Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Book Review: Just Socks and Just Gifts

So, I wasn't immediately excited by the thought of the newest books in the Lion Brand Just... series. After all, while Lion Brand is better than say, Red Heart, I'm more of a LYS kind of girl than a Michael's shopper and I also think that all of those Lion Brand fun fur ads (you know, where the girl has Lion Brand fun fur on the cuffs of her jeans, jacket and dog's collar) just totally turned me off. But then when I saw that the books were edited by the very respectable Shannon Okey, I thought I'd check them out. And what did I find? A little bit of good and a smidge of meh.

I'll start with the meh. Just Socks features about three dozen sock patterns (knit and crochet) and while some of them are cute, I don't think any of them would fit all that comfortably under shoes. I may be wrong, but I don't think Lion Brand actually makes a sock weight yarn, so the finest yarn used here is weighted at a 3 (which is DK), but most of them are made of Lion Wool, which is weighted at a 4 (worsted). That's just too thick for my tastes.

Still, there are some cute patterns in here and they'd definitely be suited to beginners who want to try out sock knitting but are afraid to try knitting on toothpicks. And I can actually see myself making some of the more slipper style socks to wear around the house or in bed. Let's see what happens come winter time.

Just Gifts fares a little better. The first pattern is for a super cute crochet bear designed by my former secret pal Kim Werker. There are also some super cool dishrags that I've already knitted up (more on that in a future post)and some cute bags and mittens. There are a couple of things that recall that horrible fun fur ad (namely a felted newsboy hat big enough to hide a head of dreads under), but generally, it's a pretty cute little book. And there are tons of gifts for pets, including a sushi cat toy, if you're into that kind of thing.

So, Lion Brand might not be the hippest in some knitting circles, but these books are okay. I can't see 400 people on Ravelry simultaneously casting on to make Just Gifts' Teddy Bear Hat And Shoe Set, but there are a lot of people who like Lion Brand just fine and don't care about the knitting cliques. These books are for them and also for yarn snobs who might want a simple project to distract us from our Monkey socks and Clapotis.


mama k said...

thanks for the reviews! I think I want to check out the gifts one now.

I linked to you in my post today too!

Shannon said...

Hey, thanks for the review! Yeah, the distinct lack of really truly socky weight yarn made it a bit tough, but I was pretty surprised how nice some of the microfiber socks came out. Also, the red Lion cashmere socks? Oh man -- really superfab in person. The black and white ones on the back cover by Laura of Sirius Knitting are really cool, too.