Category: Craft Book Review

The Great Zentangle Book by Beate Winkler – Craft Book Review

Title – The Great Zentangle Book – Learn to Tangle with 101 Engaging Patterns
Author – Beate Winkler & Friends
Publisher – Quarry
ISBN – 9781631592577

Although I have other Zentangle books, this one caught my eye as being very useful – and indeed it is.

The book is 140 pages long and 10″ x 8″ in size.  The first 12 pages cover what Zentangle actually is, the materials need and how to get started.

101 Great Patterns

The patterns are presented in a very clear format.  For each pattern there are step by step diagrams of how to form it, together with a finished example and some samples of pieces of art that include the featured pattern.  Some variations may also be included.

Whilst some of the tangles were ones I had seen before, I was impressed at how many new ones were included.  This made the book a very handy addition to my Zentangle library.


The tangles are divided into two sections.  The first being “beginners” and the second “tangles for the master class”.  However, they are all clearly described so one would be able to tackle the “master class” ones with just a little practice.

And More…

The final part of the book includes a section of “Questions and Answers”, a list of “Good Reasons to Tangle”, a glossary of technical terms, an article on Zentangle Inspired Art, tangling swaps and classes.  Finally there are handy links to other resources and a list of the “friends” who contributed artwork to the book.  A handy gallery of all the featured tangles is at the back, with page numbers so you can quickly go find the tangle.

I am very pleased with this book.  It has lots of new, fresh tangles that I am enjoying using in my artwork.  Many lend themselves to customization and variation too.  I believe this book would be equally suitable for a new Zentangler or for the more experienced artist.

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Sparkling Crochet by Mitsuki Hoshi – Craft Book Review

Title – Sparkling Crochet
Author – Mitsuki Hoshi
Publisher – Harper Designs
ISBN – 978-0-06-234859-3

I couldn’t resist this book when I saw it.  Such cute amigurumi!  It is about 9 inches tall and 7 inches wide and has 72 pages.

The book includes patterns for 16 cute little crocheted animals and 3 little accessories.

Beautiful Pictures

The first half of the book is full-page, colour photos of each of the animals.   The examples have been knitted with sparkly yarn, but of course, could be knitted with more usual yarns too. Specific yarn choices are not given.

Colour Instructions

There then follows a photo tutorial on how to make one of the animals, Earnest the Shiba Dog.  This shows you what you need and step by step photo instructions of how to crochet the dog.  The photos are close up and nice and clear.  The other animals are based on similar principles so this section serves as a good tutorial for all the other designs too.

Crochet Charts

Next are the crochet charts themselves.  There is not a written crochet pattern, instead, the book uses the Japanese style diagrams for each part.  Some crocheters may not be familiar with these, but with a little practice would hopefully find them easy to use.  Start with a small component to get the idea of how the charts work.


Crochet Chart Symbols

Finally, there is a short section that shows the symbol for each type of crochet stitch with a step-by-step series of diagrams to show how to make this stitch.  Whilst a total beginner may not find this enough to learn to crochet, it is a clear, helpful guide for those with a little experience already.


Whilst this is a small book, the patterns are very adorable and lend themselves to experimenting and creating your own additional variations.  The instructions are clear and would suit a new crocheter.  One could easily create the animals on different scales by using thicker/thinner yarn and different hooks – a bit of experimentation would, of course, be needed.

A cute and fun book with really attractive designs that are difficult to resist.

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Craft Book Review – A Little Course in Crochet from Dorling Kindersley – Crochet Book Review


Title – A Little Course in Crochet
Publisher – Dorling Kindersley Limited – Penguin Random House
ISBN – 978-1-4093-7215-8

I h ave been crocheting for quite a few years now, and have tackled all sorts of different projects, but it recently occurred to me that there may well be basic techniques, tips and useful crochet stitches that I do no know about – in fact there are probably rather a lot!

And so when I saw this nice little book on sale, I decided that it would be worth investing in to improve my crochet skills and knowledge.


In was not disappointed.  This is an attractive, well illustrated book that is full of useful information as well as very nice projects to try out your new found skills.

Each of the three chapters introduces key techniques then has a handful of projects to make that utilize those and previously learned skills.  The techniques are clearly explained with annotated photos that are very easy to understand.  Dorling Kindersley are famous for their beautifully illustrated books and this is up to their usual standards.CrochetCourse7

The book starts off with the very basics, making it eminently suitable for total crochet beginners.  At the end of chapter one you will be able to make washcloths, a phone cover, a cafetiere cosy, towel edging and cool friendship bracelets.  You will also be able to adapt your skills and the patterns to make many other types of item too of course.



