Friday, September 12, 2008

illusions (optical and otherwise)

Wot? Still no pictures? My dearly beloved has, alas, been proved wrong: the internet connection has been even worse during daytime hours than it is in the evening. So you'll just have to pretend that there are pictures to go with this post (which is, after all, about illusions...)

Sitting browsing through The Times this afternoon I spotted an article about a scientific survey which shows that...wait for it..."a stastically significant number" of those surveyed felt that women look slimmer in horizontal stripes than they do in vertical strips. Whilst this goes against the received wisdom passed on to us by fashion editors, grandmothers etc it is no surprise to those of us who used to love the pages in annuals devoted to optical illusions. If you take 2 squares of the same size and fill one with veretical parallel lines and the other with horizontal ones, the vertical square actualy looks dumpier: both broader and shorter than the horizontal "square" which actually looks more like a tall oblong. I particularly liked one observation in the article--that vertical lines going over a large behind will look distorted--and the suggestion that this accounted for the fact that whilst horizontally striped tights come in and out of fashion, vertically striped tights haven't been repeated since Mary Quant first tried them out! (We're talking coloured stripes rather than ribs/welts). And then there was the very wounding (to those of us who fall in the broad and short category) comment that "fat people will always look fat".

After that sobering thought I felt the urge to treat myself to the latest issue of Let's Knit!. I do wish I hadn't, as (a) I'm broke and (b) it has a decidedly 80s feel to the patterns and styling. Which might be OK if you are 30 or under but is positively undesirable for those of us who are nearing 50... Not only are we treated to a long-line, short-sleeved, deeply-v-necked, jumper in wide bands of bright blue and white (though, it must be admitted, the bands are horizontal, so there is a saving grace) we are also shown models in sequinned frocks teamed with metallic-looking cowboy boots. Nice.

But it did contain an illusion: someone on the editorial team ( see "Splurge versus Steal, pp56-57)suggests that spending £11.00 on a 100g (270m) skein of Manos Silk Blend is a "luxury option", then proposes Malibrigio Bahia (£5.25 for 50g/ 137m) as a "Budget" alternative. Here we have the "I didn't do the maths illusion": yes, if you are buying 100g, the Malibrigio saves an entire 50p whilst offering you an extra 4m... Frankly, at least until I find myself some gainful employment, both are "luxury options". Then again, if I can resist the next 5 issues of Let's Knit (£4.99 each) I'll have more than enough money to buy 100g of each of them...


picperfic said...

oh come on Rosie, you know you've got some cowboy boots in your wardrobe!! You are very observant re the prices and weights of the yarn. I have a horizontally striped top and I often put it on and take it straight off. It looks lovely on the hanger!

Jo said...

I love stripes, on the one part of me that never looks fat (my feet)! I was disappointed with Let's Knit last month, and will do my utmost to ignore the British Knitting mags, I don't mind a magazine with a load of garments I don't want to knit if the techniques, and construction and styles are at least inspiring, interesting and exciting

Danielle said...

Well, I didn't notice that particular illusion in Let's Knit, but I did notice the 'illusion' of the cover pattern. They've missed part of the pattern out (it tells you to shape the arms and shoulders, but doesn't say *how* to shape them). It isn't as though they even give you a picture of the back so you can see what it looks like.

I'm glad to know that my horizontal stripes aren't too bad for my always short, increasingly plump self.