Friday, January 11, 2013

Rowan

In the last week, I've added three issues to my collection of Rowan Knitting Magazine:


On top is issue 53 - for spring and summer.  This one is causing something of a kerfuffle on the Rowan Love ravelry group.  It contains a large amount of intarsia patterns with dropped shoulders, which is making folks kind of grumpy!  On my first pass I found exactly one pattern I might consider knitting.  Rather a disappointment.

I've been slowly adding to my collection over the last couple of years, in hopes of making it complete.  A couple weeks ago, I found two early issues at a relatively reasonable price, and went ahead and ordered them:

Rowan 4, from 1988

Rowan 8, from 1990

As you'd expect, there's a whole lot of oversized, drop-shoulder action going on in these two issues, as well as intarsia and stranded knitting which contains more than 2 colors per row.  Example:

Yikes!

Not super useful at the moment without a lot of alteration.  But a collection isn't really about being useful, is it?  I did fall in love with this ski sweater from issue 8 though:


I've been subscribing to Rowan since issue 21 (1997), and have managed to fill in over the years to the point where I'm only missing 6 issues:  the extremely elusive numbers 1 and 3 (when it pops up on Ebay, #1 sells for well over $100), along with numbers 5, 10, 12 and 14.

Today I decided to wear the first Rowan sweater I ever knit, from issue 21, the first magazine I received as a subscription.  I made this probably the following summer, so around 1998, and I still love it.  I remember finishing it up on our trip to Turkey, and walking to the little fabric shop with my mother-in-law to find the buttons for it.  Good times . . .

please excuse the mirror pic - it's all I have time for at the moment!

Yeeeeeeeears ago (1991) when I moved to St. Louis, there was a craft store called Leewards.  I'm pretty sure it was a chain, although I never saw one anywhere else.  It was similar to a Michael's or Hobby Lobby.  I would regularly find balls of 100% wool (even Shetland), usually German or Russian brands, for ONE dollar!  Every time I saw some in a color I liked, I would buy 15 or 20.  This sweater is made from one of those yarns.  It was a sad day for me when they closed their doors.

April, from Rowan 21

You can see from this and the first picture that this is a fairly boxy silhouette, as per the norm of the day.  I love the diamond stitch pattern, and my favorite part of this sweater is the notched collar.


So impeccable.  Any guesses as to the designer?  That's right:  Kim Hargreaves!  I'm starting to think I should make her her own tag, her name comes up so often here!

Are any of you Rowan collectors?  I'm curious if the back issues are easier to find in the UK than they are here.  It seems that the early issues that come up on Ebay are often in the UK, and it makes me wonder if they surface in thrift shops or garage sales.  Do they do garage sales* over there?  Please enlighten me!


*Garage sales seem to me to be a part of American culture, but I'm not really sure if this is true!  Over the summer, we took Niecey-poo to a garage sale, just as a point of interest about American culture.  She wasn't overly impressed!  They don't have garage sales in Turkey.  Because mostly they don't have garages, at least not where our family lives!

29 comments:

  1. Obviously, I'm not from the UK, but I've heard they have "boot sales" there, sort of like a flea market atmosphere where people sell things out of the trunks of their cars.

    Your mention of Leewards took me back--they had a huge store in Elgin when I was growing up, and I fondly remember going there with my mom and just marveling at all the craft supplies. I think they were a chain, but I only ever remember seeing that one store.

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    1. So I'm wondering if Leewards was a Midwest thing? Although we didn't have one when I was growing up in Battle Creek/Kalamazoo. We did have Ben Franklin's though - most of my allowances were spent there as a kid!

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    2. Ahhh! Ben Franklin! I went there all the time as a kid!

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  2. Oh Gail, now I will be keeping my eye out for those magazines, I'd not heard of them before now.

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    1. Definitely worth a peek through on your next trip to the yarn shop! Or a virtual peek on Ravelry ;-) Although one of the things I do love about the magazines (especially the older ones) is the styling, which you won't see on Rav.

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  3. Loooove that stitch pattern on the last sweater. Looks like a fun collection! :)

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    1. Every once in a while I sit down and have a nice look through the old pattern books. It's really fun to see how fashions in hand knitting have changed over the years.

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  4. I thought that might be a Kim Hargreaves design! Other than her designs, I'm not a great lover of Rowan patterns. I don't like aran/cabled type sweaters or fair isle and these always feature heavily.

    Having said that there is a very pretty sweater in the new book, with stripes and intarsia flowers.

    KarenD is right, in the UK we have car boot sales held in fields, where people take along a boot load of stuff and sell it from tables set up by their cars.

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    1. Fascinating! I love learning how things work in other places :-)

      I used to knit a LOT of sweaters from Rowan magazines in the mid-'90s to early 2000's, but it's been very hit or miss the last few years. I guess really since Kim left them.

