Crochet for Baby All Year is a collection of 39 crochet patterns for baby/infant wearables with accessories by Tammy Hildebrand. In the introduction,T...moreCrochet for Baby All Year is a collection of 39 crochet patterns for baby/infant wearables with accessories by Tammy Hildebrand. In the introduction,Tammy shares that she was inspired to crochet great baby items after learning she was going to become a first-time grandmother in 2012. Although her grandbaby was a girl, Tammy aims for an equal opportunity book by sharing theme patterns for boys and girls organized around the calendar.
The book is arranged in chapters by month. Each chapter opens with a large (nearly full page) photograph of an adorable infant boy or girl (or, frequently, both) wearing that month's outfits with accessories. Each month's patterns are either unisex or include variations for both boys and girls. Tammy describes the holiday or seasonal activity that inspired the outfit, and then the chapter continues with the patterns. Each pattern includes more photographs of the projects on the cute little models, the skill level, special stitches, and schematics when appropriate. Garments are generally available in 3-5 sizes from newborn through 18 months. Most of the patterns are considered easy, with one intermediate and one experienced pattern included in the book. The patterns are written with US crochet terminology.
The project breakdown is as follows: Hats and bonnets: 14 Cardigans/sweater/jersey: 5 Dresses: 4 Booties and sandals: 3 Sleeveless tops: 3 Headbands: 2 Christening gowns: 2 Bikini/swim trunks: 2 Rompers: 2 Pants: 1 Bow tie: 1 Costume: 1
The book ends with a heartfelt acknowledgements page, information about the yarns used in the book, a glossary of pattern abbreviations, and thumbnails of each project for a quick visual reference.
Like all pattern books, your enjoyment will be increased by the number of projects you actually want to make! (My personal favorites are the Stanley or Stella the Stegasaurus Costume; the Fall Festival Cardigan, Hat, and Booties set; and the Varsity Cheerleader Girl Dress and Headband.) You can see pictures of each project in Stackpole's lookbook.
There are no tutorials or stitch illustrations included, so this book is geared towards an advanced beginner or intermediate crocheter who has their basic skills down and is comfortable with reading US pattern abbreviations.
I would recommend Crochet for Baby All Year to an advanced beginner crocheter who enjoys making projects for babies and infants and prefers reading pattern abbreviations.
A more advanced crocheter might wish for more complex patterns, and a crocheter who prefers international stitch symbols won't find them in this book.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Crochet for Baby All Year: Easy-to-Make Outfits for Every Month was provided by Stackpole Books. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.(less)
This is a short and sweet guide to setting up the type of non-fiction ebook that you can sell passively on your website as a PDF. Pat discusses writin...moreThis is a short and sweet guide to setting up the type of non-fiction ebook that you can sell passively on your website as a PDF. Pat discusses writing, formatting, automating, marketing, pricing, and the use of affiliates briefly. If you are considering putting together a non-fiction ebook that you will sell directly as a PDF, this has some great information inside. The formatting was easy to read and Pat engages his readers with a conversational tone.(less)
I had the pleasure of meeting Gwen Blakely Kinsler online in 2011 when I interviewed her as part of a series on my blog. I have since learned more abo...moreI had the pleasure of meeting Gwen Blakely Kinsler online in 2011 when I interviewed her as part of a series on my blog. I have since learned more about her many contributions to the crochet community (including founding the Crochet Guild of America). Gwen's latest book is another way of sharing her love and support of the crochet community.
The Fine Art of Crochet is an exploration of crochet's role in contemporary fiber art. Gwen opens the book with an introduction exploring the development of art crochet since the 1960s. The book then continues with profiles of twenty contemporary artists:
Arline Fisch, Leslie Pontz, Georgina Valverde, Pate Conaway, Carol Hummel, Renie Breskin Adams, Donna Lish, Dale Roberts, Nathan Vincent, Andrea Uravitch, Kathleen Holmes, Tracy Krumm, Donna Rosenthal, Karen Searle, Soonran Youn, Jerry Bleem, Jo Hamilton, Yvette Kaiser Smith, Bonnie Meltzer, and Dr. Carol Ventura.
The profiles, typically 3-5 pages long, generally include a brief biography, large pictures of several representative works featuring crochet, and quotes from the artist. Quotes from the artists may discuss the creative process, the significance or interpretation of particular pieces, inspiration, and/or crochet as a medium.
The book ends with a reference list of articles, books, and websites on crochet art, freeform crochet, and crochet history, as well as a note about Gwen and some pictures of her art crochet.
In The Fine Art of Crochet, Gwen does a great job of sharing her excitement about crochet in all forms along with insights about some of today's most innovative crochet artists. The background information and quotes from the artists are delightful.
On the other hand, the formatting is a bit challenging. Sometimes, due to the relative font size, it's difficult to distinguish clearly between caption and narrative text. Additionally, some of the text could have used another round of editing to help smooth out the transitions between the artists' quotes, historical information, and Gwen's analysis. While it's great to have a more affordable book, a hardcover option would have been wonderful for those of us who are looking for the ultimate crochet art coffee table book.
