I don't usually think of knitting books as coffee table books, but that's clearly what the folks at Vogue Knitting and Rizzoli New York had in mind when they put together Vogue Knitting: Classic Patterns from the World's Most Celebrated Knitting Magazine.
The book looks back at the 30 years since Vogue Knitting was revived (Fall/Winter 1982 to Spring/Summer 2011, to be precise), presenting a collection of classic patterns from the 1980s, '90s and 2000s that becomes a compendium of knit style over the past 30 years.
About the Book
- Pages: 288
- Format: hardcover
- Number of patterns: 77
- Skill level: 11 are rated "Very Easy Very Vogue," 26 are for intermediate knitters and 40 are for experienced knitters
- Sizing: All projects are for women and garments usually include 3 or 4 sizes, though some have only 2 and some as many as 6
- Illustrations: 170 full-color photographs
- Knitting lessons: some techniques and abbreviations are given at the back of the book; the only illustrated techniques are measuring gauge and the three-needle bind off
- Publication date: November 2011
History in Vogue
The book opens with a brief forward by designer Anna Sui and a longer introduction by longtime editor in chief Trisha Malcolm. The comes what's called "A Brief History of Vogue Knitting," but it sure doesn't read quickly.
Instead, this 17-page history feels more like an advertisement for the magazine and the brand, touting its relationship with big-name designers, its superior art direction and skilled editing. All of that may be true, but it's still excessively self-congratulatory to me.
Unless you're a seriously devoted fan of the magazine (or have worked on staff or as a designer for VK) you can easily skip this part and dive right into the patterns.
The designs in Vogue Knitting are arranged chronologically by decade. Each is shown in a two-page spread with the original magazine presentation and a a couple of paragraphs about the design and other projects or articles that were featured in that issue.
All of the designs are presented with patterns at the back of the book, which adds to the coffee-table feel. A fan of fashion history could use this book as a reference for color, shape and styling even if she couldn't knit, and knitters can use it for inspiration even if they never work a design from its pages.
Which is not to say there aren't plenty of patterns her you'll want to knit, depending on your style and love of the slightly retro.
From the 1980s there's a Classic Cable Sweater with a small shawl collar from Calvin Klein, Mark Jacobs' giant faux-plaid sweater (his first design for the magazine at age 22), a classic deep Rib Cardigan reimagined from a pattern in a 1949 issue, and a lovely trapeze Swing Coat by Deborah Newton that would all be nice additions to a modern wardrobe.
The 1990s selections offer such beauties as the Trapeze Dress by Laurie Macmillan, a raglan beauty with contrasting ribbed-tie collar; a bright blue wave-emblazoned tee by Norah Gaughan; the giant Red Hot Sweater worked in Seed Stitch; Isaac Mizrahi's Striped Sweater, using a stunning 24 colors of mohair blend yarn on a ribbed turtleneck; Joan Vass' pretty, snug cabled Tape Tee; and a lovely, hazy cable rib wrap from Lily Chin.
The "Modern Classics" section, featuring patterns from the 2000s, has the biggest selection of patterns and probably the most that will appeal to today's knitters. Some of my favorites include Mari Lynn Patrick's Ribbed Yoke Sweater, a short-sleeved cashmere stunner, as well as her Fine Lines Cowl sweater, which uses a slip-stitch pattern to form the stripes; the giant Striped Tunic from Twinkle, using three strands of an already chunky yarn to make a huge statement; the Whip-Stitch Tunic by Michael Kors (Oprah once wore the ready-to-wear version in her magazine); Debbie Bliss' classic Fair Isle Cardigan; Kaffe Fassett's clever Dolman Pullover, using two shades of multicolored yarn to do the heavy colorwork; and the cozy, bulky, shawl-collared Fisherman's Cardigan, which proves that comfort will always be in style.
Vogue Knitting is a fascinating and beautiful book, showing off some of the best of the more recent incarnation of this venerable magazine.
It would have been nice if some effort had been made to provide substitution suggestions for the many yarns used in the patterns that are no longer produced (more specific than "a DK-weight yarn with similar fiber content," for example). But for the knitter willing to do the legwork to find suitable replacement yarns, this book is a good guide to the fashions of the '80s, '90s and 2000s that are largely still wearable today.
Even if you don't knit any of these patterns, the book is a beautiful reference to the styles of the recent past that is sure to inspire and enthrall stitchers of all skill levels.