Books, Reviews

Books

There’s nothing quite like the smell of a new book is there?  We’ve both got several titles included on our Christmas Lists, so let’s hope Santa thinks we’ve been good, or just didn’t notice.

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Crochet Taxidermy

30 Quirky Animal Projects, from Mouse to Moose

By Taylor Hart

Price £10.99

Publisher – Storey Publishing

ISBN: 9781612127361

Faux taxidermy has been extremely popular for a while now.  There is a wealth of designs and kits available to knit cute, wall mounted characters, but very few for those of us that crochet. Until now that is.

Crochet taxidermy by Taylor Hart completely fills that gap.  The book contains 30 quirky animal projects from Mouse to Moose, with something to appeal to everyone.

Taylor is relatively new to crochet having taught herself after moving to Austin, Texas in 2008.  Originally fascinated by amigurumi, Taylor had been making her own mini character designs, when a happy accident between a crochet fox head and her husband’s idea to mount it resulted in her first foray into crochet taxidermy.

Beginning towards the middle of the book for this review, you’ll find the all-important chapter ‘Starting with the basics’. Here, Taylor covers everything you’ll need to get started making your first taxidermy character. Starting with a look at the yarn suggestions, before moving onto those taxidermy critter techniques, including a look at creating faces, making ears and adding fur\hair.  Taylor has also covered stuffing and mounting your characters as well as discussing the options for your wall plaque.

Going back to the front of the book you’ll find a gallery of Taylor’s 30 animals.  They have been separated into five classifications to make it easier to find a specific animal: woodland creatures, farm friends, safari friends, under the sea creatures and zoo dudes. Crochet instructions for each of the characters can be found towards the back of the books.

Taylor has used worsted weight yarn for all her projects, which as you would expect, have been made using a much tighter tension/gauge than normal to ensure no stuffing pokes out. The patterns include a list of the supplies you’ll need to have to hand in order to make your stuffed trophy, with complete, easy-to-read instructions.

Being rather fond of faux taxidermy ourselves we’d really like a complete set of all the characters mounted on one of the walls in our houses (and someone to make them – offers please?).  However, wistful ownership aside, some of our favourites would have to include, the Hipster Hippo with his trumpet shaped ears and big white teeth.  He looks rather too friendly to end up stuffed and mounted, but such is life. Flora the Flamingo would make you smile every day, although her beak could become a little misshapen from all the squeezing it would receive (in our house anyway, honk, honk).  The Hen and Rooster make for a lovely duo, complete with comb and wattle they’d look great hanging on anyone’s wall.  How Now, Brown Cow is quite the impressive chap but mooving on (sorry) it should come as no surprise that we’re both fans of the Baaaad Sheep.  How fabulous – a naughty sheep, stuffed and mounted.  The Shy Deer is resplendent with his antlers and much nicer than the real thing. Last but not least, we should also mention The Sly Fox, Taylor’s first crochet taxidermy critter.  He’s such a little cutie and it’s great to know he’s what led to the rest of the menagerie coming to life.

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Winter

By Rico Design

Price Approximately £5.00

Publisher – Rico Design

ISBN: 978-3-96016-016-8

Winter is a collection of 15 Winter Wonderland and Christmas patterns to crochet, knit, yarn wrap and craft, and each project would make the loveliest of gifts to give.  Varying in difficulty, many of the items featured in this book could be made by children with a little supervision.

Cheer is the order of the day with no-knitting projects like The Pom Pom Garland or Yarn Wrapped Stars, which would look great hanging around the house at Christmas.  If crochet is your crafting preference, then the star and snowflake are delicate and beautiful.  In the book they’ve been used to great effect to decorate parcels – like a gift on top of a gift.

For knitters, there is a plethora of projects to choose from including the striped Christmas tree baubles, that could just as easily be knitted in a solid colour and decorated with embroidery or felt shapes.  Then there’s the loop garland which is a variation on paper chains in yarn and a super funky Christmas stocking, ready for Santa to fill.

The Knitted Alphabet is probably the most versatile design in the book, as it can be used to make garlands all year round. Even better, those helpful people at Rico have included instructions to make each letter in either double knitting or Aran weight yarn. The Christmas tree garland includes instructions to knit or crochet each tree, which would make great little individual tree decorations if a garland seems like too much.

You can usually pick up Rico Designs books at your local yarn shop for a few euros, so be sure to ask if you don’t see it.

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Knitting Short Rows

Techniques for Great Shapes & Angles

By Jennifer Dassau

Price £16.99

Publisher – Interweave

ISBN: 978-1632502582

It’s more often the case that a book will arrive for us to review and while it will always contain something interesting or a project we’d like to make, there are very few that may become elevated to the dizzying heights of ‘Must Have’.  Knitting Short Rows is more than worthy of this accolade.  Jennifer Dassau has not only created a great reference book on the technique that befuddles many a knitter, she has also provided design after design that appeal so much, we could happily knit almost all of them.

Jennifer looks at each of the five different short row techniques individually.  They are presented in an illustrated step-by-step guide, with a list of advantages and disadvantages.  The methods provide the foundation for each chapter, which includes several designs that incorporate that specific method.

There are 17 patterns contained in Knitting Short Rows, most of which (as we mentioned) we love.  They include cardigans, shawls, jumpers, hats and mitts, with far too many to include here.  Instead we advise you to have a look at them on Ravelry here.

With her easy-to-understand explanations, Jennifer demystifies the short row techniques. Add to that, stunning designs for you to knit, we think Knitting Short Rows is definitely one of the books we highly recommend from 2016.

