True to its title, Soft + Simple Knits for Little Ones by Heidi Boyd is full of easy knitting patterns for babies and toddlers that even a new knitter could master.
The book's emphasis is on playtime toys and garments that are amusing for the child, such as a pullover with a shark on the front chasing a smaller fish on the back or a scarf with a fox head on one end to make dressing in cold weather (or for playtime) more exciting.
Because this is a book aimed at beginners and newer knitters, it includes a decent section on knitting skills, substituting yarn, knitting gauge and the like.
My only complaint about this information is that it only includes instructions on how to knit and purl in the continental style. There's nothing wrong with continental knitting; in fact, many knitters prefer it.
But given that the book was written by an American and published in America, it might have been useful to at least mention that there's another style of knitting that is often more common in the states.
Boyd mentions she wishes she'd learned this way from the start, but doesn't give any indication of what the other way is so that knitters can make their own decision about how they want to knit.
Boyd is also a big fan of circular knitting needles (in particular the Denise Interchangeable Needles, so her knitting instructions section includes tips on knitting in the round with two circulars, as well as knitting I-cord, working intarsia and sewing up projects with the mattress stitch.
The book contains 29 projects, many of which have multiple parts, leading the cover of the book to boast that it contains more than 45 patterns.
There are patterns for a clever stroller blanket with ties to keep it from being run over and a pocket for baby to hide treasures; a zip-up vest for older kids with a tassel pull; scarves with pockets and dog and cat heads on the ends, with matching hats; and bath friendly hand puppets shaped like lions, elephants and monkeys.
There's a child's backpack with a matching tote for mom, a series of simple bibs with tiny intarsia designs and a simple sweater with a giraffe on the front.
My favorite pattern is a knit castle "purse" with a plethora of tiny finger puppets. The cast of characters fits in the castle for easy transport, and the front handle of the castle lowers into a drawbridge that exposes windows for the puppets to peek out of.
There are many patterns for dolls, little sweaters and wraps, as well as a pair of legwarmers, mittens and an adorable dress.
Most of the patterns are perfect for beginners, using Stockinette Stitch almost exclusively. Many projects are knit in the round for ease in finishing. Even thought the designs are rather simple, more experienced knitters will enjoy them for quick projects for kids in their own families or for knit gifts.
The bottom line is that these patterns are cute, easy to knit and should be enjoyed by kids (though I still can't imagine a girl who likes using a muff, no matter how fuzzy it is). You can't ask for much more than that.
Publication date: November 2007.