When 55 Christmas Balls to Knit appeared on my doormat ready to review I will admit to being more than a little bemused. From its title to the cover image of Arne & Carlos, unsmiling – Arne looking a little cross, even – everything about this book screams ‘quirky’ – and without a hint of irony. Nonetheless I was intrigued to learn about all fifty-five ways of knitting a Christmas ball…
Each of the balls is a variation on one basic method. I was a little dubious about this approach at first, thinking it a quick and easy copout method of producing a book’s worth of ‘fresh ideas’, but as I flicked through I quickly realised that this is where this book’s value lies. You learn to make one ball, then the design opportunities are endless. Arne and Carlos provide various methods for customising the decorations, using embroidery, crochet and knitting stitches, but also make it clear that their designs are merely starting points for variations of your own imagining.
I’m no expert knitter; my skills in that particular field never straying beyond a never-ending stream of scarves, but I read through the methods for the makes and found them clear and simple to understand, and liked the use of drawn diagrams with colour to highlight individual stitches.
I also showed the book to a knitting whizz friend of mine, who assured me that the instructions were indeed perfectly easy to follow. I’m not sure how easy I would find it to create the projects as a beginner, but I was sold on the idea of giving it a bash over the Christmas hols.
For all its bizarre ironic humour, this is one beautifully presented book. The images depict cosy festive scenes with a heavily Scandi vibe, and the decorations themselves are displayed in well-thought out settings. It doesn’t look like a craft book whose images will quickly date and look twee and old fashioned.
Arne and Carlos even went as far as furnishing a doll’s house to use as a prop for the book’s images – a detail that certainly helped boost its appeal in my eyes.
The authors clearly have a love of folklore and storytelling, and they weave this into their crafts and this book. They take the reader through the projects, building up the skill level gently, and talk inclusively about their audience so that I felt I could almost be there with them, knitting along in the presence of two supportive teachers. It all added to the book’s cosy appeal.
Don’t be taken in by the slightly unnerving cover of this book – inside lies a wonderland of Nordic Christmas charm and crafting possibilities. It’s well presented, timeless and has one of the qualities I like most in a good craft book – the potential to take the ideas it provides beyond the book itself and as far as your imagination will allow. My only two criticisms are its accessibility to knitting novices… and that unfathomably eccentric cover image.