Robyn Chachula's second book is another example of her wealth of talents: each item in this book is imaginative, stylish, eminently practical, and with instructions that are clear as day. We've all seen thousands of baby wearables, cute as can be, but Robyn has a very original approach. Her toddler clothes have unusual constructions, color combos, embellishments, and styles, and are clearly informed by her experiences as a new mom. Each one is adorable, and they look like they can be easily put on, washed, and cared for. Projects include sweaters, a jumper, a couple of zip-up vests for boys, a robot toy, boots with a sole, a mobile with dangling elephants, slippers, socks, hats, and blankets. As expected, each pattern is accompanied by beautiful diagrams. The clean, unfussy layout from Interweave helps make this a highly recommended volume.
Heather Lodinsky, an industry professional with many
designing years under her belt, has ventured into the motif world to create
this compendium of knit and crochet motifs. Let me say, right up front, that in
this genre of crochet instruction book, I am a huge Edie Eckman fan. Her Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs book
(reviewed by CI here: http://www.crochetinsider.com/bookreview/beyond-square-crochet-motifs)
is one I go to again and again â€“ not only for the great motif visuals â€“ but
also for the clear and complete instructions concerning charts, gauge, joining
tips, and a host of other process-related subjects.
Having said that, Lodinsky has compiled a solid, if somewhat
predictable, array of knit and crochet motifs. A real strength of the book is
its layout. It starts with a directory of motifs by shape. She does not
separate the crochet and knit motifs into distinct sections. I found this a
good thing for people like me who both knit and crochet. Having motifs in both
disciplines side-by-side allows crafters to potentially harness double the
Additionally, I loved the snowflake and connectors sections.
These contained some novel motifs â€“ particularly the connectors section.
Connector shapes are not always a focus in motif books, but have useful design implications.
Lodinsky also provides nifty symbols to let the crafter know each motifâ€™s
difficulty level, as well as whether the motif is worked in rows or in a
The book also includes a projects and techniques section at
the end. While I found most of this section perfunctory, the discussion of
working motifs in either a smaller or larger size, or creating a half or quarter
of a particular motif, was very unique and helpful. As anyone who has done any
motif work can attest, customizing motifs and projects are a big part of the
motif appeal - as well as, of course, their portable nature. An ability to see
the possibilities of a portion of a motif, and then have guidance on how to
realize that possibility is a welcomed part of Lodinskyâ€™s approach.
The subtitle of the book proclaims â€œanything-but-square
shapes for garments, accessories, afghans, and throws.â€ Of course, there are
square motif shapes in the book and, unfortunately, many of the other shapes
and designs are, as mentioned earlier, fairly predictable. There isnâ€™t much new
ground covered in this aspect of the book.
Nevertheless, for anyone who loves motifs and motif work,
this can be a handy reference to have at oneâ€™s fingertips.
This is the third in Lark's series of three reference books by the same author, and the one I like best. It may not be absolutely clear that the "blocks" in the title are in fact motifs, not squares -- and come in all shapes. The great strength of the book is the sheer number and variety of motifs, most very attractive, many original. Instructions are well-written, shown in large text, and accompanied by Karen Manthey's elegant diagrams. Unlike the other Schapper volumes, the photos are large and detailed and stitches very clear. Some are beautifully stitched, but unfortunately, some don't meet the standard one sees in other books of this kind. Never mind, crochet's beauty still shines through. Chapters are organized either by stitch used -- one called Picots, another Bobbles, each showing a variety of shapes, while other chapters focus on a particular shape -- Hexagons, Triangles. A bit confusing, but still, who would have thought that post stitches -- one of the chapters -- would find so many uses in motifs? There is a section called samplers that are simple stitch patterns worked in rows into squares, good projects for less experienced crocheters before they plunge into motifs worked from the center. While I have quite a few motif books already, I still found a good number of new and interesting shapes and techniques in this volume. I would call this a classic that should be on every serious crocheters shelf. Three hundred Classic Blocks is a big basket of motifs, ripe for the picking!
