deco and folk art and (for me at least) it needs to be more art deco. In addition to needing more positive ease, I think Jacqueline needs a smaller gauge. It just seems disproportionately bulky to me. (Then again I figured out about a year ago that I’m partial to sweaters at DK or finer so there you go) Overall, I’d say I’m mostly likely to knit the Java socks – exactly the right amount of simple and interesting.

    • I think Jacqueline would look good at a DK gauge, but the fabric might be too floppy to support that really sculptural collar. I guess it depends on the specific yarn and gauge.

      I’d be interested to see your pair of Java, if you do wind up knitting them! I’m looking forward to seeing what other people make of them.

  4. Yes.

    Everything you said, including the “Once seen, it can never be unseen”, is absolutely spot on.

  5. […] I said in my review of Knitty Deep Winter 2011, this pattern makes delightful “just-the-good-parts” […]

  6. […] or too abstract? I feel like if you’re looking for an art deco hat in this general shape, Undergrowth from Knitty Winter 2011 is a more attractive […]

  7. i love your take and view on these projects. i really do not have that kind of ‘eye’ so appreciate your candor and insight.
    will be reading your blog often now.

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