Friday 4 September 2015

Toft Alpaca Publishes Edward's Menagerie Pattern Book

For a brief change from knitting, why not take up crochet?

When Toft Alpaca Shop founder Kerry Lord was pregnant she used her spare time to take up crochet. The toys she made became the crochet pattern book Edward's Menagerie, and now there's a sequel for sale of the avian kind: Edward's Menagerie Birds.

Image courtesy of Toft Alpaca
I had the pleasure of receiving a digital review copy. The first thing that struck me was the colours used in the designs. The original Edward's Menagerie book used the natural alpaca colours Toft is known for - creams, greys and browns. For the sequel Toft has dyed their wool in six colourful shades, whether it's for the pink of a flamingo or the yellow of a bill, the shades make a great addition to the yarn range. I hope they will be carried over to the company's garment and accessories designs.

So to the patterns. They make fabulous small projects for crochet fans. The birds are not just for kids either - I've spotted quite a few grown women in the Toft Alpaca Shop buying yarn to crochet the collection for themselves. Each bird comes in four sizes, small, standard, large or giant, depending on the thickness of yarn you use, from fine to chunky.

Sophia the flamingo image courtesy of Toft Alpaca
Novice crocheters may find the patterns a little tricky and I'd advise complete newbies to learn the basic stitches before they attempt a bird. The patterns are divided into three levels, the first being for those relatively new to the craft; the second for those who have mastered the loop/fur stitch; and the third comfortable with more complex colour changing and splitting techniques.

At the back of the book there are instructions on crochet stitches and sewing up techniques. Some pattern designs have wings or feet the same as others. If you're new to crochet and have mastered how to make a flying wing you may wish to pick out other pattern with the same feature to make before you attempt a different style.

Browsing through the book is a visual pleasure. The colour and the clarity of the photographs are excellent and certainly inspire the reader to get hooking. Needless to say that if toys are your thing then this book probably isn't for you.

My personal favourite pattern is Sophia the flamingo. She's a level one pattern and therefore one of the easiest to make, plus she's pink. Enough said! There are, however, over 40 patterns to choose from if pink doesn't float your boat.

The book is also available as a book and yarn package, which comes with your choice of 100g, 25g and 10g yarn plus 10 extra digital patterns. Or why not book a crochet workshop and learn how to make the bird of your choice?

Scollayalong Update

Nearly finished the first arm now as well as the body. My progress is terribly slow thanks to work and other things taking up my knitting time. I'm going on holiday for a couple of weeks and will be taking a break both from blogging and the Scollay cardigan - I think I'll just take a small and simple knitting project with me. See how other Scollay knitters are getting on in the Scollayalong Ravelry forum.

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