This beautiful Addiclick hook set is at the high end of equipment for crocheters looking for a little luxury. It consists of 8 hooks ranging from 3-5 - 9 mm in size, and a flexible cable that allows you to use it them as Tunisian hooks. Distributed by Skacelknitting, the set is intended as an upgrade or "booster pack" to the existing Click knitting sets, interchangeable knitting needles. In other words, they wanted the Addi Click sets to be complete, so they added this set of hooks. As a crocheter, I appreciate that this company, making some of the best tools in the business, saw the advantages of including flexible hooks, especially with Tunisian Crochet catching on by leaps and bounds. They are beautifully packaged in a black case that looks like a wallet. The smaller hooks are aluminum, super light and smooth, and the two larger ones are clear plastic, decorated with gold sparkles. My only complaint is that two of my favorite Tunisian hook sizes are missing from the group: 5.5 mm (I) and 6.5 mm (K). At the same time, I doubt that I would often use the E and F hooks in the collection. Am I alone in wishing that the choice had gone the other way? To obtain nice drape in Tunisian, hook sizes at the the larger end are usually best. The cable extension is very thin, and about 30" long. The stopper that goes at the end of the cable must be purchased separately - it's a little red heart and is called a Heart Stopper -- pretty dang cute!
Publisher Trafalgar Square has provided an outstanding hard cover book. On every level, it 's artfully done. The book design is superb, beautiful on every page, with great graphics and wonderful stitch details. Paper quality, binding, and photographs, are all first class. The book is rich in content too. Roberts covers an exhaustive list of subjects. She writes very economically, imparting great quantities of quality information. For example, two pages on color work are brimming with color samples to stir invention, plus instructions on how to make cool little color tools to bring when yarn shopping.
Roberts' real agenda in this book is to teach how to design blocks. In turn, the designing of blocks becomes a vehicle for looking at a great range of techniques: applique, knitted and crochet lace, motifs, cables, cross stitch charts, mitred corners, filet lace, embroidery, chart-reading. Finishing details too are included in great detail, covering decorative seams, working around corners, edgings, tassels, and beads. There also stitch dictionaries for knit and crochet, and more and more. It's overwhelming in the most pleasant way.
The book is aimed at knitters and crocheters, with rare equal emphasis on both. What I love so much is what it has to say about the reader it's aimed at. That person is intelligent, with discerning taste and an appetite for beauty, yet is a voracious learner who wants lots more than pretty pictures. The somewhat techno style of the layout implies the reader is computer savvy, probably young. A young tech savvy afghan maker, hmm. Well, I'm none of the above but I'm grooving on it. "Afghans & Throws" (the title may be the only weakness), shows how concept and design come together in a really fine book. (review by Dora Ohrenstein)
Author Edie Eckman really has her pulse on what gaps in crochet knowledge need filling. Her new book, "Around the Corner Crochet Borders," pinpoints an obvious one that's been left unfilled for too long: how to work around corners when edging a square piece of crochet, such as an afghan. Edie has given us a book with 150 colorful edgings with neat, and neat-looking corners. The opening section prepares the reader thoroughly for how best to add edgings to crochet, knit or woven pieces, how to count and adjust for stitch pattern multiples and how to join rounds. The edgings range from simple to complex, and include waves, leaves, picots and all the varieties of crochet prettiness one can imagine. The stitches are nicely photographed and show good detail, with stitch diagrams supplied for each edging. Many are traditional looking, but others satisfy my own particular craving for more unusual ideas, like a border of overlapping discs. Students of this book will be able to figure out ways to turn the corner on any other edging pattern they come across. Kudos to Edie for continuing to provide great resources to the crochet community!
Carol Ventura's new book takes the art that she loves so much to a
new level. In her first two books, Carol offered important historical
information on how tapestry crochet has been practiced across the
world, as well as in-depth instruction on creating colorwork patterns
and designing your own charts. Because of crochet's tendency to slant,
she also created a special template that allows one to make crochet
"pictures" that look normal.
The new book teaches how to combine
tapestry crochet with beads, how to felt your crochet, and how to felt
with beads, thus broadening the creative options in several directions.
