Monday, 23 November 2015

Twist Collective Winter 2015: A Review

Twist Collective has released their Winter 2015 issue, and it's an especially good effort from them. Twist Collective probably has the best photography of any of the knitting magazines I review (it looks beautiful, the styling is generally excellent, and they almost never let their artistic direction override their primary purpose of providing a detailed view of the knitwear, as some of the magazines do), but they've outdone themselves this time. I mean, just look at that fantastic cover shot!

Chance & Comet mittens. The adult version comes across as a little too juvenile, but the castle and unicorn child version is ever so cute.

Carlu pullover. Good shaping and detailing on this one. The slit in the collar is a nice touch.

Sceptre mittens. Very Game of Thrones in the best possible way.

Vinca shawl. Lovely.

Kennemerland hat, cowl, and mittens. Love the hat and the cowl, but although the mittens are fine in themselves, I'm not sure the stripes work with the rest of the set. The designer probably wanted to avoid overdoing that feather-like stitch, but didn't substitute a compatible motif.

Channa pullover. Very nice piece overall, but those short sleeves do give it that "shrunk in the wash" look. Of course you can make the sleeves any length you want.

Nalina cap & cowl. What a lovely set.

Cappadocia cardigan. This one's an excellent piece of work. It's a simple and very wearable, flattering piece and has some very attractive lacework edging to keep it visually interesting.

Norrland cap & mittens. This is the grown-up's version of a snowflake hat and mittens. It's really lovely and quite sophisticated.

Bonspiel hoodie. This is a decent piece of design, but perhaps an unfortunate colour choice. Doing that cabled device on the back of the hood in this coral colour gave it a regrettable resemblance to a gaping and predatory alien mouth, such as that of The X-Files's Flukeman. Doing this sweater in a non-living-tissue-like shade such as navy or teal should help the back of the sweater lose that most unwelcome of celebrity resemblances.

Besom cardigan. Cute piece!

Zepp socks. These look very good from the side, but not so well from the front, and those ribbed tops are disproportionately long.

Spinner shawl. Exquisite!

Ready Steady Go cap, scarf & mittens. Very striking Art Deco effect here. Pairing these with a bright, clean-lined coat was the right styling choice too.

Spalle pullover. From a less skillful designer, a simple ribbed sweater like this one could have been a lacklustre and unflattering piece, but this one is so expertly shaped that it's the best possible example of its kind.

Kizzlekazzle shawl. The texture of this, while technically impressive, is a little too bathmat for me, but I suppose this shawl could make an interesting accessory for warm, casual, simple clothes.

Chroming pullover. Normally I'm a hardsell on asymmetrical hemlines, but this one really works, adding a visually distinctive touch to a simple pullover in a way that elevates the entire design.

Dendri cardigan. Very attractive and wearable.

Shivelight cap & cowl. Very nice set. The cabling is beautifully intricate, and the rolled edgings work well with the look.

Cinders turtleneck. You can't go wrong with a classic cabled turtleneck sweater.

Iana shawl. Another lovely shawl.

Sawteeth cardigan. This one will look awkward and bulky on most women. Even this model isn't able to work it successfully.

Tainia socks. Good looking cabled socks.

Racine cardigan. I like the back, but I wish I could see the entire front, particularly the collar. What I can see of the front (the pocket and button band edges) looks a little rough.

Ripplerock shawl. Impressive stitchwork on this one.

Lovat cardigan. Love this one. The whole piece flows toward that single button at the waist. It's perhaps not a piece for a woman who doesn't care to emphasize her waist, but will be quite flattering on those who do.

Kielo shawl. And we end the review with a another example of gorgeous lacework.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Interweave Knits Winter 2016: A Review

Interweave has released the Interweave Knits Winter 2016 issue, and it features a very solid, wearable collection of patterns. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

Inverness Sweater. With such a classic cabled pullover, what's not to like?

Coldfield Pullover. Some nice detailing on this one. I like the mid-arm band concept.

Glasglow Sweater. The reverse stockinette on the sleeves and what looks like Shaker stitch in the body are nice touches.

Worthington Gansey. The deep waist band and the dropped shoulders give this sweater an awkward, disproportionate look, but they are easily remedied.