Chapter two moves on to crocheting flat circles (very useful for many types of projects, including amigurumi) and has lots of info on creating the ever-popular and extremely versatile granny squares.  There is a stitch gallery with fun new stitches to try.  At the end of this chapter there are 9 nice projects: a set of coasters, a round cushion, a baby’s blanket, toy balls, a chevron cushion, a baby’s hat, a project basket (very nice!), a bookmark and a clutch bag.  Again you will be able to adapt these patterns quite easily if you want.CrochetCourse6

The third chapter again has many useful techniques to expand your crocheting skills.  There is also another stitch gallery with fancy stitches and motif patterns.  The third cluster of projects are: a ribbed scarf, a string bag, a lacy scarf, a tote bag, a patchwork blanket, a baby’s cardigan, a teddy bear and baby’s shoes. CrochetCourse5

All the patterns are nice and clear with closeups of different elements, explanations of any bits that might be new or tricky for you and handy tip boxes.CrochetCourse4

This would be an ideal book for a beginner to crochet.  It also is the ideal reference book for the more experienced crocheter who wants a refresher, to fill in the gaps or simply likes the nice included patterns.  The book is very low priced, so worth it just for the projects, in my opinion.CrochetCourse3

This is a medium sized, thick book, 22cm x 17cm  (8.5″ x 6.75″) in size.  It has 192 pages.  It would be a good size to slip into your craft bag for on-the-go reference.CrochetCourse2 CrochetCourse1

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Craft Book Review – My Crochet Doll by Isabelle Kessedjian – Crochet Book Review


Title – My Crochet Doll
Author – Isabelle Kessedjian
Publisher – David & Charles
ISBN – 978-1-4463-0424-2

I could not resist this adorable book with over 50 patterns for an amigurumi doll, her clothes and accessories.

The book measures 8″ x 10″ (21cm x 28cm) and has 95 full colour pages.The patterns themselves only start after page 60, so nearly two thirds of the book is large “coffee table” pictures of the projects.

The Crocheted Doll


I could not find any mention of how tall the doll actually is, but am assuming she is about 6 inches.  She is simple to crochet in a spiral and one can insert an alluminium wire skeleton to make her poseable.  There are no instructions for customizing the dolls, nor for how to do the various hair styles shown, but I am pretty sure it would be easy to work them out from the pictures.

The Crochet Doll Clothes

The book contains patterns to knit a selection of clothes for your doll.  The patterns included are:

Underwear – basic knickers (can double as shorts)
Boots – variations include moon boots
Trousers – variations include dungarees
Sweater – variations mentioned throughout the book, including as a tshirt and blouse
Bathing Suit
Rain hat
Bear suit
Pinafore dress
Coat dress
Head scarf
Superhero outfit including cape



A lot of fun could be had customizing these patterns to make lots of other clothes.  They are all simple to create and look sweet.

MyCrochetDoll1Crochet Doll Accessories

There are also patterns for accessories to go with the outfits.  Again these could easily be customized to create other things.  The patterns are:

Suitcase – to store the doll and clothes
Simple granny square blanket
Teddy bear
Paddling Pool
Penguin and fish
School bag


The Instructions

The patterns are in written format and use UK terminology (there is a conversion table for US knitters so they can easily use this book too).  The patterns are clear with the round numbers maked.  MyCrochetDoll3

The book includes a written reminder of how to do the various crochet stitches required.  Some previous crochet experience would be required but this book would be suitable for a fairly new crocheter.  More experienced crafters will be able to find many ways to vary the patterns to create their own variations.

The samples in the book use Bergere de France yarns.  There is a helpful table showing what colours and types of yarn are used for each pattern.  There is also a table showing the approximate weights of the yarns used so you can easily substitute whatever you have available.   The doll is crocheted in a Lightweight DK yarn and the clothes mostly use DK and 4ply yarns.  You could of course use a different yarn and adjust your hook size accordingly to create different scales.



This is a very attractive book and the doll and her outfits are very cute indeed.  I felt that perhaps there was less actual patterns than I had initially thought as most of the book is pictures, plus many of the clothes are variations on each other.  However the book has a good basic wardarobe included so one could create countless clothes for a loved doll.

It would have been nice if the pictures could have shown more variations to inspire.  There are numerous images of the dolls, but all have the exact same skin colour, same eyes, same face.  There could also have been a picture showing some different designs for the sweater, for example.  I found myself imagining how to adapt her to make a goth girl, a princess, a boy version and so on.  Doing so would be quite easy, so I am surprised that the large amounts of included images could not have perhaps included this.

