Friday, 28 April 2017

Le Wooling no 1: A Review

I've fallen quite seriously behind on my Bergère de France reviews in the past year but, my chronic fatigue issues willing, I'm going to try to start catching up by doing one review a week until I'm up to date. I can't start with Magazine 185 (which is a collection of summer patterns for kids) the way I would like to as there isn't a complete set of the preview photos for it available online. I shall instead have to begin with the first issue of Bergère de France's new knitting magazine, le Wooling. Bergère de France is clearly trying to freshen up their publications with a new title, but as the patterns aren't a discernible improvement over those in their old magazine, I don't know how successful their rebranding efforts are going to be. But let's get to the review.

Pattern #01, Long Jacket. The pattern description calls this a "fashion staple for late summer". I'd call it a "default outfit for a depressed and possibly drunk housewife".

Pattern #2, Shoulder button sweater. One can hardly go wrong with a classic Breton stripe sweater.

Pattern #3, Shoulder button sweater. The classic Breton sweater looks just as good in other colours, so if the classic navy and white doesn't suit you or the intended wearer, go ahead and play with the colour combination.

Pattern #4, Round neck Fair Isle sweater. I'm not sure this Fair Isle pattern is really working. It's a bit too busy and confused.

Pattern #5, Zip-up jacket. Someone at le Wooling must have discovered the Archie comic books.

Pattern #6, Raglan round neck jumper. This is as basic as it gets, but I suppose for a plain shaker knit pullover, it's fine.

Pattern #7, Round Collar Sweater. Like the previous pattern, this is basic but wearable.

Pattern #8, Cardigan. If you're going to design a double-breasted cardigan, you should design one that sits properly, rather than making a single-breasted cardigan with slightly lengthened fronts, fastening it awkwardly, and calling it a day.

Pattern #9, Hooded Jacket. This isn't bad. It's reasonably well-shaped and attractive, and it will not get the child who wears it to school beaten up.

Pattern #10, V-neck jacket. This is another piece straight out of the drunken, depressed housewife lookbook.

Pattern #11, Round collar sweater. This is a very basic pattern, but using a fun yarn in a pretty, flattering colour turned it into a sweater this child model was probably happy to wear.

Pattern #12, Hooded sweater. Not a bad-looking marled hoodie.

Pattern #13, V-neck sweater. This is a pretty decent colour-blocked pullover. It has a Mary Tyler Moore Show look to me.

Pattern #14, Poncho. This thing is a veritable sandwich board with stripes.

Pattern #15, Cross-over jacket. This is so awkward-looking and sits so poorly.

Pattern #16, Hat; and pattern #17, Wide scarf. Nice classic hat and scarf set.

Pattern #18, Fingerless gloves. I wish whoever had come up with these mitts had taken the trouble to cable them to go with the hat and scarf set above rather than making it in that lazy ridged style.

Pattern #19, Zip-up bag with cables. This has such a crude look. I would have hidden those zippers under proper flies, and figured out a better way to integrate that attached bottom.

Pattern #20, Hooded jacket. The designer really should have put some more effort into shaping this one.

Pattern #21.A, Gilet. I'd put proper buttons -- and button bands -- on this sweater. The ribbons are too delicate a look for such a sturdy, everyday sort of item.

Pattern #21.B, Booties. These are fine, but again, I'd go with another kind of tie than that narrow pink ribbon. Crocheted navy ties would look fine or, if you wish to go with ribbons, something a little wider and in navy would work.

Pattern #22, Baby's sleeping bag. Basic, but attractive enough, and fairly useful.

Pattern #23.A, Crossover cardigan. Not bad. The sit of that front edge is not great, but the sweater's cute enough on the whole that it comes across as rather pretty. I like the combination of pale pink and oatmeal.

Pattern #23.B, Hat. Nice little hat.

Pattern #24.A, Cardigan. Basic little cardigan, but it's definitely a presentable, wearable pattern.

Pattern #24.B, Booties. Basic little booties to go with the cardigan above.

Pattern #25.A, Zippered onesie. Not a bad little onesie, though I'm not sure I like the double zipper look.

Pattern #25.B, Booties. Cute simple booties.

Pattern #26.A, Wrap around. Simple but serviceable and cute, and it has quite a French look to me, because it looks like it's straight out of a Madeline storybook illustration.

Pattern #26.B. Basic hat. I won't claim it looks French.

Pattern #27, Blanket. If you want to make this basic blanket, just make it -- don't waste your money on a pattern for it. Good grief.

Pattern #28, Crochet Briefcase. My guess is that this is some sort of schoolbag intended for a child's use, and I am left wondering what is supposed to "stop". Homework assignments? Traffic? Bullying? If the latter, this briefcase seems more likely to invite bullying than to prevent it.

Pattern #29, Crochet Snack Bag. Kids carry lunchboxes to school with all their food in it. I can't imagine too many kids would want to be bothered with an additional snack bag. It's my understanding that the French simply do not snack at all, so perhaps the editorial staff of le Wooling got the idea that snacking is some sort of special rite in English-speaking countries that requires special paraphernalia.

