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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: http://www.knittingdaily.com/media/p/103630.aspx 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