Friday, May 8, 2009

Review of Creative Knitting Magazine May 2009

So, Creative Knitting is at the top of my pile, so let's take a look:

This is the May 2009 issue, and offers the following:

  • 30 patterns
  • 2 pages of product/book review
  • Article on designing with lace

Some thoughts:
I have back issues of this magazine to 2006, so I assume I have been a subscriber for at least 3 years. My overall impression is that it is not cutting edge design, but packed with rather safe, middle of the road projects that are suitable for a wide range of people. I have made things from various issues, and have been pleased with the directions and the finished objects. Notes on each pattern follow.

The good:

  • There are five patterns I like enough to save, though none I would start on immediately.
  • The patterns are well written and edited, and when they carryover to a new page, they show a little photo of the project. I like this. I also like the Index print at the end, so I can see at a glance what the issue contains.

The just OK:

  • The lace article is not groundbreaking, but it is well written, and has a pattern to go with it.
  • The product reviews sound suspiciously like press releases, but they usually do, so I won't hold this against them.
  • The majority of patterns fall into this category. At least 15, or half the offerings are just basic. Bland, safe, boring.
  • There are at least 4 projects benefitting greatly from photography. The poses, and I suspect some artful photostyling is at work here, to add shaping to garments that have none.

The just plain bad:

  • At least 4 patterns fall into this category. I turned past them as quickly as possible, but notes below if you want to know.
  • There are at least 2 non-patterns, that pretty much look like filler. (hint, the belt and the afghan). Remove these, and you could fit at least one more real project.

Keep or Toss:

I am putting this in the keep pile for now. It is not a bad magazine, but not a great one either--it takes very few risks with the patterns presented. This makes for few "what the hell were they thinking?" moments, but also few" I have got to knit that RIGHT NOW" moments as well.

Pattern Notes: (listed in order, with page #s)

Day Lily Jacket (p14): This is the cover project. It is a long-ish vest/jacket hybrid, done in a basic feather & fan stitch. While this looks OK on the model, it will probably not be very flattering on most real folks. If you take a looks at the photos (they are slightly different), there appears to be some shaping going on here that is not reflected in the pattern. I am guessing there are some honking big binder clips on the back of this, pulling the waist in a bit for the photo. In addition, the model is holding her arm close to her body, so providing a little more shaping here.

I am also not a big fan of side vents, I bet these flare out right at butt level, even in the drapy yarn chosen for this project. Note that the Lace Kimono project (p42) is identical, but with more ease (so read: baggy), and longer sleeves.

Simple Lace Top (p 16): I like this, but not enough to make it. I am not crazy about the middle section without the lace--it doesn't really add anything to the pattern, and a big wide horizontal band at the waist is not terribly figure friendly. This could easily be a cute top, if you omitted the plain section and make it with negative ease (i.e. make a smaller size than you actually wear).

Hot! Hot! Hot! (p18): Not! Not! Not! As in , not loving this. I hate the fringe at the neck (why add fringe? why at the neck?). I further hate the use of Caron Simply Soft in a summer garment. Final question: why is there a side seam when the directions are for knitting in the round? I am suspicious of this one!

Lacy Leaves Tunic (p20): Not for me. They did a nice job integrating the lace pattern into the sleeves, and the length is OK. I think the belt is in the wrong place in this photo (it would lok better at the actual waistline), but the belt is threaded through the eyelets of the pattern, so you could put it anywhere, or leave it off entirely. Leave it off entirely is my pick. Again with the 100% acrylic in a summer garment. Isn't this published in TEXAS? Isn't it hot in Texas in the summer?

Little Lace Cardi (p22). This I like, and would probably make. Mercerized cotton in a light weight is good for summer (this would be nice over a sundress or in an air conditioned office). Raglan shaping and it is form fitting, not boxy. Not loving the bobbles, and there may be some fit issues with the arms (the last few inches of the arm looks a like it is pulled pretty tight). Paton's Grace would probably be a good sub if you can't find the yarn called for in the pattern.

