About Woolly Wits

I am a hand-knitting designer and teacher. See and purchase my published designs on Ravelry.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Playing with (Color) Blocks

Every Sunday morning a new issue of Tahki Stacey Charles yarn company's Newsflash newsletter pops into my blog reader.  TSC is more fashion-forward than many of the yarn companies, so their latest designs are always of interest.  They've been featuring color block designs in Cotton Classic, which, as its name implies, 100% cotton and been in production for many years. 

The design lines of the variations in the color block tops provide a great lesson in figure flattery.  First up is this past Sunday's featured pullover top, Breezy,  with a loose fit, boat neck, cap sleeves and a horizontal line across the bust.  None of those is a good choice for anyone to look slimmer.  Breezy is all horizontal lines, except for the diagonal sleeve line that cuts across the meatiest part of the upper arm. 

Fair Weather
Moving on, we've got the Fair Weather Tee.  With a more fitted shape, scoop neck and the addition of vertical design lines in the centered contrast panel, this top definitely makes the model appear thinner than Breezy.  It also features a cap sleeve, which again is unflattering to anyone with a beefy upper arm.  Fair Weather isn't working so much for me on an esthetic level - I really don't like the contrast of the squared off panel against the rounded scoop neckline.  They seem to fight each other.  Also, the short sleeve length and the scallops at the hem read as a little juvenile.  So, FW is a step up from Breezy, but not all the way there.

So, we've got Sunrise with many diagonal lines in play.  The triangular color block on the body nicely echoes the v-neckline.  The sleeveless trim fit features the form, without clinging to it.  Is it a perfect design?  Definitely not.  The V-neck is a little high, and I don't care for the way the triangle cuts across the bust.  But, this would be a great design for those figures which are more generous in the hips - as long as you keep the darker color to the bottom.  Flip the colors and Sunrise is more flattering to those bodies with broad shoulders and narrower hips.  So, it's not just the orientation of the design lines, it's the color placement, too. 

To purchase any of these patterns, go to: http://www.needleworkunlimited.com/tahkiyarns.aspx

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Woolly-Wits Reviews Wool People Vol. 7

Ivar by Anne Hansen

Generally, I am not a fan of Brooklyn Tweed patterns.  They skew towards heavily cabled, worsted weight  designs, and the excess visual weight of either highly textured or heavier weight fabric is not flattering to my fluffy figure.  Great for hipsters; not so great for middle-aged suburban ladies.

But this time, there is a real winner that I have to talk about - Ivar by Anne Hansen.  Such a classic but modern look - great for work or more casual wear, as pictured.  It features long, slimming vertical lines in the textured diamond panels, as well as the button bands.  It also has a v-neck, which also slims by visually lengthening the neck.  And, I am currently really into the longer length.  What's a drawback?  The yarn - fingering weight.  Wait, don't panic - it is worked on larger gauge needles, size 6, for more openness and drape, just what you want in a sweater that can be trans-seasonal.  The other potential misstep is that it may or may not have waist shaping.  Hard to tell from the photos, and, being an on-line purchase, there's not access to a schematic without paying first.  But, since the decorative panels are set in from the edge, it should not be difficult to decrease a few stitches coming up to the waist, and then add them back on the other side.  I might also have to add pockets to my version, since I am currently pocket-obsessed, but that would be a fun alteration - probably adding them in centered on the textured panels. This is definitely going in my queue.
Natsumi by Kazekobo

What doesn't work so well in this collection?  The most dangerous sweater in the lot is the Natsumi pullover by Kazekobo.  It is also a fingering weight with lovely drape, but it features too many strong horizontal design lines - slightly scooped boat neck, ribbed hem, and, most prominently the patterned band across the upper bust.  The shape is also very boxy with no waist shaping and dropped shoulders.  Who would this sweater work for?  The strong horizontals do visually broaden the shoulders, which helps balance larger hips and thighs.  But, they would be unflattering to a larger bust.  It also lacks any vertical design lines to visually lengthen the slim the figure, so I really can't recommend this design to anyone but those with the slim, youthful figure to wear any garment well.
Vector by Tanis Lavallee

While we are still chatting about Wool People, I have to mention the Vector scarf/shawl by Tanis Lavallee.  I am a sucker for diagonal design lines, and I am also lately a sucker for generously-sizes rectangular-ish wraps.  So, this one has also been favorited, if not queued by me.  Love the gradient, although I would definitely work mine in color.  The pattern calls for fingering weight, but I think this could also be great with leftover sock yarns.  This might be my next take-to-meetings mindless knitting project.

With two hit-out-of-the-park designs, Vol. 7 is my favorite Wool People collection, ever.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ahhh . . . To Be Vogue With Only Basic Knitting Skills

Have you seen the April issue of American Vogue?  They feature a number of dead simple designer knits at designer prices. 

Here's the most basic - little more than four rectangles with exposed seams and an I-cord belt from Calvin Klein:

It's also the cheapest of the lot, a mere $795 retail.  The yarn is a mix of alpaca and cashmere, so some part of the price reflects the luxury fiber.

Next on the scale of both skill required and price is this number from Nina Ricci:

This sweater is wool and tags in at $990.  The construction here is more sophisticated, with raglan arm shaping and decorative increase/decrease 'princess seams' through the body. 

Here's a super-quick knit cardi in bulky mohair.  This has patch pockets and the same skinny belt seen in the first design.  And this Michael Kors design can be yours for just - well, see for yourself.

And, at the top of the price scale is this fine weight cabled sweater dress (shown as a tunic) from Dior.  No mention of the fiber, but at $3,700, I hope it is qiviut.  Gently combed from newborn baby musk oxen.

We knitters whine a lot about the cost of fine hand knitting yarns.  But, here we could buy merino, silk, cashmere, etc. yarns, bill out our knitting time at $10 an hour and still come in less than retail.  Heck, for the Dior sweater, we could bill our time at quadruple minimum wage.  I'll take $40 an hour for knitting any happy day of the week.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

New Pattern! Cuthaig Plaid Mitts

Just in time for chilly spring days is my new fingerless glove pattern, Cuthaig.  It's the next in my obsessive line of plaid knitting patterns.  The three yarn /four color technique is the same as my Gait's Haire cowl & wrap, but here the gloves are worked in lace weight wool for the ladies size and sock weight for the men's size.

 I am very pleased with the results, especially the feather weight of the ladies glove.  (But then, I suppose a guy would appreciate the beefier weight of their glove.)  Choose for yourself!  Available on Ravelry.