Since I started my search for a new knitting magazine to subscribe to and took a look at my first copy of Knitting, my thoughts have continued to return to two little cardies that seem perfect for me, so on spotting a yarn offer today I've added to my bulging stash but at least this time with a definite purpose.
At the moment I subscribe to The Knitter and Simply Kntting, two monthly magazines from Future Publishing. The Knitter provides challenging patterns and plenty of discussions on technicalities and design but recently I've been finding the contents, and particularly the patterns, a bit samey. There are only so many pretty DK cardies and Alan Dart toy patterns I need in my life.
It's time for a change so I took a wander into WH Smith to see what I could find.
Let's Knit was the first I picked up and put down again. The problem was that the cover was almost completely obscured by the free yarn, and the free hat pattern that went with it, so I had no idea what was in the magazine. A look at the website hasn't given me any better idea so it didn't make the current shortlist.
In style, layout, font, etc, Knit Today reminds be closely of Simply Knitting - there is even a pretty cardie from Pat Menchini, although this one is 4ply. I quite enjoyed the August 2010 issue, there are a few patterns that caught my eye, a cute toy and a lace shawl in particular, as well as a masterclass on knitting jewellery with wire and beads. I like the knit club directory and a label on each pattern indicating a skill level and what a new knitter might learn e.g make a v-neck collar.
I'd like more yarn reviews or alternate yarn suggestions rather than a horoscope contrived to point me to a pattern in the issue (and for the record BoHo chic headbands are so not me).
Knit Today has a good range of patterns, clearly set out but it fails to really excite me or provide a sufficient contrast to Simply Knitting. For the record the current subscription offer is £9.40 for three issues in the UK with two free books - The Knitted Teddy Bear by Sandra Polley and Special Knits by Debbie Bliss.
Knitting on the other hand stands out from the regular crop by taking inspiration from fashion magazines. The August issue features a piece of knitted fashion trends for Autumn/Winter. Style file looks like a regular feature, presenting some of the month's patterns in different colourways and offering ideas of how they might be worn with other garments.
The yarn review runs over several pages and features large pictures of moss stitch swatches giving a clear view of how stitches might sit. The patterns offer some technical challenges, interesting yarns and wearable designs such as little cardigans and shrugs. There are also some very useful technical articles and tips which cover more complex issues than basic stitches and cast on.
The one downside is that unlike the other magazines the patterns aren't printed as individual items but rather run on one from another which means I'd have to file the whole magazine rather than just file the bits I want. However, it looks like it is having some sort of redesign next month so I'll have to see what happens. They have a stand at Knit Nation so I can also find out more then.
As for the subscription offer - £54 for for 12 issues with three books, Knitty Gritty Knits, Cover Up by Nicky Epstein and Twinkles Weekend Knits by Wenlan Chia.
As first issue this was certainly the right one to hook me - cropped cardies and shrugs, lace and classic styling. By top picks are all for women (although I did also enjoy the accessories supplement):
Chinoiserie top by Jeanette Sloan is a sleeveless DK top with a Russian cast off edging and a Swiss darned floral detail. A straightforward quick knit with the challenge coming in the embroidery.
Garden Party Shawl by Anniken Alliss is guaranteed to go on my list - it's lace and uses a laceweight yarn. But it isn't an overly complicated design with a 12 row repeat shown on a clear chart, so friendly for those making their first forays into lace.
Peaceful, from one of my favourite designers Marie Wallin, is a pretty, draping vintage-look top in Rowan kidsilk haze. It features in the magazine's "style file" showing how it could be teamed with a pencil or tulip skirt. Again a simple knit but I want it now...
Alice cardigan by Karen Bourne is just the pattern I've been looking for; cropped, lace and in 4-ply. Hurrah!
But I'll be adding a second cropped cardigan to the list, Kelly by Sublime. This one is mainly stocking stitch with a v-neck tie detail and buttoned moss stitch details on the sleeve.
A common topic at the knitting groups I've been at recently is adapting patterns for women who have larger boobs. By that I don't mean plus size knitting but giving room for larger cup sizes.
Often patterns will allow additional width as sizes go up but there isn't enough vertical difference which is what you actually need for larger cup sizes.
Ravelry can be useful for tips on how other people have adapted patterns to get a better fit but I'd like to see more allowance and comment on such shaping in knitting mags.
All tips welcome.
I could only find a pic of one of the least related to the theme but the saffron colour is in keeping with the underlying spice trail.
There's lots to like, although I'm not putting any of them to the top of my queue or casting on tomorrow. I'm taking this as a sign of a new disciplined approach where I'm keeping the WIPs to no more than four.
There is also an interview with Sarah Hatton whose designs regularly crop up in The Knitter and in the Rowan books, and A Stitch in Time author Susan Crawford writes about 1950s style - perfect timing for me as I'm tackling another pattern from Susan's book and having a bit of a 50s vintage phase.
