It's nice that, on the same day that snow -- and plenty of it -- came to my little corner of the Midwest, a new issue of Knitty arrived to soothe the chill. So I made some cocoa, and some English muffins with jam, and sat down to see what's on offer this time around.
Amy Singer, Knitty's founding editor, says that this issue is "all about sparkles and warmth and making things for yourself and the ones you love." There are also a large number of new designers in the Winter issue.
We'll talk about some of the highlights after the break.
The new crop of articles are a mix of opinion, techniques, spinning information, and gift ideas. Kristi Porter's Frankenknits column focuses on making old pullover sweaters into various types of cardigans; Theresa Vinson Stenersen provides a very introductory look at cables (and cabling-without-a-cable-needle).
A few tackle the topic of color: Allena Jackson shows how to use food coloring instead of -- or in addition to -- Kool-Aid, for more concentrated DIY wool dyes (pointing out that there are some jobs that would take 50 packets of drink mix to get the color you want, but less than a tiny bottle of food coloring), and Barbara Gregory gives knitters a crash course in picking a new colorway for Bacardi, her contribution to Amy Singer's recent book No Sheep for You.
There are a lot of patterns in this issue: it seems like there are more than usual. Among those not listed here, you'll find striped gloves you can knit on straight needles, mittens, a Möbius ring meant as a stash-buster, a lacy little sweater, five new sock designs (including one intended as kilt hose), a cat puppet, a ball made of pentagons, a helmet-hat for babies, and a fairy doll.
Ice Queen is the sort of garment often called a "smoke ring": a cowl (wearable as a scarf or hood) done in lace-weight mohair. This one is in a feather-and-fan pattern that scallops heavily at one edge, and can be done with either beads or pearls. Embellishing it adds extra sparkle and some weight and drape, but you could make it without the beading if you wanted to.
On your head, Quant (shown above) is an entrelac head-scarf done in a multicolored yarn with lots of color changes. The effect is like harlequin stained glass; choose a more subtle shade if the one shown is too loud for you.
Three Tams uses the old trick of doing stranded knitting with one solid yarn and one variegated yarn, which gives a more complicated Fair Isle look than using two solid-colored yarns. The hats' patterns are geometric: six-pointed stars radiate from the top center of each.
There are a few "neck garments." There isn't anything wrong with them, but to be honest, I'm not too excited about any of them, either.
Tudora is a strip of fabric that is supposed to look like a ruff but which winds up looking more like a disembodied turtleneck. Halcyon is a lace scarf which the designer claims is a quick knit; I think that depends on how quickly you knit. I wouldn't expect the silk ribbon embellishment woven through the ends to actually stay put and continue to look as pretty as it does in the photos.
Both would make nice presents, but Tudora is the better last-minute gift choice, maybe with the Mrs Beeton wrist ruffles from Winter 2005 or the Dashing cabled fingerless gloves from Summer 2006.
Fair Isle Rapids is attractive from one side, but I'm not a fan of stranded knitting on scarves not knit in the round, because the other side never looks good. That stuff is supposed to be hidden inside the garment. (Note that you don't see the reverse side in any of the photos.) You could solve that problem by knitting two of these, blocking them, and grafting them together on the edges, or by adapting the pattern to knit in the round.
Dahlia is a cute sweater with a scoop neck and short, puffed sleeves, both of which have picot edging; its lower panel has simple cables. It's shown with a sash tied around it, which makes it difficult to see how well it actually fits the model. It's suggested that you can wear it over a shirt, but the very low cut of the sweater makes that more of a necessity. In shape, it's a lot like 2004's Belle Epoque pullover.
Abotanicity is another sweater with a shape similar to that of Dahlia, but the sleeves are long and the neck is high. The name comes from the designer's desire to use a lace pattern with no leaves or flowers. I'm so pleased with her suggestion that you try the sweater on before you decide where to start the "skirt" section: this shape is very popular these days, but most garments commercially available have waists that are much too high to be flattering on most women, and I've seen the same problem in sweater pattern design.
On the other hand, Abotanicity is knit in sock yarn on really, really small needles. It's almost as much work as a Norwegian or Fair Isle sweater, particularly if you wear a larger size.
Laughing Carrots is a cardigan for kids. The name comes from the Laughing Cables pattern used in the top third: the spaces in the center of each cable look like they're smiling.
Jeanie is a striking lace shawl, made by dropping stitches between cables. The finished article looks delicate.
I am unable to warm to the two shrug-like designs, Aoife for humans (technically a bolero), which has lovely braided trim but disproportionately large sleeves, and Cables & Bits for canines, which... look, I hate shrugs. If I wouldn't wear it, I would certainly never put it on my poor dog. It's shown on dogs who would look cute in anything, but dogs who need sweaters at all probably need chest coverage.
If you do not share my deep loathing of the humble shrug, you may appreciate these two designs. I'm sure there will be plenty of knitters who make and love them.