In all fairness, before I begin reviewing some of Knit Simple's Holiday 2012 offerings, I should explain that I really don't care at all for Knit Simple or Knit.1 or any of the other beginner-level knitting pattern magazines out there. I've never bought a single issue. I'll look at a new issue when I see it on the news stand, but I always wind up flipping quickly through it, thinking, "Meh," and then put it back. I certainly recognize that such magazines fill an important and even necessary niche in the market, that they give knitters who aren't very skilled yet patterns and technical instruction and other articles geared specifically for them, and that this is a unqualified good thing. The last thing I want is for beginner knitters to feel intimidated or unwelcome in knitting culture.
However, as someone who has been knitting for over thirty years, I don't select knitting patterns based on skill level but on aesthetics, calibre of design, and practical concerns. The level of time commitment required by a pattern used to be more of a factor for me, but a few years ago I decided I would rather begin knitting and sewing fewer, better-designed items than whipping up a lot of simple items as I used to. I've been much prouder of and more satisfied with the items I've made since I put that resolution into effect. And so I approach a review of a simple knitting magazine in much the same way an accomplished pianist would approach a John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano— Grade Three booklet. Which is to say, expect at least some condescension.
That's not to say that simple knitting magazine patterns aren't worthy of review. There are very effective and attractive simple knitting patterns that even master knitters would be glad to make, but there are also many that look amateurish and tacky. And so I'm going to review them with the same care as I do any other knitting magazine, and I'd urge even the most uncertain of beginner knitters not to leave their taste at the door when choosing knitting patterns. You're putting your valuable time and money into making these items and you deserve to wind up with an item you're proud to wear.
That disclaimer over with, shall we have a look at some of Knit Simple's Holiday 2012 issue patterns?
But when I see this Spencer-length sweater on this model, I have to admit she's carrying it off. I think the key to wearing a Spencer jacket or very cropped sweater successfully is a) only wear them if you are small or flat-breasted, b) wear it closed, c) wear it over a dress, not separates, and d) check out Jane Austen films for Spencer jacket inspiration and affirmation.