Onto the other Anna Hrachovec book I managed to get my hands on! As I mentioned in the review of Super Scary Mochimochi, I was really looking forward to that book and I let Paul pick out one as well since he was so enthralled with Gnomeo. He looked through a few of the books she had out and picked this one.
I think the thing that drew him to these books was the sheer variety of toys in the book. There are seven sections of the book entitled Tiny Animals, Tiny Edibles, Tiny Humanoids, Tiny Inanimates, Tiny Naturals, Tiny Holidays and Tiny Possibilities. Animals and edibles are fairly self-explanatory; animals and food if you were still trying to guess. Humanoids are things like babies, mermaids and robots. When I was talking with Anna at VKL she said the kit patterns she sells aren’t in any of the books, so to get the pattern for something in a kit you would have to buy the kit. The exception to this rule is the gnome and he is found in the Tiny Humanoid section.
Tiny Inanimates are things like computers, sail boats and record players; small things of everyday life. The Tiny Naturals are things found in nature such as plants, volcanoes and planets. Tiny Holidays include things special for a specific time of year. What I want to see in the next book is a teeny tiny turkey! I think that would be totally amazing, maybe I should try to work on that and send Anna the pattern, or just a random turkey… I don’t think there are many places random turkey is turned away.
The Tiny Possibilities section is all about different way to display your tiny knitting. Whether you’re wearing, carrying, displaying or giving these tiny little knitted treasures there is a way to show them off with pride.
Like the Super Scary Mochimochi book, all the instructions are extremely well written and there are short tutorials in the beginning of the book. The photography is amazingly funny as well. It makes me want to knit toys until you can’t even see the floor of my house, but I am keeping it in check quite well.
Again, I would recommend this book to knitters of every level, especially if you are into toy knitting. If you’re not totally sure about toy knitting, I would really suggest getting one of the small kits. All the materials are included, which means you don’t have to hunt down yarn that would work or find stuffing etc. It really takes the more difficult parts out of it. Right now the only thing stopping me from going totally off the reservation with toy knitting is a lack of time and really REALLY excellent yarn scraps.
I bought Rosemary Drysdale’s first book, Entralac, a long time ago. Not too long after I first started knitting. It was a decision I went back and forth on for a long while. I would see the book, flip through it and admire the patterns, but not get it. At that point, I couldn’t afford to buy it, it was right after I was out of school and didn’t have a job yet. I never forgot about the book and did eventually buy it, but it was a huge case of delayed gratification.
I was really excited when I realized the free book I was getting from Vogue Knitting Live Chicago 2014! I was also going to be taking the advanced version of Rosemary Drysdale’s class. I ended up getting my book signed just before class and there weren’t very many people in the class so there was a lot of one on one attention. The class was based around the second Entrelac book because that is where the more advanced techniques lay. The first Entrelac book was more about the basics and how to knit Entrelac in the first place. It looks very intimidating so a lot of people are apprehensive, but it really isn’t too bad.
This book focuses on Entrelac in a more abstract form. Asymmetrical patterns, knitting Entrelac on it’s side or in a pentagon shape instead of a square. There are a lot of really interesting options for these different shapes and Rosemary incorporates them into the patterns in the back of the book.
There is still the ordinary how-to instructions in the front of the book, but everything else incorporates lace, beading, strategically placed yarn overs or bobbles. It is an excellent place to get really great pattern ideas.
As with the first Entrelac book, everything is written very well and there are explanatory photos, but I would not recommend this book for a beginner. The techniques needed are easily explained, but I think the average knitter would benefit from doing these books in order.
This is the book I was anticipating buying, I had always looked at it online and when Anna Hrachovec was selling them in person. After taking Anna’s class and deciding I liked toy knitting, I bought this book as soon as I could.
As I mentioned in my Vogue Knitting post, the only reason I had not bought one of these books before, was because I was not sure if I would like toy knitting. I’ve tried enough things that I know better than to do a full cannon-ball into the pool of trying something new. You test the waters first. Who knows, you might not like it quite as much as you think you will or you could love it! I’ve definitely tried things that could have turned out better, but there are also a few hobbies that have exploded into full out obsessions… knitting would be example A.
