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Saturday, December 27, 2014

My second knitted skirt - the Bryn Mawr Skirt

Remember how I once said that fall/winter issues for knitting magazines are a 'gimme?' I was thinking of the Interweave Knits Fall 2011 issue, with its gorgeous cover and chunky yarn. When it first arrived in the mail I fell in love with the Bryn Mawr skirt and cast it on immediately.

But because I was, once again, between sizes, and because after my bad experience with the last skirt (which won't stay up) I was wary of the waist, I cast on the smaller size for the waist. I'd meant to increase it to the larger size once I finished the waistband ribbing but...I forgot. So I knit the whole damned thing, tried it on, and had a mini skirt. A very clingy mini skirt. Eeps.

Not what I wanted - at all.

So it sat in my 'to be fixed' pile for *hangs head in shame* years. Until this year when I saw that knitted skirts were 'in' again, and I remembered how much I loved the color, and I decided to rip it out and start over.

I didn't rip out the whole thing, just up to about four inches below the waist. Since it's knit in a chunky yarn it's a quick knit, and it took me about two weeks to fix. I ended up keeping the smallest size cast on for the waist and increasing even more to the third size up for the hip. I just wasn't getting the A-line shape pictured in the magazine.

It's important to note that the A-line shape really came out after blocking. When I'd finished knitting it I still wasn't happy, and considered ripping it out again, but I'm very glad that I didn't. I'm happy with how it looks now, though still figuring out how to style it.

One note: I did NOT love the yarn I was working with - a Knit Picks chunky. It didn't keep its twist at all and it split easily, which made it hard when I needed to rip out stitches and it's already halo-ing. I doubt I'll knit with it again.

- D

Review: Interweave Knits Winter 2015

If you read this blog at all regularly, you'd know that I haven't been happy with the new editor's pattern selection. At all. And I've been seriously debating whether or not to renew. While I don't think she's quite there yet, the Winter 2015 issue was the best yet and I will be renewing - but just for a year, not for my usual two.

It's the first issue that contained a pattern that I immediately cast on - the caterpillar cowl - and the yarn choices were more colorful than in past issues. I do still think that she needs to work on getting some variety into the pattern selection, and that too many of the patterns look similar to others in the issue, but there is some improvement.

The patterns in this issue were divided into two groupings, Outfitted and Mulberry Cottage. The first group, Outfitted, was heavy on the wraps, cowls and the three tie front cardigans. It was, to me, the least imaginative. Two of the tie front cardigans - the Moraine Jacket and the Quivira Coat - looked like almost the same pattern. In fact, when I flipped the page I thought it was another picture of the same pattern, until I realized that the Moraine Jacket has a different collar and the Quivira Coat has cables. On their own in a different collection the patterns might have stood out more, but grouped together and in too similar ivory/oatmeal colors they just look blah.

While the wraps are all pretty I can't think of a single occasion where I'd sling half a blanket around my shoulders and think I looked fashionable. The chevrons on the Muir wrap have potential but I'd want to see them in different colors.

I liked the reversible design on the Bear Lake Cowl, but again that boring oatmeal. Seriously, someone just remove the color from new editor's yarn palette, PLEASE. Flip the page and, oh look, more ivory/oatmeal. The color does help the chevron pattern on the Ozark Wrap stand out, but again I'd want to see it in another color before casting it on. I'm not even going to talk about the Zuni Cardigan, which looks like it crawled its way out of my 1985 closet, where it should have stayed put. I like the slouchy Bozeman Hat a lot, and I really like the double-knit brim detail. Those slouchy hats look so cool but are so impossible to keep on my head, and I think the double-knit brim will solve that problem. Here's the hat;

The trapper cowl at least manages to move up a decade from the Zuni Cardigan, to my 90's grunge flannels. So I guess there's that.

The second grouping, Mulberry Cottage, contains most of the patterns that I liked best in the issue. The Ice Rink pullover does, in fact, look like a sweater I wore to the rink in the 90's, complete with the bobbles.

The best pattern, by far, of the issue for me was the Siobhan blouse. The different neckline, the slight puff on the sleeve, and the cable work on the front all really stand out. And I love the color. I would omit the tassel because I have a toddler, and it's basically begging him to come pull on it constantly, and because I'm not a fan of home decor items on clothing. But that's just me.

