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Hayley Cann (Québec, Canada)

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Brioche Chic: 22 Fresh Knits for Women & Men
Brioche Chic: 22 Fresh Knits for Women & Men
by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.56
38 used & new from CDN$ 19.33

4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring book, knitters interested in brioche should look it up., July 3 2015
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If you had asked me before I had seen this book whether it was possible that this book might have a place next to Marchant's two books, I would have said: impossible. But not only is it not impossible but in some ways this is a welcome complement to Marchant's work.

First off, this book has a definite focus on the practical. The designs are not incredibly sophisticated, although the sweater design is pretty clever, but they go further in terms of shaping than has seen before. Some of the technical discussion is maybe less detailed but also gives more of a perspective into the process. Clark gives more advice, making this book maybe a bit more beginner friendly. Also, it has drawings instead of colour pictures for some of the techniques. I like those better, and they are really clear.

The main attraction of this book is the pattern section. I have to say that I did not enjoy them all that much on an esthetics level, unfortunately none of them looks gorgeous to me, the only reason I'm not rating this book a bit higher. But on the other hand, they're all interesting on a technical level. (except maybe the scarf which is a tiny bit trivial, but might serve as a try-out project for those who just want to try on a small project). Most of the brioche is used in a rather inventive way, combined with regular techniques, some on pieces that require some shaping like sweaters. Clark, shows a mittens and hat ensemble that took at least a bit of figuring out (and they're also my favorite projects because these are the ones I thought looked really nice)

The patterns in the book are these ones: Basic Brioche Scarf, Basic Brioche Cowl, Openwork Triangle Shawl, Chevron Deep-V Pullover, Men's Shawl-Collar Pullover, Smocked Blouse, (these are deemed Brioche Basic Patterns); Cabled Funnelneck, Men's Cabled Crewneck, Lattice-Edged Cardigan, Leaf-Motif Raglan, Cowl-Neck Pullover (cover design), Flame Cable Scarf and Hat, Diamond Pane Camisole (these are deemed Brioche with a Twist, mostly with stitch patterns involving mock cables or cables); Braided-Cable Toque, Star Crowned Beret, Colorblock Pullover, Men's Textured Vest, Norvegian Style Mitts and Hat, Reversible Infinity Scarf, Arrow-Yoke Cardigan (these are called colorful brioche because they're two colour brioche variations, some cables, some texture work).

Mostly, I am impressed by the versatility of the stitch in the hands of the author. There's a lot of exploration that was done to write the patterns for this book. There are discussions and patterns for on brioche cables, two-colour brioche, reversible cables, and shadow work brioche. The author was inventive, and because of this, this is a great book, full of inspiration.

AmiguruME: Make Cute Crochet People
AmiguruME: Make Cute Crochet People
by Allison Hoffman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.90
28 used & new from CDN$ 13.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing Book but Inconsistent Editing, June 19 2015
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This is an infuriating book because it's absolutely awesome in inspiration and amount of knowledge crammed inside. Hoffman has a lot to impart on crochet, her dolls are incredibly good looking, and the amount of customization level is astounding. The aim of the book is for the reader to be able to make a crochet doll that you can personalize to look like anyone you like.

However, the book is maybe too short, or spends way too much time explaining and illustrating the wrong things, and it pretty much does the opposite of "don't tell me, show me". There are a lot of pictures, but only of different variations of the designs, there are no pictures of how a basic bare foot is crocheted. If you want to know, you have to read instructions and carefully follow written instructions, that are written in three colums (the easiest way to make sure your eye wanders from line to line as you execute the instructions). This would have been a place where a diagram would have taken three times less space and been three times clearer. There are no pictures of any steps or the work in progress to illustrate this. And it's not so bad that it's that way for one tricky piece, but it's that way for everything else. You get pictures with different hair styles, but you have to read a paragraph telling you what to do, but there aren't any pictures but instances of the end result.

On the other hand it has a 30 page introduction on how to crochet! And it's absolutely nuts, but they have detailed instructions for how to make a chain stitch. I get frustrated with this because it's plain bad editing. I have nothing against people who would pick this up not knowing how to crochet, but I would wager they would have to be very entreprising.

