VKL Fashions

One of the things I liked most about the San Francisco version of Vogue Knitting Live was getting to do everything.  The small size of the event meant I had time to do all the things…shopping and classes, yes but also stop at the measurement station, the line wasn’t a mile long.   Catch a couple fashion shows, because they were in the same ballroom as the marketplace.   Stroll the Rowan 40th anniversary collection that was being displayed and get up close and personal with original pattern samples!

Vogue had Josh Bennett’s Marvel collection on display as well as the cover sweaters from the current fall issue and a sneak peek at the brioche collection that’s going to be featured in the next issue!  The next issue could be good!

Let’s start with the current issue.  I have issues with this current issue.  In true Vogue style, they manage to mangle classics and bomb in the biggest way possible.  It’s start with the cover.  Easter colors on a fall cover?  What?  No!

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I’m no traditionalist and you may have noticed how much I enjoy color.  This cover just really grates on me.  I complained to everyone who would listen.  At the Vogue publishing booth, I told the woman.  She said ‘would you rather have the European cover?  We have it and the content is the same, just a different cover?’  Of course…it was still pastel.   No!

This particular cover choice has irked me since it was released.  It had not occurred to me, I’d get to see the actual sweater in person!  There it was waiting for us, right at the top of escalator into the marketplace, along with the rest of the yoke sweaters from the same issue.

I’m not saying it’s a bad sweater.  Not at all, it’s a lovely sweater, just not the cover sweater.  Especially when the rest of the collection is perfect for fall!  Of course, hotel lighting was awful, so click here if you want to see how beautiful these sweaters are.  The bottom right sweater is a lovely soft turquoise color with rust and burgundy accents in the yoke.   That is a redhead’s dream!  And a perfect choice for the cover…what were they thinking?

The cover is nearly forgivable though.  Maybe they were trying to think outside the box or be fashion forward or some shit like that.  Fine, the actual garments are great.  Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The same can’t be said for their next choice.

BOOB TASSELS??  WTF?  I mean, seriously?  How did any fashion editor,  anywhere, think this was a good idea?  NO.  That’s a lovely sweater that has been turned into an abomination.  I still can’t really process what is going on here.  The number of hands this had to pass through to become part of the magazine and no one thought to question it?  Or perhaps feature the sweater without ridiculous boob tassels.

Maybe it’s all a setup.  They’re prepping us for boob fringe, which will seem rather normal by comparison?  There’s really no good explanation for it.

The brioche sneak peek from the winter issue is much better.  Nothing completely ridiculous or rant-worthy, except maybe poor lighting.

Two raglans, a cardigan, a yoke sweater and a wrap, all in brioche.  I think this issue will be popular.  I see potential for wearable garments, in lots of colors, at a range of skill levels.   Let’s hope they don’t fuck up the cover!

Josh Bennett’s Marvel collection, I think these sweaters have been at a lot of Vogue events already but I really liked getting to see them!

Writing knitwear patterns for men’s garments is a thankless job.  I don’t think we’ll ever see patterns for these sweaters but they are terrific garments.   They were designed as part of a hand knit collection that retails for about $1300.  Honestly, that’s a great price for a hand knit sweater.  I would charge you more.  :)

The was one more set of sweaters on display, a collection celebrating Rowan’s 40th anniversary.  This gown was gorgeous!  Knit from Kidsilk Haze and adorned with Swarovski crystals…oh la la!  They even sent it down the catwalk during the fashion show.  It was great to see it on a person!

And, of course, there were plenty of samples on the marketplace floor to be inspected as well.  I really liked this cashmere cardigan, probably the zipper that sucked me in.

The collar was folded over, sandwiching the top of the zipper.  Interesting way to almost do an encased zipper while giving the collar enough bulk to stand up.

Maybe a design feature for my next cardigan?  There’s certainly a wealth of options here to think about!  Seeing all these garments in person is great inspiration, even when it’s inspiration about what I don’t want! The results of failed experiments should never be underestimated!


 

Snips n Zips with Franklin Habit

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My Vogue Knitting Live class was ‘Snips n Zips’ with Franklin Habit, aka steeks and zippers.  I’ve got experience with both techniques but I’m always looking for ways to improve my finishing and add polish to my knits.

I’m happy with my steeks, but you can see my zippers buckle.  They’re definitely passable.  I wear that brown sweater, my Rhinebeck Sweater from a few years back, frequently.  They are not perfect though.

I’ll just get straight to the money shot because this is a perfect zipper!  I couldn’t be happier.  Those lines are so lovely.  I’m really pleased with my work.

The big secret?  Basting the zipper into place before sewing it down.  It helped immensely.  The buckling in my previous zippers is due to the fabric shifting as I sewed.  It’s something I, especially, need to combat.  Loose fabrics like I knit, shift a lot as they’re being stitched.