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Modern Baby Crochet

18 Crocheted Baby Garments, Blankets, Accessories, and More! (3 Skeins or Less)

By 978-1632502179

Price £16.99

Publisher –  Interweave

ISBN: 978-1632502179

Knitting is our first language, therefore we’re always quite conscious when we have a crochet book to review that we might not be quite up to scratch.  However, Sharon Zientara’s latest book is so packed with gorgeous designs for little people, that we’re sure we’ve got it right this time.

Sharon is a freelance crochet designer, the former assistant editor of Interweave Crochet and former manager of Skacel’s Maker’s Mercantile in Seattle, Washington and author of the book It Girl Crochet.  As part of the 3 Skeins Or Less Series of books, Sharon and friends have created a range of the most adorable designs for this book.

There are 18 patterns including blankets, sweaters and accessories.  The majority of the designs are sized to fit from newborn to two years, with several including an option for a three year old.  Sharon’s contemporary crochet style comes together in garments that are both functional and wearable.

Making baby items is always a great way of exploring interesting techniques and learning something new. This book provides plenty of opportunities to expand your crochet knowledge.  All but one of the designs are for standard crochet using American terminology.  The Liam Zippered Pullover, designed by Robyn Chachula, is a cute little jumper with a zip opening at the neck made in sportweight yarn, and is made using Tunisian stitches.

Of the other designs included in the book, we would count Landon, Spike the Hedgehog and Parker amongst our favourites.  Landon is a jumper with faux cables designed by Robyn Chachula, Spike the Hedgehog is a cute hedgehog hat designed by Brenda K. B. Anderson to keep little heads cosy and Parker is a modern pair of dapper looking pants designed by Sharon Zientara.

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The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary

150 new stitch patterns to knit top down, bottom up, back and forth & in the round

By Wendy Bernard

Price £18.99

Publisher – Abrams Books

ISBN: 978-1617691959

Many of you may already own Wendy Bernard’s last book – Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary, which is the first of her stitch dictionaries.  Wendy’s second book continues where the first left off and we agree whole heartedly with Wendy when she says stitch dictionaries are like cook books – you can’t just have one.

Wendy is a knitwear designer known for creating garments that are knitted from the top down and often in the round. Most stitch dictionaries only include instructions for knitting stitch patterns back and forth from the bottom up.  So Wendy began to translate these stitch patterns to use herself.  It then occurred to her that other knitters and designers might benefit from her work, hence the first and now second book.

Like Wendy’s first book, Knitting All Around is an invaluable reference tool. There are over 150 new stitch patterns included in the books, with only four that feature in both books – the basics: stocking stitch, garter stitch, 1×1 rib and 2×2 rib.  The rest are completely new. Regardless of your knitting style, for each pattern Wendy has included instructions to knit flat or in the round, with the method written out line by line and in chart form.

The patterns have been separated into six different chapters – Knits & Purls, Ribs, Twisted, Slipped and Fancy, Cables, Lace and Mosaics.  Each chapter also contains a project for you to knit as written or for you to swap another of the stitch patterns you like in place of the ones used by Wendy. Following on from this Wendy has also included six formulas for designing your own socks, hats and triangular shawls at the back of the book.

Of the completed designs featured in the book our favourite would have to be the Woven Taffy Toque. This hat is knitted in worsted weight yarn with all over cables and it would make a fine and warm addition to any outfit.

One of Our Favourites

We’ve two books in this issue which are encyclopaedias that are invaluable for helping you to learn new techniques, discover tips and solve problems.  Both books were originally released as hardbacks and have sold over 60,000 copies.

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Compendium of Knitting Techniques

300 tips, techniques and trade secrets

By Betty Barnden

Price £12.99

Publisher – Search Press

ISBN: 9781844484065

Betty Barden is a prolific crafter and has published several books about knitting and crochet. Many of her designs have appeared in magazines and she also designs embroidery projects and kits. Her book, The Compendium of Knitting, has been re-printed eight times and would make a great addition to any knitter’s reference library.  

In these days of YouTube, it is still nice to be able to sit down and flick through a book.  Hopefully you’ll discover something new to you and if you need more help, at least you’ll know what it is you’re researching.

Betty’s book contains a wealth of information which she’s sectioned off into eight different chapters – Equipment & Materials, Patterns and Chart Design, Basic Techniques, Advanced Techniques, Knitting in the Round, Creative Techniques and the final chapter, Assembly.  Each chapter is jam packed with step-by-step sequences for different stitch patterns, design ideas, helpful advice and lots of photos.  Dotted throughout the book are helpful tips in the form of Fix It or Try It panels which are outlined and easy to refer to.

Quite simply, Compendium of Knitting includes everything from basic stitches to knitting with beads, colour work and all the techniques in between.

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Compendium of Crochet Techniques

300 tips, techniques and trade secrets

By Jan Eaton

Price £12.99

Publisher – Search Press

ISBN: 9781844484010

Jan Eaton is a crochet queen, having published a veritable collection of books on the subject, many of which have been translated into other languages.  Copies of her 200 crochet books probably rest on the shelves of most crochet lovers.  The Compendium of Crochet is exactly that; Jan has collected over 300 tips, techniques and trade secrets to create this book. 

The book was first published in September 2004 and since then has been reprinted 12 times, a fact that only serves to underline what an invaluable resource this book is. Set out in much the same way as the Compendium of Knitting, the book has been sectioned off into seven different chapters – Hook, Tools & Yarn, Patterns & Charts, Design, Crochet Techniques, Working in the Round, Fun with Colour and lastly, Assembly & Finishing.

The book covers everything you need to start crocheting and explores how you can take your craft to the next level.

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