I don't want to be unfair, I'm not reading this as I'm making a doll at the same time, and maybe then the instructions would be easier to understand, but if I'm trying to make a doll, I don't want to have to puzzle too much what the author meant when she said sew this or that onto this or that. This would be especially hard for beginner crocheters because even though they explained how to chain stitch, how to single crochet and how to decrease, there is no explanation on how to sew pieces together. There might be explanations on how to sew things together, but they'd have to be lumped with other sections, I can't find one after a thorough perusal of the book. That makes the editing inconsistent.

I wouldn't care this much about the editing of the book if everything else wasn't so extraordinary. I can see that what was intended was great. A basic pattern, you choose your options that you can customize infinitely. All of the photos are very inspiring. It makes me want to pick up my crochet right now and it does give me ideas for other projects, which is what a good book should do. However because of how ambitious the book is, and how much instruction there is, it needed to make more room for the detail work, or be a much bigger book.

Cute Critter Crochet: 30 Adorable Patterns
Cute Critter Crochet: 30 Adorable Patterns
by Maki Oomachi
Edition: Spiral-bound
Price: CDN$ 17.49
36 used & new from CDN$ 14.43

5.0 out of 5 stars Cute patterns, easy crochet, but some assembly required., June 19 2015
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These critters are cute, and they look more lifelike than amigurumi, less stylised. The book gives patterns for 11 critters, which are a mama kangaroo with her baby, pigs, an alpaca, dachshund, seal, giraffe, polar bear, horse, panda, caterpillars, parakeet. Some of these designs show a variation, like colour changes, and have accessories to go with them. There are other designs that aren't really accessories or critters like a bus, a banner, garden dolls, round houses and square house, and candles. So the theme and title of the book should be taken a bit loosely.

That said, I'm really impressed by how pretty the designs are. Technically, the stitches used are very simple, and the approach is to make flat contoured pieces that are later sewn together, so it looks a lot like piecing pieces of faux fur to make stuffed animals. I was surprised when I noticed that almost all of the critters measure 7 inches wide or tall, because from my first impression of the photos, I thought they were much smaller. So these are about beany baby sized. There are patterns for little accessories for some of the designs and those are smaller.

I don't know how much use small children might get out of these as toys, (or even if the designs were intended for them) I would say with my nonexistent child experience, that they would be more for 6 years and older. Just the fact that they're all decorated with safety eyes, (which you could substitute with embroidered stitches instead) makes me think they weren't so much for young ones.

Still a very nice book, and definitely projects to be done in the short term.

Huge & Huggable Mochimochi: 20 Supersized Patterns for Big Knitted Friends
Huge & Huggable Mochimochi: 20 Supersized Patterns for Big Knitted Friends
by Anna Hrachovec
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.36
38 used & new from CDN$ 11.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Knitted Giant Amigurumi, June 15 2015
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I always loved knitted toys and amigurumi are no exception. But sometimes the small size of the amigurumi leaves me wanting more. This is where this book comes in. It offers patterns that have that cute simplified look, but also they're big enough to grab and play with. Some of them are big enough to be cushions in your living room. All of the designs are knitted too, no crochet in this book.

Most of the patterns look good to me. I'm usually not a fan of stylized elements, but in this case, I think the designs look good even though their features are relatively simple, it gives them a somewhat goofy air without looking too creepy. Some of the patterns I find really adorable like the Squid and the Roly Poly (the pill bug.) Some like the big wheel monster truck (with flames on the side!) are whimsical and are sure to become a favourite.

The patterns are arranged in five sections: colossal critters (a baby dinosaur with a tongue sticking out, nesting birds, two teddy bears, a squid, capybaras); Magnified minis (the cake on the cover, a toothbrush, a dental paste tube, a cheeseburger. a pencil, the roly poly); Gentle Giants (a submarine, a sun, a monster truck, skyscrapers, a totem pole); Practical Pals (a pinata, a mini pinata, a pirate cushion, a King pajama bag, a robot cushion, a monster tote). All in all, I enjoyed most patterns, there is a nice balance of things that will appeal to both girls and boy and stuff that will mainly appeal to boys, but there wasn't anything really girly. So that's one thing that I thought was a little odd, we could have had a Queen to go with the King, but it's not like little girls will like nothing in the book.