Summer Blues Tank (p24): The model is obscuring the fit of this with her arms....makes me wonder how shapeless this thing is! I wouldn't want to work out the shaping on this chevron pattern, either, but at least mention that it will be rather square when complete. I would strongly recommend starting the "solid" section a bit sooner--it would look better if the chevrons started below, not across, the bust.
Spring Flowers Cardigan (p26): Cute, basic cardi with simple lace pattern. Lower edge looks a bit uneven. This one is pretty boxy, too, but at least they are not trying to hide this with photography.
The Graceful Pullover(p30): My favorite in this issue. Love the shape, the raglan sleeves, and the lace inserts. I am not a big bobble fan, but these work.
Green With Envy Cardigan (p32): The gull lace pattern is simple and easy to memorize, and this is cute except it has more faux shaping. The left side of this is pulled back, either by the models arm, or with pins. Some of it has escaped, and there is a big bulge of knitted fabric at her hip. Knitter beware.

Spring Tee (p34): Not loving this. The horizontal bands across the waist and hips, the drop shoulder, bleh. Also, looks like this is knit at a pretty tight gauge for this yarn, so the sweater looks stiff and heavy.

Cables and Lace Cardigan: I like this one. It looks like the sample is a little big on the model, but not overly so. I would consider making a this one size smaller than I normally wear to improve the fit. The sleeve
attachment looks a little bulky, as well.
Lemon Ice (p38): Hate this with a passion. The sleeve caps stick out, making even this slim models upper arms look huge. Not only is this shapeless, it actually bulges at the waist side seams. And the neckline reminds me of hospital scrubs. Not good.
Inspired Vest (p 40): Nice verticle line, overall I like this. I would pass on the alpaca blend for summer wear, and try a linen one, instead. Picot edging done with a crochet hook around the armholes and neckline.
Lace Kimono (p42): Basically the cover design, but bigger and with longer sleeves. More bathrobe-y than sweaterish.
Eyelet Shell (p44): Cute, clean and simple design. I would add length to the body, otherwise its fine, but not noteworthy in any way.
Easy Ribbed Shrug (p46): Simple, mindless knitting. Might want to re-think the yarn, at 100% dishcloth cotton, worsted weight (and weighing in at almost a full pound of yarn), the sleeves on this will be drooping to your ankles after you've worn it a time or two.
Patriotic Pizzazz (p48): Its a shirt! Its and afghan! Its both! Hate! (p.s The sleeves, or sleeve openings, look awful on the very best picture the magazine had on this garment....how do you think they will look on a regular person, hmm?)
Japanese Lace Vest: (p50): I am not sure (and there is no copy to tell me) what makes this vest "Japanese". I do not care for it, but it is different, and they did use a nice, accessible, season acceptable yarn.
ZigZag Wrap (p51): Obligatory shawl wrap thingie needed in each issue. More of an oversized scarf than a shawl, but not bad.
Buttercup Baby Set (p52): Nothing new here, a basic baby layette. Would like to see it on a real baby, especially the hat, as it looks a little on the short side.
Knitted Wire Shawl Pins (p56): Cute, but I would like to see them in use. I am concerned about the 28g wire--that is pretty thin, so these may be kind of flimsy.
Irish Net Valance (p58): I like the idea, but this is a lot of knitting for a very boring finished project. I would have liked it better if it had a more interesting pattern, or even a border or something.
Lace Shopping bag (p60): Again, lets see this in use, carried by a real person with stuff in it, not artfully spilling out of it. To use as a shopping bag, this would almost certainly need lining or reinforcement.
Throwback (p62) blah, blah, blah afghan in blah color and blah pattern. Blah.
Flag Table Runner (p 64): Not my style, but OK.
Sock Yarn Belt (p66): The is not really a pattern, it is a strip of garter stitch with a bucle attached. Leave off the buckle, and you have a tie. Or a scarf. Looks like they had a page to fill, and this was handy.





























































































It's magazine renewal time!

It is time to renew quite a few of my knitting and craft magazine subscriptions. For some reason, they all come due about the same time--I must have signed up for everything in a flurry of enthusiasm one spring long ago. I subscribe to 14 craft related magazines, so I receive hundreds of magazines a year. In addition, there are a few I buy on the newstand because they are there; Simply Knitting and Knitting, both from the UK, and Marie Claire Idees (past issues of which you would have to pry from my cold, dead hands to get me to part with) come to mind.

I really get too many, and need to trim a few...the question is, which ones should go? I think a review of each is in order. I would like to cut my subscription rate in half, so I need to cut 7 from my list. Sadly, one of my favorites made this decision for me--Mary Engelbreit Home Companion ceased publication in January of this year.

I subscribe to magazines serving a variety of craft media--from knitting to scrapping, with a few general craft pubs thrown in for fun. I will review the most recent issue of each, and give each one a score. The top 7 scores stay, the rest get the boot. Should be fun!

First up, Creative Knitting!