Preview: Rowan Magazine 54

When the weather gets this foul and wretchedly hot, when there is condensation on the outside of the windows making me feel like a turtle in a terrarium, then that must mean it’s time for

54 cover

my annual preview of the new fall Rowan Magazine! Because, hey, what is more fun than hiding in the air-conditioning, looking forward to fall, cooler temperatures and sweater-knitting weather?

If you’re an aficionado like me, you’ll know that this is Magazine No. 54, featuring fall and winter patterns and the newest Rowan yarns. And if you’re a longtime Rowan Magazine fan, you’ll remember that typically, Rowan Magazine presents its designs divided into three categories or “stories.”

Hearkening back to the baroque and rococo eras, the first story is called “Romancing.” The Magazine describes this collection as “brocades and lace inspiring a new twist of feminine dressing with vintage Edwardian and Victorian influences.” The backdrops for the photograph are gorgeous: architectural details from historical Haddon Hall, a manor house located in the town of Bakewell. (There’s a short article in the back of the Magazine about Haddon Hall’s history. It’s considered a particularly fine example of medieval and Tudor architecture and is still a family residence.)

The thirteen designs in “Romancing” are all lush, with interesting and often creative details, and plenty of dusky colors.  There are several gorgeous items I’d love to make and many more that I myself couldn’t wear but are very attractive garments.  Perhaps my favorite in this section:

54 bizet back 54 bizet front

Bizet, designed by Lisa Richardson. I love the colorwork, the flowing lines, and the elegant back pleat. Interestingly, this design is knit in Rowan Pure Wool 4-ply as main color with Anchor metallic thread for the contrast color, in a stranded brocade pattern.

Oh, Martin Storey, how I love thee! Check out Verdi, made with Fine Lace and Kidsilk Haze:

54 verdi

I adore the unusual vertical colorwork reminiscent of columns and a frieze.  La Scala is a delightful jacket knit in the same combination of yarns, but with floral patterning above cuffs and hem, and alongside the front bands. (Next time, dear Rowan peeples, please flip that model’s ponytail over her shoulder so it doesn’t block our view of the stitchwork!)

54 lascala

My other favorite? The Rameau Wrap, by Sarah Hatton,

54 rameau

made with one strand of Fine Lace and one of Kidsilk Haze.

Included within this story were some designs that I thought were innovative and clever.  Vibe Ulrik designed this sweater with an overall lace pattern, also knit in Kidsilk Haze, but with this ingenious crossover front.

54 vivaldi

Lisa Richardson’s Juliet is knit in halves (right and left), then a center column and neckband are crocheted; these pieces are then sewn together.

54 juliet

You can’t really see the sleeves too well (except a teeny bit in the bottom left corner) but there are buttons creating a drapey cuff element, too.

I think the Rowan designers must have had a contest to see who could come up with the most creative design details. Check out Marie Wallin’s Madame Butterfly sweater, combining Kidsilk Haze and Anchor metallic thread. One strand of each is used for the bottom half of the sweater, then the top of the bodice is knit in Kidsilk Haze alone, for a filmy, somewhat sheer fabric.

54 butterfly

The chiffon ribbon tie is threaded through two small slits in the front.

Jennie Atkinson’s Silla uses two yarns to create two fabrics, with the main part of body and sleeves in Pure Wool 4-ply and the top sheer part in Kidsilk Haze. (It’s a lovely aspect of the Rowan yarn line that the color palettes in these yarns are designed to work so beautifully together.)

54 silla

The Berenice Wrap on the cover (designed by Marie Wallin) includes lovely intarsia motifs knit in (gasp) Kidsilk Haze; also worth a look is La Boheme (by Wallin again), with lovely muted jacquard colorwork.

54 la boheme


The second pattern section is titled “Folk,” and as you might guess, is inspired by folk art–Eastern European folk art, to be precise. These are casual styles with a more outdoorsy, comfortable feel. Anatolia (Marie Wallin) is a terrific yoke-style sweater, knit in the round in Felted Tweed, using colorful folk art-inspired motifs:

54 anatolia

Love that one!  Likewise, Ukraine is a cropped vest knit in Colourspun and Rowan Tweed, also with stranded folk motifs.