Overall, I would highly recommend Gwen's book. It's the only book of it's kind currently on the market, and the enthusiasm Gwen and the artists share for crochet is infectious. It's wonderful to see all the possibilities of crochet that many of us who typically create functional pieces may want to explore, too.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of The Fine Art of Crochet was provided by AuthorHouse. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.(less)
Modern Baby Crochet: Patterns for Decorating, Playing, and Snuggling by Stacey Trock is a book of patterns featuring contemporary colors and designs f...moreModern Baby Crochet: Patterns for Decorating, Playing, and Snuggling by Stacey Trock is a book of patterns featuring contemporary colors and designs for baby decor.
Stacey opens the book with an Introduction that explains her approach. "I focused on the hub of baby life: the nursery. I wanted to create a book of baby designs that would suit any modern nursery, whimsical and adorable, both with a chic twist."
She moves on to the Getting Started section. Here, Stacey explores how to choose an appropriate yarn for a baby project, how to properly measure gauge (and why you should), finding the right crochet hook for you, and the other supplies needed for projects in this book. In this section, she introduces several inset boxes with tips that are featured throughout the book.
The next section, Anatomy of a Stitch, identifies the major components of crochet stitches (front and back loop and post) with illustrations and swatches showing the different looks created when you crochet into different parts of the stitch. The Crochet Stitches section includes written and illustrated instructions for the slip knot, chain, slip stitch, single crochet, double crochet, front and back post double crochet, and several decreases. Stacey also includes her instructions for a bobble that doesn’t leave a hole in the crochet fabric.
The Additional Techniques section includes written and illustrated instructions for several other important techniques used in the patterns: changing colors, working in the round, surface crochet, finishing off, weaving in ends, and 3 different assembling methods.
The book then moves onto the patterns, which are organized into color themes: Bold and Bright, Pretty In Pastel, and Naturally Neutral. Each theme includes 5-7 patterns.
Project types: 7 blankets, 4 toys, 3 pillows, 2 floor mats/rugs, 2 mobiles, and 1 pouf, 1 bunting, and 1 set of bookends.
The patterns are clearly written and include explicit assembly instructions, including how to stuff and join toys and how to line rugs and mats. My favorite patterns are the Mondrian-Inspired Afghan, the Funky Argyle Afghan, the Asymmetrical Circles Blanket, and the Colorful Wiggle Pillow. (Both the Funky Argyle Afghan and the Colorful Wiggle Pillow are visible on the book's cover.)
The next section, Finishing and Care, thoroughly explains the advantages of blocking, and provides instructions on how and when in the project’s life it should be blocked. (This section is also referred to in the instructions for any pattern that is meant to be blocked.) It also discusses appropriate cleaning of the various project types in the book. Useful Information includes a chart of standard yarn weights, skill level descriptions, and metric conversions. Abbreviations and Glossary provides a list of the US crochet abbreviation terminology used in the book and a list of links to resources including yarns, hooks, and notions used in the various projects. The book ends with acknowledgements and more information about Stacey.
The book includes only US pattern abbreviations with no stitch symbols. I reviewed an e-reader preview of the book, but it is available in paperback, too. It focuses on illustrations rather than photo tutorials for explaining stitches and other techniques, which some crocheters may find harder to follow.
Overall, I think Stacey achieved her goal of creating patterns that would provide contemporary and whimsical feel for a nursery. Many of the patterns can be used in other settings, as well. Most of the patterns are simple enough for an advanced beginner, and the detailed instructions would help a patient beginner to work through the more complex patterns. Many of the projects would interest more advanced crocheters as well. However, as with all pattern collections, your enjoyment will be based on whether you can find enough patterns to suit your style. Ravelry members can see all of the patterns on the book’s source page, and Stacey also has a video trailer of the projects available on YouTube.
I would give the book 4 out of 5 stars for a crocheter who enjoys making projects for baby, or crocheters who are looking for home decor projects in contemporary colors.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Modern Baby Crochet was provided by Martingale & Co. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.(less)
Jimmy Beans Wool founder Laura Zander is bringing her Stitch Red campaign to crochet, with Crochet Red: Crocheting for Women’s Heart Health, a collect...moreJimmy Beans Wool founder Laura Zander is bringing her Stitch Red campaign to crochet, with Crochet Red: Crocheting for Women’s Heart Health, a collection of 31 patterns. A portion of the proceeds from this book are donated to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health to support The Heart Truth campaign.
The book opens with a stunning image of a stack of red crocheted items, and then shares a thumbnail of each of the designs in the table of contents. Not surprisingly, the book then launches into a series of notes, forewords, and prefaces (by the director of the Heart Truth, Deborah Norville, Vanna White, and Laura Zander), each of which discusses women’s heart health.
The next section of the book, Projects and Profiles, includes 30 patterns. Each pattern includes a designer profile. In many of these, the designer shares their own story related to heart health. Most patterns also include a health tip from the designer, such as their favorite heart healthy foods or exercise. Most patterns, especially the wearables, include multiple views of the project. The exceptions are the two wraps, neither of which is shown on a model, and the smaller projects, like the mitts, which just include one picture. The garment patterns also include schematics (in red, naturally). All patterns are written in U.S. crochet abbreviations, and five patterns also include international stitch symbols.
The next section, Heart-Healthy Living, includes a variety of information about heart health, such as self test, exercise recommendations, tips for staying motivated about healthy lifestyle changes, and nine recipes.