      I do like the stripey flowered sweater a lot, but it's one of those things that I like to look at, but don't really think I could pull off wearing. :-(

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  5. Isn't it wonderful how knits often have their own complex history from the designer, to where you found the yarn, to what was going on in your life when you knit it? I think that Rachael Herron talks about that in one of her books and I find it fascinating to hear the stories behind your gorgeous knits (Turkey?!). I'm more of an estate sale, antique store kind of person, but probably just because my parents are antique pack rats (they have three doors for every doorway in their three story, 100 year old house).

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    1. It's true: a lot of my knits hold very specific memories!

      My Hubby is from Turkey, so by marrying him I accidentally became a world traveler! Most of his family is still there, so we try to go every year or two :-)

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  6. I must confess I have never even seen a Rowan magazine and only learned of their existence through you, my friend. Sounds like you have quite the collection! Garage sales are big in Canada and Mr. Stitch loves them so we always stop in them when we see one - I will keep my eyes open for your missing issues from now on.

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    1. Awww, you're so sweet! Thank you!

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  7. As you know, I recently bought a Rowan pattern book which I love but I haven't any of their magazines. Love how your sweater has held up over the years. It's a timeless classic!

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    1. It really is - that's what I love about so many of Kim's designs: even many years later, they don't look out of place.

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  8. Wow, there are some pretty special patterns in those 80s and 90s issues! I had to do a double take on the ski jumper, I think the model has somewhat of a resemblance to you! Garage sales are popular in Australia too and I've found some good stuff in the past.

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    1. That's so funny! Looks like you weren't the only one either!

      It's so interesting to me to be hearing about garage sale/charity shop/boot sale traditions in different parts of the world!

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  9. Will keep my eye out Down Under for you, in my prowls around the place! You just never know what you find. We have garages sales here, they are a big thing on a Saturday morning. The die-hard buyers are up and about around 5am to source out the best deals...a little too early for me...

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    1. Oh, yes! I had a garage sale once when I lived in St. Louis, and people did indeed start showing up at ungodly hours, well before my stated start time! Interestingly, in St. Louis, the big days for garage sales are Saturday and Wednesday! I never could figure out the Wednesday bit!

      Thank you so much for offering to keep an eye out for me - so sweet!

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  10. Aaah, this has just made me go back to the only Rowan I own, issue 30. I bought it the last time I thought I might take up knitting.

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    1. Another one of my favorite "oldies" is from Rowan 30: Flo. (Also designed by Kim H., natch!) Nowadays, that sweater would be knit top down raglan style!

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  11. It is amazing how roomy the patterns were in the 90s. They seem so HUGE looking at them now! Makes me feel old.

    ;-)

    Yes, they have 'boot sales' here. Kind of like flea markets in a field, parking lot or gym. People bring boxes of stuff and then set them up on tables. Very much like a portable garage sale.

    (Garages aren't very common here with all the terraced homes - not enough room when people are crammed in cheek to jowl, like in London. Would guess it is much the same in Turkey or most cities with old architecture.)

    I hadn't heard of Rowan mags either till now. I will keep an eye out.

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    1. Me too! Oh wait - I actually AM old ;-)

      And after all those years of big, loose clothing, fashion took a U-turn in the late '90s or so with UNDERsized clothing! I'm glad we're at a happy medium at the moment - although it seems like the young things are looking back to those roomy styles of the '80s.

      I have to say I'm pretty amazed that so many commenters weren't really aware of Rowan magazines. They've been at the center of my knitting attention for over 20 years! I really thought everybody was into them!

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  12. Fun Gail. I love Rowan but have never subscribed. I just buy one now and again. The ski sweater is awesome and the stance of the model and angle of the photo totally looks like your blogger profile pict.

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    1. It used to be that the subscription was a good deal, because you got a free gift of yarn every year and access to deep discounts of discontinued colors. The free gifts have gotten to be less and less appealing over the years (for me at least) and the sales on yarns have disappeared. I've kept up my membership really just to avoid having to drive out to the suburbs to find a magazine. If I still lived in the Loo, I'd just pick it up at Kirkwood Knittery - I only lived 2 blocks from there!

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  13. I subscribed to Rowan for a while and a have a little collection of their beautiful mags. I don't know how easy they are to come across second hand here, I haven't tried. I'm used to garage sales from NZ but they are less common in the UK I think - they have something called carboot sales but I've not sought any out.
    Charity shops are a pretty big deal here too - but I've never come across much decent knitting stuff.

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    1. I wish we had car boot sales here - it sounds like more fun and less work than a garage sale!

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  14. You are a hardcore Rowan collector! I love Rowan's Cocoon yarn. I find a used bookstore to be a great place to find used knitting books.
    The st definition of your Rowan knit is spectacular!

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    1. Hehehe - I guess I am! I have saved searches on Ebay and everything!

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