Preview: Vogue Knitting Early Fall

It’s always exciting when the first fall knitting magazines start arriving. A few years ago, Vogue Knitting decided to add a fifth issue called “Early Fall,” to coincide with the time in the summer when new autumn yarns first start arriving in shops. I was given a free copy of the 2013 Early Fall VK while I was at TNNA, and I also got to see some of the sample garments up close.

VK always takes its cues from the fashion runways and there’s a certain challenge that comes when you try to translate high-fashion concepts to handknitting:  right now, for example, some of the trends that are hot (animal prints, intarsia/graphic motifs, boxier silhouettes) get the handknitting crowd cranky. I think there are some really nice patterns in this Vogue, though, including some that are perfect for knitting in summer because they are lighter or cropped, and thus useful on cool summer nights. If you’re a more advanced knitter, there are also several garments that are complex enough that you might want to start them now so you have them finished when the colder weather hits.

vk early fall cover

When I first saw the cover, I thought it looked kind of summery–but since this magazine is released in the heat of the American summer, I guess that makes sense. And whose pattern should be featured on the cover by my pal Sarah Hatton. I am so thrilled for her. It’s knit in Schachenmayr Silk Wool which is a great blend put out by the German company Schachenmayr, part of the same family of companies that now owns Rowan.

I have to say that I was especially thrilled when I saw the Editor’s Letter. There is a photograph accompanying the letter of a green cowl…a cowl that I designed in an amazing new yarn called Mimi. Mimi is distributed by Trendsetter Yarns and is from a relatively new company called Lotus Yarns. It’s 100% mink (but I think the animal is a different mink than the one we have). It’s incredibly soft, warm and lightweight.

All the usual articles and columns are there; Meg Swansen’s article this issue, which includes a pattern for a man’s vest with garter stitch collar, touched on an issue that I often struggle with:  overdesigning garments. It’s such a delicate balance between creating a garment that appears too simple and basic, on the one hand, and creating  something with too many design details packed in and so much going on that it lacks oomph.

I hope you’ll read my article on planned pooling in multicolored yarn; it was a revelation to me to realize that people deliberately play with yarns in order to force them to pool in specific patterns. I had lots of help from designer and dyer Laura Bryant as well as statistician/college professor Karla Steubing, both of whom were incredibly generous in sharing their insights with me.

Now on to the patterns.

The first story is “La Creme de la Crop,” featuring cropped tops (another runway-inspired trend) knit in creamy yarns. In addition to the cover sweater, check out the versatile and easy-to-knit sweater by Candice Eisner Strick, which would go so easily over a sundress for evening wear in the summer,

vkef strick

as well as the interesting sweater by Shiri Mor,

vkef mor 1

in which the edging detail on the front continues around to the back, becoming a major decorative element. Clever construction.

The second story, Rule Botanica, shows lace details knit in colors inspired by English country gardens–mainly fuschias, plums and red. Mari Lynn Patrick’s dress knit in Koigu KPM is stunning;

vkef dress

I saw this one up close at the show, and it’s hard to appreciate the many details without seeing it in real life.

Robin Melanson has a versatile cardigan knit in Universal’s Deluxe Worsted

vkef melanson

and Daniela Nii’s dolman cleverly uses a lacy stitch just on the sleeves.

vkef dolman

But the sweater that blew my mind was Laura Zukaite’s lace and cable pullover, which magically inserts cables in the midst of a lace pattern, through an ingenious use of bobbins. Wow.

vkef zukaite pink

Yoka Hatta’s modular top also is wonderful, made with floral lace medallions, knit modular style.

vkef modular

For me, this section alone was worth the price of admission. (Hmm. I got it for free, so maybe that’s not the ringing endorsement I intended!)

Story number 3:  emerald, the color of the year, according to Pantone. Here’s where you’ll find my lacy cowl,

vkef my cowl

as well as another gorgeous piece by Laura Zukaite (on the left),

vkef zukate green vkeg tobita cowl

and one by Mari Tobita on the right.

Next up is the “Urban Jungle” story, featuring graphic animal motifs. While I was charmed by the little fox

vkef fox

the sweater that looks like Boris got me. I might have to make one of these.

vkef cat


I’d probably nix some of the mohair since I run hot all the time, but I sure would love to have a Boris sweater….

There’s a brief story that shows a single silhouette (a pullover) knit in different colorblock themes, and then one last story featuring varsity jackets (Debbie Bliss’s jacket is my fave):

vkeg bliss

I usually think that magazines are a good deal; for six or seven dollars, you get 25 or more patterns, so if I really like two or three, it’s well worth it for me to pick up a copy.  I am not a stick figure type, God knows, but I do think there are several garments I’d love to knit for myself if I had the time (Robin Melanson’s cardigan, Jill Wright’s shell, below, some of the cowls, and of course the Boris sweater)

vkef wrighjt

so overall I was quite pleased with this issue. Check out VK’s 360 degree feature on the website, where they show the garments with less styling, from all angles, to give you a better sense of what they look like without the beautiful (but intimidating to us normal people) styling.

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