Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It is never too early to think about Christmas

If you have kids, it could be fun to knit them a toys for the holidays. However, adults enjoy knit toys too! I love knitting toys... well and hats and mittens (OK, so there is very little I don't like to knit, but I do really like to knit toys!)

Here are the latest toy knitting books that I've found in my local library. Enjoy!

A Collection of Characters (Leisure Arts #4519) by Chris De Longpre

When I looked at the title of this booklet, I was excited to see these 4 knit toys with matching blankets. It is a cute idea to give a child a toy and blankie that are meant to go together.

The toys all have a common silhouette, gourd shaped body with long dangly limbs. The animals that you can knit are a Pig, Duck, Dog and Mouse. The cutest blanket/animal combo is the mouse and a holey swiss cheese looking blanket.

This is a no muss no fuss book. There are brief general instructions, but the book pretty much contains the patterns and nothing else. I would have loved to hear the author explain how the blankets were inspired by the animals (with the exception of color choices, those are clear!) I love hearing the commentary of authors in addition to their patterns.

I've had good luck with Leisure Arts booklets. Although they would be pricy (for the small number of patterns), if you can find it at the local library then you'd be in luck! The animals are sweet, not the most realistic looking that I've found, but would make for a nice cuddly pal.

Toys to Knit: Dozens of Patterns for Heirloom Dolls, Animals, Doll Clothes, and Accessories by Tracy Chapman

This book contains four main sections of patterns: Dolls, Clothes, Animals, and Nursery toys and accessories. There is really only one basic doll pattern, although it is easy to see (as the author recommends) how to adapt this to make different characters. The outfits you can make range from sailor, simple skirts and sweaters, ballerinas and fairies. Frequently with knitted toys, I don't worry too much about gauge, but here it would be important since you want your pieces to fit. At the very least you should be consistent!

Animals (Now animals tend to be my favorite, so I'm going to list the patterns., My favorites are the Monkey, Teddy Bear, and Elephant. )
  • Monkey (Charming with a heart-shaped face)
  • Fish (there are over 2 dozen pieces to knit separately. Unfortunately there is not a great image to direct you to attach the scales to the body after they're all created, but the final product is darling, nevertheless.)
  • Bumble Bee
  • Teddy Bear (so sweet, there is also a pattern for a sweater)
  • Rabbit
  • Penguin (the beak/head makes me think more of a tucan, I have seen better patterns online)
  • Kangaroo with baby roo
  • Elephant (knit in a dark tweed yarn, the texture gives this guy life. This is one of my favorites)
  • Mouse
  • Snake
  • Starfish
Finally, Nursery toys and accessories. I have included some of these in the animals section above, since they fit in that category. The nursery ball is cute, but I believe I would have trouble getting the six panels to become spherical. Nursery Blocks (there is a photo of a little boy squishing these over his ears which makes me want to make them!).

When creating the amazon link, I noticed that the book had low marks due to the high number of mistakes in the patterns. So I suppose it would be prudent to check for errata before you start working on these patterns, not just when you get stuck. I did like many of these patterns quite a bit. I feel hesitant based on the reports of errors, so I would precede with caution.

The Knitted Odd-bod Bunch: 35 Unique and Quirky Knitted Creatures by Donna Wilson

What a FUN book. These patterns take the rules of proportoin and dimension in creatures and completely re-invents them. You will find creatures with two heads and four legs, elongated heads or bodies and more. Some of these toys have a clear inspiration on existing fauna, whereas others were clearly born in the imagination of Donna Wilson.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fair isle detail on the Owl. I think that the shape and color is brilliant, and cannot wait to make this creature. The Raccoon-Fox makes me giggle with delight.

As I've been working on designing my own patterns, I have been playing with ways to create different three dimensional shapes. Looking at this book is delightful as a source of inspiration. I flip through and new shapes and ideas pop into my head (and then into my sketchbook!)

There is a cartoonish nature to these cartoons, you feel as though a TV series should start based on these creatures. The description of the creatures (how some are progeny of others, and how one may have locked another in a cupboard...) as delightful as the patterns. I am so happy right now after reading this book! I highly recommend that you pick up a copy and read it yourself.