Fall Preview: Rowan Magazine 56

Because my ancestors spent centuries drinking vodka by the chilly shores of the Baltic Sea, I am not a summer person. My pasty Polish skin always burns, I don’t particularly like to swim, and the heat makes me cranky. That means it is not an exaggeration to say that my favorite thing about summer is the release each July of the new Rowan Magazine.

56 rowan cover

And sweet mother of mercy, is this a good one!

Y’all remember how this works, right? Patterns are organized into two “stories” with a theme, plus an “Essentials” section with pared-down styling. And there are always interesting articles, designer profiles and previews of other Rowan design collections and yarns.

The first grouping of patterns, called Wilderness, was inspired by the beautiful and dramatic landscapes of Scotland — with an emphasis on techniques and motifs found in Scottish textiles, like plaid, cables and fair isle patterns. Marie Wallin gets us started with an interesting blend of cables and stranded knitting — cables on the body of the sweater and stranded motifs on the sleeves, all in a blend of green and gold and orange tweedy colors.

56 craggie wallin

Lisa Richardson explores the same concept — body of sweater knit in one pattern, sleeves in a different one — but she opts for plaid on the body of the sweater and small cabling down the sleeves.

Ashie, by Lisa Richardson

I have to say, that whatever Marie Wallin is smoking, I WANT SOME. Because the gorgeous patterns keep coming…..

Moraig is knit in Fine Tweed, with bands of patterning and some plain rows in between — a good project for someone new to stranded knitting, as the plain rows give the knitter some breathing room in between stranded rows.

56 moraig

This stunning men’s cardigan in knit in Cocoon, with bold cables and a garter ridge background:

56 fyn

This woman’s sweater features stranded motifs on the yoke and sholders, then allover cable patterning on the lower sleeves and body, both using a diamond shape so that it all ties together:

Ness, Marie Wallin

And check out this divine checkerboard knit with color-morphing stripes:

Scaven, Marie Wallin

Yowsa, that’s a lot of amazing design work from one person! Of course, there is no shortage of talent on the Rowan design team, and you know of my platonic crush on Martin Storey,

who designed this exquisite cabled sweater in Felted Tweed Aran:

Fergus, Martin Storey

Storey also designed this stunning coat — I love the way black is used for the background color instead of cream or beige:

Roan, Martin Storey

and this sweater that uses checkerboard-type stranded motif while alternating contrast colors:

Ordie, Martin Storey

Amazing as always, Mr. Storey.

Lisa Richardson’s cape uses an very interesting stitch pattern, with muted but beautiful color choices:

Brack, Lisa Richardson

and Richardson’s Heilen top is a wonderful melding of colors and motifs — love it!

Heilen, Lisa Richardson
Vibe Ulrik’s Laide is lovely, too, and its quieter color scheme is a nice contrast to some of the brighter garments.

Laide, Vibe Ulrik

I really enjoyed seeing how the colors of each garment were carefully coordinated with the background (shot in Scotland), sometimes contrasting, other times picking up colors in the beautiful natural setting.

It’s particularly fun to go from the Wilderness story, inspired by very traditional textiles, to the Craft story, which takes inspiration from more modern design elements, the Bauhaus and Arts/Crafts movements. You’ll still find plenty of color and patterning, though, like Galina Carroll’s Franziska

56 franziska

I like the colorwork motifs, which are a little different, more modern-looking, and the colors are beautifully chosen.

Marie Wallin’s Angelika

56 angelika

and Sarah Hatton’s hazy mohair Birgit both use simple graphic motifs but add plenty of oomph with their color choices.

56 birgit

It’s really fascinating to see colorwork done with slipped stitches and non-Fair Isle motifs. Karolin, by Lisa Richardson, is intricate and lovely:

56 carolin

The use of mohair-blend yarns along with wool yarns reminds me a bit of Bohus-style sweaters — love it.

Gemma Atkinson’s Isolde wrap mixes stitch patterns with stripes and other tribal motifs:

56 isolde

and Gisela, also by Atkinson, shows off an eye-catching quill pattern.

56 gisela

Embroidery embellishes Elsa,

56 elsa

Returning to more graphic-style motifs, Kaffe Fassett designed two striking sweaters, Katja

56 katja

and Tanja.

56 tanja

Lisa Richardson’s jacket Ulrika features a terrific use of Fine Art handpainted yarn, harnessing the way the yarn pools to create vertical stripes.

56 ulrika

Last is the Essentials feature, with pared-down styling to focus on shapes and fit. This Magazine’s version of Essentials shows both oversized and slim silhouettes (HOW CAN BOTH BE IN???),

But since fashion trends are dictated by the runways, I guess this fall, we’ll be seeing both silhouettes.

For example, Julia Frank’s Song tunic, in a clever v-lace mesh, has a slim fit (especially for tunics, which often are made with more ease),

56 song

whereas Grace Melville’s Rhyme features very wide sleeves, giving a dolman or batwing feel;

56 rhyme

Vibe Ulrik’s Muse is described as a “slim crew,” with texture knit in Kidsilk Haze;

56 muse

and Sarah Hatton’s mohair Stanza features a boatneck with trim 3/4 sleeves.

56 stanza

(And we all know how I feel about Sarah Hatton…..)

Martin Storey taunts me with Verse, which looks so much like the “shaker” sweaters from Limited that we 80s gals wore over tights in college….

56 verse

Lisa Richardson’s lace tunic is worn as a very cute dress,

56 lace dress

and Marie Wallin’s Lyric features a subtle but arresting textured design.

56 lyric

Articles include a feature on Sanquhar glove making; a look at knitting during the First World War; a fiber profile of alpaca; and a quick primer on two-handed fair isle technique. Rowan members can get access to additional patterns through the Knit Rowan website, too.

In a knitting world where dumbed-down seems to be the big thing, it’s such a pleasure to see beautiful designs using techniques like stranded knitting, cables, slip stitches, and to see how the masters of knitting design combine color and texture to create gorgeous garments. Rowan 56 is a winner, and I shall drool over the patterns within for a long time.

One Thought

  1. Elle says:

    What a great summary, thank you! And BTW, I agree with everything you say about summer. My ancestors were probably drinking vodka near yours.

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