This week marks the release of the Thirtieth Anniversary Edition of Vogue Knitting. I have almost every Vogue Knitting since its rerelease in Fall 1982. A few have been lost to time and lending, but they are still a source of inspiration and information. This is my journey with Vogue Knitting…..Starting and ending with the evening of Jan 22, 2011.
It has been more than a year a half since the night of Jan 22nd and much has transpired in my life. I no longer just knit from Vogue – I have had patterns published. I am constantly creating and thinking of the next idea that might make its pages. The 30th Anniversary Issue of Vogue marks the 4th Vogue Knitting Magazine in which one of my patterns has been published. It also marks for me, 30 years of Vogue Knitting readership.
I have been so lucky. The encouragement of friends, the belief of Trisha Malcolm that my designs are worthwhile and appropriate for the pages of Vogue, have given me a creative outlet that I did not know I needed or wanted. Thank-you all.
My Thirty Year Journey
It is the evening of January 22, 2011. I am in New York City at the Gala Dinner for Vogue Knitting Live and the Magic of Mohair Design Competition. How did I ever get here!
Trisha Malcolm (editor of Vogue Knitting) is at the Podium speaking about the almost 30 year-long history of this incarnation of Vogue Knitting. Trisha is speaking of the history, the facts, the changes and the iconic moments of this magazine. As I sit here I am looking at the other finalists – most of whom are young enough to be my daughters – and wondering what their history is with Vogue Knitting Magazine. I may be the only one old enough to have seen/read/have all of those years of Vogue Knitting Magazine! How did it happen that after 30 years of learning from Vogue Knitting – I was now looking at the possibility of having a pattern I had created and knit being published in the magazine itself!?
It was a very surreal moment, life altering, as I saw my name on the board above the stage as 1st runner-up – I was going to be published! From learning to sharing the knowledge learned – a knitters dream come true! It wasn’t a dream I realized I had until that moment….
I bought my first Vogue Knitting magazine in the early fall of 1982. It was two years after I had retaught myself to knit and I was struggling. Not quite 22 and totally without any other knitters around, I had taught myself the basic stitches from a Mon Tricot “How to Knit” Book – if you can find it – the best basic learning book ever! I’m only slightly prejudiced! But I did not understand how to read patterns or how to take the next steps, or even where to start.
The Fall 1982 issue of Vogue Knitting was the relaunch of the Magazine. It had been very popular through the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and then died in the early 1970’s. As knitting was dying off, the knitting book was dropped from the Vogue Magazine line-up. In the early 1980’s knitting was showing signs of returning and there was a need for more interesting and fashionable knitting patterns. Vogue responded to the many requests for the magazine to return to the stands….
“When this magazine was in the talking-planning stages, we did a lot of research to acquaint ourselves with the original and much talked-about Vogue Knitting, which had ceased to be in the early Seventies. What we found was an impressive legacy in fashion knitting presentations, superior in every respect. Vividly , it was brought home to us, the reasons why we have received so many letters through the years praising the virtues of Vogue Knitting and pleading for a comeback. You who remember the original Vogue Knitting…….”
With these words editor Polly Roberts opened the pattern section of Vogue Knitting Fall 1982….. and started my love affair with the Vogue Knitting Magazine.
That first magazine talked about gauge and blocking and re-making old sweaters and showed the most beautiful sweaters I had ever seen! I wanted to be able to knit those sweaters and achieve that beautiful finished look. From then on, I watched for every issue of each magazine and read them cover to cover.
From the pages of those early magazines I learned about gauge, and finishing. It only took about 10 years for the gauge lessons to really click – I preferred to knit the project, not the swatch! I gave away many more sweaters than I kept! When I was pregnant with my first child, I knit my first sweater that fit. That was 26 years ago now. And I wore that sweater proudly for almost 20 years. I finally retired it after the edges wore out and I shrunk out of it! It was knit with Briggs Regal and was the most scarlet red sweater ever seen – but I loved it.
The next sweater I knit was the worst sweater ever! It was white and fuzzy and from the same book. My success with the first sweater had gone to my head and I tried another. It was a long, lean looking cabled sweater with a large shawl collar – it looked great – on the model. When I tried wearing it – the kindest words were – “you look like a snow man”. My tall slender friend inherited the sweater and it looked great on her!
From the pages of Vogue Knitting I met the many designers and knitters who have inspired me over the years! Most importantly for me, Elizabeth Zimmermann and her daughter Meg Swansen. Elizabeth’s common sense approach to knitting and her “pithy” patterns helped me to understand everything else I was reading – she was the Rosetta stone that helped my understanding of knitting jargon and language.