MacGowan Pullover. Really lovely stitchwork on this one. I love that lacy centre panel.

Shiloh Sweater. Nice stitchwork and the modified collar works really well with it.

Slean Mittens. Nice detailing on these.

Rivers Stole. Love the texture on this one. It's rather big, which won't be to everyone's liking, but you could always scale it down to whatever size you liked.

Tulle Mittens. Very pretty arrangement of cables on these mittens.

Oxford Stockings. Classic cabled socks.

Keeley Sweater. The pattern is good overall, but I think I'd want to fiddle a little with the proportions by making the body somewhat longer and decreasing the height of the cuffs and waistband slightly.

Walthall Sweater. Very much like this simple but effective sweater. The shaping is really good and the cables direct the viewer's gaze to the wearer's face.

Hoxey Cowl. This is quite pretty, and quite well styled. It's a piece that will look best with casual clothing such as this denim jacket.

Warwick Hat. A carefully worked out and finished piece. I'd nix the pom pom, but that's me.

Whitfield Cardigan. Not a fan of this one. The fair isle patterning has a rather helter skelter effect, and the dropped shoulders aren't helping. It also wouldn't be possible to fix them without changing the construction of this piece entirely, as it is knitted in one piece and steeked.

Hawkherst Sweater. Solid classic Cowichan-style piece.

Vernon Hat & Scarf. Attractive set. I like the idea of using a contrast colour for the fringe on the scarf and the ribbed band and pom pom on the cap.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Spilly Jane Knits Mittens: A Review

Today we're going to have a look at Spilly Jane Knits Mittens, written by Spilly Jane, and published by Cooperative Press. This book would make a good primer for someone who has never knitted mittens before, as it includes lots of helpful technical information and very detailed instructions, including excellent tutorials on the gusset and peasant thumb techniques, and offers lots of tips and inspiration for anyone who'd like to have some fun making arty mittens. Mittens can be treated like tiny canvasses, and one can be very whimsical when designing them without the project becoming too much of a time hog, and still have a wearable result.

Plain Blue Mitts. This is a very simple design technically speaking, and these mittens could be made with odds and ends of yarn, but the stripes make them eye-catching. "Phasing in" stripes with alternating stitches of the new colour is such a nice effect and gives stripes more sophistication.

Plain Brown Mitts. Another basic pattern, this time with a gusset thumb and classic stripes.

Nougat mittens. These are rather pretty, and well named, because the colourway does remind me of a box of chocolates.

Midtown Mittens. Love the graphic pattern on these, which was inspired by New York's subway grills. I'm not a fan of pointy-tipped mittens, which always look silly to me, but if you feel the same you can easily borrow the more oval shaping from one of the other patterns in this book.

Under the Hostas Mittens. These are totally cute and just the right pair of mittens for those days when you're in an Amélie kind of mood.

Codfish Mittens. Also cute, and with greater longevity than real fish.

Cupcake Mittens. I would ordinarily find something like this too twee for words, but these are irresistibly adorable. The pastel colourway is perfect for the theme.

Decadence Mittens. These are Art Nouveau-inspired, and an easy sell in my case because I love Art Nouveau. I'm not sure about the striped thumb, though. It seems like one detail too much.

Petoskey Mittens. These mittens were inspired by Petoskey stones, which "are the fossilized remains of ancient coral beds that have been tumbled by the waves of Lake Michigan for millions of years". I never would have guessed, as these look more like a fifties textile print to me. However they are quite pleasingly patterned either way.

The Girl With the Prefabricated Heart Mittens. This image is Spilly Jane's conception of how "the image of the classical goddess as she might appear had she been imagined in the 20th century era of impersonal mass production". It's not every day that one sees such a high-level art concept on mittens.

Penguin Mittens. I'm having to strain to see anything penguin-like in these. They look more like vengeful birds from some horror movie or other to me. It's a good concept either way, though.

Abney Park. These were inspired by the gratings and gates of an abandoned Neo-Gothic chapel in Abney Park in London. It's a very cool effect.

Wheatfield Mittens. These mittens depict stalks of wheat as the name suggests, and I really have to admire how well rendered the design is. Spilly Jane definitely has a real talent for creating effective visual patterns.