The Crochet Know-How section shares the standard “back of book” information like a glossary of abbreviations, hook sizes, yarn weights, and a US to UK abbreviation conversion chart. It also includes short photo tutorials of the basic crochet stitches (chain, single, slip stitch, half double, and double crochet) and the adjustable ring for crocheting in the round. The book ends with a bonus pattern, a list of yarn suppliers, and an index.
Throughout the book, images of mountains of red yarn, piles of red crocheted fabric, and models in red garments are presented against mostly white backgrounds. The contrast creates a really beautiful effect and you just want to keep flipping through the book. The layout is particularly helpful in the Heart-Healthy Living section because it contains a lot of text. The contrasting colors and the images break up the wall of text and keep the book visually interesting.
Overall, the book includes 31 patterns. Pattern Type Women’s top (cardigans, tunics, shrugs, pullover, etc.): 9 Women’s coat or jacket: 4 3 each: cowls, scarves, bags 2 each: hats, blankets, wraps 1 each: pillow, mitts, sachet
Difficulty Rating 13 easy, 13 intermediate, and 4 experienced.
Three of the designs – the Tunisian Chevron Scarf by Sharon Silverman, the Tunisian Shrug by Kristin Omdahl, and the Vintage Tunisian Shell by Rohn Strong – are Tunisian crochet patterns.
My favorite designs are the Flower Garland Cowl by Robyn Chachula, the Gingham Afghan by Tanis Galik, the Heart Shaped Coat by Nicky Epstein, the Petal Cabled Hat by Linda Permann, the Slouchy Cowl by Edie Eckman, and the Sweater with Cowl by Marly Bird. Ravelry members can see the 30 main patterns on the book’s source page. (The bonus pattern, Kristin Nicholas‘ Heart Sachet, is visible on the book’s front cover.)
Although this book has a stunning layout and a great collection of patterns by many of today’s most popular designers, there are a few things I wish were done differently. I would have liked to see the wraps on models, particularly since they can be challenging to style. I think many crocheters would want to see more patterns with international stitch symbols. Most of the garment patterns are in 3-4 sizes and some crocheters will be looking for more. The Heart-Healthy Living chapter is a bit lost at the end – putting it up front would have made everyone look through it and would probably have a greater impact on awareness. I wish there was more information about how much of the proceeds were going to The Heart Truth. (Is it a percentage? A fixed amount per book? Is there a maximum donation? etc.)
This is a surprisingly affordable collection of patterns, particularly since there are so many garments. I would give it 4 out of 5 stars for a crocheter who likes themed pattern collections and who enjoys crocheting projects for women.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Crochet Red was provided by Sixth & Spring Books. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.(less)
Crochet Wraps Every Which Way by Tammy Hildebrand is a crochet pattern book featuring 18 designs for women’s wraps made with six different crochet tec...moreCrochet Wraps Every Which Way by Tammy Hildebrand is a crochet pattern book featuring 18 designs for women’s wraps made with six different crochet techniques: traditional crochet, motifs, hairpin lace, broomstick lace, Tunisian crochet, and double-ended crochet.
The book opens with a friendly introduction from Tammy, along with 10 crochet tips, most of which are to help your projects look more finished. This is followed by a glossary of U.S. crochet pattern abbreviations.
The next six chapters are organized by crochet technique. Each chapter includes three patterns. Each pattern includes multiple, large photos of the wrap, shown from different angles. Several, including the Irish Jig (crocheted with hairpin lace) and the Ardeona Lace (crocheted with broomstick lace) are styled differently in each photo and can be worn around the waist as well. Each pattern also includes a skill rating and a glossary of special abbreviations.
The Essential Crochet Techniques chapter provides written instructions along with process photos for all of the major stitches and techniques used in the book, including basic crochet stitches (single, half double, double, and treble), joining motifs as you go, hairpin lace (strips and in the round), broomstick lace (flat and in the round), and the basic forward and return pass for both Tunisian and double-ended crochet.
My personal favorite patterns are the Purple Pineapples (in traditional crochet), Waiting for Willow (in motifs), Irish Jig and You are My Sunshine (in hairpin lace), Chica Mala (in broomstick lace), Cascading Rivers (in Tunisian crochet), and Zen Garden (in double-ended crochet). The book ends with a resources page, including information about the yarn and tools used for these projects, and a visual index with a thumbnail of each pattern for easy reference.
There are no international stitch symbols used in the book. Like all paperbacks, it doesn’t lay flat, so it’s hard to crochet and read. While the process photos are great, some crocheters would prefer not to have to flip to the back of the book. Perhaps the photo tutorials could have been moved to the beginning of the relevant chapter. Although the different wraps are surprisingly diverse, there is really only one type of project in this book, so if you don’t love wearing (or gifting) wraps, it may not be a good book for you. Like all (mostly) pattern books, you may find that some patterns appeal to you more than others. You can check out all the patterns online through the Stackpole Books lookbook.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars for beginner and intermediate crocheters who enjoy making shawls, wraps, shrugs, and ponchos, and who are interested in moving outside of their comfort zone to learn new crochet techniques. Although there are quite a few “experienced” level projects in this book, in her intro, Tammy notes that “you might just have to pay a little more attention” to those patterns, “But you can do it!”
