* love the varigated kids sweaters (#3 & 4), and although they are knitted in colinette, it’s easy to substitute (i’m thinking schoeller stahl Big Print , 100% superwash wool, same colours available, way cheaper!!)
* can’t go wrong with a felted tote bag (#6): forget about the sickening x-mas colours & go for something gorgeous! it calls for lamb’s pride worsted, but that seem like a waste of great yarn. i’d do it in Lopi (great colours this year & 1/3 cheaper than the Brown sheep) and knit it in a seed stitch to make it extra durable.
* Basic Aran sweaters for kids & adults (#10 &11): a great aran pattern for someone who’s never done cables and it’s a style tha’ll last FOREVER. if it weren’t for the sweater curse i’d make this one for my beau. They call for fil crosa Zara, and that is a great call for the grown up version since it’s 100% gorgeous superwash merino DK weight. If i had kids, which i don’t, they wouldn’t be getting anything so luxurious – i’d either go with the Scholler Stahl Limbo (100% superwash DK weight) or i’d play around with the size & gauge & make it in OnLine Tessa or Fil Crosa Primo – both a bit thicker yarn, but both super-duper-superwash. and the colour – white?? I don’t think i was EVER allowed to wear white as a kid and i still maintain that prohibition. another nice alternative is the Wool Gatto from Lana Gatto/Needful Yarns – its 100% wool, handwash only, but you get 165m per ball and it is niiiiiice stuff!
* Hooded Knitted Coat (#12): I LURV knitted coats, and if i lived in Rome i’d make it in merino, but i live in Toronto the slushy, and speaking from experience, knitted coats need something sheepier on this side of the pond. Also, they use tons of yarn, it’s a real investment. I’d use either a couple strands of Lopi together (wind the lopi into skeins first and wash them in Eucalan and it will soften them up), or Bulky Lopi. Another alternative is to double up some Araucania Nature Wool Chunky to get some colour variation.
* Courier Bag (#13): great idea, but i’d definitely do it felted, maybe with 2 strands of Hemp Wool held together on 7 mm needles? I don’t know if the hemp would make it tougher, but it felts and i always think of the hemp being a good reinforcement.
* Cross-over ballet jacket/sweater (#16): love the clean lines, love the colours, (purple & fuschia are very knitomatic), but the blanket stitch trim is UNFORGIVEABLE (although luckily very easy to rip out. I know – MEOW! ) Solution – pick up & slip stitch crochet the edging , easy-peasy! or ….. if you’re feeling industrious, pick up & knit a big, baroque ruffle trim on the collar & cuffs, but please don’t do this if you’ve got junk to hide, one of the best features of this pattern is that the clean lines hide a multitude of sins! I’d use Extra or Extra Stampato by Filtes King/Needful Yarns – there’s merino and then there’s MERINO, and Needful knows their merino!
* multi directional turtleneck (#18): this simple knit rocks, but beware, if you’ve got a gut or hips to hide the horizontal patterning will only make things worse. OH MY GOD – they call for coats & clark acrylic! ick! Super ick! ok, don’t worry, there are lots of subs that can redeem this garment: Extra or Extra Stampato by Filtes King/Needful Yarns – merino, can’t go wrong; If you’re really skinny (aka you’ve got a figure like a popsicle stick) Noro Kureyon or Silk Garden could work for you; Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted is good if you want something warmer & sheepier; and for those allergic to wool, Estelle’s 100% Silk or 100% Silk Tweed would be lovely. OK, so you’ve got junk to hide but you still love the pattern and WANT it, nay, NEED it – don’t worry, all is not lost. Just reverse the patterning – make all the parts that call for stockingette in garter and all the parts in garter in stockingette: now all the emphasis is on your glorious mams the fabric will stretch in a flattering manner across your tummy & hips. Also, if you’ve got hips to hide, add a few inches on the bottom so it falls just below your hips and doesn’t slash across them – you’ll end up with a super shapely silhouette, everyone will be everyone will be green with envy.
* Furry bag from Kertzer in Ad on pg 1: great x-mas gift!!!! it seems to be on Kertzer’s freebie pattern page, but I can’t open a link, although it’s not exactly hard to figure out – 2 squares, satin lining, 2 purse handles, furry yarn. Since it is a kertzer pattern i’ll suggest Kertzer Baby Monkey, but since THE LINK IS DEAD i’ll also suggest other subs: for other high end synthetic furs try Amsterdam by Lana Gatto/Needful Yarns or Lang Furore (on sale); for a funky, furry textured look consider Estelle Crazy or Yukon by Lana Gatto/Needful Yarns; for a super shaggy look try Toronto by Lana Gatto/Needful Yarns or Fiore, which comes from kertzer but doesn’t seem to have a brand or a link (what up with that?), but i guarantee it’s shaggy and very cool. And if you want to go real cheap and don’t mind the barbie hair feel of eyelash, there’s always Estelle Shimmer at 5 bucks a ball (i’d hold to strands together to get a good fur thing going) or Lang Starlet at $8.