This is a great book for any crocheter who is looking for an ongoing project that is easy to get going with, but offers a massive amount of potential variation and customization.

And, of course, the doll herself is adorable and would make the most wonderful gift for a youngster (or mascot for a not-so-youngster).


This link leads to the item on If you purchase it from this link then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

Craft Book Review – Mini Christmas Crochet by Val Pierce


Title – 20 to Make – Mini Christmas Crochet
Author – Val Pierce
Publisher – Search Press
ISBN – 978-1-84448-740-0

As part of the Tin Teddy Christmas Cracker,  I am reviewing the fun crochet book “Mini Christmas Crochet” by Val Pierce as there is still time to make some of these adorable little creations before Christmas.

This a small, 48 page book and part of the popular “20 to Make” series from Search Press.

The book starts with a general introduction then a page of Hints and Tips.  This includes a table showing American and British stitch name differences.  Instructions on how to crochet are not included so some experience will be required. (more…)

Craft Book Review – Super Scary Crochet


Title – Super Scary Crochet
Author – Nicki Trench
Publisher – Cico Books
ISBN – 978-1-907563-54-6

For Tin Teddy Shriek Week I am reviewing the fun crochet book “Super Scary Crochet” by Nicki Trench.

Well, this is definitely a crochet book with a difference.  It gives instructions to make a collection of little amigurumi style animals and people… but these are the most twisted, freaky, downright weird crochet toys I have ever seen.superscarycrochet1


The crocheted characters

There are 35 different characters in the book, and what weird and wonderful ones they are!

As well as the more conventional “halloween characters” such as witches, vampires, zombies and devils there are also some very unusual designs.

Oddities include a headless horseman, and his horse, a shrunken head (called Shaun), Colin the Cannibal Cockerel and poor Bubbles, the little white rabbit who has been viciously stabbed with a.. carrot.SuperScaryCroche6

Who’s Who of Super-Scary Crochet

Queen Lucy of the Vampires
Pocket Ghost
Baby Jane and Blanche
Mr Alien
Mrs Alien
Severus the Shark
Dominic the Vampire
Herman the Headless Horseman
Redeye – his horse
Yohan the Invisible Man
Bernard BigFoot
Walter the Werewolf
Witchy Woo
Lucifer the Witch’s cat
Derek the DevilSuperScaryCroche5
Tink the Three Headed Dog
Mr Pumpkin Head
Bubbles in Trouble
Colin the Cannibal Cockerel
Natty the Batty
Murderous Mental Mary
Possessed Penelope
Doctor Death
Piercing Phyllis
Payne the Goth Girl
Frankenstein’s Youngster
Nobby the Dead Rocker
Tomatoes from the ‘Hood
Spider Web Bunting
Willy the Wiley Wolf
Cynthia the Spider Bag
Las Vegas Cross Necklace
Shaun the Shrunken Head

Each character has a short “back story”, and nice clear instructions.  Some require scraps of fabric for clothing or beads for eyes.

I like that the abbreviations for the crochet stitches are included for each set of instructions, very convenient.


How to do it

The last section of the book contains clear instructions and diagrams on how to do the various crochet stitches required to make the characters.  This is pretty traditional in crochet books, and this particular example is very clear and easy to follow.  I would assume though that anyone buying this book had a bit of crochet experience under their belt already as many of the characters and their components are quite small and fiddly.



These little characters would make great gifts for adults or older teens, especially those who love weird and freaky things!

Many of the characters could be easily adapted by an experienced crocheter.  The headless horseman’s horse could quickly become a unicorn.  Nobby, the dead rocker, could be made to resemble your favourite musician (alive or dead).  It would be easy to mix and match elements and accessories from the various people to make other characters.

Having so many patterns, and variation options, this book is excellent value for money.  As long as you are into the super-scary style, of course.  And now I am going to go crochet up Mr Pumpkin Head as he will look adorable sitting in my craft room.



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Craft Book Review – Wool Buddies


Title – Wool Buddies
Author – Jackie Huang
Publisher – Chronicle Books
ISBN – 978-1-4521-1440-8

I spotted this book in a local bookshop, on sale, and really could not leave it there.  I enjoy a spot of needle felting now and then and love the cute characters in this book.  Very inspiring.

The book is about 8.5″ x 9″ (20cm x 22cm) with a sturdy hard cover.