Skill levels: 6 easy, 6 intermediate, and 6 experienced
Retail price: $19.95
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Crochet Wraps Every Which Way was provided by Stackpole Books. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.(less)
75 Floral Blocks to Knit: Beautiful Patterns to Mix & Match for Throws, Accessories, Baby Blankets & More by Lesley Stanfield opens with a for...more75 Floral Blocks to Knit: Beautiful Patterns to Mix & Match for Throws, Accessories, Baby Blankets & More by Lesley Stanfield opens with a foreword from the author and an “About This Book” section to orient its readers. The twelve page directory is a quick reference with a thumbnail of each block along with its page number.
Chapter 1: Useful Techniques includes 16 pages of information about needles, yarn, and notions, along with a guide to reading U.S. pattern abbreviations and charts. Color illustrations and instructions provide a refresher of several cast on methods, knitting in the round, and the crochet stitches used at the center of some blocks and for joins, as well as tips on stranding and intarsia, creating i-cord, embellishments such as duplicate stitch and French knots, and ideas for finishing, blocking (called pressing in the book), assembly, and joining.
The block patterns are then divided into three sections in Chapter 2: Instructions: Traditional designs, Textured designs, and Pictorial designs. Most of the designs are knit flat, with about 15% knit in the round. 5 blocks include crochet details. 32 blocks include charted instructions. Most of the blocks are squares (including a few designed on point and others that are 4 triangles joined together), but there are also 3 unusual shapes, 3 octagons, 2 hexagons, and 2 circles. Quite a few of the squares are a plain stockinette background with flowers appliqued on top. The appliques could also be used to embellish other projects. Each pattern includes a clear photo and indicates the number of needles to use (a pair, or a set of DPNs). Special abbreviations and chart keys are provided on the same page of the pattern, so you don’t have to flip back and forth while knitting.
Chapter 3: Projects includes instructions for 7 projects based on motif patterns from the book, including a hat, a cushion, a greeting card, a birdcage cover, a blanket, a potholder, and a bag. The book ends with a thorough index.
The book has the type of clean layout you would expect from a St. Martin’s Griffin knitting book. Most of the squares are quite lovely, and if you actually made all of them, you would use quite a range of knitting techniques. I wish that the patterns included difficulty levels so a newish knitter would have an easier time figuring out which to start with, and it would be helpful if more of the patterns in the Pictorial designs section included a reminder about whether to use stranding or intarsia (or both, and at which parts) for a newbie color knitter. Like all paperback books, it’s difficult to keep open while knitting.
If you’re an intermediate knitter who enjoys motifs and modular projects, this would be a solid addition to your pattern book collection. Although there are some illustrated instructions at the beginning, the author notes that “[t]his section is not a lesson in knitting.” (A confident and adventurous beginner could tackle quite a few of the patterns and grow into the rest, though.) If you enjoy adding floral embellishments to your projects, you would also find some great ideas inside to adorn your creations. If you don’t like working with small motifs, frequent color changes, and/or if you want all of your motifs to be the same size for easy joining, then you might not find this to be the perfect match for your collection.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of 75 Floral Blocks to Knit was provided by St. Martin’s. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.(less)
In Curvy Girl Crochet: 25 Patterns that Fit and Flatter, Mary Beth Temple takes a two-pronged approach to crocheting for the plus-sized woman. In her...moreIn Curvy Girl Crochet: 25 Patterns that Fit and Flatter, Mary Beth Temple takes a two-pronged approach to crocheting for the plus-sized woman. In her introduction and the first two chapters, she shares the information you need to find, alter, and crochet garments that fit. In the last three chapters, she shares 25 patterns (designed by Mary Beth and 5 other designers) that are developed with the curvy woman in mind.
Mary Beth opens the book by explaining that "[i]f you put 50 plus-sized women in a room, no two of them will be plus-sized in quite the same way. I worried about this when I began creating this book – how would I come up with patterns that would suit everyone? In the end, I decided this was a wonderful opportunity to create flattering garments for all sorts of different body types. Not every piece will suit every body, but everybody will find something within these pages that will satisfy their need to create and to express their individual styles."
In Chapter 1: Projects that Fit and Flatter, Mary Beth suggests readers explore what flatters them in the ready-to-wear world before choosing patterns to crochet for themselves. She also shares tips for taking accurate measurements and for selecting an appropriate yarn for a garment project. In Chapter 2: Finding Your Fit, Mary Beth discusses how to modify your crochet garment. She deeply explores gauge (critical for crocheting garments), how to assess the pattern, decide on the size and amount of ease to select, and adapting hemlines, waist shaping, and sleeves. She walks us through a sample project, describing how and where all the modifications could be made. And Mary Beth reminds us that a strong finish – with blocking, seaming, and details like buttons – can really make a crocheted garment outstanding. While both chapters are chock full of information, the clear writing and the formatting make them easy to read.
Chapter 3: Pullovers, Tunics, and Tank Tops, includes 9 patterns (5 are easy and the other 4 are intermediate level). My favorite patterns in this section are Verdant Pullover and the Progressive Tunic. The Essential Pullover is a simple pattern that will ease a newbie garment crocheter into their first sweater and which can be modified easily.