Second favorite would be the caterpillar cowl, which is the pattern I knit immediately. It was a fun, quick knit that I've already received compliments on and worn twice. The Cocoa Cardigan has some gorgeous lacework on the shoulders that's just beautiful, though per usual I'd probably add two inches to the length.

I feel so bad for the model in the Quadrille Pullover - it was like they decided to put her in the one sweater that would make her look squat, block-shaped and wide. The pullover actually has a lot of potential, interesting cables and yoke, but the combination of its tightness and length make it very unflattering. Loosen it up a bit, make it longer, and it could really work.

Mitts! I love mitts. With crossing latticework to frame bobbles, they're super cute if not hugely practical. The bobbles on the palms would bug me when driving, if I knit them I'd leave them off the palms. Oh look, another sweater IN IVORY/OATMEAL. YAWN. The variegated yarn used in the Modest Pullover is, however, gorgeous. I love the idea of using a pattern on the sleeve cap.

Something new I've decided to add to my magazine reviews are the average cost for yarn to make the patterns. I know I consider it helpful, and I do look at it when deciding whether or not to knit a pattern. But because that could get long, I'm going to put it in a separate post. Let me know if you think it's helpful, and if so, I'll keep it up.


Pattern breakdown

- 5 pullover sweaters

- 4 cowls

- 4 wraps

- 2 button up cardigans

- 3 tie close front cardigans

- 1 hat

- 1 mitts pattern

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cowls here, cowls there, cowls everywhere!

Okay, Interweave Knits won me back with the Winter issue (review to come), even though I think the new editor isn't quite there yet. This was the first one of her issues where I felt the need to immediately cast on one of the patterns. Shockingly, it was a cowl, the Caterpillar Cowl.

I've had the Dark Horse Fantasy yarn sitting around for years. I loved the variegated colors, I loved the feel of it, but I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't have enough yardage for a sweater, too much yardage for mitts or a hat, and the one scarf I knit with some of it turned out terribly. Despite extensive blocking the scarf rolled constantly and wouldn't lay flat. When I decided to knit the cowl I went hunting through my stash, re-discovered this yarn, and decided to rip out the scarf and re-use its yarn in the cowl. I'm glad that I did.

The cowl knit up quickly over Thanksgiving weekend and is super warm. The pattern on the lace ends was easy to memorize, and the stacked rows of purl/knit stitches in the body provide interest.

I will warn you, though, I'm used to reading lace patterns from right to right - ie, each pattern starts on the right side, you knit across, and then the next row starts at the right. I knit about two inches before I realized this was wrong and that you had to knit this chart back and forth.

Ripped out, started over reading the pattern back and forth and the work went quickly from there. Here it is, finished, around my neck this morning;

Super warm and comfy, I think I'm going to get a lot of use out of this one!

- Dena

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Venice Beach Tank - Self-Striping Yarn - Knitscene Summer 2013

What possessed me to start a summer tank at the end of August? I think I thought I'd get it done in time to still enjoy it, but boy was I wrong! Part of it was that I was working on other projects in between, but I also had to rip out and fix several things on the tank that I didn't like.

Remember how I said that I'm going to add an inch to the length of every project from Interweave that I knit from now on? Well, I think I'm also going to add a half inch to an inch to every armhole. I knit to the project's specifications, tried it on, and the armhole was waaaay too tight.

(Yes, that's a picture of my armpit, sorry).

It's a quirk of mine, but I really like a lot of movement in the armhole area. This also caused some puckering when I put it on, and was uncomfortable.

Then the neck came up too high, too. So I had to rip out down to the armhole and add an inch of depth, which also shifted the neckline down. Not a huge deal, but still a pain.

This pattern was knit from an i-cord edging which was joined in the round. Then the stitches were picked up from the bottom and knit up, with a typical increase/decrease pattern through the body. The same as the Ryann Tunic I also knit from this issue, actually. On the armholes you knit an i-cord edging and bind-off, which was my first time using that technique. I really like how it turned out and I think I'll be using it on my own projects in the future. On the neckline you pick up stitches and knit the border with the holes to braid the i-cords through, then you knit three i-cords and braid them through the openings.

