Debbie Bliss seems to have an unlimited supply of baby projects with classic, simple style that are great for knitters of all skill levels, and she brings us more of them in her book Booties, Blankets and Bears: 20 Irresistible Hand Knits for Your Baby.
Like her other collections for little ones, this book has a nice collection of projects, which in this case are all relatively quick to knit because the focus is on small projects -- booties and toys -- as well as blankets often knit in chunky yarns.
Like other books Bliss has written for babies and kids, this book starts with a section on the basics, including information about her yarns, how to care for knit garments and basic knitting techniques. If you've read this section in her other books or are already familiar with the basics, just flip through quickly to see the cute kid pictures and move on straightaway to the patterns.
While the name of the book is Booties, Blankets and Bears, not all of the projects fall into those categories. There are also Fair Isle hangers, a memory book cover, a striped cardigan with matching booties, a set of blocks and a top that matches another pair of booties.
In all there are seven blanket patterns, seven pairs of booties and five animal toy projects, including bears, a giant bird cushion (with a smaller bird toy), a rabbit and a mouse.
Patterns are not rated by skill level but most are suitable for beginners or those with a little experience shaping knitting. The most complicated pattern is a sampler blanket that uses a bunch of different cable patterns (and there's no picture that shows all of the blocks well, so you just have to trust you're working them right).
The booties are all sized to feet ages 3 to 6 months; the sweater patterns have a range of sizes from 3 to 6 months to 18 to 24 months, depending on the project.
To my mind, some of the standout projects are the plain Garter Stitch striped blanket with matching mouse (they're just really cute!); the rabbit with blanket stitch detail (there are booties and a blanket to match); the hooded blanket, another Garter Stitch project; and the girly picot booties.
As you might notice from that listing, there's a lot of Garter Stitch in this book; most everything that's not Garter is Stockinette. That makes these projects pretty quick and easy to finish but maybe not as fun to knit as something with more of a pattern stitch. Still, if you need to belt out a baby gift in a hurry while watching a movie, these projects offer some good options that are sure to be loved and appreciated.
Debbie Bliss patterns have a certain style such that you can pretty much pick her patterns out in a room if you've seen enough of them. That's nice for people who like her pastel palette and simple, cute style, and there's certainly nothing wrong with this book, but there's not much here to really wow the knitter.
That's not to say that they aren't nice projects (the animals, in particular, are pretty darn adorable) or that gifts made from this book won't be appreciated, but if you're a knitter looking for a challenge or something really special and unique to knit a cherished little one, you aren't likely to find it here.
Publication date: October 2009