I have to start this review by saying that I don't knit. Although every time I say that it sounds more and more like a challenge! But I don't. Knit, that is, unless you think small squares with dropped stitches counts as knitting.
What I do do is love Donna Wilson. I love her knitted owl cushions...
I love her fox cushions...
And most of all, I love her range of china..
So, even though I may never be able to actually use any of the patterns in Donna Wilsons book of quirky knitted creatures, that is not going to stop me loving it too.
Donna studied textile design at Gray's School of Art, followed by an MA at the Royal College of Art. Whilst studying in London she started selling her knitted creatures and completely sold out of them at her final show. Since then she has spent the last 7 years expanding both her design range and her list of stockists (which now include Heals, Liberty and John Lewis).
The Knitted Odd-bod Bunch is Donna's first book. As the title suggests, it's a collection of 35 of her often strange and always unique knitted creatures. Including some truly wonderful creations such as a squirrel, a racoon and a fox.
And of course, because this is no ordinary knitted softie book, it also features, amongst many others, an Angry Ginger (he's grumpy for no reason), a Peggy Long Legs (and they're still getting longer) a Sleepy Pom (the clue's in the name - He sleeps. He has pom poms) and Stripey Head...
The overall look of the book is lovely. It's been styled with a fun, modern feel to it, with quirky little features - like the material lists being written on luggage lables. And all of the creatures have been situated in fun vignettes that really bring them to life.
As far as I can see, there's something for all levels of ability in the book, and each pattern includes a full list of materials needed to complete the project, including suggestions for the type of yarn to use. All the patterns are presented in a clear, straight forward way.
Because I am lousy at knitting, I asked my friend Margaret to have a go at one of the patterns and to let me know what she thought. And because if I could knit, I would knit Rita Racoon, I asked her to have a go at that one.
As an extremely experienced knitter, Margaret didn't have any actual problems with the pattern, but she did say that she wouldn't recommend it for a novice.
It took her about 8 hours in total to knit up and the only real issue that she had was the stitching up of the finished piece, which she found fiddly.
As you can see, my raccoon has turned out exactly like the one in the book (helped by the fact that we used the yarn suggested), and is a huge hit around here.
Margaret suggests that a lot of the patterns in the book require a certain amount of knitting experience and also, interestingly said that the amount of wool listed to make up the raccoon was only just enough. But in general she agreed that the patterns are well written and straightforward to follow.
In general I'm not a huge fan of monsters and creatures and other weird animals, as I tend to like my animals to look a little more realistic. Which is why I find myself drawn to the more natural looking creatures in this book. But that said, I really do like almost all the patterns and I do think that there is something for everyone. Certainly everybody that has looked at the book around here has their own favourite creature that they would like to knit for themselves.
It's obvious from the first page that the book has been styled by Donna herself - it's wonderfully presented, full of quirky, interesting details that make you want to get started on a creature immediately (even me). It's a cool knitting book that is still completely accessible and if my raccoon is anything to go by, it's full of great patterns.
I'm lucky enough to have an extra copy of The Knitted Odd-bod Bunch to give away to a reader. So if you would like to have a go at making your own Donna Wilson creature, leave a comment and on Friday 8th October I'll randomly pick a winner!
The Knitted Odd-bod Bunch is published by Cico Books and is £12.99.