How to do it

The first section covers the basics of needle felting including the materials and tools required.  The then follows step-by-step colour instructions to make basic shapes.

Needle felting is pretty simple to get started in so I am pretty sure that even a total beginner would be able to follow this and start making the little animals.TTWoolBuddiesBook4

The wooly little critters

The creatures themselves are divided into three section, Simple, Moderate and Challenging so there is something for all skill levels.  There is a total of 20 animals but many could be converted into other species.

The “simple” animals are a rabbit, penguin, owl, frog, seal, pig, guinea pig and starfish.   The instructions are very clear and include how much of each colour of roving you will require and each stage of construction.TTWoolBuddiesBook5

“Moderate” level animals are a sheep, wolf, fox, dog, elephant, zebra and shark.  All the creatures are really cute and full of character.  It would also be very easy to customize your animals with different colours and altering elements of the design.

TTWoolBuddiesBook6   The “Challenging” woolbuddies are particularly adorable.  Here we have a giraffe, tiger, octopus, alligator and teddy bear.    Despite being called “challenging” these designs are still clearly described and I doubt a crafter would need very much needle felting experience to be able to tackle them.TTWoolBuddiesBook3

After making a few of these adorable characters one could easily use the basic designs as a basis for other creatures.  Mr Binks the pig could be converted into a Piggy from Angry Birds, Stripe the Zebra would become an adorable donkey if made in grey roving.TTWoolBuddiesBook2


This is a charming book and very enjoyable to flick through (even if you never make any of the animals!).  It has good solid information and instructions for newer needle felters and lots of inspiration for the more experienced crafters.



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Craft Book Review – Fleece Dog

Fleece Dog Book review


Title – Fleece Dog

Author – SINCO
Publisher – Mitchell Beazley
ISBN – 9781845332891

An adorable little book on how to make your own fuzzy needle-felted dogs from raw wool – or combings from your own dog’s coat!

The book measures 7.5 x 8.5 inches and has 80 pages.

Cuteness Overload

OK, even if I never ever wanted to make a fleece dog, I would still be glad I bought this book.  The dogs are really adorable and the photographs of them are charming.

There are instructions to make 17 breeds of dog from sheep’s wool, then an extra 3 that incorporate your own dog’s hair if you wish.  I am sure it would not be hard to adapt many of the designs to create other breeds of dog.

Each dog is illustrated in the first part of the book, together with a little bit of information on the breed.


How to Make a Fleece Dog

There is a detailed section that outlines the tools you will need (very few!), how to mix the colours of fleece, how to create and assemble the basic dog and additional techniques such as implanting dog hair and adding markings.

This section is fully illustrated and very clear, however I personally think that this book is probably not for the absolute beginner in needle-felting.  A little previous experience with simpler designs would be advisable.  Having said that, the instructions are very detailed.TTFleeceDogBook2

The instructions for each dog explain how much wool is needed, and what colours are recommended.  There are detailed illustrations that show the various shapes you will need to make and how they join together to create the dog.  Measurements of various parts are given together with illustrations of special parts that need to be made.

At the bottom of the page there are black and white illustrations of different views of the finished dog so you can ensure you have everything right.


Lots of dogs

The included breeds are:

Labrador Retriever,  Miniature Dachshund, Shiba Inu, French Bulldog, Wirehound Fox Terrier, Siberian Husky, Chihuhua, Miniature Schnauzer, Pomeranian, Papillon, Dalmatian, Catalan Sheepdog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Scottish Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Afghan Hound, Toy Poodle, Shetland Sheepdog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen.TTFleeceDogBook4

Once one had made a few of the dogs I think it would be easy to convert the designs to make other breeds.  A larger version of the Sheltie would be a Rough Collie, Toy Poodles could be enlarged to make Standards, Dalmatians could have a colour change and be Pointers and so on.



This is one of my favourite craft books.  Ideal of course if you want to capture the likeness of a furry friend, in miniature.  I love the idea of including the dog’s own hair in the model.

The range of included breeds covers a lot of the most popular ones plus it would be easy to convert them to cover many, many more types.

These are very detailed little models so may be a bit fiddly for very new needle-felters.  However the instructions are very clear and detailed.

The sections on topics such as how to blend new colours of fleece should prove very useful indeed.


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Japanese Kimekomi by Barbara B. Suess – A craft book review


Title – Japanese Kimekomi
Author – Barbara B. Suess and Kathleen M. Hewitt
Publisher – Breckling Press
ISBN – 978-1 -933308-21-0



I pounced on this book when I saw it, and have been so glad that I did so.

