Book Review

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by Claire Garland
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I grew up playing with toys my grandma had knit for me. There was a spotted puppy with button eyes, a turquoise octopus with braided legs, and an orange cat that was stuffed with old stockings. I loved those dolls and I'd like to think that they helped set me on my knitting path.

The world of knitted toys seems to have relied heavily on the teddy bear and other animal forms, which is fine... but after a while, you start wanting something new.

That's why I was so excited to receive this book from British designer—and mom—Claire Garland, by way of Interweave Press. In it, Garland revolutionizes the entire notion of knitted dolls, creating a simple knitted girl doll form that lends itself to as many different personalities as there are people on this planet.

The book won't be out until the end of September, but I suspect its first print run will sell out quickly—so I wanted to give you as much advanced notice as possible.

A Simple Start
The knitted doll body requires only the ability to cast on, knit, purl, increase, decrease, and cast off. Garland gives full instructions on each of these things, backed by clear photographs and large illustrations. She also gives a sewing tutorial, covering all the bases necessary for completing the dolls in this book.

Garland spends several pages showing not only how to create the base babe body, but how to give it personality: making the eyes, styling the hair, adding freckles, and shaping the lips. The arms and legs are simple knitted strips that dangle like spaghetti, something you'll either like or not.

Once you've got the foundation down, the fun begins. Garland shows you five different babe characters, each with her own set of accessories. Because words only do these dolls partial justice, I've gotten permission to introduce three dolls from the book. All photos were taken by John Garland.

DD Diva, photo by John Garland

DD Diva is an Olympic diving champion who enjoys wearing flared bell-bottom pants, a beret, two-tone mules, and a stylish traveling bag.
Flo Tilly, photo by John Garland

Girly girl Flo Tilly comes with ballet slippers, tutu, Fair Isle pullover, sweat band, and her own pink ballet bag.
Rudy Ranch, photo by John Garland

And then there's the fiery redheaded rodeo rider Rudy Ranch, with her cowboy boots, hat, gingham skirt, vest, tank top, cow pants, and picnic basket.

Sew What?
Although the handknitted clothes and accessories are cute, they are given a serious run for their money by the hand-sewn accessories that also feature prominently in the book. You would benefit from a sewing machine, although the outfits are small enough that you can easily piece them together by hand.

Many Roads to Babedom
This book is a lesson in smart marketing. The babes from the book have been on tour all summer, attending Stitches, TKGA, knit-outs, TNNA, and other events.

There's a Knitted Babes Knit-Along so you can share ideas and inspiration with other babe fans. And this winter you'll also be able to join the Knitted Babes Club and receive new patterns each month.

Toppling the Trends
As we enter the gift-knitting season, I predict this book will conquer the scarf and felted purse in one fell swoop. Once you get the basic body down, you can start creating new babes...perhaps Millie the Motorcycle Mechanic, Gretchen the Geek, or Tammie the Trucker? The possibilities are endless.

In this regard, although the babes are ideal gifts for teens and tweens, I suspect many of us will end up knitting them for ourselves. I know I will!

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