Friday 25 July 2014

Edward's Menagerie Crochet Book Launched

OK, it's crochet and not knitting, but I've found that hooking up one of these cute animal patterns from Toft Alpaca is a great way to learn to crochet.

Toft sells its own brand yarn to make these snuggly toy animals. Kerry Lord, the Toft Alpaca Shop's founder, was 39 weeks pregnant when she first picked up a crochet hook. She hooked 14 animals in the 14 days she had left before her son, Edward, arrived and that was the beginning of an animal obsession.

Edward's Menagerie brings together previously existing animal patterns that were available in at Toft, along with new additions specially for the book. The patterns are grouped into three different levels, the first, for beginners, uses only one colour and chain, slip stitch and double crochet; Level 2 adds basic colour changing and Level 3 has more complex colour changes and loop stitch. The book give instructions on how to do this.

It's a beautifully-photographed book, which makes me want to dive right in and start crocheting. I found that, what with crocheting and sewing up and stuffing, each animal takes me about ten hours - that's five evenings of two hours in front of the television. I've made two, keeping one for myself and giving one away to a new baby.

Of course the book advises you to use Toft yarn and this is where the project becomes rather pricey. A ball of DK is £15 - not a bargain basement price. The yarns, however, are all top-quality British and in natural alpaca colours. If you're planning on making quite a few animals rather than one it will work out more cost effective as ball ends can be used as contrasting colours on Level 2 or 3 designs.

Emma the Bunny
My favourite? My first name is Penelope and I was surprised to find that's the name of the bear in the book. Each animal has a character and I rather like my namesake: "Penelope is a career bear at the top of her game ... her signature drink is a complex champagne cocktail that no barman has ever heard of, but she is no party animal and has a reputation for always being the first to leave having secretly paid the whole bill. Her partner is an equally impressive character, and together they will scuba dive the world."

I also love one of the original patterns, Emma the bunny. She no doubt will be beloved of many a tot around the country. If you use chunky yarn instead of DK you can make a large version of her - that's on my to-do list for a relative's baby due this Winter.

Order the book and you will also receive a PDF in your email inbox with ten extra patterns. This week Toft is offering free postage and packaging on all orders including Edward's Menagerie.

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