In Chapter 4: Cardigans, Coats, and Jackets, there are 7 outerwear designs (1 beginner, 3 easy, and 3 intermediate level). Again, Mary Beth includes an Essential Cardigan pattern that is simple to crochet and easy to modify. It also has delightful details, like the picot edging. My favorite patterns in this section are the Intertwined Poncho (available as a free download from Lion Brand) and the Peacoat for Rule Breakers.
Chapter 5: Wraps, Bags, and Accessories, includes 9 patterns (5 easy and 4 intermediate level). My favorites here are the Sensible Shawl, Charles Voth‘s Coalesce Wrap, and Andee Graves‘ Skirt the Issue.
Each pattern in Chapter 3 and 4 includes multiple pictures of the garment on a plus-sized model, and, true to Mary Beth’s introduction, there are quite a few different shapes represented by the models.
Additionally, there are clear schematics and the major stitch pattern is also included in international stitch symbols, while the full pattern is written with U.S. pattern abbreviations. All garment patterns are written for six sizes (L, XL, 2X, 3X, 4X, and 5X). In Chapter 5, some of the projects are only shown in one photo, but since they aren’t garments, it isn’t a problem. (Ravelry members can see all the patterns from the book on its source page.)
The Appendix includes “a little extra how-to information” such as tips for pattern reading, creating linked stitches, beading, the crab stitch, and blocking. There are no illustrations here – the book assumes you already have the crochet basics down – but the written explanations could be helpful to an intermediate crocheter. This section also includes an explanation of the skill levels, a key to the stitch symbols and U.S. crochet abbreviations, a sizing chart, information about yarn weights and hook sizes, a metric equivalency chart, and information about the yarns used in the samples. The book ends with a project index with a thumbnail of each pattern for easy reference, a detailed index, and designer bios.
While, as Mary Beth notes in the introduction, a crocheter may not like all of the designs in this book (or find them flattering for her figure), overall the book includes a lot of great information for a plus-sized woman who wants to crochet her own flattering projects that fit. The target market for this book is quite specific, so it isn’t for everyone. It also isn’t a beginner book – you really must have the basics down or expect to seek help elsewhere. And, like all paperback books, it doesn’t lay flat so you can read while crocheting. For all curvy ladies who are eager to dive into garment crocheting but afraid of being disappointed with ill-fitting results, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Curvy Girl Crochet was provided by Taunton. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.(less)
Knit Stitch Guide by Rita Weiss of the Creative Partners is a pattern booklet featuring 96 knit stitch patterns.
The booklet is arranged into six chapt...moreKnit Stitch Guide by Rita Weiss of the Creative Partners is a pattern booklet featuring 96 knit stitch patterns.
The booklet is arranged into six chapters. The first five, Simple Knit & Purl Stitches, Ribbings, Embossed Stitches, Multi-Color Stitches, and Eyelets & Cables, include stitch patterns. Each stitch pattern includes a color photograph (about 1/4 to 1/2 of the page size) of a sample in Red Heart Luster Sheen (a fine weight yarn) photographed on a black background; a stitch guide including any terms (outside of the standards like CO, k, p, BO) used in the pattern; and stitch pattern instructions written in U.S. pattern abbreviations. Most patterns take one page, but there are a few that are only half the page (with smaller pictures). Because the stitches are organized into types, it is easier to find a favorite later on. The last section, General Instructions, includes a list of pattern abbreviations and tips for pattern reading.
This booklet is one of the new pocket sized guides published by Leisure Arts. At about 5 inches by 8 inches and 96 pages, this booklet is small enough to carry around in your knitting bag. I see the portable size as the main strength of this book. For those of you that never know what you want to knit when traveling, this book will give you 96 options. Because of the small size, the booklet lacks a lot of the features I prefer in a complete stitch guide, such as illustrated tutorials of basic stitches or unusual techniques. Therefore, it really isn't suitable for a beginning knitter because you would already need to know the basic stitches and have some understanding of pattern reading.
I would recommend this booklet to knitters who enjoy creating spontaneous projects on the go, or emerging designers who knit during their commute or travel time. A stitch guide collector will find that many of the stitches are already represented in their other books.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of this booklet was provided by Leisure Arts. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.(less)
Laurinda Reddig's ReCrochetions Presents: Rowan's Learn to Crochet Sampler Afghan is a booklet containing tutorials and patterns for beginning crochet...moreLaurinda Reddig's ReCrochetions Presents: Rowan's Learn to Crochet Sampler Afghan is a booklet containing tutorials and patterns for beginning crocheters. The subtitle of the booklet, "A Complete Class to Learn Crochet Including 4 Easy Baby Blankets & a Hat," clarifies its purpose. Laurinda published this 74 page booklet in 2012 using CreateSpace, and it is available in both right-handed and left-handed editions. Although it is a paperback, you can probably press it flat without much effort (though I haven't tried it) if you want to crochet and read at the same time.
The booklet opens with a two page introduction. If you are familiar with Laurinda's blog, you may already know about her daughter Rowan, and this booklet is dedicated to her memory. The introduction shares some of Laurinda's experiences and talks about how she used crochet to heal. The next section, How to Use This Book, explains the formatting.
