Friday, 30 May 2014

Paying Tribute to the Royal Family of Knitting

The British Royals have long been associated with knitting. As I've written before, Queen Victoria had a huge impact on the craft's popularity because her own love of knitting turned what had until her reign been a folk craft for the working class into an domestic art that every properly brought up Victorian girl was taught as a matter of course. In the twenties, then Prince of Wales Edward sported fair isle sweaters, which turned a relatively obscure regional craft into a must-have collegiate and sportswear style in the twenties and then into a classic knitwear staple they've been ever since. During World War II, then Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret set a royal example when they were photographed knitting for the war effort. More recently, when the Duchess of Cambridge was expecting Prince George, she caused a minor uproar on knitting media by casually mentioning to someone she was trying to learn to knit in order to make some things for her baby. So it's only fitting that the patron family of knitting should be paid tribute... in knitting. Fiona Goble has published a book on how to created a knitted recreation of William and Kate's wedding, and there's even video of all these knitted characters and corgis in action.

And then there's a gem of a book called Royal Knits: Designer Knitting for the Monarchy and Monarchists, by Nicolette McGuire. Published in 1987, it is now out of print, though with some determined effort you may be able to track down a secondhand copy. The cover, as shown above, depicts one of its patterns, a knitted replica of the Royal Navy uniform that is customarily worn by the Windsor men at royal weddings.

If you have a corgi or similarly small dog ruling over your household, you can give it the royal treatment by knitting it a cushion, a collar, a coat, and set of wellies.

If you think corgis are cute but can't bear the thought of having to listen to them yap, these corgi slippers may be for you.

You can also raise your self-esteem by creating your own set of crown jewels.

Alternatively, you can elevate the seat of power in your home by turning it into a truly royal throne. Presumably you can reverse the way the feet face depending on whether your household is a kingdom or a queendom.

This book also includes patterns for a one-piece twinset and pearls; orb egg cosies, crown egg Cosies, napkin rings, bacon, egg and sausage, oven mitt; a shooting jerkin and game bag; a dress sporran, fish sporran, and camouflage sporran; a tiara and Order of the Garter, a flying jacket, flying scarf with a smile, and flying helmet; a mess jacket and commander's jacket; and Gordon Highlanders Hat, and a Trooping the Colour Hat.

After all, when we knitters pay tribute to the British Royals, we need not be too reverential about it.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Knitter's Magazine 115: A Review

Knitter's Magazine has released issue K115. Let's have a look at it.

This is the Sand Dollar Shift. It's not bad. The asymmetrical tunic length isn't going to be for every woman and will probably look best on tall women, but it would be easy to make this either shorter or longer so it can be worn as a dress. This piece would make a good beach cover-up.

The City Girl design. This is... okay. It is eye-catching, and the use of appliquéd elastic braid is an original touch. I think there could be more interesting colourways for it.

The Dangerous Curves design. This looks like something some biker's overly attached girlfriend whipped up to match the paint job on his Harley, only to have her plan fall flat when he took one look at her, gulped, and roared off out of her life. It's the pastel yellow that's actually the problem here, I think. A bold design like this called for strong colours.

The Entrelac Blue jacket is a very cute little number. It has a good shape and nice detailing.

The Indigo Incline design is a decent piece of work. I think I would be more enthusiastic if it were the sort of thing I could wear myself. This is for the small-breasted woman, because that stockinette band slanting across the front needs to lie flat.

The Ridgeline Cowl. I like the rainbow brioche texture of this, but I wish it had gotten the design it deserved. These pieces look like swatches stitched hastily together.

The Shirttails design. Very pretty and quite wearable little camisole.

The Intentional Ikat shawl has a really exceptional gradient colour effect. It takes a very accomplished designer to make a garter stitch project look this sophisticated.

The Tranquil Tunic and Cowl is a nice set. The sweater looks very pretty on its own (love the lace stitch), and the cowl really looks quite convincingly like an attached cowl neckline.

The Sandy Circle capelet is quite an attractive and useful little piece.

The Trails and Tracks tunic is another one of those pieces that will look best on tall women, though it could also be worn as (or lengthened into) a dress for shorter women. And it's not bad, though I definitely would not use this yarn, which more than borders on "ugly afghan" territory.

The Network sweater is another take on the classic navy and white stripe sweater for summer. It's got a few interesting touches in its open texture and varying stripe widths. I'd raise the dropped shoulders though.

The Catalina Crew. Very pretty lacy summer top. The sleeve length is a difficult one to wear, but it's easily shortened or lengthened.

Upstairs and Down. Really not liking this scarf, which looks too heavy and unwieldy to be worn to advantage. What you're looking at here is a thwarted afghan.

The Lanes and Lines dress. I think this design would look better as a sweater. This isn't a bad graphic pattern, but it is one that is best in smaller doses.