It has a strong how-to section for both right and left-handed
Carol's designs are inspired by everything from
Salvador Dali to native art of Central America. Some of the most
beautiful projects are her containers. There are stunning geometric
patterns like her beaded Amulet bag, a chevron change purse, a diamond
beaded bracelet, and lovely pictorial patterns like the "Let's Face it
Tote," and the Breast Cancer Awareness purse.
self-publishes all her books and does a particularly fine job: layout,
comprehensibility, and photos are all of the highest professional
Edie’s last book, The Crochet Answer Book, is one of the bestsellers
in the genre. This new volume is another valuable resource. The opening
how-to section is as complete, and clear as any I’ve seen, offering
several ways to begin and end rounds, and join motifs together. The
motifs themselves are lovely and Edie’s use of color makes them
especially pretty. There are both familiar and innovative new motifs in
here -- including some that use spike stitches and interwoven strips. I
especially like the pages of drawings showing possible ways to use
motifs, some of the very clever. I hope Edie will make up some of these
ideas and publish the patterns!
The tag on a hank of “Techno” reads: “Whipped up alpaca”. You will know why the moment you hold it in your hands. Cloud-soft and light as fluff, this yarn will have your fingers itching to crochet it (or just pet it!) The tag does not include a crochet hook symbol or gauge recommendation, but since it appears to be a lightweight bulky, I set to work with a size K/10.5 (6.5 mm) hook to match the 10.5 US/6.5 mm knitting gauge suggested. Perfect!
"Techno's" plain look yet sumptuous feel led to a variety of swatches: a lace motif “super-sized”, a fan pattern fabric, and a textured ripple/single/double crochet combo. The more I worked with “Techno” the more I wanted to crochet, so I would happily have kept on going with other options just to see what would happen.
Visions of “exploded lace” shawls, openwork shrugs, textured cuffs, sleeve trims, cowls and fingerless mitts all come to mind as appropriate projects for quick-stitching “Techno.” You will get warmth without weight with this yarn, so I would say that in this case a little would go a long way in providing comfort. Small accessories would be dreamy in “Techno”. Larger projects might be best if crocheted in loose, openwork patterns, as the alpaca/merino/silk blend will furnish warmth naturally. And as stated above, once you start crocheting with it you won’t want to stop!
Rating: Highly recommended for its softness, versatility and stitching ease.
Content/Care: 68% baby alpaca/10% extra fine merino/22% silk. 120 yds/109 m per 50 gm ball. Suggested gauge: 3-5 sts/in. on size 10.5 US/6.5 mm needles. Hand wash or dry clean.
It’s fascinating to watch the creative people in our biz blossom.
Robyn’s first published designs, which I saw in “crochet me,”
immediately showed someone with a definite vision and great control of
her materials. Her training in architecture was an obvious asset.
Robyn’s designs have kept coming in the magazines we love, and her
particular style of flattering and beautifully structured fashion has
continued to evolve. Motifs have more recently become a dominant theme,
and she has found lovely ways of making motifs modern. In her debut
book for Interweave, Robyn’s combined all of her technical expertise
with an unleashed imagination, and one gorgeous garment is featured
after the other. This is a beautiful book where you can learn all about
crochet symbols and see them excellently deployed.
Edited by Shu Hung and Joseph Magliaro Princeton Architectural Press
By Hand is a fascinating look at how artists are incorporating all
sorts of hand work into their pieces. The editors believe that artists
are increasingly turning to crafts in reaction to the prominence of
technological influences in art of recent decades. While many of these
artists use technology and computers to help them create, the new
aesthetic is a departure from the stark modernism that characterized
late twentieth century art.
The book is filled with inspiring
works incorporating craft in unusual ways. David Hale's now famous
giant pink teddy bear, knit from insulation, is pictured, as well as
crocheted sculptures by the duo Keith Knittel and Alisa McRonald, and
knitted land mines by Barbara Hunt. Fabric and sewing play a big part
in this book, most notably in a performance art piece called
"Connection," where women are wearing clothing they are sewing at the
same. The fabric they are working on is embroidered with poetry.
thirty individual and group artists in By Hand use extremely
labor-intensive, time-consuming techniques. Their message seems to be
that process is as important in their art as the end product.
