I mean, I like Kim Hargreaves's designs, and I've been wondering (along with everyone else) what Rowan is going to do without her--but the answer seems to be, "We're just fine, thanks." There are oodles of unfamiliar names in this issue, and no single designer has more than about 3 items, which is all to the good: lots of fresh ideas. More than I know what to do with, right off hand.
In fact, I'd argue that Kim's habit of ringing the changes on an idea--cardigan, pullover, kids' sweater, hat--may have stifled creativity. Not hers, ours. In this issue, if there's a stitch or a collar you like, you're invited to apply it to some other garment on your own--there are hardly any pairs or families of designs.
The idea of customizing our knitted pieces is in fact a theme here. There are embellishments to quite a few items (beads, fringe, buttons, embroidery),
and some of the designs are themselves embellishments--flower broaches, felted appliques. Some of the directions are pointlessly precise ("Place 6 faceted crystal beads at the point of each petal"),
but others leave us to our own tastes ("Sew an assortment of buttons and sequins")
. There are also lots of felted items, and as I know only too well, anything felted is going to be highly individualized.
There's also a lot less stockinette than I'm used to seeing from Rowan. Grace says it's as if a copy of Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns only just made it to England: in addition to the familiar cables (very few, and those worked with idiosyncratic knots and so forth)
there are plenty of slip-stitch patterns,
some mosaic knitting,
a couple pieces that combine knitting and crochet, and other kinds of textures that are hard to categorize.
Moreover, as if Rowan didn't make enough colors in any particular yarn, quite a few garments combine different yarns. Sometimes it's for textural counterpoint, sometimes a change in scale, sometimes it is just the hunt for the perfect color (yes, there are designs by Kaffe and Brandon here). Two different items feature 3 strands of the same yarn held together--one each of three different colors. I've never been so pleased that we carry virtually all the yarns Rowan makes, and in every color. (When did that happen? One day we were wondering about trying maybe 6 colors of Wool Cotton, and then suddenly, I look up and we've got all but 4 of them--at which point, you might as well say "What the ----, order the rest.")
Some of the stuff is crazy. I don't see many people making the little hat-like item with the flowers made of Kid Silk Haze and sewn onto a bit of veil. But some of it is great, and all of it is food for thought.
One thought I've had already: We should do some classes around some of the less-familiar techniques. Maybe a Sunday workshop for the crocheted-flower broach with beads. And definitely a stitch clinic to practice some of the patterns, especially with increases and decreases. (Almost all the garments are shaped at the sides, and there are a couple stitches where I'm wondering how to work the increases:
So I ask you a number of questions: What do you think of Rowan 38? And which projects would you like classes on? And if we have to do the stitch clinic either on a couple weekday evenings (say, 2 or 3 Tuesdays) or else wait until October to find an available Sunday, what's your vote? Speak up!