Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why Should Crocheters Have all the Fun?

Amigurumi Knits: patterns for 20 cute mini knits by Hansi Singh
Creative Publishing international, pub. 2009
ISBN: 9781589234352

Unfortunately, I'm not a crocheter. It's not because I don't want to be but because I find it really difficult! I've tried to crochet a number of times but I just don't get it. I've always admired adorably crocheted amigurumi animals and the great shapes and structures you just can't get with knitting, so I was delighted to see this book.

For those not familiar, amigurumi (pronounced ah-mee-goo-roo-mee) is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small cute stuffed animals. In the last few years it has become really popular and I have found it difficult to get books with knitting patterns.

This book is a great introduction to amigurumi with easy patterns. The book is divided into two sections. The first outlines knitting techniques with wonderful photographs. The second section consists of cute projects. If you are an experienced knitter you may want to jump right to section two but if you are a new knitter you'll want to read over the techniques in section one. The great thing about this book is that every technique used in a pattern is fully explained in section one.

I haven't given any of the projects a try myself but I don't find any of the projects too daunting and I love the inspirational photos. A definite must for anyone looking for cute and quick knitting projects.

Skill Level: Beginner
Rating: ★★★★

Monday, August 9, 2010

Martha to the Rescue

Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts
Potter Craft, pub. 2009
ISBN: 9780307450579

I have to admit that I am skeptical of Martha Stewart, specifically when it comes to crafts. I have always associated her brand with generic and over-commercialized products. I do admit to using some of her recipes and they turned out wonderfully so when I heard about her forthcoming craft encyclopedia I was curious and of course skeptical.

I picked up a copy at the public library and meticulously poured over it as soon as I got home. The first thing I will say is that I was turned off by the cover. There's Martha pretending to glue a sea shell to a garbage can or maybe a planter. Either way it is exactly the kind of thing I'd expect and exactly the sort of thing I would  never in a million years want to make. Once I got over my dislike of the cover and opened the book I was impressed with the photos. Without reading a word, I found the photos inspiring.

Aside from the fact that it is branded as Martha Stewart, the content is wonderful! It is very broad and even though I am not interested in some of the chapters, there is enough content that does interest me that I found myself wishing I had the time for some new projects. Techniques are outlined clearly with wonderful examples. Materials are laid out and the projects are wonderfully diverse. There really is something for everyone. Everything from albums to wreaths is covered. Easy crafts like paper cutting and punching to highly skilled crafts like gilding and silk screening are included. I particularly loved all the craft ideas inspired by nature and the chapter on pom-pom animals is adorable. The back of the book includes a lot of helpful templates for projects and a buyers guide.

I hate to admit it, but I think I'm going to buy this book for my very own bookshelf! It is a super useful resource and a great way to get your creative juices flowing.

I have given it 4 instead of 5 stars mostly because some of the projects require a large investment just to get the supplies and probably isn't super practical for those just starting out or just looking for a fun activity.

Skill Level: Beginner - Advanced
Rating: ★★★★