No-Bull (Belated) Book Review: Just Like Me Knits by Brandy Fortune

Knitting for kids is such a pleasure, and yet can be challenging, too, once the kids are old enough to express preferences and opinions about what they wear. (Little Miss went through a phase where all she wanted to wear were dresses, preferably hot pink, and now will barely deign to put on a skirt — and is rather sick of pink.)  Brandy Fortune is a mom — and also co-editor of the on-line magazine Petite Purls, which is full of good-looking patterns for kids. So who better to write a book about knitting for kids?

Just Like Me Knits: Matching Patterns for Kids and Their Favorite Dolls (Pottercraft 2013; $15.36 via the link as of the time of this writing) was released in April, and has a unique spin: as the subtitle reveals, the patterns are all presented in pairs. One pattern is designed for kids; it’s accompanied by a second, miniature pattern designed to fit a special doll or stuffed animal. Author Brandy Fortune explains how she came to write Just Like Me Knits:

[My daughter] Sydney loves when things match, but it was always difficult to find doll clothes, even for commercially available dolls, that matched her wardrobe. The clothing choices were either too limited or too costly. I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself I just want to put my girls in tops and jeans, and have their dolls match!

So Fortune created her own collection of patterns, with one version sized for children and a matching miniature version for dolls or stuffed animals. Like many knitting moms, Fortune considers herself a “pragmatic” knitter — while she doesn’t shy away from complex patterns, she does aim for patterns that are relatively simple and fast. She carried that sensibility with her throughout the book:  “My goal with these patterns is to create unique and well-executed garments with the least amount of work,” she states.

fortune cover

Fortune starts with a brief section regarding sizes and customizing fit. Her best advice is one that all knitters should pay attention to:  don’t pick sizes based on estimations (i.e. “To fit 12 months,” or “size 6″); always take a look at the finished measurements of the actual garment (i.e., “finished chest size 24 inches in circumference”).  Fortune also gives some easy-to-follow tips for making slight alternations to the patterns.

Chapter 1 is devoted to everyday items. A chunky garter-stitch hoodie is adorable in cotton yarn;

fortune hoodie

a vest with textured deer design may appeal to outdoorsy kids;

fortune deer

a yoke sweater with little owl motifs is just darling (I’d love one of these in my size!);

fortune owl yoke

and a sweet pinafore for little girls.

brandy pinafore

Next chapter is for dress-up; girls will enjoy the lace sundress:

fortune lace dress

and look how adorable the doll version is:

fortune doll

a beaded skirt

brandy skirt

or a sweet camisole,

brandy cami

while boys (or girls, too!) will look great in a cabled vest.

fortune cabled vest

Last section is devoted to whimsical accessories, like a felted crown

brandy crown

lace kneesocks;

fortune socks

and a colorful rippled blanket that’s unisex — and would make a wonderful shower gift.

brandy blanket

All together, you’ll find 19 patterns for kids, along with 19 accompanying doll patterns. Sizes range from 1 to 12 years, with most patterns clustered around one end or the other (e.g. sizing for 1 year through 6 years, or 6-12 years).  Breakdown of patterns is as follows:

Unisex sweaters & cardigans: 4
Skirt: 1
Dress/pinafore: 2
Vests: 2
Shrugs/cropped cardis: 2
Socks: 2
Hats: 2
Miscellaneous: Bracelets, felted crown, camisole, blanket

Gauges are primarily worsted and DK-weight, with a handle of other gauges — a sportweight here, a bulky there, the socks knit in fingering weight. Charts, schematics, it’s all here, along with adorable photographs (taken by Fortune herself — and her beautiful daughters are two of the models).  There’s even a section in the back on sewing some simple items to go with your knitting, such as basic t-shirt, jeans and leggings.

Fortune’s patterns are stylish and versatile while still manageable even for less experienced knitters.  And even your kids aren’t into dolls and would rather let their stuffed critters run nekkid, you’ll still want to check out these adorable patterns, as they stand quite nicely on their own.

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