Friday, April 29, 2011

Koigu Magazine

Earlier this week, my friendly UPS man (with the good-looking legs that all UPS drivers seem to have) brought me a most welcome envelope: it had a copy of the first ever Koigu Magazine in it. Regular readers will remember that I have a very special place in my heart for Koigu. The first hand-dyed yarn I ever knit with was Koigu, and it's not an exaggeration to say that loving my experience with this yarn helped spawn my love of handpaints.

Fireflies (Kathy Merrick)

Every once in a while, I'll hear a knitter ask "What's the big deal about Koigu?" Well, here are a few reasons why it's one of my desert-island yarn picks:
  • Koigu is one of the pioneers of the handpaint industry; the Koigu folks were creating their beautiful & unique yarns long before many of us handdyers had ever mixed our first pot of dye.
  • The colors and color combinations are exquisite and varied -- solids and nearly solids, muted multicolors, wild multicolors, just about anything you could ask for in a handpaint.
  • Koigu tends not to pool, a big plus especially for knitters new to handpaints.
  • It's extremely versatile yarn. The original Koigu, KPM/KPPM, is technically about fingering weight, but it knits well at multiple gauges. You can do lace, or you can knit it at a tighter gauge for socks, or you can knit it at a looser gauge (like 5.5 or 6 sts to the inch) for a drapey effect. You can double it and it knits beautifully, even triple it.
  • Some of the newer base yarns that Koigu has added, like Mori (a blend of wool and silk) and Kersti (a slightly heavier gauge wool) add even more versatility while still giving you luscious Koigu color.
  • Maie Landra's multcolored designs, which include lots of multidirectional knitting and knitting with multiple colorways of Koigu, are beautiful and unique.

Pixie Dust (Maie Landra)

With all of these advantages, it probably shouldn't come as a big surprise that so many knitters and designers love working with Koigu. And that means it shouldn't come as a big surprise that after 25 years of making gorgeous yarn, the Koigu folks decided to produce a magazine devoted to the many ways that a knitter can play with and enjoy Koigu yarn. So let's take a closer look.

Koigu Magazine (MSRP $12.95) is full color, with 25 designs. For this inaugural issue, Koigu aimed squarely at the ladies: all but four of the designs are ladies' garments. (The remaining four are a scarf and a cap which would work for either gender and two throws.) You'll find a little bit of everything, from pullovers to lace stoles to dresses to accessories. I counted the following breakdown:
  • 2 rectangular stoles
  • 8 pullover sweaters
  • one scarf (unisex)
  • 5 cardigans/jackets
  • 3 dresses
  • one skirt (shown with a matching sleeveless sweater)
  • 2 vests
  • a beret and glove combo
  • 2 throws
  • a unisex cap

Kiki (Maie Landra)

Likewise, you'll find a lot of different techniques used in the garments. There are two lovely fair isle/stranded designs,

Deep Sea (l) & Sheep (r) (Maie Landra)

lots of lace (including lacy stitch patterns and lace edgings), modular garments, intarsia style knitting, a cabled garment, lots and lots of use of multiple colorways, some solid garments, one beaded stole, and several garments that experiment with double- and even triple-stranding. While most of the patterns are knit, about four or so are crocheted, including this spectacular throw by Friend of GKIYH Sally Watson Cushmore

[Sally's Bigass Blanket Comfy Cozy (Sally Watson Cushmore)

the aforementioned unisex watch cap, and a fetching beret/glove combo by Friend of GKIYH Kathy Merrick.

Frenchie (Kathy Merrick)

Given the variety of styles included -- from fitted, like this cardigan by New Zealand's Mel Clark

Scholar (Mel Clark)

to flowing, like Maie Landra's Allegra dress,

Allegra (Maie Landra)

it's hard to pick favorites, but I do love the mitered blanket

Squares Cubes & Blocks (Taiu Landra)

the lace stoles

Tumble Leaves (Maie Landra)

and Mel Clark's second cardigan:

Skipping Stones (Mel Clark)

Given the many colors that Koigu yarns come in, it's fun to imagine playing with patterns using different colorways and types of colorways. For example, my own pattern in the issue, called Thistle, is shown in a multi as the main color with solids used for the trim; interestingly, when I originally swatched the design, I used a semisolid for the main color, and a mix of solids and multis for the stripes. I think both work beautifully and I'm awfully tempted to make a version myself playing with more combinations.


Because of the eclectic nature of the designs, the style of patterns varies from designer to designer. Some of the patterns are presented in a single size, others in multiple sizes, and of course some of the patterns (like the scarf, stole and throws) don't need multiple sizes. Charts are given in color for the fair isles, lace is charted, and schematics are given for some but not all designs.

Koigu lovers, rejoice! There's a magazine hot off the presses just for you. Taiu Landra promises that the second volume of Koigu Magazine will be out this fall. More Koigu & Koigu designs can only be A Very Good Thing.

1 comment:

willyg said...

You're not kidding about the UPS legs...they've long been a point of fascination for me.

Oh, yes, and koigu...