Posted by: jinniver | June 10, 2008

Magazine Review: Verena Knitting, Summer 2008

$6.99 (plus tax) and an hour and a half of my life I will never get back.

I’ll admit it–I let myself get sucked in by the hype. Someone on a knitting forum mentioned that Verena Knitting was coming to the U.S., and that prompted a wave of superlatives. I was excited about the idea of a new knitting magazine, so while I was in Barnes & Noble to get a birthday present for my husband, I stopped by the magazine rack. And there it was, along with several other magazines I hadn’t tried yet.

I’ve got no one to blame but myself for this poor purchase. One of the magazines was wrapped in plastic so it couldn’t be read, but it wasn’t this one. If I had simply opened Verena Knitting, I would have known by page 6–if not page 6, then page 7–to just put the magazine back on the rack. That’s where I would have found the article entitled “Runway Trends 2008.”

I am not into high fashion. Maybe there’s a redeeming quality to watching women with bones protruding through their skin, makeup only a bad B-movie villain could love, and hair that is either pasted to their head or hasn’t seen a brush in a while strut down a runway wearing some of the most god-awful wastes of good quality fabrics known to man, but I haven’t found it yet. I just can not see the purpose of clothing that 99.999% of the population wouldn’t wear even if they could afford it, especially when it fails to flatter even the stick thin models it was made for. Needless to say, any magazine that opens with this as their inspiration is unlikely to be the magazine for me.

But that’s only the first thing I disliked about Verena Knitting. The second, I’ve learned, is apparently a cultural issue. From what I’ve been reading in posts about the magazine, European knitting magazines tend to be extremely light on the articles and heavy on the patterns. If I just wanted patterns, I’d buy a pattern book. Better yet, I’ll buy a magazine that has a variety of patterns and helpful and/or informative articles about knitting. I’d like to learn about the world of knitting, get introduced to a store I’ve never heard of, get the scoop on upcoming events, and learn a new technique. Other than the runway article, Verena Knitting had two articles: one about knitting on the internet (which gets bonus points for mentioning Ravelry, but was surprisingly basic and outdated–it sounded like knitting blogs were a brand-new invention); and a “News Bit” about Sock Wars III–also outdated since registration ended before the magazine was released.

Verena Knitting is definitely jam-packed with patterns (“50+ patterns!” the cover announces proudly), but if you wear something bigger than a large, don’t bother. Many of the patterns do not knit up larger than a 44-45″ bust. And most of the ones that do are not their fitted patterns–plus-sized women are largely relegated to the tent-like outfits, like the Lace Tunic on page 100 (pattern #42).

Of course, it’s hard to tell how that tunic fits even on the model, considering how she’s posed: curled up on her left hip, propped on one arm for balance and with the other elbow resting on her thigh. It’s impossible to see the line of the sweater in that pose. Many of the pictures in this issue triggered one of my biggest pet peeves: models photographed to maximize the “artistic” nature of the shot, not with the knitter in mind. The Hip Length Sweater on page 10 (pattern #1) got things off to a good start. The model is standing with her hands on her hips, but not in such a way that I can’t see the waist shaping. Her arm position gives me a good idea of what the sleeves look like, especially under the arm where knitters are sometimes surprised by excess fabric. By the V-Neck Sweater on page 20 (pattern #11), things have gone definitely downhill. The lines of the sweater are hard to make out over the wildly patterned shirt and the neckline is partially obscured by all of the jangly necklaces. Her pose obscures the shaping, although the bunching up on one side doesn’t bode well…and can someone explain to me why she’s standing behind a plant? Things don’t get really bad until the Tiny Cables Top on page 82 (pattern #24), which is supposed to help the wearer “achieve harmony.” Apparently harmony conflicts with brushing your hair. And if you can get past that, you find more foliage and a scarf obscuring the view, paired with a slouchy posture that destroys the lines.

There are no men’s patterns, but there are eight patterns for children. The Girl’s Vest on page 105 (pattern 47) looks adorable, but the collar has an awkward look (like it got accidentally folded under and wasn’t straightened out before the shoot–looking at the schematic, it’s supposed to look that way) and it’s really not all that different from a shrug pattern I found for free on Ravelry. I might knit up the Boy’s Cabled Sweater on page 108 (pattern # 52) for my son, but the sweater is really nothing special.

I know there are passionate fans of this magazine out there, and that’s great…but I won’t be adding myself to their roles.

The facts:
-112 pages, 53 projects
-Very few articles or ads, small technique and abbreviations sections for the patterns
-Price: $6.99 US / $8.50 Canada / EC 5,00 euros / UK 3,95 pounds
-Recommended: Only if you like high fashion and are skinny enough to wear it.



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