Bathtime Buddies by Megan Kreiner, photographs by Brent Kane, pub. Martingale, 2014.
When a well thought out book crosses my desk, my approval becomes increasingly audible with as I encounter each new feature.
By the end of this book, I was shouting and clapping my hands.
Okay, the projects in this book are beyond adorable. DreamWorks artist and animator Kreiner has designed bath toys which are soft and safe, appealing and useful. But there's more.
The "Tools and Materials" chapter says it's for readers just getting started in crochet, but since its content is from a bath toy perspective, it's good for even experienced crocheters.
Kreiner covers appropriate fibers both for the tub and dry land, considering issues such as cleaning and expense as well as organic content. Most of the toys in the book are made with 125 yards or less of worsted weight yarn.
She gives no gauge specifications since there is quite a variance in thickness between individual worsted weight yarns. She does however give instructions for adjusting hook size and the templates (for fabric pieces to sew on to the toys for bellies, etc.) if your toy ends up to be a significantly different size than hers.
The important thing is to keep the stitches tight enough so the stuffing doesn't peep through.
Speaking of stuffing, Kreiner outlines several options, including inserting rattles, squeakers, and bells into the (non-bath) toys.
The "Finishing Touches" chapter covers, among other things, tips for ensuring each creature's eyes and body parts are in the right spot, several methods for template use (one of which involves Glad Press'n Seal), and a neat trick for double-threading a needle which leaves nothing to knot or fasten off at the beginning.
The last section before the projects is "Caring for Your Toys," which covers washing, sanitizing, and drying your captivating creations.
The projects are small to medium sized---about 1 - 4" by 3 - 10". Three illustrators (including Kreiner) contribute to the crochet and embroidery sections at the beginning of the book and to the patterns here.
I heartily appreciate Kreiner's clear instructions and helpful illustrations for assembly, as well as Kane's thoughtful photography of every angle of every project (the underbelly of the jellyfish is pictured on page 34). She explains in detail how to make adjustments which may seem minor yet make a great difference to the finished toy.
The projects are systematically ordered from Beginner to Intermediate level, making it easy to work within your comfort level. Each is introduced with an interesting fact about the animal or a cute way to customize your project---sometimes both.
I won't spoil the entire book for you, but I will reveal a few of the ways to make your project individual. The guppies (see cover) come with mix-and-match fins and tail, resulting in over 150 combinations.
The manatee (which is suspected to have prompted the first tales of mermaids) can be decked out with long flowing hair and a seashell bra.
The angler fish has a lure dangling in front of its mouth (guess why). In real life the tip of the lure glows from bioluminescent bacteria. Kreiner suggests installing an LED in the lure to make a cool reading light.
Bathtime Buddies is a wonder-filled book. I highly recommend it!
Disclosure: Kangath received a review copy of this book from the publisher. No other compensation was provided. The opinions expressed in all Kangath's reviews are her own.
The Big Book of Knitted Monsters by Rebecca Danger, photographs by Brent Kane, pub. Martingale & Company, 2011.
This book contains patterns for 20 monsters, many of whom appear on the cover. I think the ones that didn't make it to the cover were at one of Tony's toy box parties, but I'm not sure.
Any of these designs would be perfect for a beginning knitter. There are no slick tricks like short rows---all shaping is done with the simplest of increases (knitting into the front and back of a stitch) and decreases (knitting two stitches together), plus some expert stuffing (which Danger explains in detail).
The stories (only a sentence or two long) that accompany the designs are charming and provide hints to each monster's personality. These hints, should you choose to accept them, aid in feature placement and monster placement (since each monster has its own room preferences).
The patterns are presented in a very readable format, with clear and creative photos of the creatures they will create.
The monsters above have legs worked as part of their bodies (instead of sewn on afterwards) and the ones at right have pockets to hold their children in. Other monsters have spots on their backs or around one eye, compelling ear shapes, knots on the tops of their heads, or mouths delineated by picked up stitches.
Yarns used are widely available, and substitutions are actually encouraged. Most monsters are knit multiple times to show variations in yarn weight and type.
Harold has toes, which really attracts me to him. Demonstration photos are given each time a new skill is required---not just for the first monster it's used on. Danger understands that knitters don't tend to knit the patterns in the presented sequence, and the photos don't take up too much space. Harold's demo photos include the lineup of toes ready to be joined into a foot, picking up stitches, and releasing stitches from waste yarn to knit the leg upward. See why I find him so alluring?
This is a charming book, and I look forward to reviewing the sequel!
Disclosure: Martingale & Company sent Kangath a free copy of The Big Book of Knitted Monsters for review. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Martingale & Company or Rebecca Danger.
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