Always sew zippers at a table, was Franklin’s other advice.  Allow the table to support the weight of the garment.  That will help stabilize everything and making sewing easier.

So, I’m super happy with the zipper portion of the program.  I will say though, I do not prefer Franklin’s method of steeking.  He teaches the slip stitch crochet method.

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And he teaches it very well.

He’s got great visual aids, both drawn and 3D.  That board represents 4 rows of 5 knit stitches, the center stitch being the one cut.  With a very large crochet hook and lengths of thick i-cord he demonstrates precise hook placement and stitch formation.  It’s so helpful.

He’s an extremely experienced teacher, having presented this class to over 2000 students.  Even before that though, he tests all his classes on a group of volunteers back home and really spends time thinking about where students run in to problems and how to avoid them.  Simple tips like always sew with the zipper closed.  It’s a simple observation and a simple adjustment.  I like not having to reinvent the wheel.

All that said, I don’t like the crochet steek method.  I did it in class to be a good sport and see if my dislike was still reasonable.  It is.  Here’s why…bulk.  I’ve got plenty of my own bulk.  I do not need garments adding any extra.

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On the right side of the swatch, you see the slip stitch crochet method.  On the left side, my preferred technique, a sewn reinforcement with a simple backstitch.  When the stabilizing stitches are sewn like this, you’re putting a lot less yarn into it, it makes perfect sense that it would be less bulky.

Of course, I’m also basing my decision on Lopi.  The yarn you cut influences these decisions in a big way.  Sticky wools barely need any stabilizing stitches at all.  If I was using a superwash wool, my choice might be different.  (Like don’t chose superwash wool!)  I might consider a crochet steek at that point.

Franklin had lots of samples for us to see.  Much to my surprise, the lovely blue and grey floral vest he knit was from a superwash, Lorna’s Laces Sport.  Slip stitch crochet steek and it’s a gorgeous garment.  Certainly not showing any signs of unraveling.

 

Of course, the first thing I did was turn it inside out.  How does Franklin finish garments?  Turns out, his insides aren’t all that different from mine.  If you work with precision, those details just fall into place and sort themselves out.

The biggest difference between our work is gauge.  Firmly knit fabrics are not my thing.  Franklin’s gauge is unbelievable to me.  My homework was knit with Lett Lopi on Size 4 needles.  Franklin just happened to bring a tea cozy he made with Lett Lopi on Size 4 needles.

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It’s tough to get a sense of drape without the samples in hand but look closely at the stitches and you’ll see.  There’s daylight between and behind my stitches, you can see the looseness.  Look at his stitches, they’re tight and closely packed.  No daylight there.  Same yarn, same size needles, both knit in the round…completely different fabrics!  Moral of the story:  Gauge matters, take time to do a swatch or three.   It’s true.  Sorry.

SO, I had a very good class experience.  My only real complaint, Vogue makes the teachers collect their own materials fees in class.  We had a $5 fee for the zippers.  I’m not faulting Franklin for collecting it but I know how much zippers cost (less than a dollar) and I know how much I paid for this class ($125).  And Vogue couldn’t afford to toss Franklin a few extra bucks for materials?  It was a sold out class.  How cheap are they?  Also worth mentioning, they materials fee was not on their website so we didn’t even know about it.  I poked around, other classes had their fee listed so I’m sure it was an unintentional oversight but c’mon…it’s not like this is their first rodeo.

As for the rest of the classes I talked to people about, seems the bad stories were overwhelming.  All those good things I said about Franklin, they were missing entirely from other teachers.  No class notes, no long history of teaching, no thought and intention put into curriculums, no well oiled classes.

Instead, it was first time teachers, people who are instagram famous for designing shawls but can’t teach worth a damn.  Designers who can sell patterns but lack quality public speaking ability.  Authors who changed class itineraries with no notice.

I was surprised at the big name knitters who put out substandard classes.  It’s too bad. Conventional wisdom around here said VKL gets better teachers than Stitches but after this weekend, we need to rethink that idea.  I’d say it’s more accurate to say VKL gets bigger name teachers, that’s not to say they can teach at all.

There was one other guy who got very high marks though, Josh Bennett.  He did not disappoint!  I had a feeling he’d be a good teacher.  I watched him mentor designers throughout the course of Skacel’s Fiber Factor.  He provided great insight into the design process in those videos and the importance of editing.   If you haven’t seen the Fiber Factor, you can check it out on YouTube.  It was an attempt at giving knitwear designers a chance at reality tv style design challenges.  It didn’t last into a second season but I definitely learned a lot about designing knitwear by watching it.

Anyhow, Josh Bennett…he’s a yes!  Stay tuned tomorrow for lots of sweater pics, including the sweaters Josh designed for Marvel, inspired by Black Panther and a sneak peek at the garments in November’s issue of Vogue Knitting!