Several factors make this a really fine book: one is the variety of
styles and shape of “carry alongs,” from drawstring to clutch to
shoulder bag, all of them attractive. Another is the many nifty handles
used -- straps and other add-ons are ways of making a purse really pop.
Then, there is the excellent detail devoted to lining and putting
together each bag -- hard to find in bag books and making this an
excellent resource for the sewing challenged (like me). And finally,
the photography and layout, which is clean, clear, and complete.
Here's a lovely yarn that evokes thoughts of Sherlock Holmes, pipe tobacco, Victorian parlours and walks through the misty moors. Classic Elite's Portland Tweed (available at many LYS's) is a soft, fine worsted weight 3-ply yarn. The singles are spun with a z-twist (counter-clockwise) and then plied together with an s-twist (clockwise). Each ply is a blend of 50% virgin wool, 25% alpaca and 25% viscose. It is put up in 50 gram cake skeins with 120 yards of warm, cozy comfort. With a 6.5mm hook, I swatched this yarn in three ways: a square of horizontal rows, a lacy piece with eyelets and crossed double crochet stitches, and a lacy motif with popcorn stitches and picots. The solid square has beautiful drape and isn't stiff, yet retains a nice balanced structure after wet-blocking. The halo from the wool and alpaca fill in the gaps between the dc stitches sufficiently to avoid a lacy look for a men's garment. The lacy swatch with bobbles shows them off well, and the halo adds an ethereal warm to the lacy fabric. This yarn in a lace pattern would make a great cardigan to layer on for warmth and a classy look. The motif I chose didn't suit this yarn well. The picots at the corners were difficult to make consistent, and the openness of the pattern contradicts the calling of this yarn to warm us up. A less lacy motif would help this yarn do what it has been designed to do.
The reprint of Maire Treanor's book, Clones Lace, by the American publisher Lacis is great news for those who love crochet history and Irish crochet. Maire has taken it upon herself to revive this marvelous art, which was born in Ireland in the 19th century and was almost gone by the end of the 20th century. The book deals at length with historical circumstances that inspired Irish Crochet, a combination of poverty and famine (caused by a potato blight) and the creativity and determination of a handful of women who saw a way out through needle arts. The system that developed to make and market finished items is fascinating as well. The model for this kind of "cottage industry" has been used in many places since.
Maire interviewed many of the older women in the communities near Clones, where she lives. Clones was one of the principal centers of Irish Crochet, but a century and a half later, demand and interest had all but disappeared. She learned stitches and techniques from local women, then perfected her own. In the book, she gives patterns for many of the Irish Crochet motifs, including the shamrock, thistle, bunches of grapes, vine leaf, roses, and the very special Clones knot, along with charming anecdotes about the women from whom she learned them. There are also edgings, larger projects, and many photos of completed fashions made with irish Crochet, which are gorgeous. The book is a treasure that every serious crocheter should have on her or his shelf. I feel certain that Irish Crochet will reappear as a popular art as it becomes again more widely known and modernized, as in the Ukraine today.
This book has some strong positives to recommend it: very stylish and wearable designs for all seasons, and a large number of varied projects. The stitching and construction are quite simple, the shaping sophisticated but not fussy, a variety of yarns and fibers are used, and the projects are nicely photographed. Sys Fredens is a Danish designer who first published this book in a Danish edition. Other than her instructions, the text is written by Martingale staff, in magazine-style go-go prose that supplies more hype than information.
There are several beautiful skirts, awesome fishnet stockings in hot pink, openwork tops for layering, numerous jackets, sweaters and cardigans, shawls and bags, and a dress. The European sense of style is seen in the attractive combination of casual and chic. Most items come in 3 sizes and none are larger than typical American large.