The technical sections are interesting. I particularly appreciated the sections specific to toy knitting, they were well illustrated with step by step pictures and instructions.There's a section on how to knit at the end, which I find surprising given the technical aspects of toy knitting, you'd have to be a really enterprising beginner to get started on these designs. Knitting wise the technical level of the patterns is an intermediate, but there is a lot of finishing, some patterns need detailed instruction on how the pieces are assembled, so I would say beginner beware.

On those two occasions where the assembly is a little more complicated the patterns have extra photos and diagrams to help the knitter cope, and I thought that was really well done. The editing of the book is fine, with ample photos, most of the projects are shown in different angles and there are a lot of illustrations.

It's a very good book.

Beaded Lace Knitting: Techniques and 24 Beaded Lace Designs for Shawls, Scarves & More
Beaded Lace Knitting: Techniques and 24 Beaded Lace Designs for Shawls, Scarves & More
by Anniken Allis
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.41
21 used & new from CDN$ 18.21

4.0 out of 5 stars Techniques for Lace Knitting, but with beads., June 15 2015
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Beaded Lace knitting is a bit of a misnomer. For sure all of the patterns have beads, but they're all added in the designs the same way, so really the technical part of this book is mostly about how to knit lace knitting. There is no knitted lace in this book (as in none of the designs have work on even rows). It doesn't stop the book from having a great range of beautiful designs, even some with really clever design, with really simple lace knitting to them that are used to great effect.

The main appeal of this book to me, having read it, is how most of the designs have different shapes, semi-circular, wide rectangles, thick crescent shapes, etc. Most of the designs are shawls, stoles/scarves, but there is a sweater and two vests, mitts, and at least two cowls. Most of the designs are at least pretty, if not really nice. The beads seem to me an afterthought, and in only a few instances are they really the showcase of the piece. Though to be honest, having the bead counts all figured out for a given project is nothing to sneeze at. Also, it is possible the pictures just don't do justice to the designs, most of them have beads in colours very close to the yarn, and maybe that's why they don't stand out. All of the shawls would look nice without the beads too, and I think the book would have been a nice lace knitting book even without the beading.

The technical sections pretty much cover what a lace knitting beginner should know, and seems adequate for the level of the projects in the book. The pictures are adequate and the editing and instructions seem good. The designs are shown with pictures showing different views from different angles so the reader can see what the piece actually looks like. None of the constructions are too complicated or too unsual, and the book provides really clear and very legible diagrams. They are printed much bigger than industry standard, and I have to say I really liked it.

All in all a very good book.

Noro Lace: 30 Exquisite Knits
Noro Lace: 30 Exquisite Knits
by Sixth&Spring Books
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.79
37 used & new from CDN$ 15.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She who is tired of Noro is tired of knitting, June 15 2015
A lot of knitters hold this as true: you can't knit lace in self striping yarn because you lose the visual interest of the work. This book proves that with clever design, you can use Noro and get your lace on too.

The book has some really stunning pieces, like the huge circular shawl that's just incredibly beautiful. Others are a little less flashy but very good looking too. One of the pleasures of this book is to see some of the famous colours knitted up and how they look when they're no longer on the skein. There is a good combination of small, easy projects, with average ones, and long, challenging knit marathon ones. Most of the patterns are accessories, shawlettes, shawls, hats, mittens, cowls, and such.

The patterns are as follows: Crescent Shawl, Slouchy Cross Stitch Cap, Cropped Cardi, Mock Neck Capelet, Bobble Band Scarf, Tabard with Cowl, Textured Mittens, Eyelet Wave Cowl, Wavy Stolette, Drape Front Blouse, Veil Stitch Cowl, Leaf Band Hat, Tilted Blocks Scarf, Faux Cable Mitts, Bobble Columns Capelet, Poplar Leaf Beret, Mitered Top, Buttoned Wrap, Infinity Scarf, Square Shrug, Loop Mesh Scarf, Short Row Shawl, Gauntlet Mitts, Long and Leafy Cowl, Ruffle-Edged Scarf, Circular Shawl, Leather-Trimmed Tote, Floral Pointed Scarf, Elbow-Length Gloves, Vertebrae Stitch Afghan.

