Sunday, October 24, 2010

More Books That Aren't Mine. But I Love Them Anyway.

Disclaimer: Reviews posted on this blog reflect the opinion of me. I am not compensated by the publishers in any manner other than the acquisition of a free book (never a bad thing!). If I don't like it, I won't talk about it. If I do like it, you'll have to put up with my blather for a few paragraphs.

Most of you know by now that I am a grandmother. I am also a big fan of handmade gifts. And I am a big old sucker for "cute". When I was asked to take a look at two Watson-Gupthill books, Knitted Wild Animals by Sarah Keen and Knitting Mochimochi by Anna Hrachovec, there was no choice but to say yes. I may have said it a little louder though. And there may have been a very very tiny bit of a squeal.

When I was a child, one of my things was watching my G.W. (aka Gramma Winnie, aka Winnifred Harvey Irish Morgan) crocheting and knitting a variety of animals and toys. Bears, mice, elves, you name it, she would make it. I even once had a purse that was made from the bottom of a used laundry soap bottle. When opened, it converted into a doll bed. I thought it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. I watched her fashion many of the same for siblings and cousins, and many, many more for selling at the local Christmas craft fair held annually in Northfield, MA at a variety of churches and other locales. Small knit and crochet friends, therefore, have a special place in my heart.

I have also been very busy of late with this new book, and once again my plan to knit sweaters for my grandchildren for the holidays is falling away from me. It makes me very sad that once again I am thwarted. But then I got to thinking. What about a smaller item? Not a sweater. What about...a toy? And then the email came - would I like to review books on knit toys? It's like they read my mind.Yes, of course I would love to!

When the books arrived I dove right into them. The books are decidedly different from one another, and yet I find myself in raptures over projects in both. Knitting Mochimochi is the work of Anna Hrachovec who's adorable blog and website Mochimochi Land contains a wealth of cute, cuddly and sometimes a little bizarre creatures.
Knitting Mochimochi: 20 Super-Cute Strange Designs for Knitted Amigurumi
 In all there are 20 amigurami designs divided into four categories - Fierce Creatures, Random Objects, Impractical Wearables and Nano Knits. Most are under 8" when completed. The projects range from Bite-free Bedbugs to Feet Eaters (this is the cover image - a slipper that eats your feet) and from Grouchy Couch to a Hamster Herd. Information is provided on everything from childproofing your toys to designing your own. Most importantly, I think, there is a great deal of information on basic toy technique. Unlike a traditional knitted project, toys require a few tricks that some may not have in their arsenal. The information presented here on these topics would alone make it worth the investment for any toy knitter.

Most of these projects are small and quick to knit, making them perfect tote-along projects. I personally require a herd of hamsters for my office, and possibly some Pigs in Wigs as well. I am looking forward to boatloads of fun both to knit and to enjoy when they're complete. Excellent as gift ideas or just adorable objects to have around you, this book is loaded with fun and inspiration.

Next I turned my attention to Knitted Wild Animals by Sarah Keen.
The patterns in this book are more traditional in appearance, but are just filthy all over with cute. The cover image alone is captivating, but then you begin to flip the pages...fifteen adorable creatures peer up at you, page after page of wildlife just begging for you to pick up the needles. Lion and tiger and, well, no bear unless you count the unbelievable cute giant panda. There's warthog and moose and zebra too!

A technique section gives advice on the basics of casting on, increasing and decreasing and binding off. There are helpful hints on working with intarsia, making tassels (tails!) and embroidery for faces as well as stuffing and care of your finished stuffed creature. These creatures are larger in size, about in the 8-18" range. You could knit an entire zoo that would keep any child entertained for hours regardless of their chronological age.

Continuing the trend toward unbearable cuteness, the Webs Holiday 2010 catalog just made it's public appearance.
Seriously cute. Within hours I had knit two penguins using the pattern from Webs which is available as a download (in case you are, as I was, instantly driven to whip some up), and I doubt my obsession will stop there. I love the slightly sarcastic look of the penguins. These are mine (so far):
There will, of course, need to be more. I've been rewarding myself for accomplished work with something like this - a project I can knock out and feel finished with in a matter of an hour. Of note, I did NOT put them here. When I went up to bed last night they were side by side on the mantle contemplating who they wanted me to knit next. I think this display indicates they want more of themselves? I can happily comply!

(edited to add an update on penguins and the resulting stacking behavior seen above from Girl - "Well there was an epic penguin battle going on, but then we all came in to watch movies so they had to freeze where they were. At least that's what I think happened... It's not like I was there.". I don't think I believe her about the not being here bit...)

Next weekend is our oldest sons wedding. There's a  lot of flutter and excitement here. We love Selina (oh and Brendon too) and could not be happier for them or for ourselves, really. Among her other fine qualities, Selina KNITS. Just a little for now, but I think we can work on that, don't you?

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Thanks for the book reviews. The penguins are adorable. Best wishes for the upcoming wedding. Our older son was married Nov 2009 to a wonderful young woman who is a crocheter and dabbles in knitting and understands my obsession with yarn. Hopefully I will eventually become a grandmother and will want to knit toys! Most of all, thank you for your Toe-up 2-at-a-time socks!!! LOVE the technique.