So the actual knitting time wasn't a lot of work or bother, but the finishing definitely took longer. I'm pleased with how it turned out and I couldn't resist wearing it once despite the weather (with a cardigan over it for warmth!). Once I'd finished modifying it I think it turned out quite flattering.

Here's a view of the front;

Here's a view of the back;

And here's a close-up of the braided neckline, which I think looks really cool;

Though I'm still not a fan of all the yellow in the self-striping yarn, I think I can live with it. Now I just have to wait six months for spring to be able to wear it again!

- D

Friday, November 14, 2014

Free pattern: Cute Cabled Cowl

Like a lot of knitters, when I see something knitted and cute in a store I immediately think to myself, "I could make that." The question is - will I ever get around to it? But in the case of the knitted cowls that have been so popular the last two years the answer is 'yes.' A simple cable pattern worked in the round, with some decreasing at the top to create a pooled shape around the neck, I threw this pattern together and knitted it up in an evening.

Quick and easy, knit up with bulky yarn on size 13 needles, I used stash yarn - Patons North America Rumor. (And who isn't a fan of stash busting? It frees up space to buy more yarn!). Have at it, and please ask any questions in the comments, or post pictures of your results.

Cute Cabled Cowl Pattern


Size 13 circular needles, I used 29"

Any bulky yarn, in my case Patons Rumor, roughly a skein and a half

Cable needle


Cast on 90 stitches and join in the round, being careful not to twist stitches. Work four rows of the following rib pattern;

Knit 4, purl 4, knit 6, purl 4 repeat until end.

Begin cable pattern;

Knit 4 rows, 1st cable cross row. Hold 2 knit stitches in front on a cable needle, knit two stitches from the needle. Place the two stitches back on the needle, knit them. Purl 4. Hold 3 stitches in front on a cable needle, knit 3 stitches from the needle, place stitches back on needle and knit those 3. Purl 4. Repeat across the row.

Knit another six rows, then repeat the cable cross row. But this time hold the first 2 or 3 stitches in back when knitting the stitches from the needle, then place them back on the needle and knit them.

Repeat until cowl measures five and a half inches, or height desired.


As you work decreases, continue to work cable crossings everything six rows.

1st decrease row -*Knit four, purl 1, purl 2 tog, purl 1, knit 6, purl 4. Repeat from *

Work four rows in pattern.

2nd decrease row - *Knit four, purl 3, knit 6, purl 1, purl 2 tog, purl 1. Repeat from * (now all purl sections have 3 stitches)

Work another four rows.

3rd decrease row - *Knit 4, purl 1, purl 2 tog, knit 6, purl 1, purl 2 tog. Repeat from * (now all purl sections have 2 stitches)

Switch to knitting the rib pattern for the last four rows. Be sure to bind off loosely - the stitches need to be able to stretch to fit over your head.

Note: if you want the cowl tighter around the upper part of the neck, you can work more decrease rows and/or start working them sooner.

And here I am rocking the cowl this morning at Starbucks.

Monday, September 29, 2014

My problem with self-striping yarn

Self-striping and/or multi-colored yarn - I have one issue with it.  I love the way changing colors can add interest to a piece knit it straight stitch, don't get me wrong.  But there's always one color in the mix that I hate. And it's generally the color that the yarn company used the most. Go figure. 

Take, for example, the sale yarn I bought at Kid Ewe Knot in PA. It's from HiKoo, a division of Skacel, and not a yarn I'd knit with before.  It's a blend of merino, acrylic and nylon, and while I normally avoid acrylic I decided to give it a shot.  The price was right, it had a nice feel, and maybe the acyrilic would give it more wearability.

I have a few inches on the project now, so you can see how the colors are pooling. Love the turquoise and the green, hate the puke yellow. Hate it.  And guess which color they used the most? I guess my problem with self-striping yarn is that I don't get to pick all the colors? Seriously, why doesn't a yarn company either have a contest where everyone can vote on the colors they'd like, or custom make it?

