Ahhhh, babies. They are cute. And my friends keep having them. I feel slightly guilty to say that I haven’t managed to knit for the last couple of babies.
Anyway, it’s always useful to have a baby knitting book or two on the shelf. So when Quadrille offered to send me a couple of books for review I accepted quite gratefully!
Blankets Bears and Bootees by Debbie Bliss
Debbie Bliss has already published countless baby knitting books, and every couple of years she comes out with a new one, to support her range of yarns. Debbie Bliss yarn is very widely available in the UK, although I must admit I’m not a huge fan – too much synthetic fibre for my liking (especially at the price point), a tendency towards pilling, and often an unacceptable amount of knots in the ball.
The yarn aside however, Debbie Bliss seems to have carved out a niche among new knitters. Her books seem to be aimed at people who aren’t skilled knitters, perhaps people who are motivated to knit by the impending arrival of a friend’s baby! This book is no different. There are 22 pages at the front of the book dedicated to techniques, from cast ons to stranded knitting and seaming. The pictures are very good, and the instructions for seaming are excellent. I find it’s good to have at least one book with such clear instructions on hand, however I would hate to have a whole bookshelf full of books with a huge “how-to” section at the start.
The patterns are lovely. As the title suggests, the book focuses on blankets, bears (toys) and bootees. There are a few more little things thrown in as well, like fairisle hangers, a memory book cover, and a couple of tops.
There is a cabled sampler blanket in there that I’d love to make in adult size for myself. For non-selfish knitting options, the bootees are all gorgeous and would make a quick gift. A couple of the blankets are double-sided – I think they’ll have to wait for an extra-special baby!
Debbie Bliss often comes under criticism for her instructions. The instructions are almost all written, there are no charts for cables or lace, only stranded knitting. On second thoughts I would only do the cabled blanket if I could be bothered charting it out before starting. However this reflects the fact that her books are written for beginner knitters, and although written-out instructions are a frustration to most of us, chart reading is one more skill to learn and may put beginners off. Construction is always flat, circular needles are not used even when it would appear sensible to do so. This is a bit of a nuisance.
The photography in the book is stunning. I also have no idea where they found so many adorable, happy babies. I defy anyone to keep their hormones under control flicking through this book…
I’d recommend it to anyone needing a go-to book for baby knits, especially for beginners. More advanced knitters may be a bit annoyed by the instructions and construction of her patterns however.
Natural Nursery Knits by Erika Knight.
Erika Knight’s book had me excited from the moment I head about it. Erika is a really interesting designer and I love using natural fibres, especially for baby items. The book has a very different feel from Blankets, Bears and Bootees. While the former is glossy and gorgeous, Erika’s book has a matt, vintage, sophisticated, more coffee-table feel to it. The introduction runs through different types of natural yarns and dyes. The babies look like porcelain dolls, unlike Debbie Bliss’s book where you want to pluck the babies off the page and give them a squeeze.
The patterns themselves are very classic. There are some tops, a couple of blankets, trousers, soakers, booties, bonnets, and a few more “heirloom”-type things like a lace cushion and a lavender sachet. There’s a recycled rag basket I really like – another thing I could make for myself instead of a baby!
There’s a gorgeous little fair isle papoose that would be perfect for a newborn, a lovely teddy, and a giraffe. The photographs, while “arty”, do show details quite well.
Yarns are recommended for each pattern, without sticking to one particular company. There is a lot of Rowan Milk Cotton, which I’ve never used but which comes highly recommended by friends. There are some yarns I haven’t come across before but everything seems to be readily available in the UK. Again, it would be nice to have a chart for the lace. The lace cushion is gorgeous but I would never do it without charting the pattern first.
There’s a free sample project (a rattle) from the book on the US publisher’s site, as well as other photographs. I found it when I was looking for errata. Which I couldn’t find for either book. There is no such thing as a knitting book without mistakes. I’ve asked the publisher, so I’ll update this post when I hear back.