This fine designer deserves to have her work shown in a more artful fashion than it is here. The design of the book is bare. Instructions are written in a European shorthand style that some Americans will find hard to follow. Also problematic is a statement made in the book's introduction, which claims that the models shown are
"crocheted with yarn available in Europe, but we've made it easy to find yarn beautiful yarn that's similar, close to home. Rather than limiting you to a specific fiber and manufacturer, each project lists the type of yarn to use. Simply refer to the "standard Yarn-Weight system. . . and you'll find the perfect materials for every piece."
What this means is they tell you the fiber content of the yarn, and its weight by CYCA Yarn Standards number. This limited information is not sufficient for making yarn substitutions. Yarn weights are notoriously variable, and even if one stitches to gauge the difference in the appearance can be marked if the yarn is slightly thinner or heavier. The texture and construction of the yarn -- for example, how many plies, can also have a great effect on how stitches actually work up. The bottom line is, substituting yarns is an art, and doing it casually without much thought to precise yarn-matching will often end in an unsatisfactory outcome, after considerable expense and labor by the crocheter. I wish publishers would take a more honest approach to these things and help educate consumers, rather than supply the usual platitudes.
Despite reservations, I like this book for its very attractive garments that look they could be worn for years to come, and salute designer Sys Fredens for reaching out to the American public. By Dora Ohrenstein
Lily Chin's Couture Crochet Workshop is full of patterns in her
signature style. My favorite is the flying trapeze hat and tunic --
it's retro palette and colors go wonderfully with the A-line of the
sweater, and instead of using a simple ripple pattern, the colors
change in a fun and unexpected way. It also uses one of my new favorite
crocheting yarns, Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport.
Even if you were
to flip through and not find a pattern you'd want to recreate for
yourself, however, don't pass this book by. Actually, if that’s your
reaction, it's more likely a result of the dated photo styling than the
designs themselves. I think, and I don't say this lightly, that this
book should be on every crocheter's shelf. Lily is a master of
technique, and she's a master teacher. In the first forty pages of
Couture Workshop, you can revolutionize the way you make anything by
learning: how to avoid the gap after turning chains in double crochet,
discovering three ways to make your foundation chain better, learning
how to really check your gauge and how the professionals block (oh, I
guess that's just the first 20 pages). From there, she gets to the
heart of the book--how to successfully design or modify patterns. Learn
how to create a garment using one you have in your closet as a model,
how to take the drape and thickness of crochet fabric into
consideration when calculating shape and fit, how to work fully
fashioned increases and decreases into complicated pattern stitches and
As you move through the patterns themselves, you learn
even more about finishing details, sizing, reading charts, using beads,
color, and stitch patterns. You could treat Couture Crochet Workshop as
a master class in crochet design and quickly be on your way to design
and refining your own garments.
This is a real breakthrough book by Myra Wood that develops her
special perspective on freeform crochet. For those seeking to go
beyond scrumbling, Myra offers five alternative freeform techniques she
calls Funky Filet, Doodle Lace, Tossed Salad, Wild Irish Crochet and
Organic Lace Scrumbling.
Funky Filet offers a stitch count
formula which allows you to line up blocks of filet and fill them in
any number of ways you like. Doodle Lace is a clever and simple method
of creating freeform lace in one large piece, and Myra’s Peacock Path,
a Doodle Lace cape, is stunning. With the Tossed Salad technique, Myra
introduces “lace logic,” a method for changing stitch patterns at will
whike keeping the edges of your work even. Wild Irish is a modern
approach to traditional Irish Crochet, making it adaptable to the yarns
of today and far less painstaking to execute. Finally, Organic Lace
Scrumbling shows how scrumbling with openwork stitches is quite
different from “traditional freeform” (if one can use such a term).
This last technique appears to be the most spontaneous, and Myra has
several awesome examples,including Beauty in Bloom, a long duster,
September Blush, a tunic, and Sweet Romance, a blouse.
There is some lovely inspirational writing in the book as well, as in this passage:
Everyone has the abiity to unleash his or her own creative side. While you are crocheting, take it one stitch at a time and reserve any judgment about what you are doing. The first steps are only the beginning, and each piece grown into a splendidly woven fabric the more you work on it.