I still think I'm going to be happy with the project when it's done - though if I have enough yarn I may start cutting/re-arranging the colors near the face. That yellow isn't great on me. The yarn is knitting up nicely, though, and I like its feel while I knit. I can't wait to get to the braid detail at the neckline, looking forward to trying the technique.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Does this ever happen to anyone else...?

You bring a project along for travel knitting and then end up not liking it? So, of course, you now have an excuse to visit a LYS.

I'd brought along a project on our Easter trip to the in-laws*. I was knitting with two skeins of handspun that an old friend had given me ages ago when she first started spinning. So, uh, how do I put this? Lots of bumps and not very even? But I loved the colors so I decided to give it a whirl. Halfway through my weekend I realize that it really, really wasn't going to work. Also, there wasn't enough yarn. So I hied myself over to the local yarn shop,

The lovely owners were quite sympathetic at my plight, and helped me find a Malabrigo lace yarn for another pattern in Knitscene 2013. When I told them that my MIL doesn't knit, they commiserated and kindly put the yarn on a swift and ball-winder and wound it for me. Crisis averted! I had yarn, and a project. I also might have succumbed to some of their sale yarn, but you'll never get me to confess...

The pattern I picked was the Sundial Tee. Once again (GRR!!!) I'm between their bust sizes, plus the pattern calls for negative ease. So I fiddled with it and cast on for the larger size but decreased up to the smaller size. Basically, I hate shirts that are tight through my middle, so I wanted more room around the waist. The yarn is gorgeous, and has some lovely subtle color variations which add interest to the straight stitch.

I tried it one several times while knitting and almost ended up ripping it out and making it larger. I'm glad I didn't because when I blocked it the piece grew at least an inch all around.

Because it was knitting in the round, there was minimal sewing in of ends or seaming needed (hallelujah!). The ruffled sleeves ended up a bit more 'ruffle-y' than I'd like, but I might try blocking them again and see if they settle down.

And a straight shot of the finished piece.

Side view

I think I would have liked it a little longer for more tummy coverage but I love the variations in the yarn.  It's super soft and feels lovely to wear. Need to block the bottom better, however. What do you guys think?


 *Yes, this was the disastrous trip during which my MIL yelled at me for picking my battles because I let C change out of his Easter clothes (which were too big, anyway) and told me I needed to fight every one. She also picked up my son and carried him out of the room and *shut the door in my face* when he asked me to carry him, and my FIL yelled at my husband (complete with wagging finger) "You need to respect me, I'm your father!" blah, blah, blah because my husband dared to suggest - after three days of nonstop criticism of our parenting skills - that we'd got the point and there was no need to beat a dead horse. Oh, that was on Easter. Right before the rest of the family showed up. Good times.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Review: Knitscene Summer 2013

I figured it was about time I posted a positive review! And, since I'm about to cast on my third project from this issue (the Venice Beach Tank), I think it's safe to say that I loved the patterns in this magazine.

This was actually the first Knitscene I've ever bought - I saw the cover on the newsstand and it grabbed me. The great earrings, the beautiful pinkish-red shade of the tank top, and the ruffles. This girl loves me some ruffles.

What I appreciate about the Knitscene patterns is that they're simpler than Interweave's patterns, which makes them good for busy summer days when you only have a few quick minutes to knit a few rows before jumping up to stop your toddler from climbing over the deck railing...


But, despite their simplicity, each pattern has enough details to keep me interested. Both the Ryann Tunic and the Sundial Tee have waist shaping and increases/decreases through the bust that meant I couldn't completely check out. They were also knit in the round - as were 9 of the patterns in the issue - which is fabulous if you, like me, HATE weaving in ends and finishing pieces.

The Sundial tee;

I've been on a coral kick lately, and the bright colors featured in the Lida Top, Mackinac Tank, and Sundial Tee just jumped out at me. Because it's a summer issue, there are lots of projects like seven tank tops that are quicker knits, and two smaller projects (a hat and a scarf) that look really cute. I adore the braided detail on the back of the Love Braid cardigan. Though I'm not a huge fan of knitting cardigans - too many pieces to seam together - I may still have to try it.

