Saturday, 24 November 2012

Knit n' Style February 2013: A Review

Of all the knitting magazines I know of (and I'm going to be following about fourteen of them for this blog), Knit n' Style is probably the one with the most down-market feel. I have a couple of issues I bought back in the nineties and I've looked at it on the news stands occasionally since then, and its patterns have generally looked like they were knitted by the staff's grandmas out of whatever yarn was in the clearance bin at Zellers. That's not to say they don't publish some first-rate patterns, because they do, but many of their offerings look tacky and ten or fifteen years out of date at the time of publication.

But let's have a look at their February 2013 issue. And while I'm on the subject, Knit n' Style, you might consider knitting naming your issues by season as the other knitting magazines do. That way your readers won't be wondering if they've missed the November, December, and January issues.

And here we have a really ugly pair of socks. It's the yarn choice that's killing them, because the pattern is okay.

This sweater looks almost aggressively dated, like it was made to be worn as a costume piece in a New Kids on the Block biopic. I envision it being worn by the older and well-meaning but bossy sister of one of the New Kids in a scene set in 1990, in which she makes a big, heartfelt speech to said New Kid about some aspect of his behaviour, such as the trashing of hotel rooms. Said speech may or may not include the words, "You're hurting Mom and Dad!"

Knit n' Style chose this sweater for their cover, and I don't know why, because there are better patterns in this issue. You'd have to keep this sweater belted while you were wearing it because otherwise the front would sag open very unattractively. The front should have been constructed to hold its shape. And I don't know why the designer put three-quarter length sleeves on a jacket that looks like it's meant for outdoor wear.

This sweater doesn't sit attractively on or do any favours for the figure of an elaborately posed professional model, which doesn't bode well for what it will do to an average-looking woman who's going to want to just walk around, sit down, and generally live her life in it.

Nice classic cardigan in a decent yarn. Though the sample knitter didn't pick up enough stitches for the buttonhole and button bands, which has resulted in the bands pulling up at the bottom. And the sleeves are too long for the model.

Honestly this just looks like project made in Home Ec, the real purpose of which was to provide the maker with a learning experience rather than to produce something attractive and flattering to wear. And the lesson learned here was probably that sack-like, horizontally striped vests are neither flattering nor stylish.

Hmm. Well, I actually like this subtle self-striping yarn, and the pattern is okay, but I don't think this was the right yarn choice for this sweater. A yarn with subtle flecks of colour would have worked better, adding a little visual interest without adding a competing theme. Also, the sleeves are too long for the model again. Pay attention to fit, Knit n' Style. It's one of the things that makes you look bush league.

This isn't bad. I like it a lot better than a similar, "buttoned just at the top" cardigan that appeared in the Interweave Knits Winter 2012 issue. It's better shaped and sits better and will be far more flattering to any woman.

I like this one. The little heart cabled panel in the front is a nice detail that makes this otherwise classic pattern look somewhat distinctive and interesting. Although the sleeves are, alas, too short.

In the New Kids on the Block biopic scene mentioned above, the New Kid will be wearing this sweater during his sister's lecture. I really don't like the yarn choices here. I don't think many men would want to wear this sweater as it's made. A more subtle combination might have worked better, such as replacing the variegated red/yellow yarn with a darker shade of gray.

This is another sweater that says "1990" to me rather than looking contemporary. Though of course, colour-blocking is back in. I'll give this one a pass. My guess is a lot of men would quite happily wear it.

A classic. Of course you already have a pattern very much like this in your collection.

Here we have a totally undistinguished pattern, the only notable feature of which is that it was knitted out of faux fur yarn that will make you look and feel like a stuffed animal. Novelty yarns aren't, paradoxically, a shortcut to making knitwear design look novel. Novelty yarns are actually a challenge to work with. They tend to look cheap and tacky and it takes a lot of talent and skill to incorporate them into a design so they don't degrade the overall look. Which hasn't happened in this instance.

I like this one. The design could use a little tweaking though. That shawl collar would look a lot better if were fuller, and the button band isn't quite long enough and is pulling the cable bands slightly upwards when they ought to lie perfectly horizontal across the model's chest. And again with the too-long sleeves.

Is the budget for Knit n' Style so tight that they had to resort to ravelling out a seventies' era afghan to get yarn for this item? Because I don't see any other reason why anyone would use a hideous yarn like this. And it's a shame too, because I do quite like the style of this little jacket. I'm not usually a fan of the three-quarter sleeve or cardigan front pieces that aren't designed to meet in the front, but here they totally work together. Good collar and interesting fastenings too.

I very much like this one. Of course, it's designed by Gayle Bunn, who seems to be the only "name" designer on the roster for this issue. You can really see Bunn's skill here in the details: the collar sits right; the pattern is consistently horizontal over the entire sweater; the button bands sit properly; and — Hurrah! — the sleeves are the right length. This sweater, or the heart-cabled sweater, would have been a much better choice for the cover. My only nitpick is that I'm not crazy about the colourway of a warm green alongside gray and white. Warm and cold shades almost never work well together. Replacing the green with a burgundy or red or blue would have made this design pop.

The combination of a pastel pink colour and the delicate design make this woman look like she wrapped a baby blanket around her neck. If you want to make this cowl pattern and especially if it's to be worn with a black leather jacket, choose a bolder or more sophisticated colour and textured yarn. If you want to make a pastel cowl, choose a less delicate pattern.

Cute newsboy cap.

I'm not crazy about this, but it's probably a matter of personal preference than anything else, because there's nothing objectively wrong with either the yarn choice or the design.

This bag reminds me for all the world of the big cooking pot my grandmother used to have. That's not to say there's anything wrong with it, though I would choose another yarn for it, because... cooking pot. I am skeptical about how well the bag would hold any significant weight without stretching out and sagging (it looks as though it were stuffed with tissue paper here), but then you have that concern with any knitted bag.

Another ruffle scarf that is fine though it doesn't appeal all that much to me personally. Red Heart has been used for this design as it has for many in this issue. I'm wondering if there's some sort of kick back arrangement between Red Heart and Knit n' Style.

This design is named "Quick Fashion Collar". Have you ever noticed that things with the word "fashion" in their names tend to be not at all fashionable? It was common practice between 1920 to 1960 or so for people to knit detachable collars that could be fastened to their sweaters. And it made some sense because you could freshen up a basic sweater by giving them different looks, and launder the collars separately. But then in the detachable collar era they always looked organic to the sweater and they were beautifully and skilfully made. This collar looks like an amateurish, pointless add-on. Even the model looks pained.

A hooded scarf. I've seen combined hood scarfs before, and they usually look cheesy, but I do like this one. It just looks like the scarf is skilfully wrapped and draped around the model's head. It helps that the scarf is beautifully cabled and done in what looks like a terrific quality silk yarn in a lovely colour.

I don't care for this scarf. I think it's the colourway that is so off-putting. The graphic quality of the design would look better with sharper colour choices.

1 comment:

  1. I bought this magazine, and was kind of horrified by some of the patterns in there.

    I am not an expert knitter but love your comments, think they're spot on!