Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fall preview: Rowan

My favorite time of year is here: time to take a look at the new patterns and yarns from Rowan. In the past few years, we've seen some changes at Westminster Fibers: Jaeger is long gone and RYC, a relatively new label, has been folded into regular Rowan. But one thing remains the same: just as the days start to get shorter and the back-to-school shopping frenzy hits, we are treated to a new Rowan Magazine. This year, we've got Rowan No. 48, along with some new yarns and pattern booklets to entice us.

Let's start with the new yarns. For fans of super-duper chunky yarns that knit up fast, Rowan has created Drift. Drift is a single-ply yarn that mixes multiple related colors together, for a subtle multicolored effect. It knits around 2 stitches per inch, give or take, which is pretty darn bulky. Drift is 100% wool, and comes in big balls of 87 yds/100g, at $14.95 MSRP.

Cushy (from Winter Drift)

If you are looking for merely bulky yarn, knitting at around 3.5 sts per inch, there's Purelife Renew. Renew is made from 93% recycled wool with 7% polyamide, and also features a melding of related shades for a muted multicolored effect. Renew comes in balls of 50g/82 yds, and retails for $9.95 per ball. Colors include neutrals and rich jewel tones.

Quince (Purelife Autumn)

Also part of the Purelife eco-friendly line is the British Sheep Breeds Boucle. This boucle yarn is an interesting addition to the line; it comes only in ecru, made from the Blue-faced Leicester breed. MSRP is $9.95 per 100g/66 yd ball, and it looks to knit at around 2 or 2.5 sts per inch.

[don't you love the way this ball of yarn seems to hover in the air?]

Silk Twist is an interesting blend of 53% silk, 30% wool, 12% superkid mohair and 5% polyamide. Silk Twist knits at around aran gauge (Rowan says 4.25 sts per inch) and comes in 50g/93 yd balls, MSRP $13.95. More varied colors, both deeper ones and some brighter/lighter ones.

One thing that I love about Rowan is their incredible pattern support. Between the Rowan Magazine and smaller booklets, they always provide terrific patterns, elegantly photographed, to make you drool. Rowan 48 is no exception. The cover story is "Russian Doll," a folklore theme inspired by Russian nesting dolls. One thing that I found particularly interesting is the way that the Rowan website reproduces some of the creative tools used to inspire the garments: "mood boards" (a collage of photos and other items designed to capture the mood of the theme), designer's sketches, and preliminary swatches.

There are three themes or "stories" in the magazine. The Russian Dolls story is a classic example of Rowan design: lots of intricate patterning,


with emphasis on color and stranded knitting. Personally, I find this fascinating to see and extremely inspirational, whether or not I plan to knit specific garments. I will say, however, that I am dying to knit up the Nonna sweater:


and all I want for Christmas is the yarn pack with which to make it. The Valentina coat is stunning, even if most of us never have the time to tackle it.


"Nomad" is a story devoted to chunkier knits,



but as Rowan describes it, these are knits "in the key trend for chunky exaggerated cable and stitch structures that create warmth and comfort as well as fitting the body silhouette."


Gypsy Hat

The third story is "Timeless," and as the name implies, is devoted to garments with classic style, emphasizing shoulder and neck details and draping.


We see more traditional styling here, with lots of tailored details and some vintage-inspired design features. Interestingly, the yarns used for this story include DK and fingering-weight, as well as worsted, while avoiding the chunkier yarns. (And I love the use of untraditional models -- ones who look much more like real women!)

In addition to Rowan Magazine, there are also several smaller booklets designed to support the new yarns or showcase existing favorites. "Winter Drift" contains about 15 designs for the new Drift yarn as well as old favorite Big Wool,



"Homestead Classics" is described as an homage to " the crafts and textiles of the American pioneer."

Noah, Annie

Look for folkloric themes, ethnic-inspired knits and cables, as well as simpler designs, in an autumnal palette.



"Purelife Autumn" showcases the new Boucle and Renew yarns, with 16 designs for women, with lots of chunky layering pieces.


Winter Cherry

Finally, "Silk Twist Classics" is a book of women's designs, sweaters and accessories, featuring the new Silk Twist yarn. These designs tend toward the easier and simpler to knit, letting the texture and color of the yarn take center stage.


Rose Hip

So there you have it: fall 2010 from one of my all-time favorites, Rowan. Go forth and knit!


Tabitha said...

Oh my! I may have to rethink by resolve to quit buying more knitting patterns. Those Rowan books are pure knitting porn. I agree on the model selection, the woman modeling Tara is especially lovely. I do wish they had a little broader size range, but you can't have everything ('cause where would you put it). Thanks for the review!

JelliDonut said...

Great review. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Christ -- what "body silhouette" is Wayfarer about? I do like Nonna! And Pilgrim (I think) and Drifter. I can't believe we're at #48! I still love #28 which has a Nonna-like sweater, too.