Interpreting Traditions Today: Knitscene
As editor of Knitscene magazine, I review a lot of knitting design submissions. When choosing projects for the magazine, I have a lot of objectives—the design must be smart, well thought-out, appealing to a wide audience, and contemporary in style, while still hinging on the legacy of knitting itself.
Designers who interpret old techniques and make them startlingly new to the eye have a special talent. Sometimes all it takes to get this effect is to update the silhouette of a project while incorporating familiar elements into the surface design. Ruth Garcia-Alcantud's Montview Cardigan uses common cables and a shawl collar, but the shape of the garment is utterly modern, with an hourglass waist and sideways-knit garter bands that flare more than pull in, as traditional ribbing would.
Surface design is all-important in Melissa Lemmons's Ramona Cowl, which uses a solid and a self-striping yarn in two-color stranded Fair Isle. The end result is luminous, just like Fair Isle colorwork but almost unrecognizable as such otherwise—the stitch pattern here is large, meandering, and doesn't feature cross-motif symmetry. And sometimes, we can reference tradition with the silhouette itself. Amy Herzog's Hester Pullover features gently puffed sleeves in a nod to "sweater-girl" looks. With spare detailing and a lush metallic/mohair blend, this sweater has contemporary style with retro soul.
Tweaking the traditional is what Knitscene's all about. We strive for simpler patterns that are fun to make and knit up quickly. We look for projects that utilize the knitter's skills and favorite techniques but that create a fresh and flattering space for them.