According to a news article I read the other day 4 of the top 10 best selling books on Amazon are adult colouring books. No, not adult colouring books (although I am sure there are plenty of those in print too), colouring books for grown-ups. I’m sure you already know what I am talking about, these books are springing up all over the place. I should know I got two for Christmas!
As a kid I used to love those colouring pads of tesselated shapes,and not just because they had perforated pages. They were highly addictive to colour in but they had a computer generated quality and there were only ever a handful of different designs in each book. The Creative Colouring Therapy book takes all those intricate repeated patterns to a whole new level turning them into some dazzlingly beautiful designs just begging to be coloured in.
You know what else having one of these books means? The perfect excuse to buy a new set of colouring pencils and fineliners. Alongisde the colouring books I was also given a fabulous new set of staedler fine line pens. This is where the adult colouring books really come into their own.
You know when you were a kid and you’d got yourself all set up for the afternoon; streched out on the carpet, finally found your best felt tips (most of which you are pretty sure haven’t dried out yet), hardbacked book just about big enough to fit under your sheet, you start colouring…and the page disintergrates under your pen nib! Not so with the Creative Therapy Colouring book. Hardbacked and printed on perfectly smooth, white colouring pages thick enough to stop ink penetrating from one page to the next, this book is an absolute joy to colour in.
To be completely honest, I am not crazy about the title. But that’s a philosophical debate for another time, and if something so trivial as the title of the book is the only thing that I can find not to like then that tells you all you need to know!
There are so many different books to choose from on the market at the moment but it was the variety of beautiful designs in Creative Therapy Colouring and the hardback binding that really swung it for me.
Illustrated by Hannah Davies, Richard Merritt, Jo Taylor.
Published by Michael O’Mara Books Ltd
Erika Knight dedicates her book to all stitch makers passionate for their crafts. Subtitled “30 Irresistible projects for your home” this bookful of bright ideas by Erika Knight is filled with beautiful photographs that would set any yarn lover’s crochet hooks aquiver.
There is a variety of patterns to choose from aimed at a range of different abilities. Everything from small scented pillows to large afgan throws, detailed filet cushion cover patterns to a free form camisole. None of the patterns in this book are particularly ground breaking but that’s part of its charm. If Erika had chosen the title “Fiddly and Frustrating Crochet” it would be a different story but the simplicity of the patterns makes them not just irresistible projects in their own right but also great inspiration for a project tailor made by you to suit your own taste.
I couldn’t write a review of this book without trying out a pattern. I picked the Corsage Pin as I had some new mercerised cotton and plenty of scraps of fabric and sequins to make the leaves. The pattern is clear and easy to follow and I am pleased with my brooch, I don’t think I would wear it on my coat but I have a bag to pin it to and I will definitely be making more in other colours.
Anyone who has ever bought or borrowed a book of knitting or crochet patterns will know that they are very rarely perfect. When I was reading around about this particular book online I found that there were several comments from people saying that some of the patterns were missing stitches and that in some cases complete rounds had been missed out. Like I say, it is not unusual in a book of knitting or crochet patterns for there to be a few errors and not having made every pattern in this book I can’t say whether or not there are as many errors as people might have you believe. What I can say is that from the comments I have read it doesn’t sound like these errors are going to hold you back from completing any of the projects.
Essential Crochet is full of beautiful and inspiring photos but they are more for decoration than for function. When I am trying to follow a crochet pattern I tend to look at the written instructions, the stitch charts and the photographs to make sure that I am staying on track. There are no stitch charts in Erika’s book. I know not everyone likes them, but once you have learnt the different symbols I think they are extremely useful (click here for the Yarn Council guide to crochet chart symbols) and when the photos are nicely shot but don’t provide much information to help follow the pattern I can see how it might be easy to get a little lost following the patterns.
Overall I loved this book, I was hooked as soon as I saw the drool-worthy bedspread on the front cover, and the photos inside are just as lovely. If ever I leave this book out on the table I can pretty much guarantee that any visitors will pick it up and start flipping through whether they are yarn lovers or not. Inside the patterns are split into several chapters ranging from Basic, Contemporary to Vintage, so there is something to suit most tastes in this attractively presented book.
Overall rating: 4/5.
Essential Crochet. 30 irresistible projects for you and your home is written by Erika Knight and published by Quadrille Publishing Limited.
I wasn’t given this kit, my sister was. She is big fan of Monkey, the cuddly, knitted, tea drinking kind, but not such a big fan of sewing. So, excited by the prospect of owning a Sock Monkey but with no intention of actually making one, she handed the box over to me (cue me trying to look pained and despairing but not convincing anyone).
