First of all, I have to say, “Kraken!” How could I resist a book with a pattern to make a giant squid? (My giant squid is here, if you want to see it.) Not to mention the hermit crabs (Seriously! How did she figure out the math for that three-dimensional, stuffed spiral that makes up the shell? I am in awe.), the earthworms, the unconventional veggies (eggplant, anyone?), and the Loch Ness Monster. This book is a treasure trove of weird, little-boy-obsession patterns. Which works well for me, because I have four of them.
Now, as to the specifics: there’s the standard how-to section, with instructions on grafting, picking up stitches, and short rows, all of which are heavily featured in her patterns. The short-row shaping, especially, is extensive. There are tips on stuffing your toys and finishing them up, too. One thing I liked was that many things had minimal sewing required; most appendages are knitted on by picking up stitches. (Except for those darn hermit crab legs. They, of which there are many, all had to be sewed carefully inside the shell opening, hiding the stuffing and not mangling their directionality as I went. Ick.)
Another plus: many incomprehensible written instructions were made clear by pictures illustrating what she meant. Some things just can’t be expressed adequately in words, and I’m very glad I didn’t have to try to read the designer’s mind. Having said that, there were a couple spots where I looked for the pictures and didn’t find them. That, after knitting up the other, really well documented patterns, was really disappointing. So I guessed as best I could, and things worked out well. (But if I hadn’t started off with the Kraken, I don’t think I would have fared as well.)
My current love of the book, after having knit up the Kraken, two Hermit Crabs, and two Loch Ness Monsters, is about 4 out of 5 stars. I will never again knit another hermit crab as long as I live, if I can help it. But the Loch Ness Monster was a comparatively simple knit, and if you add some crinkly plastic gift wrap into the flippers to make them crackle, they can make a great and …unique… baby gift. My son has requested a giant-sized squid to use as a pillow, but I’m hoping he’ll forget that request.
After having so much fun with all the short rows (I’m not kidding) and finally understanding what they’re for and how they work, I’ve found that my knitting in general has gotten a lot better. This book was one more step on my way to becoming a really great knitter.
Oh, one last thought before I go: don’t be afraid to stuff! My poor little menagerie has gotten a little floppy since I made it. Poor Orangey, especially, can barely even hold his head up, poor dear. (Yes, my kids are extraordinary namers. I believe the formula is “pick its defining characteristic, then add a -y to the end of it.”)
Let me know what you thought of the book. Have you made any of the other patterns?