Chapter One: Getting Started includes information about yarn and tools. Laurinda then moves on to tutorials for making a slip knot, holding your hook, yarning over, chaining, working into the chain and into stitches, finishing off, and gauge. Laurinda includes an explanatory paragraph along with process photos with brief notes for each new skill. The photos are clear and the print quality is good. The booklet uses a matte rather than glossy paper, but there aren't any bleeds through from the other side of the page. One point of confusion is that Laurinda stresses the importance of using the thumb rest for a beginner, but also uses a hand carved hook with no thumb rest for all of the booklet's photos.
The booklet then moves on to Chapter Two: Basic Stitches, which includes 4 square patterns and the Lovely Lilly Blanket pattern, alongside tutorials for the single, double, and half double crochet stitches, along with two versions of a double crochet shell stitch. Laurinda's pattern formatting is very consistent, and whenever a new stitch is introduced throughout the booklet, it is first written out in italics (with the U.S. pattern abbreviation in parenthesis) along with a reference to the tutorial. In other books, I've seen the tutorials precede the projects, but since her formatting is so consistent and the tutorial is generally on the next page, this isn't a major downside.
In Chapter Three: Combining Stitches, Laurinda includes 4 square patterns, 5 tutorials, and the Treya's Treasure Blanket pattern. Chapter Four: Easy as XYZ also has 4 square patterns and 5 tutorials, along with the Rey of Sunshine Blanket pattern. Chapter Five: Textured Stitches, has 4 square patterns, 6 tutorials, and the Daring Dorian Blanket pattern.
Chapter Six: Putting It All Together goes through all of the steps needed for finishing a blanket made from squares, including blocking and joining, with tutorials for both single crochet and whip stitch joins. Chapter Seven: Working in the Round explores the technique of crocheting in the round because, "A class in Learning to Crochet would not be complete without learning the basics of how to Crochet in the Round." Rather than just show how to crochet the blanket edging in the round, Laurinda includes a full tutorial with an additional pattern, the Simple Newborn Hat with Flower. She shares tutorials on both working into a chain circle or ring, and the magic loop. Laurinda's magic loop method is new to me, but she has been teaching it for over a decade. She also includes a final tutorial for decreasing.
The booklet ends with three appendices which include a glossary of U.S. and U.K. pattern abbreviations, online resources for crocheters, and an index of stitches and tutorials. You can see images of all the patterns in this book through Laurinda's Ravelry designer page.
Laurinda's booklet illustrates perfectly the advantages and challenges of reading self-published craft books. As a reader, you are wrapped in Laurinda's "voice." Her unique take on crochet is evident on every page, through her chatty, conversational tone; the information she shares about her personal life; her layout; and even in the photographs, where you can see that she enjoys using hand carved hooks. Unlike reading a typical mass market crochet book, you feel as though you are spending time with Laurinda (in a class or charity crochet group) while reading. On the other hand, a more conventional layout where tutorials preceded the patterns might have benefitted some readers. Although the book is both copy and tech edited, there are some unconventional uses of capitalizations and grammar. Additionally, while in general the photos are clear and the printing quality is surprisingly good, the process photos may have benefitted from a light colored or white background, and some of the project photos (taken by sample makers/testers) are not as clear or neatly styled as those you would normally see in a book.
As a crochet teacher myself, I'm a big fan of using samplers for teaching, and I think this booklet fills in the gaps for self- or internet-taught crocheters by sharing many tips and tricks along with the patterns and tutorials. Overall, I would recommend this booklet to newish crocheters looking to expand their skills (or, crocheters returning to pattern reading after a long absence). It would also be a good booklet for crochet teachers working with beginners, since there are alternative explanations and interesting beginner projects. A group that does charity crochet for babies might enjoy using this booklet also, as the patterns are designed with babies in mind and don't have many holes that fingers can get caught in. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars for those audiences.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Rowan's Learn to Crochet Sampler Afghan was provided by Laurinda Reddig. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.(less)
Car Seat Blankets by Becky Stevens is a portable pattern booklet that includes eight small crocheted blankets, designed to fit around an infant or tod...moreCar Seat Blankets by Becky Stevens is a portable pattern booklet that includes eight small crocheted blankets, designed to fit around an infant or toddler in a car seat. Each pattern includes a small version, usually measuring about 16 in (40.5 cm) x 21 in (53 cm) in light (#3) weight yarn and a larger version, generally measuring about 20 in (51 cm) x 28 in (71 cm) in medium (#4) weight yarn following the same pattern.
Each pattern is written with US crochet pattern abbreviations and detailed instructions for working a gauge swatch. All eight patterns are rated easy. One of the patterns is worked in the round, and the rest are crocheted flat in rows. Three patterns include a variation on a chevron, but each one uses different stitch types to create that motif. The small size of Car Seat Blankets makes it portable enough to bring with you to work on the go. The booklet easily lays flat, so you can crochet while reading.
On the other hand, the booklet doesn’t include any international stitch symbols and there isn’t much variety in construction methods. If you enjoy crocheting small projects for babies and toddlers while on the go, and have advanced beginner skills, you may enjoy this booklet. The retail price $5.99 for the booklet and $4.99 for the ebook.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Car Seat Blankets was provided by Leisure Arts. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.(less)
Crochet at Home: 25 Clever Projects for Colorful Living is a collection of contemporary home decor projects edited by Brett Bara. If you were a fan of...moreCrochet at Home: 25 Clever Projects for Colorful Living is a collection of contemporary home decor projects edited by Brett Bara. If you were a fan of Crochet Today! when Brett was the editor-in-chief, you will find the types of projects and colors you might have seen in the magazine in this book.
