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Book Review


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  The Knitted Teddy Bear
by Sandra Polley
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I was feeling stressed and grumpy the day this book arrived. But within just a few minutes of opening the package, my cloud had lifted. Since then, every time I look through this book, I can't help but smile.

The Knitted Teddy Bear
The book lives up to its title, with 12 different patterns of knitted teddy bears. All the bears follow a traditional teddy style with subtle and unique modifications.

Each bear has a name, such as Thomas, Robert, Christopher, and Rosie. The loving and compassionate photographs make you feel part of a secret teddy bear world.

Abundant Variety
Although there are 12 patterns, each bear often has multiple personalities. For example, the sweet little bear named Thomas wears a knitted sweater, jacket, scarf, jeans, and hat to school. But when soccer practice arrives, he changes into his sporty attire complete with a player number on his hat and sweater.

My favorite couple is Christopher and Rosie, with their tall goofy bodies with long arms, short legs, and matching comfy buttoned overalls.

And then there's Ralph, the well-fed construction worker whose generous belly protrudes over a pair of droopy pants held up with a little tie belt. For his shirt, what else but a sleeveless top?

Polley also combines Christopher and Ralph to create Sleepy Sam, a cozy relaxed bear whose head rests comfortably on his paws as he takes his afternoon nap.

You also have more traditional bears, all of which come with assorted clothes and accessories.

The Patterns
All the patterns are knit in smooth, standard yarns, some in garter stitch, but most in stockinette.

Polley walks you through the project, row by row, piece by piece. This can make some patterns seem lengthy and daunting, especially to beginners, but here's a tip. Photocopy the pattern and cross out each row of instructions after you've knitted them. This will help you focus on the row at hand and keep your place in the pattern.

Going the Extra Mile
One of my peeves with knitted bear patterns from other designers is that they often skimp on assembly instructions. Pieces can be small and odd-shaped, and without clear diagrams showing you exactly how to seam it up and where to place it on the bear, you can quickly get lost.

Polley provides all of this, and more. She gives a mini tutorial on how to create different expressions on your bear's face.

She also discusses how to mix colors, use leftover tidbits and recycled yarn from old garments, and even create intentionally aged bears.

Her patterns sometimes call for bear-specific accessories, such as eyes, body pellets, and joints. At the back of the book, you'll find a complete list of sources for these products.

A Bookshelf Must-Have?
We've seen a lot of teddy-themed books published recently, but many of those—including Fiona McTague's Knits for Children and Their Teddies and Catherine Bouquerel's Knitting for Teddies—feature patterns for bear clothing and matching garments for children.

The list of actual teddy bear patterns is much shorter, with Debbie Bliss featuring prominently. Bliss' patterns tend to be of a certain aesthetic, and Sandra Polley—with her loving and often whimsical creations—gives us more creative choices.

For me, the pictures alone are worth the price of the book.

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