Karen McKenna certainly has been busy! I reviewed her gloves and mittens book recently, and now she has another book out. This one is from Annie's, in their "In a Weekend" series: Baby Afghans: 12 Adorable Quick-to-Finish Throws for Boys and Girls. (Note: I was given a copy of the book to review; that will not influence the content that follows.)
There is a very nice variety of afghans in this book, which retails for $8.99 in the US and $10.99 in Canada. I was not expecting to see so many different stitch patterns. Ten projects are rated easy, one intermediate, and one experienced. The experienced one is a hexagon that uses post stitches to create a cabled look. Some other techniques are spike stitches (or long stitches), chevrons, shells, ripples, and textured stitches. There is one version of a granny square.
Each pattern is written for baby afghan size, with directions for smaller blankets (car seat, small cradle, security) in parentheses. I'm used to seeing the smallest size first, but there's no reason it can't go the other way! The cradle sizes are long, like the afghans, but just a little bit skinnier. Make sure you check the measurements the pattern has for the blankets before you choose which one to crochet.
I made the "Wild Child" as my test blanket. The directions were easy to follow. I really appreciated the symbol chart; when I had a question about whether a skipped stitch was supposed to be the first stitch on a row or the next one, the chart cleared that up for me immediately.
Here is my practice piece:
It took me about 2.75 hours to make the smallest size blanket, which is 41 stitches wide x 25 rows, plus side edging and two rows of trim. You could definitely complete a full-size blanket in a weekend.
You folks know I am very particular...so it is a relief to find a well-written, beautifully photographed book that leaves me nothing to criticize! I do have two suggestions (more for the publisher than the author):
- Why break the patterns into sections for boys, girls, and neutrals? Seems a bit arbitrary. Most crocheters know they can change colors or alter trim to suit their nursery decor.
- I'd like to see a few sentences at the beginning of each pattern to give an overview of what to expect. Something like, "This pattern uses alternating shells and V-stitches in three colors."
I recommend this book for anyone who wants to make something quick and fun. The patterns are complex enough to hold your interest, yet not so intricate as to drive you crazy. There is a nice variety of solids and stripes/blocks, with one pattern that uses variegated yarn. Blankets can be made in four different sizes. Instructions are clear, charts are a plus, photos are adorable.
If you're lucky enough to be going to the CGOA conference, Karen McKenna will be be signing copies of Baby Afghans in the Crochetville booth Friday at 10:30 and 2 p.m. Saturday. She'll also be signing at Hooked for Life (booth #118) at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
You can also buy her book from Amazon here.