Kimekomi is a Japanese crafting technique, originally used on wooden dolls, whereby small pieces of fabric are poked into grooves in a form.  There is no sewing involved.TTkimekomiBook2

Nowadays the craft usually involves easily available polystyrene balls (or other shapes) and is much easier to do that then results imply.

Basically you mark out the design on the ball, using templates or simple geometry (really simple, honest!).  Then you groove all the lines with either a hot knife or a craft knife.  I use a normal craft knife and found that fine to work with.  Then you cut pieces of wadding (optional) and scraps of fabrics.  You just poke the fabric into the grooves to give the neat, “surely it must be stitched” look.  Finally you can neatly finish the seams with rat-tail or similar cord.

Small but full of info…

The book is 8 x 8 inches in size and has 94 pages.TTkimekomiBook3TTkimekomiBook6

It starts with a brief history of kimekomi and then describes the (very little) materials and equipment you will require.

Next there is a detailed explanation of how to do the kimekomi technique, and information on how to resize designs, or create your own.  This is all very clearly explained with lots of diagrams.

Many designs included…TTkimekomiBook5

There are specific instructions for 16 different kimekomi designs, each of which includes templates for a 3″ polystyrene ball.  For each design there are also variations and information on how to use the design on any shaped ball (ie. without the included templates).  So really there are dozens of great designs for you to create. Against this is all very well explained.

Once I had done a few of the included designs I was confident to create my own variations and new designs.  There is also a section all about converting patchwork and quilting patterns to kimekomi designs and from this you will be able to design your own patterns too.

The only negative, and this is a bit of a silly “just me” one, is that quite a few of the designs in the book are based on American quilts or locations.  As the book is called “Japanese Kimemoki” I really expected it to include only Japanese designs.  The “American” ones are beautiful though so I am probably just being silly.TTkimekomiBook4

This is a wonderful craft to try, requiring minimal, cheap materials and only basic crafting skills (able to use a knife, scissors, glue).  The end results look stunning.  Friends who have seen the kimekomi I have made have found it hard to believe they are  not stitched.

The book also includes ideas for using your finished balls in attractive ways as home decor etc.


An excellent instruction book in this beautiful, easy and very satisfying Japanese craft.

This link – Japanese Kimekomi: Fast, Fun, and Fabulous Fabric Handballs– leads to the item on If you purchase it from this link then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.






Craft Book Review – Creepy Cute Crochet by Christen Haden

Tin Teddy Creepy Cute Review


Title – Creepy Cute Crochet: Zombies, Ninjas, Robots, and More

Author – Lesley Stanfield
Publisher – Quirk Books
ISBN – 978-1-59474-232-3

I admit that I bought this book because of the cuddly crochet Cthulhu on the front cover! (the green thing at the top right, in you didn’t know)  TTCreepyCutePic4

This is a charming little 96 page book with 21 wonderful little creepy-cute amigurumi characters to crochet.  All the designs are made with worsted weight (double knitting) yarn and a US size E (3.5mm) crochet hook.  They use basic stitches and would be suitable for someone who is quite new to crochet.y

The book starts with information on the tools required and how to assemble the little chaps.  The basic body and head instructions are at the back of the book and shared by nearly all the different characters.  The patterns use the American terminology, but most non-USA crocheters are familiar with this and should not have problems.  If you are not sure you can easily find conversion charts online (it is only a couple of stitches that are called something different on either side of the Atlantic).

The patterns are nice and clear with both step by step written instructions and a clear diagram version too, so you can use whichever you prefer.  I like how they always start with a jolly diagram showing what you need to complete the pattern.TTCreepyCutePic2

The characters are simple but recognizable and very cute.  It would also not be hard to adapt the patterns to make your own characters too.

Lots of Little Monsters…

The included characters are:

Little red devil
Nosferatu the vampire
Queen vampire
Skeleton Bride and GroomTTCreepyCutePic1
Medusa the Gorgon
Fuzzy Alien
Corporate Zombie
Grim Reaper
Cyber Zombie
Day of the Dead Gal and FellowTTCreepyCutePic3
Monkey (because everyone loves monkeys, apparently)

The little amigurumis are very cute and would be great for youngsters, as little gifts, mascots and companions.  They are small enough to carry around easily.


This is a great book if you like little amigurumi characters.  I am a pretty experienced crocheter, but I am sure this would be great to use if you were quite new to the art, as long as you knew the basic stitches.   A great way to use up oddments of yarn too.






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leads to the item on If you purchase it from this link then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.