At first glance, I wasn’t too excited about the new fall Knitty. I know, I’m probably the only person in all of the blogosphere, but I was having a hard time getting stoked about the patterns, and I had to wonder why.
I thought about the nature of Knitty and what a boon of free, beautiful patterns it usually is. Generally, when I see a new issue, I’m overwhelmed with enthusiasm and want to knit almost everything in it. So I thought I should probably take a closer look. (Clicking pictures will enlarge them – links to patterns in text).
I really like Roam. I wish it weren’t seed stitch, but I think it could be modified to stockinette without losing its great shaping. I still have almost no love for variegated yarns, so I was squinting trying to picture this in a solid color, and I think it’ll be rather nice.
I had a similar experience with Cherie Amour. I think Ashley Adams Moncrief is a very talented designer, and I usually love the elegance in what she does, so I was surprised that this was bulky and in such a busy yarn that I couldn’t make out the stitch pattern at all.
Once looking at the schematics, though, and considering whether bulky yarn could ever look good on me, I concluded I was smitten. The shaping on this is clever and seems like it will be flattering, and the overall style is very au courant.
After I got past the strangely irritating language and photo styling of Neiman, I could easily see its merits, though I’m not sure I’d knit it.
At first I dismissed Mr Greenjeans because I thought there was no way it would ever flatter my figure. This may still be the case, but I do like the design of it and it seems like it would be intensely comfortable without looking dowdy.
I think the Pecan Pie beret is really quite gorgeous, and it’s smartly designed. It almost makes me interested in buying Noro… a clever ruse indeed. I am also nearly convinced I must become a beret person, as there are too many great patterns out there right now to resist it any longer.
That said, Urchin is lovely. For that matter, Ysolda herself is lovely, and she really knows how to style her photos quite well. I don’t know if I would knit this for myself, but I could see it making a great gift or a fun way to try out thick n’ thin yarn, which is again, not something I was ever interested in before seeing this pattern (clever, Knitty).
Now I realize I am excessively influenced by images, so I just need to get over the styling problems in the photos of Tussie Mussie. I think I actually know which building these were shot in front of, so I’ll forgive the awful shoes, socks, jeans, and hair on that basis alone and try to pay attention to the sweater itself. It has an interesting vibe, reminiscent of some of my favorite Anthropologie pieces, and I like its details. I have a problem with reverse stockinette, though, particularly on the fitted sleeves – it just looks too tight. I realize the whole concept was about inverting our expectations of how nice sweaters would look, but I’m not sure I could get past this, which is a shame because I genuinely love the bobble motif. Maybe I’ll try swatching to see if they stand out nicely enough against stockinette?
I think the Muir shawl speaks for itself, and it is of course extremely well photographed here. I considered using the yarn designated for a Print o’ the Wave stole for this one instead, but alas, the yardage is too great. Still, it’s quite beautiful, and it looks manageable enough that I could conceivably knit it as a gift or even make it for myself (I’m not really a shawl or stole wearer, but this one makes me reconsider).
I also see great merit in Henry, and I like the thoughtfulness of the designer in her consideration of so many small details. This would make a nice gift for my boyfriend, who really is long over-deserving of something hand-knit. It happens that he has an olive green wool overcoat against which a subtle tan or rusty brown scarf of this style would look exceptional. Hmm.
I found the socks a little disappointing, but I realize that any designs will likely pale in comparison with some of the spectacular ones previously published or available all around the internet. I did, however, find myself sort of drawn to Q, once I stopped seeing a tumbling blocks quilt motif and began seeing an organic double helix or spiral. This made me think, though, that if I want double helix stockings, I should probably just chart them out myself. I would definitely use the structure and shaping of these.
I find this issue full of a lot of ideas and inspiration after all. I’m amazed at the techniques and yarns it’s gotten me to consider, though I still wish they would lay off the crazy variegated yarns and the questionable photo styling. The design details in a lot of these pieces really advance the concept of hand-knitting and bring it to a new level of thoughtfulness and style.
Though I generally subscribe to the “If you don’t have anything nice to say…” school of thought, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t address what I consider the elephants in the room. Whereas the rest of the designs I haven’t mentioned may not have been my cup of tea, I can certainly appreciate what they were going for, and I could imagine someone liking them. There are two designs in this issue that I just plain HATE, and it makes me wonder what Kool Aid they’ve been sipping over there.
First, Entwined. I think I almost understand the design process: I like scarves, I like fingerless mitts, I’ll put the two together! But it comes out like a knitted S&M device gone awry, and I imagine it being a constant struggle and entanglement with one’s jackets, sleeves, bags, etc. Combined with my deep personal hatred of garter stitch, I guess it’s easy enough to see why I dislike this item. Unfortunately, the author is right, that it’s a good beginner knit, and I fear new knitters will make it, see it looks awful, and be turned off from hand-knitting in the future. This may be a snobbish or odd concern, but I have to recount an incident that I think about from time to time by way of explanation.
As a teaching assistant to undergrads, I got to see a lot of interactions the students probably wouldn’t display in front of their regular professors. I sort of blended in and they couldn’t quite place my age, so sometimes on museum field trips, they’d let their hair down with me. One student was wearing a hand-knit scarf and set of fingerless gloves, of which she was obviously quite proud. They had all the hallmarks of a beginner’s knit, with twisted and dropped stitches, shaping wonkiness, a gap at the cast-on edge where she hadn’t woven her end in well, but none of that really mattered, and in a way they were charming. She’d even matched her whole outfit around their color scheme (an unfortunate variegated affair, but that’s neither here nor there). I was debating complimenting her and asking if she’d knit them herself so she could tell me about them, but I got distracted doing a headcount.
When the students checked their coats, she kept these two items on despite the excessively overheated museum. A stylish Queen Bee type came up to her and asked “Why are you wearing a scarf and gloves when it’s so hot in here?” and this student proudly and happily answered, “Because I like them. I made them myself!” I felt a sense of camaraderie and shared pride, jolted when the Queen Been scoffed, “Boy, that’s obvious!” and the surrounding students erupted in laughter.
I don’t have anything against things which are obviously hand-made, and in fact I really like them at times. I just feel this project is the type where yes, it’s so easy, and yes, it’s so fast… but it comes out looking just awful, and it makes people wonder why you spent any time knitting it at all. Personal hang-up, yes, but there it is.
The second item which I feel does a huge disservice to knitters and spinners everywhere is the glaringly awful Boxed. As I discovered when copying the photos over for this entry, Knitty has a rather cute naming system for their photos. They’ll put the pattern name, followed by ALT or BACK or BIG, etc. The top, showcase one, is called boxedBEAUTY, and if that isn’t the misstatement of the year, I don’t know what is.
This makes me sad because it’s so misshapen, frumpy, and generally unflattering that it looks like a photo someone would take of a disaster knit, one that just went all wrong due to some critical gauge error or other calamity. If it is really meant to inspire people to spin a sweater’s worth of yarn, so that it could be knit into this, then I wonder why anyone would ever spin or knit again. The logic just went completely off the rails here, when it could have been done so very much better.
Now that I feel like an obsessive bitch, that’s my entirely too-wordy critique of the Fall Knitty. I think it’s worthwhile sometimes to consider what is appealing or not in designs, to better understand one’s temperament and preferences as a knitter. My mixed feelings about this issue have certainly helped me learn a lot about myself in these areas, with some surprising results. So I have to say again, very clever Knitty, very clever.