Nothing I like better than rhyming words—what a great title for a blog post!

Zoo Crew cover

My Facebook and FB Pin Loom Weaving Support Group friend, Deborah Bagley, asked me to have a look at her brand new book (congrats, Deborah!) and write a review about it. I have to admit this is challenging in a couple of ways for me. First of all, most of you know I’m a great pin loom square weaver but not a great project-maker, so I look at these adorable 3-D creations and think, “Uuuuuuh.” Second, this is an eBook and I’m old school. However, I know how to use a computer and it’s actually easy to get around the “complication” of looking at a book onscreen (and you have the added bonus of being able to zoom in which is pretty cool).

Before I forget, you can purchase the book here: Zoo Crew book. And I need to show you a couple of my favorite creations in the book. If you don’t squeal with delight when you see these, you may need to see a doctor or take a vitamin or something because your, “That is so cute!” mechanism may be malfunctioning.

Zoo Crew elephant!

My personal favorite: Zoo Crew stegosaurus pillow

As you can see from these samples, Deborah delivers on her promise to teach us how to make rounded shapes out of flat squares. And one of the benefits is that all the animals use ONLY THE 4″ SQUARE, so if that’s your only pin loom, you’re set. Deborah also encourages you to explore designing your own creations, so if you have other loom shapes and sizes, you can use these patterns as your jumping off point.

The overall look of the pages is very clean and clear. White backgrounds and obvious headings make it easy to read the text and to find exactly what you’re looking for. The photos are superb. Her technique instruction examples use contrasting yarn so you can clearly see where to pinch, gather, stitch, etc.

The book has three chapters (which is kind of refreshing, only three). If you already know how to weave squares, you can skip the first one. Some people might like a demo on weaving in the tail on a finished square (that’s a question I get asked a lot). She addresses weaving in tails later, on p 10, but doesn’t reference that here (and doesn’t actually ever tell you how to do it; usually not necessary info). You can find info on weaving in beginning and ending tails on your woven squares here.

Chapter 2 talks about how to assemble the animals and the various techniques you’ll need to employ to achieve the different shapes. For the most part, the techniques are presented in alphabetical order, except for the first one and its photos precede its instruction which is a little confusing. (I’m sure that’s a formatting issue—organizing ALL THAT INFO is a bear.) Rest assured the instruction you need is there even if you have to scroll up and down a little. It would have been helpful to tell us which animal is sporting each technique so we could go look at it while reading the instructions. Personally, I like to see more step-by-step demos on how to do things (because I’m a bit of an idiot), but I guess that’s what blogs are for. The basic info is there and you probably won’t have a great deal of trouble figuring it out once you’re actually making something (as opposed to reading about making it).

You probably won’t spend a lot of time reading chapter 2 because you’ll want to get straight into Chapter 3: Creating the Animals!!! Each animal has its own bio which is there just for fun. (I’m pretty sure you’re allowed to name your fox pillow whatever you’d like.) I’m not sure the projects are ordered simple to complex—some look pretty complex to me, but that’s probably because assemblage is not in my personal patience packet. The project types are as follows:

Stuffed animals—6
Lovey—1 (which is a tiny blanket with an animal’s head in the center)

In order to give a complete review it felt necessary to read through the instructions for one of the projects. I chose the last project in the book—the Vera Vixen Fox Purse. First of all, the yarn info is really complete—brand name, fiber content, yards and ounces per skein, color # and yardage required for each color. I don’t do a lot of pattern work, so this seems unusually informative to me. Supplies (beyond your basic pin loom equipment) and Finished Dimensions complete the preliminary info.

Lots of clear written instructions with great figure diagrams and necessary photos help you complete piece making and construction. For this project I’d have liked one last diagram of the assembly because it was a bit confusing as I read about it. Again, if I was actually making the project it would likely have been clearer because I’d have the pieces there in front of me. I’d also have preferred referring to the colors by their hue name rather than the name given by the yarn maker (Acadia and Yosemite are nowhere near as descriptive as white and brown especially if you chose different yarn), but the figures made it clear which yarn went where.

I’m a stickler for an index and this book doesn’t have one, but I think that’s OK because all the necessary info is so accessible.

Stepping back to look at my overall impression of the book, I’d give it FIVE STARS. Twelve very different patterns (though the fox motif is repeated once), great photos, really good instructions (you can’t please absolutely everyone and you do have to be concise, though I never am), very clean and clear presentation. AND FUN! (Who doesn’t want to weave up an elephant that loves Glenn Miller music, huh?)

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