22 February 2007

Pass the Tissues

Came down with a spectacular cold over the weekend. What started as a scratchy throat progressed through "Kathleen Turner after a weeklong bender on Jack and Camels" and ended with me spending my last lovely federal holiday for months coughing and snorting.

Fortunately (?) I was still only in the scratchy throat stage when Maman helped me carry out a concerted reorganisation of my living and dining spaces. Those spaces have now traded positions, more or less. Some large things (sideboards, china cabinets) are where they always were, but the sitting and eating areas have shifted. There's not less furniture, nor did we manage to magically shrink the furniture there is, but I think the new arrangement makes better use of the space, in the sense that I think we'll actually be able to use the space now. As it was there wasn't much in the way of eating or sitting or anything else going on upstairs. It's better now. As a bonus, Maeve likes being able to lounge on the loveseat and be able to see out the sliding doors at the same time.

Didn't do much knitting, obviously. I had some hopes of maybe possibly finishing Girly Bag, but felt too lousy to do anything with it. I did take a good long look at the new Interweave Knits (which miraculously arrived at my house BEFORE the newstand release date). Most of the things I thought I would like I do, the stuff I thought I wouldn't, I don't, and the stuff I was meh about was settled one way or the other. Seeing the detail means I can see I like and may possibly knit Clementine, but will not get too worked up about the Dollar and a Half cardi.

I am not 100% wild about the new layout, largely because having the big photos of the designs in the middle of the magazine and the patterns further back annoys me (though the new IK layout is far less annoying than some other knitting magazines in that regard -- at least IK stuck with regular font and column sizes in the pattern section). The thing that really annoyed me most was something that, in retrospect, has annoyed me about IK in the past, too, namely bad layout decisions, like long jumps (breaking an article mid paragraph on page 12 and requiring the reader to find the cut on page 121 was the sort of thing my undergraduate journalism teacher would have beaten me for) or weird photo and ad placements. Full page ads facing pattern pages (especially when the pattern ran over one page, so you had to turn the page to get to the rest of the pattern also bugged me. I know a lot of people photocopy the pattern pages so they don't have to tote the magazine around while they're knitting, but still. It's distracting when you're actually looking at the magazine.

I'm also a little worried that IK's apparent love affair with Wenlan Chia, the new models (what did Interweave Girl do to deserve being cast aside?), and some of the other little details, are symptomatic of a trend toward more couture-y and less wearable (and more narrowly sized) items. I'm not feeling particularly alarmist -- the sizes on the projects in this issue are reasonable, and there was the pattern and the feature piece on Joan McGowan-Michael, who's always sized to accomodate a wide range of women -- but still, it makes me twitchy. Especially after reading the comments on Wenlan Chia's book over at Moth Heaven. She doesn't size larger than a 33" chest? Allowing that there are some women who are healthily and naturally that size, still ... how many of them are there? I grant you that I am now somewhat more zaftig than I perhaps ought to be, but even so, I think the last time I had a 33" chest, I was about 11 or 12, and I remained a pretty reasonable weight throughout my teens and 20s.

(I found some pictures from while I was an undergrad during the rearrangement. I was cute. And skinny. I had no idea).

Actually, I confess I don't wholly understand the fascination with Wenlan Chia, full stop. It's not like she's the first couture designer to show knits. Alexander MacQueen has shown sweaters (and quite elaborately cabled ones, too) in the past, for example. Giles Deacon's Fall 2007 collection features ... superchunky ... knits, for instance (conceivably these were even handknit, but I don't know. Deacon's collection also features a lot of feathers, though I don't see the cochin chicken look transferring well to the street). I haven't seen any of the knitting magazines going ga-ga over that. On the other hand, Alexander MacQueen isn't trying to sell a book of knitting patterns. (Though if he were, I know some people who'd be all over it).

And I don't buy the 'push yourself as a knitter and adapt it to fit you' argument either (someone commenting at Moth Heaven suggested that, rantily, and I didn't buy it when the same argument was made in an issue of Vogue Knitting a couple years ago in the context of a 'praise to the creative knitter' piece, either). If I'm going to drop the cash for a book or a magazine, I want to be buying something I can use, right there, as written. To do the amount of work I would have to do to make a pattern sized for a 33" chest fit me, I might as well write my own pattern. And if I'm writing my own pattern, why do I need to buy hers? It's just business. You want to sell a product, then sell a product people are going to need or want to buy. I don't need to buy a book of sweater patterns, and I don't want to buy a book of patterns that I will have to rewrite, from scratch, to make garments I can wear. Especially not a book that costs in excess of $30.

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