Needless to say, I loved the toy knitting class and so did Paul. We kept taking pictures of the tiny gnome throughout the rest of our trip. Now that we are home, a small part of me wants to see if I could get one of our cats to NOT kill it horribly so I could take a photo. I have my doubts about their motives with my gnome though.
In the book there are four different sections of teeny tiny monsters to make. Old school ghouls has all the classic monsters; vampires, witches, werewolves etc. I particularly like the witches, and the sarcophacat! The second category is backyard beasties, with your run-of-the-mill rodents and insects, just with scarier names! The third section is filled with new monsters Anne dreamt up herself and the fourth section is a make-your-own kind of deal. You can create your own tiny little creature of doom. I completely love all the different combinations you can put together; there are instructions for horns, ears, antennae, arms, tails, body shapes, wings, etc. To summarize the section there is a chart with ‘monster math’. Adding all the different options you get your very own monster.
These books are very well written and designed well for every knitting level. If you’ve never knit toys before you would be fine with buying this book. There are picture tutorials that explain all the steps and some of the trickier bits. I will say that you should practice your i-cord because it is an essential skill!
Since this book was my favourite I reviewed it first, but there is another Mochimochi book that I am going to review in 2 weeks. I am going to break up the Mochimochi reviews with Rosemary Drysdale’s book Entrelac 2. Unless you absolutely cannot wait to hear what I say about the Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi book, in which case, leave me a comment!
I was emailing the designer of this pattern the other day and I realized that I had not reviewed it yet. For me this is utterly inexcusable and I plan to make it right! This pattern came to me as part of a kit. The yarn and pattern were all packaged together. Unfortunately, these kits are no longer available, so you would have to buy the pattern and the full amounts of the yarn individually. Which I have done because I love this pattern that much.
The first time I saw this kit, the LYS owner handed me a sample mitt that she had knit. At that point I was completely and totally sold. I LOVED it and wanted to get one in every colour. Unfortunately at this point in my life I was just out of school and was struggling to pay student loan payments as well as rent. I couldn’t afford it this time, but I went back and visited… more often than I would like to admit.
I was also scared that I wasn’t at that level of knitting yet; they looked to pretty and intricate, I had never some something that complicated before. So it wasn’t completely about the money.
Paul ended up making the decision for me and bought the kit for my birthday. I think he had probably heard enough about these mittens I was lamenting over.
I didn’t cast on right away; I circled around them like some kind of nuclear bomb. My main problem was, I didn’t want these mitts to go FUBAR on me. It was a nice kit and more than I had spent on yarn before. I wanted them to be perfect. The thought of casting on with another, more inexpensive yarn, never occurred to me. I was still a relatively new knitter at this point.
Paul started asking me why I hadn’t cast them on yet. I made excuses here and there about needles or another project, but that would only work for so long. One day, I just closed my eyes, clenched my teeth and opened the bag. Which was the best decision I have ever made. It was the most difficult pattern I had ever done, but it was well written, clear, logical and a great learning experience for me.
The mittens start off with an I-cord cast on, Having never done one, I trusted the pattern completely and followed the instructions. The cast on looked amazing and it hadn’t hurt at all. I thought these mittens might be possible.
Being a beginning knitter and not knowing any better, I trusted the pattern 100% and it worked out for me. Not having knit a whole lot of patterns I didn’t realize how well this one was written, but having a wider variety of knowledge now, I can spot excellent writing when I see it.
I may have a slightly biased point of view because this project was a pivotal moment for me as a knitter. From this point on I was not afraid to throw myself into any project regardless of how hard it looked. If I took it slow and paid attention I could do it.
I know this review was a little less technical and a little more about me fan-girling all over them, but, I maintain that they are a very well written pattern with a beautiful finished product. Definitely beginner friendly so I always advise people to go for it! These mittens are one of the most complemented pieces of knitting I have.
Most readers have probably seen a picture or two of me here on the blog. I have long light brown hair, it was a few inches longer, but I recently got it trimmed (thanks Shauna!!). Since my hair is so long and wild, it is usually found in everything I knit; completely knitted into the fabric of the garment. Some people try to pull the hair out of their knitting and keep it on their heads, but I have long since given up completely. Of course being the English major that I am, I couldn’t just leave it at that. I did some research and came up with a few fun facts about knitting and hair.
