The Menagerie's distinctive designs and aesthetic appeal to me and I always look forward to seeing what Kerry comes up with next. Once, when editing Inside Crochet magazine, I even had the chance to request an exclusive animal to be designed by Kerry for the publication - the result was an adorable Hedgehog called Francis.
Edward's Crochet Imaginarium is a diversion from the usual themes in the series as it is a collection of mythical animals - or rather monsters - as opposed to the usual critters which have generally been based on actual living (and extinct!) birds and mammals. It is also published in a rather unusual and extremely entertaining flipbook format. Kerry's books have always included an interactive element that was mainly aimed at children, allowing them to pick and choose their favourite characters, while the basic shapes of the animals remained fairly simple and similar and therefore easy for the maker to create. The Imaginarium takes things one step further by allowing you to create your own unique character from a myriad of different design elements - there are supposedly over a million variations, meaning practically limitless appeal!
The spiral bound, flip book format is so gorgeous and engaging that my daughter read it for ages by herself, treating it like one of her picture books. The reader is actively encouraged to construct their own monster using the well-loved split-page layout familiar from a multitude of children's books, but something that I can't recall seeing in a craft book before. This is a great tool for those crafters who are a little scared to stray far from the design of the pattern they are making - it is very common for knitters and crocheters to want to make a pattern exactly as the one on the page, down to the yarn type and colour as they are unsure whether the finished result will be successful. This book doesn't give any single pattern for one creature at all, but simply the 'recipe' for a smattering of different body parts that can be used in different ways, actively encouraging you to play with body shape, limbs, hair, colours, embellishment and placement of the appendages to create a unique personality, suitable for the monster's new owner.
If you are still a little apprehensive at starting from scratch, there is a handy gallery of sample monsters, which is actually where my littlun started her design process. I was quite surprised that she loved Bella, as she isn't the 'pinkest' of little girls, but she liked Bella's long hair and horn mix (as did mummy!) and we tweaked her limbs and added in some other colours and design elements to make Bella just right for her new playmate.
Kerry suggests in the book drawing out the basic shape of the monster and then letting the child you are making for colour it in, which we loved the idea of. This resulted in the addition of a couple of other colours and a whole lot of stripes, which both of us are partial to...
When the yarn arrived, I was glad to find that the colours are bright and clean and the pink was a very pretty shade on the right side of coral - I think I have said before, I am not much of a pink lover to say the least! It is also really lovely to use. I have never used the coloured yarns before, only the naturals and it is a really nice experience to work in technicolour in such a lovely alpaca yarn.
There is only one point that I found a little clunky with this book. As one toy can be a mixture of many patterns, even though every effort has been made to make everything clear for the reader, it can get a little confusing skipping around the book, especially if you make the decision to add more elements to your design. I would suggest writing out your selected pattern mixture before you begin, so you don't have to keep flipping pages and referring to different sections of the book with your crochet in your hands.
Having said this, the project I am currently working on is really fun, and very simple once you have worked out the pattern. I have especially enjoyed the collaboration with my daughter on this - she really feels involved in the whole process as she often gets frustrated that she cannot yet crochet and help me out! She has also been hovering over my shoulder as I make Bella, getting more excited as each element becomes recognisable.
Tune back in soon as I will be revealing the completed character as soon as she is finished.
Those kind folk over at Pavilion books have also given me one copy of this lovely book to give away, so if you are as excited about this new book as I am, please leave a comment below or on my Instagram feed under the relevant comp post to have a chance to win - comment on both for an extra entry! *
* Competition closes at midnight on Wednesday 14th September. Entries from the UK only please, sorry! Prizes are as offered and are non-transferable, non-refundable, non-changeable. No cash alternatives are available. Only one entry for website and one for Instagram is permitted per person and the editor's decision is final. Entries received after the closing date of the promotion will not be considered. No responsibility is taken for entries lost or delayed, by way of technical errors including malfunctions via the website. The winner will be drawn at random. No correspondence will be entered into. The winner will be notified within 28 days of the closing date. Unless specified otherwise, if a prize remains unclaimed for six months it will not be awarded, provided reasonable attempts have been made to contact the winner using the contact details supplied.
Please note that the publisher provided the book for review and the competition prize and Toft provided the yarn to make Bella but I have received no other reimbursement for the review and all views are my own.