Preview: Rowan Magazine Number 55

The hell with winter weather. What we need is a jolt of fresh color and knitting inspiration, in the form of a brand-new Rowan Magazine. Leave your snow shovels behind,

55 Cover_0

come with me, and let’s take a look…

I have never regretted picking up a copy of a Rowan Magazine.  I definitely find myself preferring the fall magazines to the spring ones, mainly because cooler weather gives so much more scope for knitting — thick yarns and warmer fibers aren’t out of bounds, and accessories like hats, mittens and scarves are necessary when winter’s around the corner. But I do need to remind myself that there are plenty of fun things to knit for warmer weather — tanks, layering pieces, shawls, cardigans to wear when the sun goes down. This year’s spring/summer Rowan Magazine does a great job of providing options for knitters who are looking for some lighter-weight garments to cast on — so let’s take a look.

As usual, the Magazine contains three major pattern sections, thematically organized into “stories.” The Spanish town of Vejer de la Frontera provided the setting for the first set of patterns, called Clarity. Clarity’s theme is lace, whether historic or contemporary, traditional or modern, knitted or crochet. The Magazine describes this story as “a very feminine collection of openwork creating a modern romantic aesthetic.”

And guess who has pulled off a hat trick in this story? Yes, my little British crumpet Sarah Hatton (do note that I said “CRumpet” and not “strumpet”). Her first design in this story is Bliss, a light and lovely scarf knit in Rowan’s lovely Fine Lace yarn (by the way, I just finished knitting with Fine Lace right now and it’s delightful — so soft!):

55 bliss scarf

Trinity is a nice layering piece knit in lace with some rib bands; it’s poncho style, which gives it a flowing feel, especially in lightweight, hazy Kidsilk Haze yarn:

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And then there’s Mercy, knit in Panama (a cotton/linen/viscose blend), with an aymmetric front and lace bands — a good choice for newbie knitters who may be nervous about embarking upon an entire garment knit in lace; much of the sweater is knit in stockinette, with lace bands for trim.

55 merdcy

When you’ve been reading Rowan Magazines for a while, as I have, it’s fun to see the selection of designers grow and change. Vibe Ulrik, who just started contributing patterns in the last few years,  is quickly becoming another of my favorite designers to appear in Rowan. Loudres, her only pattern in the print magazine, is a lovely yoke-style sweater with bands of stockinette interspersed with bands of lace.

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One thing I love, love, love about Rowan designers is that they like to mix together yarns of different weights and fibers, something many designers seem to fear.  Here, Marie Wallin uses Cotton Glace plus Fine Lace plus Kidsilk Haze, for subtle variations in color and texture, as well as stitch pattern:

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Lisa Richardson blends Kidsilk Haze with Anchor Metallic thread for this v-neck tunic with an airy lace + stripe pattern.

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Crocheters will want to get hooking Harmony, a tunic with mesh/filet stitch and interesting panels of decorative stitchwork.

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And that minx Marie Wallin also gives us the diaphanous Praise, knit in Kidsilk Haze and Cotton Glace,

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and Prudence

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I would like to have the lighting tweaked on this photo so I could see the stitchwork better, but it looks like a very pretty, wearable design.

Keeping in with the crochet/lace theme, the first set of designs is followed by an article on the recent renaissance in Irish crochet lace, along with some fascinating photos both vintage and modern. (There is a luscious full-length dress photographed — really amazing.)

If the first story was not colorful enough for you, then you will love the second:  Legacy takes inspiration from Islamic and Moorish tile art, with a focus on the interplay of color and texture, including striated colors. Start out with a lovely striped sweater, featuring muted shades of Purelife Revive and Kidsilk Haze, designed by Kaffe Fassett.

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This supercute dress (dress!) by Grace Melville, was inspired by tile motifs.

55Consuela

My bff Martin Storey mixes colorwork and texture in this crewneck sweater (another fun thing that Rowan designers do — mixing techniques like stranded and textured knitting):

55 dia

Carlo Volpi’s crocheted top features rich reds and warm neutrals:

55alma

Brandon Mably used Cotton Glace to create this very sharp men’s vest:

55Estafan_2

Volpi uses sandy tones of Purelife Revive, melding one color into the next in Guido:

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Galina Carroll’s charming shrug uses rows of color to make a chevron pattern pop.

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Next is a special minicollection by Kaffe Fassett — the patterns for these designs can be downloaded from the Knit Rowan website (photographs but not patterns are included in the print Magazine). There are some great designs here, too: check out Belarus, with its stripe design and draped fronts:

55 bel

Another supercute dress, Estonia, knit in the quintessentially Kaffe tumbling blocks motif:

55 estonia

There’s an alternate version of the tumbling blocks design in Latvia, with a striped back — love this one!

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Lithuania goes bold, with graphic black and white stripes in an op-art design.

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And there’s Moldova, a simple but elegant striped design that is the kind of sweater I would wear all the time.

55 Moldova cover

After a short article on UK’s Knitting and Crochet Guild, you’ll find the Essentials collection, a relatively new part of the Magazine that I quite like. It strips away the dramatic styling and backdrops that can distract some crafters, allowing the garments and their shapes to take center stage. I have to say that as I looked through this particular story, I wanted to make nearly every sweater in it for Little Miss, the preteen princess (and some for myself).  The candy colors and simple stripes showcase the beautiful yarns and are used very effectively.

This wavy stripe pullover, by Martin Storey, is terrific:

55Surf 1

Sarah Hatton, I love you so hard — my daughter would look incredible in Sailor, a simple yoke stripe top in luscious blues.

55Sailer 2

 

Play with vertical stripes in Sally, by Lisa Richardson,

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Stripes and cool but bright colors feature prominently in this story, like Promenade, by Grace Melville,

55 Promenade 2

sporty Pier, by Sarah Hatton,

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Marie Wallin’s Port, with stripes and an eyelet pattern at the bottom,

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and Martin Storey’s Celeste (love the colors and stripe motifs on this one!).

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Storey’s Driftwood is charming,

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Grace Melville’s Cove features a gathered bottom,

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and Gemma Atkinson’s Wharf plays with nautical blues and whites.

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The book closes with a profile of the fiber linen, a look at some of the new Rowan books and pamphlets coming out, and additional information about the locations where some of the photo shoots took place.  In addition to the designs in the book (38 in all), if you register with the Knit Rowan website, you get access to 12 more designs.

Overall, I thought this was a great Magazine, with a combination of more advanced garments in the first two sections (lots of lace- and colorwork) and some easier but very fun designs in the third section. This is a much more accessible collection than last year’s spring/summer magazine (no graphic prints or intarsia to scare nervous Nellies), perhaps reflecting more wearable trends in the fashion industry. As usual, the collection is beautifully styled and photographed, and presented in a gorgeous print Magazine with lots of on-line support.

Go forth and knit!


One Thought

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