Hello. Here's the first of my First Impression reviews, which I hope you'll find useful.
I really can't remember how I got into amigurumi but sometime last year I must have been wondering what to do with my stash of yarn that would be small and quick, and wouldn't be baby bootees. So perhaps I just stumbled across them in the middle of some random follow-that-link type blog browsing. And then I found this book...
author: Tomoko Takamori
Amigurumi (pronounced ama-goo-roomi) seem to be all over the crochet magazines at the moment. Little crocheted animals that are more mascot than toy (and probably therefore unsuitable for young children unless as a mobile perhaps). There is definitely a Japanese character to these compared to traditional crocheted animals, and I can easily imagine the Japanese, with their love of all things small and cute, to really go crazy over them.
This is a thin-ish paperback containing 19 patterns for crochet animals, bears, cats, an elephant, a duck... All the standard childrens' toy species are in there, with the odd quirky one thrown in too.
The book is divided into three sections: an introduction, a photo section showcasing all the finished patterns and the patterns themselves.
This has information on yarns and other materials, how to attach eyes and decorate the face, how to crochet single crochet and an explanation of how the diagrams work. The patterns only require single crochet and they are all done by diagram so would be great for a beginner. The patterns look like this...
There is also a four page tutorial which works stage by stage through the making of one of the small bears featured on the cover, so that gives it another tick in a beginner's favour.
A section of cute and inspiring photos of all the patterns printed on glossy paper. Not much more to say about that! The photos are styled of course, but you can still clearly see the finished animal, such as these...
The pattern section comprises a double page spread on each animal specifying the type of yarn required and what size crochet hook, a list of other materials, some project-specific tips, the pattern itself and nicely hand drawn diagrams which show how to assemble the animal. I particularly like the fact that they tell you exactly where to place limbs, ears etc.
This section of the book is distinguished from the rest by being in black and white, and is printed on cream matt paper, which makes it a bit easier to flick straight to the patterns if that's where you want to go.
My first impression
I like this book and I'd recommend it. I have been crocheting for years but nothing more than flat blankets and the like, so I find it provides a nice and easy introduction into something a bit more complicated. The projects are pretty simple and straightforward but would still make excellent gifts. The photos are nicely presented, there is a good range of animals to try, and it is very beginner friendly. Also the contents page provides page numbers for both the photo and the pattern next to each other so there is no flipping back and forth trying to locate something - a very handy touch.
The only criticism I can make is that the information on yarn is brief and could have been more detailed. The book is translated from an original Japanese version so perhaps it is difficult to be more specific about yarn types. The patterns specify yarn in terms of weight (fine, medium, heavy etc) which will probably be fine with a bit of trial and error if you have some experience, but could make you a bit unsure if this was a first crochet project. Also there is no mention on how different yarns behave - how, for example, wool has some stretch whereas cotton doesn't, and how this will affect the finished piece.
I have made two projects from the book so far, a small bear and a jackrabbit...
I used a mercerised cotton somewhere between 4ply and DK, and both patterns came out slimmer than shown in the book; I think I would have had a better result if I'd used wool. Also, as you can see from the rabbit's paws, decreases are a bit unsubtle in the cotton yarn because there's no give. The bear took me an evening of simultaneous crocheting and telly watching so you could easily knock up a load of these for a school fete or giveaway.
I also got myself some chenille yarn to make some fluffy animals (there's a lovely stripy cat pattern I'd like to try) but I just can't use it! I do a foundation chain and then I can't see the loops in all that fluff. If anyone has any tips on how to get round that problem, I'd love to hear them.
By the way, at time of posting, the Amazon listing has a Look Inside feature enabled so you can see more images of the book if you head over there.