The Love Braid Cardigan;

I do wish that the editors would feature a wider range of body types to model the patterns *cough, no pun intended* It's very hard to tell how some of these patterns will look on a curvier gal. Particularly the Venice Beach Tank, the Lindell Tee and the Melrose Tank, all of which are body conscious pieces.

The Venice Beach Tank;

There were only three patterns in the issue that don't inspire me. Even though the Beverly Tee is cute, it doesn't look very practical. And I thought the Eclipse Top and Longboard Pullover were just 'meh.' But three out of twenty-one is a very good ratio, making this issue a definite buy.

The Beverly Tee;
The Longboard Pullover;

The issue is on sale at the moment, and I'd highly recommend picking it up. If you do buy it, be sure and let me know which patterns you knit!

Pattern break-down

Tank tops - 6

Short Sleeve tops - 6

Long sleeve tops - 1

Open-front cardigans - 4 (three with long sleeves)

Hats - 1

Scarves - 1

Shawls - 1

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Giveaways! A Hat! A shirt!

My knitwear company is doing not one, but two, giveaways starting this week!

First, you can enter to win a beautiful cotton hat here;

You get to pick the size, 3-6 mos up to 4T, and the color.

Second, you can enter to win a fall leaves short sleeve shirt, again your choice of size, here;

Go forth and enter! And good luck!

- D

Friday, August 22, 2014

On the Joys of Adjusting for Gauge


Did you shudder at the sight of the word? Shrink back in fear? I've been knitting for over ten years, and working on a gauge swatch can still fill me with, if not outright terror, at least dread.

Lately, I've been working with a number of contract knitters to produce pieces for my business, and the issue of gauge has arisen. Namely, they weren't able to get the same gauge as I did for a piece, and they didn't know how to adjust for it. Two knitters with whom I'm no longer working didn't even bother to check their gauge, which led to them mailing me pants with a 12-18 mos inseam and a 3-6 mos waist. Oops! A perfect example of why gauge is important.

So - simply put - what is it? Gauge is the number of stitches per inch and rows per inch that your knitting produces. It's affected by how tightly you hold your yarn, how large of needles you're using, or in machine knitting your tension on your carriage and the tension knob. It's a tricky little beast. Typically, a pattern will give you recommended gauge for a 4X4 inch square. Somewhere in the instructions it will say, Gauge = 23 stitches, 34 rows.

All of the instructions in your pattern are based off the math that your gauge gives you. If the size is for a 34" chest knit in the round, the designer will have you cast on 196 stitches* Wait, how did I get that math?

23 stitches/4 inches = 5.75 stitches/inch

5.75 stitches an inch X 34" = 195.5 stitches (rounded it to 196).

Et, voila! So IF you're able to get gauge on your needles for that size, you can cheerfully knit away, following the pattern as you go (though I would recommend measuring occasionally, putting the piece on waste yarn and trying it on at crucial points, etc).

But, um, what if you're me and you knit three different gauge swatches last night and didn't get the correct gauge once? Sigh. Then you have more work to do.

If you're lucky, your pattern will have a chart that indicates what the measurements are supposed to be at key points (the waist, the bust, sleeve length, etc) like this one from KnitScene Summer 2013;

The drawing indicates what measurements should be at the waist, bust, etc. So all you have to do is multiply the measurements by your gauge. For example, if I'm making the smallest size the hips should be 32". In my gauge I got 5.11 stitches/inch instead of what the pattern called for - 5.75 stitches. If I take 32" and multiply it by 5.11 I know that I need cast on 163.52 stitches at the hips.

It's a pain to go through a pattern and re-do all the math, no doubt. Some knitters just chose to wing it, but if you're making a large sweater there's nothing worse than ripping it out and starting all over again. Hopefully this post will help you when you need to make adjustments.

Questions? Ask away in the comments!

-Dena *simple example here, I'm assuming no waist shaping/hip width the same

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Something else I've been up to lately...

Not knitting related, sorry, though that is the primary purpose of this blog I do other things, too.

