Friday, February 19, 2016

My Crochet Doll: A picture book with patterns

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Once upon a time, in a strange, faraway land known as "JoAnns Fabric Store," I came across a charming crochet book featuring a simple doll with practically no nose, no mouth, and a delightfully detailed outfit. Intrigued, I snatched the book off the shelf and flipped through its contents.
"Hello, Kitty," I purred at the pages, for clearly our no-nose heroine's name is Katherine, "Why don't you tell me about yourself?"
Having thus acquired several weird looks for the day and no verbal response from the book, I continued my monologue at home after purchasing My Crochet Doll. Sixty pages worth of photos later, I finally found the patterns Isabelle Kessedjian promised. Despite my potentially misleading title (in which you might think that a picture book with patterns is a bad thing), I am quite in love with this book! Sixty pages of pictures goes a long way in showing you what is possible before actually teaching you how to do anything.

But it does show you how to make things, doesn't it?
YES! Okay, this would normally be the point where I start showing off some of the stuff that I've made while using the patterns in the book.
... I have a small confession to make.
       I have owned this book for over a year, and have yet to make anything from it.

Don't judge me too harshly, I beg you! Thing is that, for as beautiful as the illustrations are, and convinced as I am that the patterns are sound, there has been something deterring me from just jumping in and making a beautiful crochet doll of my own. The patterns use the European abbreviations for crochet. European abbreviations are a bit odd to my American eyes. How can you call a single crochet a double, and then expect a half double to mean-- Okay, maybe you're not as interested in my tech-gibberish at the moment. That's fine. Moving on! The second deterrent is that the yarn the author uses is a lighter weight than what I normally work with. I believe she uses a weight 3 (or sport weight), while I use weight 4 (medium worsted a.k.a The Yarn EVERYONE Uses). Ultimately, that's going to make the patterns come out a little different. I like making one just how the pattern says for my first try, to figure out any quirks beforehand. Then I go crazy with it, adding or subtracting details as I see fit. But no matter what I do, my end product is going to end up different or a bit off because I'm not about to go out and buy more yarn until I've finished with what I've got. And if you saw the size of my stash, you'd see that's going to be quite a long time.

Enough excuses! What can you tell us about the patterns?!
Well, do you like weird? If you're still reading this, I'm going to go with "Duh, I like weird."
Okay, so you like weird.
This book... has a pattern... to make underwear for your doll. Not even joking. Honest to goodness, you can make cute little undies for your amigurumi. You can also make: shoes, pajamas, overalls, a superhero outfit (which is ultimately why I bought the book), a fancy dress, tiny cakes, and many other things! It's freaking adorable! And that's not even mentioning all the different little accessories that you can add to your new playmate. Ms. Kessedjian also mentions how to make a variety of hairstyles using different types of yarn, from regular 4-ply to wool. She talks about giving your doll additional personality with bits of wire (perhaps adding glasses to the doll) and other scrap materials. The funny thing is that, despite my insistence on making the first doll be "just like the author's" to get a feel for things, the author actually points out that the doll in this book is hers and she highly encourages the reader to make their own. Change the color! Give her different hair, or some glasses, or a different outfit, or mix-and-match with what's available in the book and beyond! Go crazy with it from the beginning! The important thing is to have fun. At the end, what you've made will be your crochet doll.

So that's pretty much all I've got to say about that. I highly recommend this book. At least check it out. Just remember, the abbreviations are different in this than in a book from a U.S. author. That being said, there is a little section (as in most of these books) that goes over the technical aspects of crochet: what the abbreviations are, what they mean, how to make the stitches, and the difference between U.S. and U.K. terminology and what the heck they mean by each.

I enjoyed the format of the book. The illustrations were gorgeous, and it was pleasant to simply flip through the pictures first and then have the patterns at the end. This may not be the best book for the absolute beginner. I recommend already knowing your basic stitches (chain, single stitch, slip stitch, etc) prior to picking this one up because there are no illustrations demonstrating how to get that started or hold the yarn. You're going to be awfully frustrated if you don't know how to hold your yarn and you try just going at this. Well, who knows... You might actually be a prodigy. But for those of us who aren't prodigies, it can get frustrating if you don't already have an idea of what you're doing.

Some day, I may share with you pictures of My Crochet Doll... but in the meantime, I hope you have fun with your own!

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