Most of the patterns are average in lace knitting difficulty and length, there is nothing incredibly challenging, and there wasn't anything that stood out like an eyesore. Some of the patterns are a little underwhelming, but they don't look bad, and there are quite a few that stand out enough as really inspired to make the book a nice buy.

It's a book of patterns, it doesn't fool around with technical appendices, the editing of the patterns is alright. Some of the stitch diagrams are at the end of the book while some aren't which is kind of weird, but it seems as though every stitch that needs one has one, at least.

Sometimes books written exclusively for one brand suffer from uneven contributions, but this one doesn't seem put hastily together, the patterns are really mostly nice and there is enough of a theme to hold the pieces from different authors together. It's actually better than it needed to be.

Knitting Double: Mastering the Two-Color Technique with Over 30 Reversible Projects
Knitting Double: Mastering the Two-Color Technique with Over 30 Reversible Projects
by Anja Bell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.79
26 used & new from CDN$ 13.28

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, mostly as a stepping stone., June 13 2015
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Double Knitting is an impressive technique that uses two strands of colour to yield a reversible knit fabric. In this book Bell, explains the technique, and suggests patterns for the neophyte and the initiate alike.

The patterns are as follows: Polka Dot Reversible Scarf and Hat, Scrunchie, Hot to Trot (Socks), Well Crossed Scarf, Hand Warmers, From the Far North Scarf, Hat and Mittens, Quick Change Artist (Gloves), Inca Style for the Feet, Graceful Lily (Scarf), Flower Power Mittens and Socks (Cover Design), Bath Time (Rug), Felted Cat Bed and Dog Bed, Casual Case (Cell phone), On a Roll (DPN Case), Baby Blanket, Striped Boxes, Hot Chilies Placemats, Lemon Placemats, Splash of Colour Trivets, Staycation Potholders, Can Cosy, Far East Flair Potholders, Oven Mitt, Christmas Decorations. The Book also comes with fold-out charts for the motifs.

The good news is that with several small patterns, it's easy to feel inspired to try with small quantities of yarn. The bad news is that I feel that the patterns, though amusing, are not really all that good looking. It's as though the style is very graphic but not very sophisticated. I didn't like most of them, specifically because the images themselves are not to my taste. Most of the patterns are well written and the socks and mittens look good as a whole, just not with the motif itself. Other knitters may like them more, and it's not like double knitting patterns are commonplace. So in a way, you could just work from the sock and mitten template and make something different in terms of motif.

I'm also a little disappointed with the explanations on the technique. While there are explanations for less usual techniques like how to hold the yarn continental style, or one strand in each hand, everything else is shown continental style. I know the book is translated from German, so this would be the most usual way to knit there, but maybe the editor might have remade material for North American knitters. I'm not opposed to continental knitting or even knitters switching to it, but the most accepted way in North America remains to hold the yarns held in your right hand. It makes the technical section really obscure, something as simple as short rows seems strange. Even if continental knitting isn't a deterrent, there is way more explanations than pictures, making some of the instructions especially the ones about the set-up row and starting to knit less easy to understand. On the other hand, increases and decreases are well illustrated with pictures for different steps. So it's a mixed bag for me.

Lovely Lacy Knits: Beautiful Projects Embellished with Ribbon, Flowers, Beads, and More
Lovely Lacy Knits: Beautiful Projects Embellished with Ribbon, Flowers, Beads, and More
by Eva-Maria Maier
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.40
33 used & new from CDN$ 7.86

4.0 out of 5 stars Embellished projects with Crochet, Sewn Ribbons, Beads, and Texture work. (And some lace knitting), June 13 2015
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First off this is a small book. There are 16 projects or 17 counting the two versions of the same slippers. The title is a little misleading, maybe not intentionally, but I expected lace knitting to be the predominant feature in this book, and well, it isn't, not in the way we've come to expect with a lot of sophisticated patterns of lace knitting. The picture on the cover is the laciest piece in the book, and notice how the originality of the design comes from an appliqué pocket with a printed image. Most of the patterns in this book have ribbon appliqués on them, and a lot of the others have crochet trims. An approach that is perfectly lovely, but was unexpected to this knitter. The keyword here is found in the subtitle: "embellished".