A tried and tested design, straight forward to make but with enough different tasks to keep you interested and with plenty of opportunity to customize your finished monkey and give it your own spin, what’s not to like? It is also one of those brilliant ideas where once you have learnt how make one monkey the possibilities for making a whole sock based society are only limited by your imagination and the contents of your sock drawer.
This kit proudly proclaims that is contains absolutely everything you need and indeed it does. (Well, everything except a pair of scissors, but it’s close enough right?!) Obviously there is a pair of socks in the box, there is nothing on, or in, the box to say what the socks are made from, but they have a soft cotton-like feel. Along with the pair of socks there is:
- an instruction booklet
- a bag of polyester filling
- a needle
- 2 buttons
- red and white embroidery floss
- a piece of red ribbon
( I’m sorry that I don’t have more pictures to show you for this one but I selfishly started this project without a second thought for you guys, I just had to start cutting and sewing immediately)
The instruction booklet has 16 pictures explaining each step but there are no written instructions. The steps are easy enough to follow but there are no tips on what stitches to use, or how best to attach the limbs or other extremities to your toy. I have started a pinterest board with a few toy making tips since making Miss. Monkey. You don’t need any special expertise but knowing how to do some blind hemming is a handy skill to have up your sleeve.
Once the body was made it was time to pick her accessories. Rather than use the blue buttons in the kit my sister choose different buttons for eyes and decided that she would like a girl chimp with a bow in her hair rather than a boy monkey with a bow tie. She also wanted her monkey to have one ear up and one ear down. I chose to hand stitch this little lady, all in all I guess she took about about 3 hours to make, but you could sew the body, arms, tail, and ears on a sewing machine and then attach them by hand to save time.
As a final flourish I stitched the bow onto a tiny safety pin so that she can move the bow to suit her mood and made a very quick, no sew golden tutu and this summery yellow skirt from some scraps I had. (Somehow managed to miss that her skirt was lifting up in this one, maybe she is an aspiring Miss Munroe?)
It just so happens that it was my birthday while I was making this monkey and my son bought me this book of sock monkeys as a gift*. The perfect source of inspiration! There are some fantastic photos and some clearly well loved friends in Sock Monkeys and what I didn’t know was that they a history all of their own. The Etsy blog has a good brief history, click here to find out more.
Make Your Own Sock Monkey, imported by Funtime Gifts Ltd, is available from various online retailers.
Overall score: 4 / 5. One mark lost for lack of sewing tips.
Difficulty: Easy. The box says 5+, I think this would be good first make for a child learninglearning how to sew. I’d say personal taste and not age would be the deciding factor on this one.
Trickiest part: Sewing the mouth on. This is where blind hemming would come in useful!
* Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863) by Arne Svenson and Ron Warren is published by Ideal World Books. ISBN 0-9722111-2-8.
It doesn’t take much of an excuse for me to indulge myself in all things spooky and with Halloween on Friday I had to share this little gem from my crafting bookshelf with you. I’m a sucker for a book that feels nice, and this colourful, slightly larger than your standard penguin novel, hard back book with a matt cover appeals on every level.
You can make yourself a monstrously cute horde of 20 different fiendish minions with the patterns in this book. The best bit (for all of you that are as impatient as I am) is that because they are amigurumi patterns these devilish dolls are small, quick to make and chances
are you have enough yarn lying around to make a few already. (That’s twice in as many sentences that I have I’ve tarred you with my own brush, but if you had as much yarn hidden around the house as I do you’d be trying to make yourself feel better about it too.)
Each of the patterns is graded in terms of it’s difficulty from beginner to epic and comes with a close up colour photo of the finished project, a stitch chart and a ‘long hand’ written pattern too. As if 20 different patterns wasn’t enough the book also has plenty of useful tips on how to give your monster a professional finish that Dr Frankenstein would be proud of.
Did I say I love this book? I want to get that in there again before I have to say this… I am not entirely sure that the patterns are necessarily 100% right. I am very happy to hold my hands up and say that this could be my slightly haphazard counting, or maybe a little wobbly tension here and there, but at times I could see something had gone astray but for all the re-counting of stitches and re-reading of the pattern I couldn’t for the life of me see where I had gone wrong. But we wont dwell because between the pattern, the chart and the photo it was easy enough to work out how to keep the pattern going.
I honestly wouldn’t let that put you off buying the book, but if this is your first foray into the world of 3D crochet then you might want to hone your skills before having a go at these. Then again, it could be the perfect learning curve. As you can see my Day of the Dead Gal is a little shy so I am off to crochet her a date to take her to the Dia de los Muertos fiesta this weekend – otherwise she’ll have no-body to go with. Groan!
I would happily buy this bewitchingly beautiful book as a gift for someone crafty and I am looking forward to adding more members to my Creepy Cute army.
Overall rating: 4/5.
Creepy Cute is written by Christen Haden and published by Quirk Books.