Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat

posted in: Emily MacKenzie | 5

stanleycover300pxLet me introduce Stanley to you.

He’s a cat.

He’s a generous friend to many.

And he loves to knit.

But what happens when he has to choose between his passion and his pals?

Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat by Emily MacKenzie (@emilymackenzie_) is all about the dilemma you face when you have to decide what really matters to you. Stanley is wild about wool, barmy about yarn and just can’t stop the click-clack of his knitting needles. He makes all sorts of lovely jumpers, scarves and more for his friends, but when he runs out of wool just when he needs it most (for a knitting competition) what’s he to do? Will he demand his gifts back, in order to re-use the wool? Will he find a way to follow his dream and yet avoid disappointing his friends?

Emily MacKenzie’s tale of enthusiasm and eccentricity is joyous and upbeat, illustrated with all the energy Stanley puts into his knitting. Funny (knitted elephant trunk tubes, anyone?), vibrant (all the alluring colours you’d find in a wool shop) and feel-good, Stanley’s spirited creativity is infectious and inspiring.

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And inspired we were! Taking our lead from Stanley and a hot air balloon he knits we decided to have a go at making our own woolly dirigibles.

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Our first balloons were made by gluing lots and lots of strands of different wool onto card (we used PVA glue and card rather than paper so everything held together a little better).

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When all the glue was dry we flipped the card over and drew two shapes – a large circle (by drawing around a bowl), and a basket shape – before cutting them out and joining them together with a bit of hot air balloon rope (ie more wool). Finally we drew Stanley so he could fly in our balloons as they floated gently over our kitchen table (suspended from the ceiling with a little bit of thread).

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If you don’t feel like drawing your own Stanley, Emily has very kindly created one you can print off and cut out:

Right click to save and the print out!
Right click to save and the print out!

Our next plan was a little more ambitious.We wanted to create a 3-D hot air balloon and so this time we dipped our wool in PVA glue before draping it over a suspended balloon.

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Whilst the gluey wool dried (it took a couple of days – though if it’s summer where you are the process might be a whole lot speedier) we made our basket. I cut vertical lines down the side of a plastic pot and the girls then wove wool strands in and out of the tongues of plastic, gradually covering the entire pot.

We attached the basket to the woolly balloon and then popped the balloon….

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It didn’t work out quite how I had hoped, but we were still smiling at the result and hopefully Stanley was too!

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Whilst making our balloons we listened to:

  • Hot Air Balloon by Vanessa Trien
  • The Knitting Song by Liz Simcock (great lyrics, especially if you are a knitter)
  • Mr. Stanley by John Hiatt (a lovely bit of blues)


  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat include:

  • Making pompoms. Stanley the Knitting Cat makes lots of pompoms and if you’ve never made them before with the kids, here’s a good place to start, via Red Ted Art.
  • Yarn Bombing. If street art or brightening up your neighbourhood appeals to you and your kids this activity might be just the ticket. Find inspiration in this Time Magazine gallery, or via Knit the City
  • Scribbling with exhilaration! The endpages of Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat are filled with lots of unruly wool, with wild scribbles across the page. Why not let the kids go crazy and see how quickly they can fill a page with loose pieces of “wool”?


  • If you liked this post you might like another post by me: Made by Raffi by Craig Pomranz & Margaret Chamberlain & a whole host of other knitting themed picture books

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    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    5 Responses

    1. Thanks Zoe. Just what we’ll love, another knitting book! They provide so much potential for craft activities.
      https://www.pinterest.com/kinderbookboard/yarn-yarns/

      • they do, don’t they Victoria? Thanks for the link to the board – have followed!

    2. I’ve got two of these in the library – Noodle and Annie Hoot, both very popular with the knitting club at school! Your balloons are fabulous – your creativity is amazing!

    3. Love your balloons, might try and make them with Bagl. We got the book through the Guardian family reviewers and we both love it. ‘What would you like to read?’ ‘Knitting book!’

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