Tag Archives: books

Quick Knits Small & Pretty Book Review

9 Jul

Quick Knits Small and Pretty by Susan PennyQuick Knits Small & Pretty by Susan Penny is a delightful surprise and a pleasure to review. The original patterns range from egg cosies to fingerless mittens and they all use basic knitting stitches and techniques, making this book ideally suited to new knitters who crave immediate results. Each project photo is full of whimsy and vintage charm. The only obvious shortcoming is that the quick knits are geared towards women and young girls.

The 21 knitting patterns are: Daisy Egg Cosy, Beach Hut Paperweight, Celebration Cake, Flower Brooch, Ballerina Teddy, Rose Headband, Striped Mittens, Jam Tart Slice, Molly Dolly, Red Rose, Phone Cover, Pretty Flowers, Doll’s Hat & Scarf, Rag Doll, Scottie Dog, Envelope Purse, Peach & Chocolate Cupcake, Mug Cosy, Bird Pins, Country Heart and Tooth Fairy Bag.

Quick Knits Evaluation

To test the patterns, I knitted a sample Rag Doll. As I didn’t have any gold yarn, I substituted silver yarn for her hat; otherwise, I followed the instructions and suggested materials. The doll, scarf and hat are all knitted flat and seamed. The increases are simple kfb (knit into front and back loops) and the decreases are all k2tog (knit 2 stitches together). Where you might expect a k2tog tbl (through back loop) instruction (to make the decrease slant to the left), it has been left as a simple k2tog (where the decrease always slants to the right). This is a canny move, as the slant is hidden in the seaming, and keeping the stitches simple makes the pattern more accessible.

knitted rag doll

The doll was very quick to make and, while she doesn’t look identical to the book photo, she looks very sweet. Judging by the book photo, slightly visible stuffing is a deliberate effect; it seems to effectively add to the rustic, vintage appeal. To be honest, I think she looks better without the hat but the removable hat and scarf pieces do increase the play value for a child. I’m very pleased with my finished project. :)

Flicking through the other patterns, I can see all the stitches have been kept simple. Quite often the increases and decreases are left to the reader to choose their favourite version – perhaps use a m1 (make one) instead of a kfb? The only tricky stitch that I can see, which might cause a beginner some concern, is in the Peach & Chocolate Cupcake: “inc every second purl stitch”. I would interpret that as meaning pfb (purl into front and back loops), which I know some knitters find awkward because of the unintuitive way you must hold your needles. However, as the precise method hasn’t been specified, I suppose you could conceivably use any increase stitch.


While I received a free review copy of this book, I would be happy to buy it as a gift – it would go very nicely with some bamboo needles or some pretty and useful embellishments e.g. buttons, ribbons, findings, etc. It would also be a satisfying buy for new or intermediate knitters seeking small projects and fast results. Many of the quick knits would make lovely little gifts, particularly for young girls – although the cute Scottie Dog would make a charming friend for anyone!

Quick Knits Small & Pretty, priced at £7.50 GBP, is available from Amazon, booksellers, knitting shops and direct from the publisher (Cotton Thread Books). I would rate it 4.5/5.


Crocheted Flowers Book Review

5 Apr

Crocheted Flowers by Jan OllisCrocheted Flowers by Jan Ollis is a cute little book, from the Twenty to Make series, containing 20 different flower patterns. Most of the flowers are pretty gorgeous – although there is a heavy reliance on adding beads, buttons and fabric to complete the finished look. The patterns are clearly written and there are both UK and US notations for stitches and hook sizes.

Crocheted Flowers

The 20 crochet flowers are: African Violets, Antique Rose, Black Orchid, Camellia, Carnation, Clematis, Daisy Chain, Foxgloves, Freesia, Gazania, Hibiscus, Orange Blossom, Passion Flower, Peony, Pink Cosmos, Poppy, Retro Daisy, Orange Blossom, Scabious, Tudor Rose and Water Lily.

Crocheted Flowers: Tudor RoseI tried the Tudor Rose pattern, as shown in the photo. I used a 3.5 mm hook instead of the recommended 3 mm hook size. I didn’t have cotton yarn, a “large pale-yellow pearl-shaped bead” or a “selection of small yellow beads” hanging around my home, so I just substituted in some French-knots and acrylic DK! Cotton yarn would have been preferable; the soft acrylic yarn gave the flower less definition than the example in the book. The pattern was very easy to follow and it was quick work to make up the finished flower. It turned out pretty well, considering the changes I made, and I’m happy with the result. :)


I’m not exactly green-fingered, so I’m not sure how true the representations are. The Retro Daisy looks a bit funny and I’d have guessed the Freesias were snow-drops, if they weren’t labelled otherwise. However, I love the look of the Water Lily and, if you had the fabric and findings to hand, the Camellia and Antique Rose look lush! They’d probably made really cool corsage brooches.

For under 5 quid, this little crochet book is an absolute bargain. I’d easily rate it 4/5. :)

Free Kindle Books

4 Apr

Free Kindle books are the perfect incentive to buy a Kindle, for those of you tired of traditional paper books. No longer will your bookcases be cluttered with ageing books. Never again will your paperbacks be dog-eared and covered in teething marks from young children… Er, maybe that’s just my experience! However, my Kindle is definitely a great convenience for me and enables me to quadruple my book collection without building a house-extension for the extra bookcases.

Knitting and Crochet Free Kindle Books

The other great thing about Kindle is: you can often pick up free Kindle books, from the Amazon bestsellers list or because the books are out of copyright due to age. Here’s a quick list of some current knitting and crochet related Kindle freebies:

*While most of these books are free patterns or instruction manuals, the Hilda Hopkins book is actually a knitting-themed novel – featuring the discovery of some realistic amigurumi knitted dolls, several murders and an elderly woman with a love of machine-knitting! Vivienne Fagan has written eight Hilda Hopkins novels – this freebie is the first novel in the series.

If you’re interested in any of the above free Kindle books, I recommend that you download them now – Amazon prices are subject to change! (And do check the books are still free before buying them – prices were checked at the time this post was written.) If you don’t have a Kindle (yet), then you can read your Kindle books on one of the free reading apps for Android, PC, Mac, iPhone, etc.