Monday, December 04, 2017

The knitted animals from Anu and Anu

Monday – Can you believe we are already on day 4? Today I need to drive to town, do some shopping. There is lots of baking to do this week, I need to buy ingredients. I have cleaned the freezer; it is nice and tidy to preserve all the pastries.
Today I want to show you a delightful book. I don’t usually do product reviews, mainly because I don’t get review copies of books or yarn; when I buy for myself, I tend to go for similar yarn and I try to make up my own pieces from the scratch, seldom from books. I have a big library of books, huge stash of yarn; even though I don’t seriously look for books or yarn, they somehow gather into my work space. I respect this industry, there are lots of good yarn producers, good books are being published frequently. When new, interesting books surface, I try to find reviews, same goes for yarn. I would not be here, I would know nothing, if there weren’t all these inspiring and informative books. I am grateful for the wealth of information there is today available for the fiber enthusiasts. I enjoy e-books, they are very handy, but love the actual books you can hold in your hands, turn the touchable pages.

I was gifted this book last spring, it was my birthday present from Anu K, whose book I am about to show to you. This book is made for the Japanese market, sadly I cannot read much of it. The photography is fantastic, all the pictures here are from this book.

The knitted animals from Anu & Anu in Estonia, 128 pages, soft copy

At first, I want to tell that I know Anu Kotli and Anu Raud, both personally. Anu K, besides being a good friend, is an architect, she lives in Tallinn and was raised in a home full of culture, design and art. Her father was also an architect, well-known and loved in Estonia. Anu K has knitted most, if not all the animals in the book and they are her designs. Anu R lives further south, in Viljandi, she has a beautiful farm there, has done a huge job preserving Estonian knitting heritage. She does wonderful textile art. Her tapestries have quiet and at the same time, very powerful beauty in them. They really appeal to me in many ways, her workmanship, her choice of colors, motives, I love them all. Both women have a strong sense of beauty, bear deep cultural knowledge. I think coming up with the idea of keeping the patterns alive in toys, was both of their idea. They have been friends from the childhood.
Anu K has taught me everything I know about making knitted creatures. I made my first puppet, little brown pony, under her guidance, she somehow helped me find my voice in making them. I am not sure how she did it, but after taking the course with her, she changed my knitting life forever. I was not the same person when I came home from that Knitting Symposium in Norway ages ago, I don’t remember the year… 2001?
(Now you probably think that my review is not very objective, however please, read through and enjoy the pictures.)
In the beginning of the book, there are photos from Tallinn. Anu Kotli’s garden and Anu Raud’s farm are introduced with text and snapshots. There is a collection of traditional knitted hand wear from various parts of Estonia. Lots of text, but of that I cannot say anything.There are two kinds of animals in this book, puppets and ordinary stuffed ones, except that these are not ordinary.
The first part of the book shows the stuffed animals. There is a pig, a cat, a fox, a fish and detailed instructions how to make them. They all have traditional Estonian knitting patterns on their bodies. I studied the instructions wondering if I could make them, following just the wealth of pictures and the charts. The charts and patterns have the same colors as the actual knitted animals, so it is easy to refer to the picture of the knitted item. They are doable even when you don't understand the text. I would make the pig or the cat first to get the hang of the body, then proceed from there. After making the pig/cat, I would imagine, it would not be difficult to dive into your own… maybe a sheep, a sheepdog, etc.
The second part of the book is about the puppets. There are instructions for a bear, a rabbit, a dog, a lynx, a deer, a sheep, a wolf, a fox, a horse, a cat, a pig, again with traditional knitting patterns all over them. One must be little more careful in studying the patterns, nonetheless there are very detailed instructions of the structure with pictures, again the colors of the charts match the actual knitted puppets. Eyes are always a bit tricky to make, because they can make or break the creature, thus I was extremely happy to see that there are detailed pictures of the eyes.
I think I read from Yarn Harlot’s blog a very long time ago about knitted doll clothes. I am not certain, I think she talked about how a child who has played with knitted doll clothes, remembers them very well, learns to appreciate and love woolly clothing, maybe even more than wearing them him/herself. Most of the children have a soft toy to go to sleep with. You never know just which one they will pick up as their sleeping companion; wouldn’t it be lovely if it was a knitted toy. Mine was a black cat, not a knitted one and her story is very sad, I will tell you someday.

I just love this book. You might too.
I must go now and get on with my day. Have a good week!

Wool with you,


  1. Anonymous15:56

    Ah, for this month, this Advent Season, you are my morning coffee. So thrilled to find your daily musings. I love what you write, how you write, your photos and projects. Enjoy this holiday time.

  2. have enjoyed this so much!!!! thanks for sharing. love the traditional patterns incorporated into these little critters.

  3. OMG! These are amazing, a whole new level of knitted toys. I sometimes use Google translate app on my phone. You can set it on the photo mode and hold it over the text and it "translates" some of it on the screen. I can help you get the gist of what's being described. Plus the translations are kind of funny...

  4. Anonymous22:15

    Beautiful book! Have you tried an OCR phone app to read the Japanese characters?

  5. I love these puppets!! Thank you for introducing them to me (just as you introduced me to Sophie Digard's work a while ago). I went looking for more info, and found Anu Kotli's pattern (in English) for the Estonian Sheep Puppets can be found here:
    I always enjoy your blog posts.

  6. Such a lovely book.

  7. These animals have such character! They are nothing like other knitted toys I have seen, as each one (like your dear cats) is unique. Thank you so much for your gift to us readers: daily blog posts! Each morning I feel a little spark of joy, knowing I will be able to read another of your wonderful entries. I will be sad when Advent ends!

  8. I knit one of these little puppets years ago. The pattern was in a magazine. It’s nice to see this book. I will have to look for it. It’s nice to see your blog again.