The book is organized into three chapters, Bright and Modern Living Room, Tranquil Bedroom, and Colorful Kitschy Kitchen. The names accurately describe the types of projects you can find in each chapter.
In the back, you can find pattern abbreviations, a techniques section using the standard line illustrated instructions you may be familiar with from other Interweave publications, a resources section with yarn company contact information, and an index.
The book includes a range of pattern types:
4 blankets, 3 potholders/pan handle covers, a set of 3 nesting dolls, 3 bowls, 3 cozies (for a tissue box, a teapot, and a cake plate), 2 pillow covers, 2 wreaths, 2 buntings, and an ottoman, a doorstop, a rug, a trivet, a scrubbie for pots, a dishcloth, coasters, a table runner, and a seat cushion.
(You may notice that I list 31 patterns, though the book’s subtitle mentions 25. Some of the patterns include multiple variations, which is why the counts are different.)
All of the patterns are written with US pattern abbreviations, and most also include international stitch symbol charts. The patterns don’t include difficulty levels, but most can be accomplished by an advanced beginner with a little patience. Each pattern includes multiple, well-lit photos showing the projects in use in a residential setting and is made with yarn in contemporary colors.
My favorite patterns are the Stitchy Nesting Dolls by Amy Gaines, the Sleepy Kitty Doorstop by Brenda K.B. Anderson, the Overstuffed Seat Cushions by Ellen Gormley, the Flowering Trivets by Regina Rioux, and Berry Pie, a cake plate cozy by Ana Paula Rimoli.
If you enjoy crocheting for the home and are able to crochet beyond the basics, this book could be a great addition to your collection. Like all pattern books, the decision about whether or not to buy this book will be largely dependent on personal taste. You can try out the nesting dolls patterns for free here on the Petals to Picots blog, and Ravelry members can see all of the book’s patterns on its source page. If you have an extensive crochet pattern collection, you may already own similar, classic designs, but the contemporary colors and the styling suggestions may be worth the retail price of $22.95 for the softcover (or $17.95 for the ebook).
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Crochet at Home was provided by Interweave. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.(less)
Lovers of granny squares can probably never have too many books, but what about 100 Colorful Granny Squares to Crochet: Dozens of Mix and Match Combos...moreLovers of granny squares can probably never have too many books, but what about 100 Colorful Granny Squares to Crochet: Dozens of Mix and Match Combos and Fabulous Projects makes it stand out in a sea of books about granny squares?
Leonie Morgan‘s debut book has the joyful and inviting colors that readers of her blog, Wool n Hook, have come to expect. From the cover until the appendix, you will be seeing nothing but bright and beautiful eye candy. This book is truly a celebration of granny squares.
100 Colorful Granny Squares to Crochet opens with a welcoming forward from Leonie, following by a graphic “About This Book” that visually highlights features you can find within each design and in the Tools and Techniques chapter.
The Tools and Techniques chapter opens with an overview of materials and notions and then moves on to written and illustrated instructions for forming the basic crochet stitches. The illustrations are in color (rather than outline drawings), and include directional arrows to help you understand the motions. This section also includes additional stitches and techniques such as clusters, puffs, post stitches, popcorns, spike stitches, decreasing, working in rounds, and the magic loop. There is also a fair amount of information about putting your project together, including joins, dealing with ends, and embellishments with surface crochet. Next, there is a brief explanation of reading patterns and charts and gauge.
And for those of us who aren’t as gifted with color combinations as Leonie, she includes a section on working with colors. In addition to a color wheel (which you’d expect to find in a the color section in a book about granny squares), Leonie also shares combinations – with yarn, rather than with with illustrations – that work well together, like cools, warms, pastels, brights, statement colors, and what she describes as a personal palette (built around your favorite color). This section, while only 2 pages long, provides a great explanation with visuals for the color timid crocheters out there.
Leonie also provides some explanation of how to plan a project, including estimating yarn quantities, and finishing, including blocking, seaming, and patterns for 8 edgings (7 beginner level and 1 intermediate level). The finishing section includes a combination of illustrations and process photos along with explanatory text. Leonie briefly reviews additional embellishments, such as cross stitch, embroidery, applique, beads, ribbons, and surface crochet. The Tools and Techniques chapter ends with a page on caring for your projects, including an explanation of those international care symbols that always confuse me.
The rest of the book is made up of the patterns. The first thing I’d like to report is that there are actually 100 designs. (How many of us have bought books saying there are a large number of motif patterns, only to discover that half or more are mere color variations?) Most patterns are shown in at least 2 color variations. Each pattern includes a skill difficulty level, an explanation of any special stitches, and both US pattern abbreviations and an international stitch symbol chart. My favorite feature of Leonie’s patterns in this section is that she includes the yardage/meterage for each color in a given motif, and a chart which estimates yardage/meterage in each color for baby, lap, and bed sized throws made with the motif within each pattern. Yarn requirements are estimated using a H (5 mm) crochet hook and medium weight yarn and assumes a baby blanket is 36 in (91 cm) square, a lap throw is 52 in (137 cm) x 42 in (107 cm), and a bedspread is 85 in (216 cm) x 66 in (168 cm).