Even the lace knitting pieces have simple stitch patterns. Some of the most beautiful designs have very original changes in yarn textures and sizes. All in all, it's a rather fresh approach, and almost everything looks nice. The patterns are: Lace Sampler Scarf (cover design), Delicate Shoulder Wrap, Comfort Socks, Debutante Arm Warmers, Gossamer Shawl, Mohair Arm Warmers, Lacy Knit Skirt, Spa Slippers, Flower Adorned Hat, Romantic Loop, Treasure Pouch Poncho, Refined I-Cord Necklace. There's a definite European craft style to them, and most of them do look good.

On the editting however, this book is a mess. Because of the unusual techniques used, one expects a lot more attention on some of the techniques used. To make the fabric rolls used in the I-Cord necklace, one must look up a separate section at the back of the book, where there are written instructions and there are three photos in support of this. The photos are clear, but instead of showing the steps in order, or adding text or numbers, the images are confusing and don't illustrate clearly the process. There is a technical section on knitting which is there for I don't know what reason, it's a knitting book, and no beginner should start with this. It's not well illustrated, with just one picture for each technique. For instance, it illustrates briefly how to knit and purl but not how to cast on, so it's useless for a beginner, but it has no pictures for skpsso, and sk2p. It's insane that editors would think this is helpful in any way. The crochet section is about the same, with seemingly random pickings of illustrations, and not enough of them to identify steps, but in a knitting book, it's doubly annoying considering nowhere does the book warn you before buying it, that some projects' lace owe more to the crochet than the knitting.

I would say, other than the sewing and the crochet, this is a book appropriate for an intermediate knitter with an interest in lace knitting. I can't hate the book because even though sewing needles give me nightmares, I can crochet and I like to do it, but if you have a subtitle to specify the projects have flower embellishments, you could at least mention crochet is involved.

The Cake Mix Doctor Returns!: With 160 All-New Recipes
The Cake Mix Doctor Returns!: With 160 All-New Recipes
by Anne Byrn
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.85
56 used & new from CDN$ 5.70

3.0 out of 5 stars Let Them Have Cake..., May 25 2015
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I really hoped to like this book, but the quality of pictures is not strong enough. There is a picture of every cake, but they're not with the cake and they're too small to really get you to want to do the recipes. Not only that, but cake is all you're getting in this book. There's cake everything (but the ones I tried ended up way to similar to one another). I put the book away and don't ever use it.

by Cookie A
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 23.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 13.52

4.0 out of 5 stars For aspiring kniting designiers, a great book, for others YMMV, May 25 2015
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This review is from: SOCK INNOVATION (Paperback)
I would have rated this between a 3 and a 4 stars, because it's a book with socks, the patterns are technically proficient, but most of the patterns, while nice, don't look as nice, IMHO, as some of the designs Cookie A is famous for. As a sock pattern book, it's a little bit more than ok.

However, completely buried in a somewhat disappointing sock book is a really clear explanation of the process of designing sock patterns. The technical discussions on how to fiddle with stitch patterns is very well written, well illustrated, and not too many designers give that amount of information, because there are tips on how to avoid design mistakes. And she shows a lot of different types of stitch patterns, cables, lace, texture, and blends of those techniques as well. For that, I can't say this book isn't worth more than three stars.

The book has explanations on how to choose yarn for your design, how to resize patterns, how to modify them with the stitch motif, and how to make sure it fits. All of them interesting and well made.

The patterns themselves are interesting as well, most of them are nice, and according to the pattern notes, took a lot of work to design, but on most of them it doesn't show all that much. There are two really original designs, and the others mostly have elaborate stitch patterns, a few with special transitions going from the rib (as in the design on the cover of the book) or into the heel. Maybe the technical prowess is not obvious at first sight, and I'm being unfair, but I have to say, I got this book, looked it over, said to myself nice, and then put it aside, and never really thought much about it until someone asked me if I thought it was a good book.

Maybe had I not a huge bunch of knitting books, or if the book was mainly about designing it would have made a better impression on me.

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