I’ll start with the most unpleasant one, hair shirts as penance! Mainly used in religious circles they were called a ‘cilice’; an undergarment made of very coarse cloth or animal hair. They were meant to be worn close to the skin and purposely cause irritation. Sometimes thin wire or twigs would be incorporated into said garment to increase irritation. I don’t care what your husband did, I don’t think he deserves this, put the wire down and back away slowly. There is no need to besmirch the good name of knitting!
While listening to the Knitmore Girls podcast, Gigi, mentioned something about knitting your hair into a garment was supposed to increase the positive emotions between two people. Historically, giving a lock of hair to a suitor is a sign of devotion and affection; especially before an impending separation. Superstition promotes that having a lock of someone’s hair gives you power over them, so entrusting someone with a lock of your hair is quite a sign of certainty.
To simply take the meaning behind the history, when you knit someone something you’re giving them power over you. You’re giving them something you have poured your time and energy into, not to mention some exceptional fiber. This makes me think of the adage, in composing music you reveal a piece of your soul; by knitting a garment for someone you symbolically give them a piece of your soul. As sane as that sounds, I could see how we could lose the etymology in modern times. Knitting and crochet used to be a way to cloth your family, it would keep them warm and safe from the elements. With synthetic fiber and mass-produced everything, most meaningful things have been highly commercialized. Getting married in two weeks, I can definitely see this. Many things now are about business and transactions, but little things, like getting your hair caught in your knitting, are linked back in time to a place where creating a hat or sweater significantly protected loved ones. The elements are now lower on our daily list of things to worry about, but we don’t have to lose that base principle. Wherever you are crafting, do it with pride and positive emotions!
Anxiety is something most people are acquainted with at some point in their lives. There are a wide and varying amount of reasons why someone would feel anxiety, but feeling it in your knitting is not something most people look for. Knitting anxiety usually happens when you have a deadline.
I’ve found the most difficult deadline to deal with is the assumed deadline. If you are knitting a garment for a friend or co-worker they usually assume you will have it done within the year. Depending on the garment this may be a reasonable assumption, but depending on the skill level and general life state of said knitter, it may not be.
When I have to work on something, not in the ‘I am super inspired’ way but in the ‘I need to get this knit’ way, I have no motivation at all. Then, because I am not knitting the garment, I feel bad about it. I really should be knitting it; I should really go and knit a couple rows right now. Then I procrastinate for another few weeks.
In the back of my mind this incomplete garment weighs on me and kind of taints all my knitting. If I finish something else I have a moment of ‘Yes! Finished!’ then I think ‘Unlike garment X’. I think Garment X is a really good way of thinking about this theoretical project. Garment X rolls around in my head until I am finally able to muscle through it and finish, but this kind of knitting is really not good for the soul. The whole time I am working on it I have an internal monologue going; which looks something like this.
“Oh man, I hope this person doesn’t mind how long it is taking me to knit this. Of course they won’t mind, they’re getting a hand-knit thing, they’re going to love it no matter what. Oh man, I hope they love it I am spending so much time on it, gotta get it done right now or else they are going to hate it what if they hate it Iwouldneverbeabletoknitagainomgomgomg.”
It generally descends into utter chaos from there. I end up cutting into time where I should be doing really useful things… like sleeping or eating. However, knowing yourself is half the battle; whenever I take on projects from other people, I add a disclaimer that I have a lot of stuff in the queue ahead of them and it might be a while. Then they will either drop it or accept the fact that this could take forever.
For me, that takes a bit of the edge off and I am usually able to work at a relaxed manner. Unless the garment is covered in cables, then all bets are off.
Another kind of anxiety is the kind when you are about to embark on a new and harder section of a project. For example, with the French Cancan shawl, I worked on it and blazed through the first part. It was all garter stitch so there were no problems at all. Increases and yarn overs flying around everywhere, that did not touch me at all, but when I started on the edging. I kept finding excuses to not knit. I needed time for this errand and I had to clean that thing, I couldn’t possibly have time to knit! Then I had an intervention with myself and buckled down to knit the edging. It really wasn’t all that bad, I just had to get into it and stick with it. Generally a good dose of self-awareness will help combat the anxieties of knitting. Don’t be afraid to have an intervention with yourself, sometimes you’re the only one who can call yourself out on bad behavior.