Namely, write. Which some of you know, having met me in a previous life *g*

Throwing up some old stories on wattpad, check them out if you're so inclined. - D

Friday, July 25, 2014

What I've been up to lately : My Company, My Patterns, Designing

It occurred to me that some of you may be aware of the company I've started, and some not. I see that people are reading my blog, but not necessarily who (comment! introduce yourself! I'm nice!). So, while I have been knitting, I haven't been doing a ton of hand-knitting. Instead, I've taken up machine knitting. Because, clearly, I needed another hobby. You can see one of my machines in the background of the pictures on the last post. The tank top I knit for my son was made on the machine - a Brother KH-260 Bulky. The main reason I took up machine knitting is that I needed to find a way to knit faster. I started my own knitwear company, Enfants Tricotes, a while back. Website is here, and facebook page is here It's definitely been a learning experience! I'm quite proud of some of my fall designs, however, and thought I'd share some pictures here on the blog. First up is a gold pinafore, complete with acorn tucked into the pocket;
Then we have flared pants, a golden short sleeve shirt, and headband;
The yarn I'm using is Halcyon Perle Cotton, and it's just gorgeous. You can see a lot more pictures on facebook. I'm very much enjoying designing, though it has it's frustrating moments. I was just curious if anyone reading would like me to publish the patterns for these items on ravelry? I don't know if there would be any interest, and before I go to the trouble of typing them all up I thought I'd ask. They'd be for sale, sorry, no freebies this time, girl's gotta pay the mortgage! If you're interested, please let me know. And now back to knitting. Goal is to make five pairs of mittens this weekend. Think I can do it? -D

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tank top I made

When I asked him to try on the tank top I'd made him, I perhaps should have specified, "and hold still!"
Or, "Don't try to take it off before I've taken a picture!"
Or, "Try not to look like I'm torturing you!" 
I think my days of using my kid as a child model are over...


Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Top that I made Twice (Ryann Tunic, Knitscene)

One of the frustrating things about knitting and creating your own garments can be adjusting for sizes. Specifically, if an Interweave pattern is for a 33 bust, a 36 bust, and a 38 bust, and I fall within those ranges (No, I'm not telling you where!), which size do I knit? Typically, in the past, I've picked the larger size. This hasn't always worked well, unfortunately, and I have a few sweaters that are too large for me to wear. So this time I tried the smaller size. Yes, I know all the tricks of putting it on waste yarn so you can try it on as you knit, etc., and I did all that. But. The problem I had with this top was that it fit through the waist and bust in the smaller size but the armhole depth wasn't enough. So I finished knitting it, tried it on...and the straps didn't meet at the shoulders. It was also tighter than I wanted. So I frogged all the way down to the waist increases and started over.
Thank God it was a quick knit. I quite like how the shaping on the sides creates a V along the sweater and adds interest.
(and, yes, those are bathroom selfies). I'd intended to add the i-cords at the back but, for whatever reason, it didn't dip nearly as low as it does in the pictures in the magazine. To the point where I wonder if they followed a different pattern when they knitted...? The pattern was the Ryann Tunic from Knitscene Summer 2013. Easy to follow, and I didn't find any mistakes. Probably the fastest I've knit a sweater, even when I had to knit it twice. I've worn the piece a couple of times and continue to like it. The DK weight yarn works nicely for summer, too, and I didn't use nearly as much as the pattern called for (Dear Interweave, why, why, are your yarn requirements never right?!?!). - D

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hallgrim Hat - Interweave Knits 2012 - my latest project

I've posted a few reviews in a row, so I figured it was time to talk about what I've been knitting recently. A hat! Hey, I live in Minnesota, it'll be winter for at least three more months. And I lost my old hat (the Koolhaus hat pattern) somewhere in our house. Losing knitted winter items is a common hazard in this state. So I decided to knit the Hallgrim hat from Interweave Knit's 2012 issue. What can I say, I'm a sucker for cables. And I loved the arched cathedral look to the design.
Like all hats, it was a quick knit, and I found the cable pattern for each row to be easy to memorize. By the second repeat I'd have it down and wouldn't have to consult the pattern again for the rest of the row. Believe it or not, I actually bought the yarn - Filatura de Crosa Sportwool - recommended with the pattern. Usually I stash bust with smaller patterns, but I love the color green. And I'm so happy that I did - the yarn has gorgeous tonal variations in the green and was lovely to knit with. The pictures in the magazine don't do it justice. Here's a link to those photos, where the color looks flat: But it's definitely not, in fact when a friend saw me knitting it she commented on the beautiful variations in the yarn. It's difficult to capture that in a photograph, but I'll try.
It took me less than a week to knit up (I was working on other projects, too). I wasn't initially a fan of the shaping at the top - rather than a more graduated decreasing like most hats I've made, all of the decreases were within 8 rows or so. So the top sat on my head kind of 'poofy,' for lack of a better word. But it has settled down a bit after wearing it a few weeks.
I'm torn about attempting the mittens, though I bought enough yarn for both by the time I finish them winter may be over (or close to it). We'll see... - D

Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: Interweave Knits: Winter 2014 issue

My first thought when the Interweave Knits Winter issue arrived in my mailbox was, “Wait, what? Did they do another fall issue?” No joke, the cover says ‘fall’ to me. It looks like they had pictures left over from the last issue, and not very interesting ones at that. With sinking heart, I flipped it open…

Winter is a gimme for knitting magazines, in my opinion. Chunky yarns, great textures, the willingness to hibernate inside with large piles of yarn in your lap…who wouldn’t want to be a knitter during the cold days of winter? Some of the past winter issues of Interweave have been my favorites.

The first collection, Out by The Wood Pile, featured mitts, four pullover sweaters, a hat, and a cardigan. Did you see that ‘four’ pullover sweaters? Yeah…the collection of patterns could have used more balance. Plus, three of the four had a round neckline. They were far too similar designs, all in utterly boring colors that, again, looked the same. A puke yellow, a gray, an oatmeal and then – in case the monotony of neutrals was putting you to sleep – an orange-coral. The theme of the three sweaters was supposed to be waffle stitch but, uh, the patterns just didn’t provide enough variety.

The hat was ‘eh’ and the cardigan would have looked great on an eighty-year-old man. Oops, wait, just checked out that pattern again and it’s actually a sweater with a really long button band.

Next collection was Below the Mesa – and thank God we have color! Of course, it’s a shawl…but it is quite pretty. And then we have four cardigans in a row. My God, new editor, are you unable to mix it up?!?! The dreamcatcher cardigan is not to my taste, though I might like it in different colors. Flip the page, and oh, look, grays/browns and oatmeal. Again. The Cerito Cardigan looks like it has promise but I’ll wait until someone else makes it in a different color and posts pics on ravelry. Cynthia’s Cardigan is fine but looks like something I could buy in a store, ie, it’s not very unusual. The final two pieces in the collection are the shawl featured on the first page (which does look like it has an interesting construction), and a hat.

Crossing Country is our next group of patterns. It’s worth noting that all the photos in the issue have had similar backgrounds (blurry grass/hills) and little to distinguish them. The first sweater – the Bread Basket Pullover – is made in a gorgeous maroon, which is one of my favorite colors, so of course I’m going to like it. The cables look really intricate and time-consuming, so not likely to be a quick project. I like the Swivel Pullover, the cables around the neckline and waist have an Irish knot feel which appeals to me. The back detail is super cool, too. State Fair Cardigan is nice, if not noteworthy. The two patterns on the next page were my favorites, I think, the NoBo Jacket and the Telluride Aran. The cables in the center section of the Telluride Aran look really neat and unusual and the teal color is gorgeous.

The next two pages feature some open front cardigan that I don’t really notice because I want that bird dress! No really, I want that dress. Then we have another hat which is boring on the bottom but has cool cables on the top. Which people will see if you’re petite like me, not so much if you’re tall. And then a cowl.

Thank GOD they added back the project index at the back. I bet they got a lot of feedback about taking it out, and none of it positive.

My verdict? You’d be better off buying the one or two patterns out of this issue that I liked as individual downloads than purchasing the whole magazine. I’m really upset that this is two issues in a row that I haven’t loved, two issues curated by the new editor. (And the latest just arrived yesterday and the situation has not improved). This used to be my favorite knitting magazine and is, in fact, the only one that I subscribe to. I started reviewing the magazine on my blog because I loved it, but this is two negative reviews in a row. And I don't like being negative all the time. I may have to stop reviewing it if this keeps up. Oh, and not renew my subscription. - D