With us today is amazing, super-fast knitter Kei, who made three samples during her review of this book! Wow. Thanks so much, Kei!
If you are a “crafter” with who knits a little, and happen to have tweeners/children in your life, Fast & Fun Knits (feel good projects to make you smile) by Claire Garland (2011 F&W Media International, 128 pages) could prove to be a fun resource for you. The book, organized into three sections (home, wear-ables and accessories), has instructions for 10 whimsical projects. Most projects look like they can be finished in an afternoon – and the three that I tested were indeed each completed in a few hours of crafting time. I thought that the best thing about this book is that the author enables the crafter to morph a single pattern and into several projects. The techniques section in the back is basic, but good, for knitting.
Now, if you are like me and start breaking out in hives when there’s sewing involved with a needle that is threaded with something that is thinner than lace weight yarn, this book may not so fast and fun. The Feng Shui purse, which is darling, had sewing instructions (with no diagrams — diagrams would have helped) that left me running for cover, and involved purchasing materials that a knitter may not be familiar with or have on hand. Where is the technique section for sewing that is comparable for the one given for knitting?
As for the knitting projects — the patterns basic, easy to follow and written clearly. Many experienced knitters will recognize that there are many comparable patterns available for free on the Internet. I made three of the projects of varying difficulty ratings.
The Cool Head Hat pattern (rated “Fast-track fun”) is easy, and the author gives 3 different topper variations — Pom-pom, Knot and Bobble. The author does a great job enabling the knitter to envision that small variations in a basic pattern can yield very different results. I made the Knot hat, thinking that it would be a great gift for a child (pattern claims that the finished size “fits babies to 10-year olds) — see the photo, cute cute!
However, there is a pretty big issue — it fits my VERY big head. The author states that “the nature of the hat enables it to fit different-sized heads” — I think this hat would be enormous on a baby. I think it would have been more helpful if the author gave different yarn weights as an option for sizing variation.
Next, I flipped over to the Fun fruit section (rated “a happy medium”) and decided to make the pin cushion. I like the result — although this project also required items that were not easily on hand (sand. Sand?) I think I could have filled it with scrap yarn (maybe the author could have suggested this?) but luckily for me, my dog had gutted a stuffed animal recently so I was able to recycle dog toy guts to fill my new pin cushion, and the result is a pin cushion that is big enough to use with my blocking pins.
The last project I knitted was Give A Wave Mitts (rated “a feel-good challenge”). Pattern is easy to follow and pretty standard. The lace pattern is not very complicated but it does prevent the project from being good with a highly variegated yarn like I used. I think this would be a lot prettier in a single color yarn, although variegated yarn is an option that is suggested by the author.
All in all, I found the book fun but probably more suitable for someone looking for a craft book rather than a knitting book.