Wish I could follow this advice more myself!
was fascinated to read that Myra’s freeform methods are underpinned by
structured and sturdy mechanisms: the dress form and templates. It’s
the backbone of freeform, vital to achieving the intended effect,
especially in the hands of an artist like Myra. Myra self-published
this beautiful book, and shows herself as adept at book-making as she
is at crochet.
No matter how you look at it, Crochet Adorned by Linda Permann is a beautiful book. If you are a casual observer, your eye will be caught by the vibrant colors, not only of the cover photo, but of all the large, clear photos filling the pages. If you are mildly interested in crochet, you will find appealing projects at all levels with which to experiment, develop your skills, and express yourself. If you are an experienced crochet artist, you will find inspiration and ideas, delightfully presented, to inform and elevate your art.
At first glance, the whimsical floral cover project invites further exploration. Easy-read type faces and titles and clear organization make the Table of Contents a useful tool, instead of mere space filler. Reading Linda’s Introduction is like meeting a new friend—she lets us know where her ideas come from, and invites us to join her in an adventure of painless exploration and experimentation. The projects she will present are all “embellishments” that can be used to decorate and enhance, to customize purchased items we own or buy for the purpose. She states a reason for this approach… a reason that invites everyone from beginners to designers to join:
… if you start with something that fits, you won’t have the typical worries that come with crocheting a garment….start with a garment you want to refashion, then look through the book for the perfect embellishment. Remember, you don’t always have to use the same blank I did—a trim shown on a jacket here could be just as pretty on your skirt.
So, if you’ve never crocheted a garment, because of fears about your skill with shaping and fitting, you are included in the group who can have fun with this book, and make GREAT looking clothes and accessories. On the other hand, if you are an expert stitcher and not thrilled with following the dictates of patterns and directions, you, too are included, and invited to re-design, re-position, and express your own artistic and fashion sense with these projects.
There is enough basic instructional information that this book could be successfully used by a beginning crocheter (all basic stitches are discussed and illustrated, as well as tools, materials, blocking and other finishing techniques), and also a particularly well-illustrated dictionary of stitch patterns at the back. Sandwiched between them is a buffet of “delicious” project choices in Fashion, Accessories and items for the Home. Each project has a beautiful photograph, clear (boxed) information on material requirements, suggested yarns, sizes and gauge, and excellent schematics wherever they apply. An added bonus is that both the stitch diagrams and the written directions for each project are easy to read. If you’re used to using one form of pattern, and wanting to learn the other without pain and frustration, this book is an excellent resource.
Careful attention has been paid to all the details, from the vibrant color and excellent photography, through clear diagrams accompanying the text directions, even to the built-in page markers to help you keep your place in two projects at once, or a project and a reference page. Because of its wide appeal, this book would make an excellent gift to any crocheter, regardless of skill level.
After drooling my way through the whole book, I made a dozen or so of the flowers and leaves from the cover project… although I used different colors, different yarn, and used them to embellish a shell I had just finished crocheting. I was happy with my results, and delighted with the way the book met my need of the moment.
Linda’s Introduction concludes with her toast to her readers: “HERE’S TO CREATIVE CROCHETING!” Certainly she has provided the inspiration and expertise to help us all achieve that aim!
Suzann Thompson's book is an excellent contribution to the crochet flower genre, with some fifty different floral designs. The colors are dazzling and lots of different yarns -- textured, fuzzy, variegated -- are used to great effect. The book has a whimsical layout that contributes to a sense of fun. Among the more unusual flowers are a sunflower, a calyx, a poppy, an orchid, mumsy, daffodil and columbine. The author's design savvy and creative ingenuity, are evident in all the patterns, as is her love for flowers. It's particularly nice to see several unusual designs for leaves, where generally there are limited choices. Suzann is an accomplished fiber artist, who puts these lovely floral designs to great use adorning jeans, curtains, pillows and hats. Inspiration galore can be found in these pages. (review by Dora Ohrenstein)
DON'T MISS SUZANN'S TUTORIAL ON MAKING FLORAL FABRIC - FREE -- IN THIS ISSUE.