Apr 18

Book Review: Happy Gloves

Happy Gloves: Charming Softy Friends Made from Colorful GlovesHappy Gloves: Charming Softy Friends Made from Colorful Gloves by Miyako Kanamori

I really wanted to like this book, because it would be a great project for my daughter’s Girl Scout troop, and knit gloves are on sale for 50 cents a pair at Target this time of year.

The book has brightly colored photos and cute line illustrations for 21 different items you can make out of gloves, mostly animals. The text is spare and centered in the page as if it were a picture book for very young children. In fact, if you just wanted to get this book to read to your child, you could do that (there are better picture books out there, but there are also worse ones).

The disappointing part is when you actually try to follow the directions at the end. The illustrations are spare, clean, line drawings. The directions are in six steps of only a few sentences for each step. From an aesthetic standpoint, they match the rest of the book. The illustrations, however, were so simple that they were either useless or less than useless. Like some origami books I’ve looked at, pretty soon you get to a point where the illustration just doesn’t look a thing like what’s in your hand.

Here’s the direction that I disliked the most “Fold the back of the head in the following order: left, right, bottom, then top, like a caramel candy wrapper, and sew shut.” This exact sentence is repeated four or five times for all the different animal heads, and it made just as much sense the twelfth time I read it as it did the first: that is, none at all. Caramel candy wrappers are square wrappers on a square base, not an oblong patch of stretchy knit that doesn’t have a clear back or top or bottom. Just now I found a photo that helped a little bit (for a different animal than the one I tried) but that was after searching fruitlessly about three other times.

I’m a pretty crafty person, as undaunted by sewing patterns as I am by etching metal or fusing glass or making pickles from scratch. However, I found this book a failure as an instructional book. It only went halfway. The patterns were helpful, but because it lacks clear directions, you’ll cut apart a glove only to have a table full of now-useless scraps. I wouldn’t advise trying to do this project with children unless you have the patience to work it out on your own before teaching them.

If you like to get books on crafts that you think you’ll do (but never get around to) the cute pictures might be worth it. If you’re an excellent tailor and can sew anything from anything (and if you have gloves lying around) it might be okay for project ideas. Otherwise, I don’t recommend this book.

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