The Mulberry Lanes sleeveless tunic. Those heavy horizontal lines around the hips and midsection are not going to be one bit flattering. As you can see, this piece doesn't seem to be working very well even on this professional model. She's got her arm barred across it, and it's been shot from a side angle. It's never a good shot when the model and photographer have to resort to such maneuvers to make a piece look good.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Colourful World of Kaffe Fassett

If, like me, you pine to go to the exhibit of Kaffe Fassett's work at the American Museum in Bath, England, but cannot hope to get there, you can check out this video, which gives a good overview of the show Fassett calls "an intricate opera of colour".

Friday, 23 May 2014

Knitscene Accessories 2014: A Review

Knitscene has released an accessories issue. Let's have a look at the accessories therein!

This is the Starlette Capelet. I quite like it. It has a good texture, and has a certain pleasing Victorian feel to it while being quite wearable by today's standards.

The Kirsch Cowl. This is a pretty little piece, but I'm not sure about the pom poms, which make this piece look a bit like the cowl equivalent of pom pom socks.

The Wandren Hat and Scarf is a nice classic hat and scarf set with a bit of originality in its twisted rib and cable stitch arrangement.

The Lady Lindy Headband has an interesting design, but this would be would be a seriously difficult piece to wear without looking silly. Even this professional model isn't managing it.

The Corbusier Socks are a nicely textured classic sock design.

The designer of this Valerian Hat says it was "inspired by the intricate geometric patterns often seen on door frames in Art Deco buildings", and that seems to have been a happy inspiration. The stranded band around the hat does look like something distinctively apart from the usual fair isle.

The Eva Marie Hat & Cowl is a good classic lacework slouchy tam and cowl set.

The Townsend Hat has a kind of twenties vibe that I rather like, but I don't think the hat itself is quite working as is. Perhaps this hat could work in another colourway, such as one that is softly blended rather than high-contrast as this one is. The appliqué fan stands out a little too much in this colourway and consequently looks a bit slapdash rather than like an integrated part of the design.

I absolutely love the Cassandre Cowl, with its Art Nouveau-esque fan design. No need to fiddle with this colourway to make it work. This piece will work in any high contrast or complementary colour scheme.

The Bevis Mitts have good texture and a stylish shape to them.

The Pellisier Cowl has a sharp, graphic appeal.

This piece is another that cries out for a different colourway. I wouldn't work the Skyhawk Shawl's stacked triangles in green because it gives this piece an unfortunate resemblance to a Christmas tree skirt. When I imagine this shawl done in, say, ivory and old rose, or turquoise and yellow, it looks much more like a smart modern summer shawl.

The Peacock Ascot. I like this piece. The stitchwork is pretty, the item will stay in place, and this design is a great way to showcase some lovely buttons.

The Calamus Hat is a pretty classic lacework cap.

The Nene Shawl looks like a lovely way to show off a gradient yarn. The stitchwork in this piece is exquisite.

The Amakihi Shawl is another beautiful lace scarf.

The Boson Cowl. Love this one. The texture's great. Though when wearing this cowl, you needn't arrange your hair in a cowl-like style to match it. Try whipping up a matching pair of gloves instead.

The Pivot Socks. Another attractive classic pattern that has a bit of interest in its enlarged cable pattern.

The Recursive Shawl is one pattern knit in two different weights of yarn. It's not a bad piece: simple, useful, and probably quick to knit.

The Isotopy Mitts are fun and modern.

The Congruence Socks. I'm not finding these pleasing to look upon. They're making me feel like I need to either adjust my computer screen or get my eyesight checked. But then that's just the effect created by this particular yarn. These socks have a classic stockinette and cable design and would look good in any yarn you find attractive.

I very much like the Dressel Shawl, with its strikingly original (for knitwear) Grecian-style design.

The Cerigo Shawl is another good piece of design. I like the effect of the contrast cabled border on this otherwise very simple shawl.

The Scarab Mitts. I must admit these are mittens are a clever and fun bit of design, but I am perhaps not the person to be reviewing them, or am reviewing them on the wrong day, given that I had to beat an obscenely large insect to death with a rolled-up newspaper in my bathroom earlier today and the thought of tolerating even an intarsia insect on my person is beyond me.

The Vidya Mitts. Not thrilled with these. They're cute in their way, but perhaps don't have enough sophistication for my taste. I'd make something along these lines for a child.

The Gefn Mitts. I like the ruffled cuffs on these fingerles mitts but don't care for the visibly seamed garter stitch upper part of the design, which makes them look like they're inside out.

The Arachnid Mitts. More insects. But again I must admit these are a witty, well-executed design. Now please excuse me while I go shudder convulsively. No, I'm not a Kafka fan, why do you ask?

Oh good, these mitts feature birds instead of insects. The Huginn and Muginn Mitts are clever and I think, despite their cuddly sounding name, will be just the thing for that Edgar Allan Poe devotee in your life.

The Sphinx Hat is really cute. Love the use of colour here.

The Polos Headband. This headband looks much easier to wear than the Lady Lindy headband above. It's simple and classic and will hold a woman's hair back without making her look like Alice in Wonderland.