And so to the pattern highlights (which is seems to be nearly everything):
Holi by Amanda Jones seems to sum up the themes in one cardigan - colour, eastern design motifs. The six colours of DK cotton in textured and patterned stripes remind me of middle eastern carpets and Indian silks and of course Holi is the festival of colour.No one could get bored doing this on either with all the variety of techniques - a sample in cardie form.
Eastern decor is also clearly the inspiration for Maroc, by Belinda Boaden, a five colour intarsia, slash neck T-shirt recalling North African tiles. I'm not sure I could carry it off as a garment even if I limited the colours to the blues, gold and cream of my favourite North African tiles but I'm tempted to make it all the same.
Sarah Hatton comes up trumps once again with a short-sleeved cotton DK textured cardigan, Minarets. The cable and lace design echoes the shape of the towers while helping to create a very wearable fitted shape.
Scheherazade from Amanda Crawford combines various elements seen in the other designs in an eastern style tunic using intarsia and fair isle techniques. The pattern again takes inspiration from tiles and carpets but the colourway using rhubarb and artichoke on a cream/pearl ground isn't my thing. I'd be more likely to make this in two colours.
A number of other patterns are less obviously influenced by the east but have all been made in spice colours so add to the over all effect.
Samarra from Judy Furlong is a long draping scarf/wrap in DK linen (here in a paprika colour). It is something that would work all year round in many colours and yarns. I could imagine myself and friends all having these in different versions.
I can always rely on The Knitter to have a tempting lace piece. The laceweight Muriel Shawl by Julie Dexter (chilli) will be adding to the list especially because it's construction looks challenging which is always an attraction. I think I may also have the perfect yarn in my stash.
Joanne Seiff's Spire Smock (pictured above) is a very wearable textured aran thigh-length cardigan. A wide collared neck line and single button make this a shapely knit a something that would go over many outfits and with it's textured pattern and shaping an interesting knit.
The last women's pattern Flax Camisole (J Marsha Michler) doesn't quite fit the spice trail but given it's in a natural shade of 4-ply linen I'll declare it vanilla. A delicate button-up vest with cables and zig-zag pattern it is gently shaped but I would have a slight concern that there isn't enough vertical difference in the larger size to allow for bigger busts.
As someone with a toddler niece who is about to gain a sibling, and being of the age
when I have a lot of pregnant friends, I'm sucker for mini-hoodies and the like. The Jasper Diamond Hoodie by Kristen Rengren is a great addition to the collection, a simple textured diamond pattern to keep the interest and quick little knit in DK.
I think I would go for a bright colour or a mixed yarn like Sirdar Crofter.
My daily commute involves windy railway platforms and there are always a couple of left over balls of DK hanging around as left overs from something, so this month's Stash Buster is perfect: Fairy Lace Beret by Sarah Wilson. It only requires 70-odd rounds so it's also a perfect quick project for when other WIPs are too big for the handbag.
The August 2010 issue of Simply Knitting should be sub-titled the "empire issue" with three patterns that fall into that category.
It works for me because it's a shape I'm comfortable with but it doesn't work for every body shape (note: I'm watching How to Look Good Naked as I write so may have come over all Auntie Gok) so three-quarters of the women's patterns seems excessive.
Lovely Lavender by Ruth Maddock - a pretty short cardigan in DK with three-quarter length sleeves. It is v neck and just buttons at the bust. Above the bust line is plain stocking stitch with lace below. The pattern comes in 8-22 but there is only 4cm difference in the length of the stocking stitch panel over the bust between the smallest and largest sizes. The issue of having to adapt patterns for larger bangers busts has come up twice at knitting groups in the last week and I suspect this is another pattern where ideas and tips will be exchanged.
In contrast Feeling Good by Sarah Hatton seems to have dealt with the boosum problem with an 18cm difference between the size 8-10 and the 28-30. Another DK empire line affair, but this time short-sleeved with the lace on the top and the stocking stitch below, round necked and a larger buttoned area.
Last of the empire collection Wild Vest, a second design from Maddock. It's a sleeveless strappy top with rib over the bust and crotchet lace below and a belt detail under the boobs. DK and small length differences again.
Do the Twist by Pat Menchini in a fine merino DK has an almost retro tunic look with texture below the waist and sleeve and neck edgings on a straight t-shirt shape. A pretty classic for over jeans.
For lace lovers like me there is also a treat this month with Amanda Crawford's delicate 4-ply Family Treasure baby blanket/christening shawl.
This month's freebie is a collection of Nursery Rhyme Mice patterns by the mousetastic Alan Dart. As always his designs are detailed and clever but as someone looking for knitted toys for a toddler niece suspect these will be appreciated more by an older audience.
These are what caught my eye this month but as always SK there is the "why, oh, why pattern" - ladies and gentleman I give you knitted bunting. Speechless.
I stumbled across a blog called Knit 1, Purl 2, Stab today. It's by another fencing knitter, so I thought I'd share.