The list of designers whom have graced the pages of Vogue Knitting is endlessly inspiring. From knitwear designers like Elizabeth Zimmermann, Norah Gaughn, Annie Modisette, Kaffe Fassett, Kim Hargreaves, Shirley Paden, and Nancy Marchant (I met Nancy in New York!), to runway designers like Adrienne Vittadini, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren and Perry Ellis. All have contributed to the pages of Vogue Knitting. Each one with a different perspective and sense of fashion – one of the strengths of Vogue Knitting is that it caters to both the knitters amongst us and the fashionista’s as well. Up to the moment European and American designs combine with ageless fashion to create an iconic magazine that appeals to many.
Inspiration comes also from the advertisements that have been in the Magazine. My favorite image is an ad by Christine de Falbe – an absolutely gorgeous long sweep of cables created an image that is still with me as an example of Very Very Vogue.
It was a little write-up in Vogue Knitting, not really an add that started me knitting tea-cozies. My toys – and for many years a source of a little extra income – my yarn fund. My cozies have travelled all over the world and have even won a design competition in Australia!
Classic Elite, quite a few years ago now had a line of kits, designed by Kristen Nichols that featured incredible colour work – Nichols signature techniques. From that write-up and Nicky Epstein’s three-dimensional ideas came my tea-cozies, in all of their fanciful glory.
After about 15 years of knitting I was still defeated by Sock knitting. It was Vogue’s article, Have Socks Will Travel, that helped me cross the line into sock knitting success!
I had tried several times without success to knit socks. I understood the terminology and techniques but could never get beyond the first or second round of knitting – my needles would flop everywhere and fall out the stitches! I can remember one time when I flung my knitting across the room and swore – a lot!
The fix was so simple – wooden needles! Wooden needles gave me that little bit more control needed to knit those socks! I haven’t stopped knitting socks since! This latest Vogue Knitting – the Thirtieth Anniversary Issue has a pair of my sock in it!
When my children were young I knit them quite a few sweaters, some were my early attempts at design. Some were pretty basic and some were from the pages of Vogue.
My daughter was looking through my Vogue Knitting with me and she saw this sweater – it had a very fancy edge and she loved it. It was the first time she asked for a sweater – she was about 6 years old. I knit that sweater in a Kelly green and she wore it until she just got too big but it was her favorite for a couple of years!
From Vogue I learned how to resize patterns. From the most basic changes of gauge and needle size, to the full-fledged design changes of darts and short-rows shaping. I teach a lot of what I learned about the shaping and fit of the sweaters that I learned from the pages of Vogue. The value of a properly fit garment is immense – whether you are petit and hard to fit or generously sized and hard to fit.
My favorite section or article in Vogue was the then and now articles. I love vintage, the look and feet of it. I knit quite a few of those garments. My favorite was a wonderful man’s sweater for my son, resized from man’s to boys – by changing the yarn and gauge.
My favorite Vogue Pattern – ever! was the World Sweater Pattern. It took about 5 years to find the right colours and yarn for my sweater. I eventually knit it in Peer Gynt – which I special ordered to get the colours I wanted – and I still wear it today! I think that it might be one of the most recognised sweater that Vogue Knitting ever created. Many people have come up and commented on it and spoke of their experience in the knitting and the wearing of their versions.
I do not knit from patterns much any more. I spend most of my time creating and knitting my own ideas. As a designer I lack the ability to draw out my ideas properly – but if I can see them in my head I can knit and write the pattern out as I knit. This is not so great when you have an idea that you want to convey to others – they cannot see what you can see – but it works for me most of the time!
I have taught knitting now for about 12 years and have worked in my LYS for about 11 years. I became a designer to create patterns to teach from. And so it began…..
About two and a half years after I started to sell my pattern on Ravelry a friend sent me a link to the Vogue Magic of Mohair Competition. I had seen the ad but I wasn’t really interested. I was too busy….I had no ideas….I had no time. I was told I really should try.
I woke up one night shortly after with the idea. I sourced out the yarns and started knitting. I was knitting for my daughter. I could see her wearing it. It would be for her Christmas gift. I never thought it had a possibility of winning, but I would send in the pictures and try…..We know where that lead. My daughter never saw it finished, never got to try it on – she was at school.
I almost didn’t make it to the Gala. I really could not afford to fly across the country for the one night – just on the hope that I might win. But I have a wonderful boss (she is also a friend), and she made it happen.
We were both there when my name went up on the board and we both cried. It was so wonderful to share the experience. I will never forget that evening. It was truly a life changing moment.
Thank-you Vogue Knitting
PS I have included some of my pictures of the Wrap and Sheath in the Slideshow as well as the patterns and covers of the Vogue Knitting Magazines that I have had patterns in.