One of the most popular knitting books this Christmas is a book for knitting Christmas decorations.
Here’s one of the best reviews I read…
55 Christmas Balls to Knit: Colourful Festive Ornaments * Tree Decorations * Centrepieces * Wreaths * Window Decorations
by Arne & Carlos
Search Press 2011
This book was first published in Norway in 2010 and was a huge hit. Under the title Julekuler it sold 37 000 copies, and was on the Norwegian bestseller list for four months. To follow up this success, versions of the book are now (October 2011) available in Finland, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, France, UK and USA. So, what’s the appeal?
The concept is very simple. The book contains just one pattern – the shape of a knitted ball to use as a Christmas decoration – presented as written directions. Then there are 55 different stranded knitting motifs that can be worked on the basic shape. These appear in charts, which also show the basic shape. This simplicity hints a one aspect of the phenomenon – people get hooked. You make your first ball, then just have to get started on another one with a slightly different design.
The way the book is presented also adds to the enjoyment. We meet Arne and Carlos, a pair of knitwear designers who live and work in the Norwegian mountains (this video is worth a look). The book is full of photographs of their knitted balls artfully arranged around their home, or together with related items. I especially like the photo on p115. I thought a first they’d made a very large ball – but it turned out to be a normal sized ball inside a dolls house. As well as photographs, there are quotes from seasonal poems and even a little story from Arne’s grandmother.
The introductory material assumes some experience with knitting in the round and stranded colour work, but includes instructions on how to increase and decrease and how to stuff and finish your ball. Then the different motifs are presented. They have been arranged into 16 chapters of related designs, e.g. “Reindeer” and “Hearts”, and many are traditional designs. Most of the motifs are accompanied by a comment on the source of inspiration or a little seasonal reminiscence.
Arne and Carlos note that they could have come up with more variations, but chose to stop at 55. Clearly they recognise that once people have worked a few of these they’ll be coming up with their own designs – there’s an empty chart at the back of the book, ready for when inspiration strikes!
I’ve made one ball from the book – so far! The instructions were clear, it was easy to knit and took just a couple of evenings (faster knitters can produce two or three a day). The yarn used in the book is a sport weight (100 m to 50 g) yarn, but any yarn can be tried – the ball will come out smaller or bigger. Just choose a needle size to give a tight fabric so the stuffing doesn’t leak out.
So. Avoid the book if you just want to knit a Christmas ball – other patterns are available. But get a copy if you like the tactile pleasure of books, great photography, traditional designs, winter scenery and the charm of something just that little bit different.
I loved it.
Disclosure: I purchased this book. My review is of the Search Press paperback edition.
Helena Callum: Book Review: 55 Christmas Balls to Knit
When I first read the reviews, I thought it would be popular. So much so that as of this writing, it is available at Amazon in one to three months! There are some other online stores that have it in stock – at a higher price. Significantly higher. The ones I saw started at 50% higher before adding shipping!
In looking further I wondered if there is a 55 Christmas Balls To Knit pdf.
The answer is no. It’s not on Kindle, and a search for a pdf or eBook format confirmed it’s not available.
There are several possibilities. Many knitters like books. And it’s possible the publisher didn’t think about it. Or maybe didn’t anticipate the success of the book.
With today’s digital printing it would be an alternative to not being able to get the book for months – long past this Christmas knitting. If you’re of a certain age you may recall the frantic searches for “Tickle Me Elmo” or “Cabbage Patch Dolls” in years past.
Looking at this book as an outsider, it seems as though a digital version whether pdf, Kindle or something else would be a great alternative.
Wondering what to do?
Instead of buying the book, I decided to create my own knitting pattern. Last year I created some Christmas knitting patterns for Christmas stockings, and decided to use the snowflake patterns in designing my own Christmas balls.
The pattern makes a nice ornament in sock yarn 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 inches in diameter. And fits nicely in my tree, which is mostly decorated with handmade ornaments. Or those given to me by special people in my life.
Larger ornaments can be made with heavier weight yarn and larger needles.
Even the larger ornaments take small amounts of yarn, and are a quick knit.
Carrying two strands of yarn can be challenging. So next, I’m going to try knitting solid balls and using duplicate stitch to add the snowflakes.
If you’d like a copy of the pattern, click here right now.
And yes, it IS a pdf so it’s available right now.
To your healthy and happy knitting & caregiving,
Ina Gilmore, M.D. (Retired)
“The Knitting Dr.”