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  Animal Knits
by Zoe Mellor
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Although I've never met Zoe Mellor, I imagine her with a smile on her face. Her designs convey a breezy, cheerful, infectious optimism.

New Designs

This book, Mellor's fourth collection of knitwear designs, focuses on animal motifs. Her previous book, "Double Knits: Pairs of Patterns for Babies and Toddlers," featured colorful, easy-to-knit, cute yet slightly funky children's designs.

Although Mellor's style is consistent throughout all of her books, there's surprisingly little repetition in the actual designs. "Animal Knits" features 26 designs, including accessories such as an animal blanket, a farmyard cushion, and a toy rabbit and dog that give Debbie Bliss a run for her money.

Comfort Level

Confident beginners who are ready to experiment with color will appreciate these patterns. There is very little in the way of complicated stitchwork, with most of the patterns involving simple stockinette with a garter-stitch border.

More experienced knitters will enjoy the subtle twists Mellor adds to her designs, such as a chenille rooster in the midst of an all-cotton pillow.

Rowan, Rowan, Rowan Your Boat

All the designs call for either Rowan or Jaeger yarns, which some knitters may find limiting. Gauges run from 20 to 23 stitches per 10cm square.

The beautifully executed interior design of the book does have a slightly confusing element. Patterns begin with a tension/gauge listing, but the sizes and materials are often displayed on the opposite page. It's by no means a show-stopper, but it was a bit confusing at first.

Technical Elements

Mellor's patterns are always succinct and to the point. She wastes no time with lengthy tales of where the pattern came from, instead launching directly into the instructions.

Only a few times does she dip into lengthy row-by-row instructions, and when she does it's usually for collars or other highly tailored components. There are no schematics showing each component of the garment, but Mellor does provide several shots of the same item, which is very helpful.

Stay Tuned

Mellor is the quintessential children's designer. She's been a knitter since the age of seven, has a degree in fashion design, and -- perhaps most helpful for children's designers -- is the mother of son Toby.

She recently opened a shop in Brighton, England, which carries a cheerful selection of her knits, plus a new line of fleece clothing for kids. You can visit the shop online by going to TobyTiger.com. Let's hope the shop doesn't keep her from producing more patterns!

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