Overall, the motif patterns break down this way:
Skill level: 52 beginner patterns, 35 intermediate patterns, and 13 experienced patterns (called advanced in the book).
Construction: 65 in the round, 25 in rows, and 10 combining in the round and rows.
The book also includes details for 5 completed projects made with motifs (2 blankets, 2 pillow covers, and 1 bag). It ends with a thorough index, including one that lists the colors of Cascade 220 used for each sample motif.
Now back to my original question: What makes 100 Colorful Granny Squares to Crochet stand out from the other granny square books? The best features of this book are the sections on color, project planning, finishing, and embellishments in the Tools and Techniques chapter, the large quantity of motif patterns, the fact that patterns are written with both abbreviations and stitch symbols, and the estimation of yardage requirements. These are really the elements that make this book stand out from the crowd. And, of course, a true granny lover can probably never have enough motif patterns to experiment with!
What’s missing from this book? As a paperback, it doesn’t really lay flat, so it will be hard to read and crochet at the same time. A true beginner may find the illustrations aren’t enough to teach them to crochet. And someone with a large granny square pattern collection will find some familiar classics included. I believe the advantages to this book far outweigh the missing pieces, and I would recommend it to advanced beginner through intermediate crocheters, granny square lovers, and those who need help estimating yarn for their projects.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of 100 Color Granny Squares to Crochet by Leonie Morgan was provided by St. Martin’s Griffin. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.(less)
In Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet, Sheryl Thies takes an interesting approach to the craft. The other beginner Tunisian crochet books I’ve recently re...moreIn Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet, Sheryl Thies takes an interesting approach to the craft. The other beginner Tunisian crochet books I’ve recently reviewed (Kim Guzman‘s Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet and Dora Ohrenstein‘s The New Tunisian Crochet) are written by (primarily) crochet designers. When Sheryl wrote the book, she was primarily a knitting designer and it’s interesting to see how that lens impacted her writing.
Get Hooked opens with a brief history of the craft (which, like most crochet histories, has gaps) and then moves onto an overview of different hooks. Then there is a written and illustrated tutorial of Tunisian crochet basics. As someone who learns best through reading, I found Sheryl’s detailed explanations of each stitch very helpful. I personally find line illustrations useless for learning crochet techniques – my brain just doesn’t work that way. I can imagine that the lack of photo tutorials might make this book challenging for a true newbie who learns best through images.
Sheryl includes a troubleshooting chart right in this section, with causes and fixes to common beginner Tunisian crochet issues, and I applaud her for not burying that critical information in the appendices. Similarly, Sheryl includes information on increasing and decreasing and color changes right up front, rather than hiding it in the appendices. This formatting decision makes the book very beginner friendly, as you can see immediately what instructions are available to you while reading through the book.
Sheryl then dedicates a few pages to a discussion of gauge and blocking. I think her background as a knitting designer influenced her to emphasize blocking, which is generally discussed minimally in crochet books. For Tunisian crochet, which tends to curl, blocking can truly transform a project so it is great to see it discussed right up front. (Actually blocking instructions are in an appendix, however.)
The book then dives into the patterns. I count 17, while the book subtitle lists 13. There are a few patterns with multiple components (i.e., a pullover with matching handwarmers) that could be completed separately, which accounts for the difference.
Project types: 8 home decor projects, including 3 pillow covers, 2 bags, a blanket, placemats, and coasters, 6 accessories projects, including 4 shawls/wraps, a scarf, and a pair of handwarmers, and 3 women’s garments, including a cardigan, pullover, and jacket.
All of the home decor patterns use medium weight yarns, and the accessories and garment designs feature several weights (mostly lighter than medium weight). There is a diverse mix of yarns including some large brands and smaller, independent companies. Again, I think Sheryl’s background as a knitting designer made her (and her publisher, and the yarn companies) more open to including lighter weight yarns.
My favorite patterns are the Button Down pillow cover, the Motivated Heretic entrelac shawl, and the Rogue Ribs scarf. While Sheryl includes a range of pattern difficulty levels, the projects are beginner friendly. Most have minimal shaping, and for the entrelac project, she uses one, multi-color yarn rather than have beginners using many different skeins. Even the garments use simple construction techniques.
The book ends with appendices which discuss finishing (seaming, blocking, and adding “regular” crochet edges); charts for yarn and hook sizes, metric conversions, and pattern skill levels; and a list of materials resources.
Like many books which include techniques and patterns, your enjoyment of Get Hooked will be improved if you like the patterns and are enthusiastic about learning the techniques by crocheting them. (Ravelry members can see all of the patterns from the book on its source page.) While the book does include technical information about Tunisian crochet which would be helpful to a newbie, it may not be enough to let the book stand alone if you don’t find some patterns that you enjoy. I recommend this book to new Tunisian crocheters, particularly those who enjoy working with lighter weight yarns, who enjoy learning the background details (the “whys”) of different techniques, and who learn from reading rather than primarily visually. If you are an experienced Tunisian crocheter, you should take a look through the patterns to decide whether this book may be right for your style.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet by Sheryl Thies was provided by Martingale. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.(less)