Thursday, July 25, 2002

The Fall 2002 Vogue Knitting
The state of knitting magazines being what it is lately, I was more than pleasantly surprised with the decent designs featured in the Fall 2002 issue of Vague. Mind you, there are still enough designs for the HYUKs (Hip Young Urban Knitters, a ghastly acronym invented by the ubiquitous Lily Chin) and some silly ones at that. But I understand Vague's marketing needs...and I can appreciate their bowing to demographics.

What was most interesting to me were the mini-histories of the yarns used for a number of the designs. For example, I had no idea that some of the European yarns have been available on the Continent for as long as they have, yet only recently distributed in this country. Dale of Norway's Heilo, the yarn used in the Olympics sweaters, came out in Norway in 1939 and 1983 in the USA. Makes you wonder what other fine fibers are hiding out across the Atlantic.

Two designs caught my eye--the knit-in-one-piece Noro Kureyon pullover and the square shawl-collared Donegal Tweed pullover. Neither are particularly challenging, insofar as they use very simple techniques and stitches--seed stitch for the Noro, a diagonal 2/2 rib for the Donegal. Nonetheless, the Noro design makes good use of a variegated yarn without the usual blotching so common, for two reasons: First, the knitter uses 4 different colorways, working them in sequence; second, since the garment begins at the bottom welt, then increases for both sleeves, the dye path is stretched out across the entire width of the garment. Pretty neat. Add some seed stitch to help diffuse the blotching and you've got a nice sweater. My only gripe was that Vague managed to choose the most unappealing colorways available from Noro. And if you plan on making this baby, my caveat to you is to buy a 40" circ--the directions only specify the needle sizes, with a 16" circ for the neckline. God help you if you attempt this on straights.

The Donegal seems pretty straightforward. Haven't read the directions yet but the garment's architecture seems easy, based on a quick eyeballing of the photo. And Donegal is a classic--if you haven't worked with it, you should. Been around since 1979 or so and Tahki keeps it fresh with good colors.

Meg Swansen wrote a throw-away article on some techniques that I think would have been worth revisiting, especially for novice and intermediate knitters. A little on steeking, a little on the provisional cast-on, a little of this, a little of that. Steeking in particular bears a repeat since so many people are seemingly terrified of cutting into the fabric. I guess this would be a good forum for me to publish my thoughts and experiences on steeking, for what they're worth. Another knitting bugaboo, along with using double-pointed needles, that needs to be cremated.

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