I’m pleased to share a review of Sweet & Simple Baby Crochet: 35 Adorable Designs for Newborns to 12 Months by Kristi Simpson as part of the book’s blog tour today. As my regular readers know, I also review crochet books on the Crochet Guild of America‘s blog, and Stackpole Books asked CGOA to share a review for the tour, which I’m hosting here.
For the past several years, Kristi Simpson has been specializing in quick and simple crochet designs for newborns and toddlers using contemporary styling and colors. You may know her as the designer behind RAKJ Patterns. You can also find Kristi/RAKJ patterns on Facebook, Etsy, and Ravelry.
Sweet & Simple Baby Crochet: 35 Adorable Designs for Newborns to 12 Months is Kristi’s first book. (Her next book, Mommy & Me Crochet Hats: Silly, Sweet & Fun Hats for Kids of All Ages, is already available for pre-order.) Kristi is also the founding publisher of Inspired Crochet digital magazine, now known as Entwined. (Full disclosure: My Wide Ripple Scarf pattern will be on the cover of the November issue. This didn’t impact my review, but I thought I’d mention it!)
If you’d like to check out the other stops on the blog tour, you can find a full listing here. I’ve shared some pictures of my favorite patterns in the book with the publisher’s permission. You can check out the look book, with images of every design in the book, here.
What is it about babies that cause people to pick up their crochet hooks? I suppose it’s some combination of memories of those special handmade items gifted to us as babies, the way a wonderful gift can come together in a relatively short time with not too much yarn, and the fact that babies look just so cute in handmade items.
In the introduction of Sweet & Simple Baby Crochet, Kristi notes that as the mother of five children, she understands “that buying cute clothes and hats that your baby will outgrow in a just few months is an indulgence not everyone can afford.” (That’s the other reason we turn to those hooks for babies: many of us can crochet something for less money than we can spend on a store bought gift – not including labor, of course.)
The book then launches into the patterns. There are actually 46 designs included because several patterns are sets – like matching hats and diaper covers – with two pieces. Each design includes a beautiful, full page, color photo on a child model or realistic doll by Lindsay Kubica Photography, followed by a description, notes, and the pattern. Each design includes multiple pictures of the project (typically, at least one laid flat, and often pictures on different models).
The book ends with three helpful appendices. Like many designers who started their careers self-publishing, Kristi’s patterns are written in a style that is different than what you mind find in a traditional print crochet magazine. Nonetheless, her patterns are very clear and consistently written, and she provides tips for her shorthand in both the intro and How to Read My Patterns. In Stitch Guide, Kristi includes step-by-step photographs and instructions for forming basic crochet stitches, changing colors, and carrying yarn. The book concludes with Finishing Touches, which includes photos and descriptions of the finishing touches that make projects look even more striking (and which safely secure ends away from tiny fingers.)
The book includes a range of pattern types:
- 24 hats,
- 4 tops (including a sweater and a shrug),
- 4 pods/cocoons,
- 3 blankets,
- 2 diaper covers, and
- a pair of socks, a skirt, leg warmers, a toy, a head band, a bib, a pair of pants, a poncho, and a pair of slippers.
Most patterns include multiple sizes (either newborn, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 6-12 months, or 9-12 months) but some patterns are only available in one size. Kristi does include tips for upsizing many of the patterns, as well as the actual measurements for each project. My favorite designs are the Old-School Jacob Vest, Love Me Lots Toy, Moose Hat, Puppy Hat, Vivianne Slippers, and the Giraffe Hat and Button Diaper Cover.
Kristi’s writing style is very conversational, and her designs are on trend. The photography is great, and the pictures of the cute projects on cute kids can only inspire you to get crocheting.
And to keep the review balanced, I’d like to mention a few things that are missing from the book. In spite of the title, there are quite a few intermediate level patterns, so some may challenge a beginning crocheter. (Most projects with unusual stitches or techniques include photo tutorials and/or extensive notes, so with a little patience and persistence, even a newbie should be able to create most of the patterns, though.) There aren’t any international stitch symbols, so this book is more suited towards crocheters who prefer reading patterns with U.S. pattern abbreviations. There are a few adorable projects for boys and some unisex projects, but there are more projects for girls in this book. If you are specifically crocheting for little boys, this may not be the book for you. As a softcover book, it doesn’t lay flat easily so it is difficult to crochet and read at the same time. Some of the patterns have already been published online, so if you are a big fan of Kristi, you may have a few of the designs in your collection already. Finally, I personally find some of the realistic dolls used as photography props a little creepy. I fully understand that is difficult (and probably not desirable) to take pictures with newborns, but it’s worth mentioning :). (Updated: Kristi responded in the comments to me that all of the pictures are of models and no dolls were used in this book. Then I guess the part that is creeping me out is the type of lighting used with the newborns that makes them look artificial! In any case, it’s a minor point, and definitely not enough to turn you off from the book.)
If you enjoy crocheting for babies and toddlers, this book would be a great addition to your collection. This would be a wonderful book for a new crocheter, and Kristi specifically recommends three of the patterns – Cream Puff Hat, Football Cocoon and Hat Set, and Cotton Candy Hat – for novice crocheters. Advanced beginners and experienced crocheters looking for quick and easy projects would enjoy this book also, particularly if they enjoy crocheting hats. And, of course, if you’re already a fan of RAKJ Patterns, you can get 46 of Kristi’s patterns for a retail price of $19.95, far less than you would pay when buying individual patterns online.