I’m thrilled to finally share with you a crochet book that I’ve been eyeing, and then adoring, for awhile now but which was just recently released: The Big Acorn Race: A Story with Crochet Patterns and Projects by Jennifer Olivarez, who you might know better as Squirrel Picnic. I’ve always found her blog and designs to be charming and it was a treat when she reached out and asked me if I wanted to see an early copy of the book and offer my review. I definitely agreed and here’s what I had to say:
“The Big Acorn Race is a delightful story filled with whimsy, magic, and fun. It inspires the imagination… and then gives readers the tools to crochet the characters so that they can let that imagination run wild. Original, unique, and unbelievably adorable!!”
The Story Behind the Book
The Big Acorn Race developed over time. Jennifer launched Squirrel Picnic in 2012, naming the blog spontaneously. She says,
“I was pacing my living room when a squirrel jumped down onto the balcony. We treat the squirrels in our neighborhood like pets — we feed them almonds and give them names. I’ve always wanted to put a tiny picnic table out on the balcony with some almonds on it to see if they would sit down to eat a proper picnic. When that squirrel hopped down on the balcony, it struck me — Squirrel Picnic!”
Initially, the blog featured a “hodgepodge” of different crafts; so down the line when she decided to create mascots for the blog, she decided that two squirrels named Hodge and Podge would be perfect. They are based on two of her childhood friends.
Jennifer started putting together webcomics for the blog featuring the squirrels and then adding in their friends, offering her an opportunity to experiment with the storytelling she so enjoys. She says,
“One of my favorite things to do is to come up with new adventures for them all. Often I’ll create a pattern to crochet one of the items featured in the comic, and I’ll share it with the readers of my blog. It dawned on me that it would be really fun to write a story for the squirrels that they would enact in an entirely crocheted world and then create a whole series of patterns around those crocheted items.”
And The Big Acorn Race was born.
A Unique Approach to a Crochet Book
The truth is that there are a lot of crochet books out there, including a lot of amigurumi crochet books. And while that’s awesome, it can be tough to decide which ones belong in your own crochet library. This book is different from the others. Jennifer explains,
“Building a crochet pattern book around a story is a relatively new concept as far as I know, though I’m not the only one to do it. Unlike some of the other books of this nature that I have seen, the patterns in The Big Acorn Race allow you to make the characters and props so that the story doesn’t have to end. You can invent your own story with your version of Hodge, Podge, Eric, or a squirrel of your own. The sky is the limit to the adventures you can take them on.”
So, first you get a beautiful story, then you get the skills to make the characters and elaborate on that story yourself. What a brilliant joy!
A True Crochet Artist
Plus, every single thing in the story itself is crocheted and then photographed as a scene, which is really enjoyable to look at from the perspective of enjoying crochet art. Jennifer shares,
“I was putting away all the props after photographing the story section when I was struck by the amount of effort that went into crocheting all these things! I added it up and discovered that between March and November I had spent roughly 950 hours creating the backgrounds, scenery, props, and characters for the story! As much work as it was, it was also a real joy. It’s been my focus with Squirrel Picnic from the very start to create a world with my crochet. By crocheting every detail of this story, I hope that readers will feel that they have entered a fuzzy, comfy, colorful little world.
And A Tip
Finally, Jennifer leaves us with a really great tip that I definitely agree with:
“My biggest piece of advice is, don’t worry too much about making mistakes. I make mistakes all the time when I’m crocheting. It’s how I learn. And sometimes I fix them, but other times I just shrug my shoulders and say, “That’s not a mistake. It’s my own personal design element.” It’s okay to make mistakes.”
Crochet is meant to be fun, and Jennifer really brings that fun to life with The Big Acorn Race.