54 ukraine

Marie Wallin’s Izmir is a luscious crossover cardigan knit in dreamy pale shades of Felted Tweed.

54 izmir

There are a couple of men’s designs in this section, including a great one by that young pup…what’s his name…. handsome fellow but a bit of a brat….oh yes, Josh Bennett.

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Milas is worked in two shades of Colourspun (a DK weight yarn) with cable segments going in alternating directions. Well done, Josh!

Martin Storey has created an interesting two-color cable plus slip stitch pattern with Holbein:

54 holbein

and a stripe/colorwork sweater called Bodrum. (A women’s version of Bodrum is included in the digital supplement to the magazine, available to Rowan members.)

54 bodrum

Several wraps in this section provide a chance to play with color and patterning uninterrupted by tons of shaping; check out Kaffe Fassett’s Kilim (top), and Lisa Richardson’s Soumak (bottom):

54 kilim54 soumak

Lisa Richardson’s Rya is an attractive, easy-to-knit pullover in Rowan Frost and Kid Classic.

54 rya

Last section is the Essentials section, designed to highlight key runway trends — shapes (mainly oversized this year), themes (yes, the dreaded animal prints and other graphic motifs), textures and other recurring themes that we’re likely to see in this season’s knitwear. I like that these items are shown with minimal styling and studio backdrops so we can get a good sense of what’s going on with the knitting.

I know y’all are gonna hate on this one:

54 christine

because it’s got another intarsia wild-animal motif (it’s the oddly-named Christine, by Martin Storey) but animal graphic prints are on trend … Go on, rant a little. I’ll wait.

[taps fingers on desk]


At the other end of the am-I-likely-to-make-it spectrum is lovely Sarah Hatton’s lovely Melissa, a fingering-weight sweater with nice lines and a chevron texture.

54 melissa

Marie Wallin’s Sherry is a pretty lace knit with front gathers

54 sherry

and Vibe Ulrik’s Laura is a short-sleeved top with ribbed pattern and skillful detailing at the neck:

54 laura

Ulrik’s Angela features thicker yarn knit in a cabled pattern (too hot for Philly, alas)

54 angela

while Amanda Crawford’s Erin features mesh openwork and a daring back slit. I shall not speculate as to the existence vel non of the model’s undergarments.

54 erin

There are some more unusual offerings here, too, like the combination scarf-sweater called Crystal, by Marie Wallin; the top is styled in rectangular pieces and tied together,

54 crystal

while Julia Frank’s Wendy Wrap includes lots of chunky texture.

54 wendy

With those three sections, you’ve got a total of 39 patterns (four men’s and the rest for women), plus several more digital downloads featuring designs not shown in the print Magazine. Some of them are from a design competition at the Winchester School of Art (look at this fabulous twinset by Meghan Lewis)

54 twinset

The theme for the competition was the stitch patterns and sensibility of the 1930s and 1940s.  It’s fun to see the six winners and how they interpreted the vintage feel of the wartime years.

But you’ll also find additional garments designed by your favorite Rowan designers, available for download, like Brandon Mably’s men’s pullover called Balkan:

54 Balkan Cover

and a sheer pleated design by Julia Frank:

54 alcina

Other features in this fall’s magazine: a look at the Knitting Reference Library at the UK’s University of Southampton; a profile of designer Kate Davies; an article on knitting in the round (not usually a technique used with most Rowan designs); a guide to steeking; facts about mohair; and the usual “What’s New” column listing new publications and exhibitions of interest.

For me, picking up the Rowan Magazine is a no-brainer. Including digital downloads, you get over 50 patterns, lots of eye candy and inspiration, and even if there are only a handful of items I’d be interested in making, the MSRP of the Magazine is $23.94 (compare downloading only  four individual patterns  at six bucks a pop). I also find that as my tastes as a knitter change over the years, I have great fun going back and rediscovering designs that might not have originally caught my eye but now intrigue me. Look for the Rowan Magazine at your local yarn shop; it should be arriving soon.



All photos copyright 2013 by Coats Crafts UK; used for review purposes and with permission.






One Thought

  1. Marianne says:

    The colourwork pieces have me swooning.

Reply to Marianne