Pattern #30, Crochet Booties. These look rough.

Pattern #31, Crochet Pencil Case. This isn't so bad as some of the previous patterns. A plain pencil case with the child's name on it is a pretty useful item. However, I think I could find much more attractive ways to put a name on a pencil case.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A Menagerie of Softies

Back in October 2015 I put together a post of selected doll patterns, and now I am (very belatedly) getting to the companion post I planned at the time: a post of selected knitted toys. In picking these out I've focused on picking out interesting and unusual (though still cute and lovable) animal toys. Bears and bunnies are to be had at any toy store, but it would be much harder to find, say, a hedgehog toy, such as the Huggable Hedgehog above, designed by Debbie Radtke.

The Voodoo Do You Love Me?, design, by Susan Claudino, is for the older, and possibly macabre, child. Or for someone who wants a dual-purpose pincushion.

The Monkey Jacobus pattern, by Annita Wilschut, is one happy-looking monkey, and would also be a great way to use up odds and ends of scrap yarn.

This is the jester mouse from Tails of Yore, by Alan Dart, which is a collection of mice toys in medieval-inspired costumes. It's worth a look at the Ravelry page for this pattern to see the others. My second favourite is the monk mouse, which might easily have replaced Christian Slater's character in The Name of the Rose.

This is the adorable and well turned-out Girl Elephant in a Frondy Frock, by Julie Williams. I'd recommend checking out Julie Williams' page on Ravelry, as her toys are off-the-charts cute, and always very nattily dressed.

Half the fun of making this Gingerbread Boy, by Sara Elizabeth Kellner, would be decorating him at the end.

This Opus the Octopus toy, by Cate Carter-Evans, looks like he'd be a satisfying, if slightly unwieldy, cuddle. This is a Knitty pattern, and therefore available for free.

The Giraffe, by Susan B. Anderson, is gawky in an appealing way, like the real thing. This pattern is available both on Ravelry and in Anderson's book Itty-Bitty Toys: How to Knit Animals, Dolls, and Other Playthings for Kids.

The Knitapotamus the Knitted Hippo, by Heidi Bears, would be the perfect gift for a child who wants a hippopotamus for Christmas (given that a hippopotamus could be kept in a two-car garage, and that the kid could feed him there and wash him there and give him his massage...). It would also be an excellent scrap yarn project.

This is the Rainy Day Turtle, by Barbara Prime. I seem to have a definite thing for animal toys in dapper little outfits.

This is the Dashing Dachshund, by Ella Austin. I should never have thought that a toy that looked like the offspring of a dachshund and an argyle sock could be so very cute.

Ducks in a Row, by Sara Elizabeth Kellner. This is one very cute and even quite realistic mallard duck. I never see one of these ducks without a smile, because they remind me of the time my then five-year-old niece Peaches and I were taking a walk by the river in the little town where my parents live, and I was telling her about the waterfowl. I pointed out the swans and the Canada geese and the mallard ducks, and I'd just explained that the particular duck we were watching, with a blue stripe on its wing, was a female mallard, and added, "The boy mallard duck has a green head," when this particular little factoid sent Peaches off into a fit of the giggles. This made me realize for the first time in my life that it is pretty ridiculous that a living creature should have a green head.

Lucy's Owl, by Rachel Gallagher-Miller, would be another fun scrap yarn project, because it could be done in any number of non-owl-like colours.

The Dickensian Mice, by Alan Dart, look like something straight out of The Muppet Christmas Carol.

The Striped Snake, by Sarah Ann Thompson, is quite a sporty-looking reptile, and will also come in handy as a draft-blocker.

Raoul Raccoon, by Alan Dart, is another quite well-rendered animal toy. A little too much for liking, actually. I live in Toronto where there is a large raccoon population, all of which seem to be well-fed and bold as brass. There's one in particular that likes to come to sit on the step outside the terrace door of my attic workroom and sit there for up to several hours at a time, staring in at me and watching me work. I call him Creeper Coon.

This is Lester the Leicester, by Natasha Sills, and I half expect him to break out in a little jig any second now.

The No Fool, Joe Cool toy, by Sara Hall, needs no introduction. I'd be inclined to make him a red scarf, flight helmet, and aviator googles so that he could imagine himself taking on the Red Baron.

The Peruvian llama, by Alan Dart, is adorable on its own, but its little serape and Peruvian hat puts the cuteness factor right over the top.

I love this Crackin' Good, Humpty Dumpty toy, by Alan Dart, with its hilariously horrified air.

The Felted Woolly Kitty Kat, by Marie Mayhew, has some definite cattitude.

Here's another cat, but this time it's a teddy-style cat rather than a pillow-like cat: Ginger Tom, by Sue Stratford. This pattern is available both on Ravelry and in Stratford's book Knitted Cats & Kittens.

There were a number of cute dragon patterns on Ravelry, but I think The Little Purple Dragon, by Loly Fuertes, is the one that reaches peak dragon cuteness.