Well, hello, Spring/Summer Rowan Magazine. Here you are to brighten up an unbelievably rainy spring. We’ve got cool cottons, crisp cables, some Japanese-inspired designs and lots of amazing designers this time around. Although I’m late to the party, there are some fantastic designs in here that you might want to blitz so you can wear them this summer.
The latest magazine has two feature stories; first is called Coastal, and includes designs for men and woman that it describes as “wearable.” (Although I think that might be setting the bar a bit low — lots of gorgeous stuff that is interesting as well as wearable!)
Think soothing sea shades, lots of texture and a mix of pared-down garments along with some more intricate designs.
I’m fascinated by Watton, by Lisa Richardson:
The front bands are so interesting and I like how the different textures play off each other. Another design, Glaven, opts for raised cables that look like braids (plaits) or rope — fascinating detail and visually arresting. I also like the combination of yarns used.
Morston and Reydon, by Martin Storey (love that man) are also striking:
Morston plays with different-sized cables in an intricate pattern (check out the pattern used for the hem), while Reydon goes for a simple, striking motif
A special BBF shout-out to Cirilia Rose, who makes her first appearance (I think) in Rowan Magazine:
with Heacham. Open shoulders, lace motif, pretty stitchwork on the front — way to go, Cirilia!
Carlo Volpi’s Felbrigg is restrained but quite lovely:
Reverse stockinette sleeves and some interesting cablework make it worth a second look.
My ego is not huge enough to think that Rowan has intentionally heeded my cry for more Sarah Hatton, but there’s more Sarah Hatton in this Magazine, which can only be a good thing. I like this men’s sweater with an unusual and striking detail around the neck:
I also like Bodham, which is a more traditional fisherman style sweater:
and Cottishall has some lovely textural patterning (unfortunately it’s a little hard to appreciate given the darker indigo color of the yarn).
Other designs take features of traditional fisherman’s sweaters and meld them with more modern design features. Cortan, for example, by Martin Storey, has cables on the top half of the sweater and stockinette stripes across the bottom half.
Amy Herzog’s Thursford uses raglan shaping and a zigzap motif just down the arms:
And Martin Storey’s Burnham has lots of texture and cables but a cropped silhouette with short sleeves.
The second major story in the article is called Kyoto, and is a collection of women’s designs inspired by all things Japanese. In keeping with the season, look for light colors, airy designs and a mix of flowing and fitted garments.
Gifu is a lightweight tee with allover lace pattern and a slight scoop neck, using Kidsilk Haze along with a laceweight yarn.
Kidsilk Haze is everywhere! Look at Ibaraki, by Heather Dixon:
Very beautiful allover lace pattern with deep garter edgings. Saitama, by Martin Storey, uses one strand of Kidsilk Haze and one of Fine Lace, with a delicate lace pattern with ribbed edgings and a cropped silhouette.
Yamanashi, by Xandra Rhodes, uses Kidsilk Haze for intarsia.
I love when magazines feature samples knit in different colors. The change between using an airy light color as the background versus the deeper blue shown on the cover is striking.
I think it’s great that Rowan designers don’t shy away from colorwork in the summer months, using non-wool yarns. In addition to Yamanashi, check out Mei, by Lisa Richardson:
Sarah Hatton’s Osaka is fabulous, using stripes with a lace pattern:
For those who are less advanced knitters, or who just are looking for a less strenuous knit, Rowan always includes several designs that are stylish yet less technically demanding. Yamagata by Kaffe Fassett is just lovely but eminently do-able even for a new knitter:
I know we’re very close to seeing the fall Magazine, but there are too many interesting designs in the spring edition to ignore (even if I’m way behind in blogging).
On a related note
I have also heard lots of disgruntlement about how Rowan is scaling back its yarn collection beginning this fall. I am as heartbroken as the next Rowan fan to see some of my favorite yarns discontinued (NOOOOO NOT WOOL-COTTON AND LIMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) but having been involved in the industry for a while, I’ve grown more philosophical about the way yarns come and go. Yes, it stinks to say goodbye to a yarn you love, but on the other hand, as someone who sells yarn (albeit on a much, much smaller scale), I can tell you that part of the reason is that knitters and crocheters have become increasingly obsessed with what’s new — new bases, new fibers, new styles. I think Rowan may have overexpanded its options in recent years, so a retraction is in order. Stocking fewer classic lines mixed with limited edition runs of new yarns seems a sensible way to balance out providing consistency in yarn support with some variety to keep things fresh.
Rowan still has one of the strongest design houses in the industry. They still put out a beautiful magazine with interesting and creative patterns, mixing yarns, experimenting with different silhouettes, and using technically advanced stitches like lace and cabling. Instead of bitching online, how about purchasing a pattern booklet or some yarn to support this fine company, and not letting the quest for the perfect be the enemy of the very, very good?