Crochet (10)

My reviews are listed below, but you can also click on this link to buy & find reviews of even more Crochet Books

(Titles are listed A-Z by author. Check side bar for links to book reviews covering different stitch techniques.)

BEAD CROCHET by BETHANY BARRY

Having also recently looked at Crochet with Beads by Ruth Herring (below), I would say that this book is aimed more at beaders who want to incorporate some crochet techniques rather than vice versa.  If you haven’t tried beading/crochet as a combination previously, Herring’s book may be a wiser ‘first toe in the water’.

Barry’s projects have a wonderfully appealing vintage-retro (boho?) feel, with a more experimental approach.  Full instructions are of course included, but unlike the photo-step approach of Herring, there is a lot of text to take in, which I imagine would be a little off-putting to the beginner.  This is a gorgeous book, full of ideas (and including an inspirational gallery),and trying out a wide range of techniques.  Once you’ve got a grip on the basics, this is the book that will really open up the bead-crochet world to you.

FREEFORM KNITTING AND CROCHET by JENNY DOWDE

FREEFORMATIONS: DESIGN AND PROECTS IN KNITTING AND CROCHET by JENNY DOWDE

201 MOTIFS, BLOCKS, PATTERNS & IDEAS by MELODY GRIFFITHS

From the outside, this looks like quite a traditional book of crochet motifs. From the inside, however, it is actually quite innovative, and has lots of ideas for unusual and three-dimensional shapes, interlinked patterns, tapestry (pictures!) and some original finishing suggestions. There are actually just as many creative ideas in this book as in more self-consciously experimental ones such as ‘Freeform Knitting and Crochet’ by Jenny Dowde. Used alongside each other, they are a great combination for the creative crocheter!

QUICK CROCHET HUGE HOOKS by SALLY HARDING

Okay, let me first be clear on this: I do not (currently) know how to crochet.  BUT, when I learn (& I will), this is the book I will be teaching myself from.   There is a comprehensive introduction that shows with lots of very clear diagrams exactly how to do each of the different crochet stitches.  This book is specifically aimed at crochet using large hooks, but as I used predominantly large needles when I went through my knitting phase, I know that all this really means is that it is far easier to see exactly what you are doing, and any project stitched will grow satisfyingly quickly!

But I did not buy this book purely to learn crochet – lots of books could teach me that.  I bought this book because it is absolutely packed with projects that you would actually WANT to reproduce!  There’s nothing old-fashioned or middle-aged: these are funky, genuinely contemporary patterns (sometimes with a retro edge).  This is a book that proves true style is in simplicity.  There is no condescension (just clarity) in the text, making it suitable for more experienced crocheters looking for a refreshing new style, as well as beginners.  In fact, the projects use a variety of non-traditional yarns and techniques, so it is a great adventure for anyone just looking to break the mould, a little.

Before I finish, let me also just say that the colour combinations are stunning and truly inspirational.  There is nothing staid about this book.  It has energy and true vision.  I love it!

(Sally Harding has written a knitting book following similar principles, ‘fast knits fat needles’  – review coming soon!)

CROCHET WITH BEADS by RUTH HERRING

The projects in this book – predominantly jewellery – reflect two styles: a simple, understated elegance and a slightly retro, hippy feel.  The main differences are apparent between those pieces crocheted with wire, and those with yarn.  All the projects are really quite classy, though, with simplicity being the key in all cases.  This is a prime example of a beginner’s guide that proves it is not necessary to sacrifice style in order to learn the basics.

Unlike Bethany Barrys book (above), this strikes me as a book for crocheter’s who want to experiment with beading, rather than beaders who want to experiment with crochet.  It is not an experimental book, but it will teach you the basic techniques required to incorporate beads within your crochet, all through very clear, step-by-step photo instructions.

All in all a great first step if you are ready to venture in a slightly different direction.  Bead Crochet by Bethany Barry would be a more adventurous second step once you have tested out the waters here.

FREEFORM CROCHET AND BEYOND by RENATE KIRKPATRICK

This is a wonderful book!  I love the pictorial crochet cover photo, and on first flicking through the pages was disappointed to see a collection of instructions for motifs rather than anything so complex.  However, as soon as I sat down to read the book, I was immediately drawn in by the author’s friendly, engaging style of writing.  She has a wonderfully refreshing attitude: if you’re not sure about something, try it anyway!  If it doesn’t work, try something else!  She is not prescriptive in terms of yarns etc, and actively encourages the reader to experiment wih colour, texture, and design.

This is a far more intuitive book than Jenny Dowde’s books on the same subject.  Kirkpatrick provides information in terms of stitches and motifs and how to use them, alongside personal anecdotes and advice, and galleries of completed pieces showing the amazing effects you can achieve.  The way she explains as she goes along makes everything seem achievable, no matter your level of experience.

The final 20 pages cover the ‘beyond’ mentioned in the title (although knitting is included with crochet throughout).  This section includes wet and dry felting, vilene, embroidery, and a fun few pages about weaving, using various self-constructed small, basic looms.  These subjects are obviously not covered comprehensively but give sufficient overview that you can see the different ways they can be utilised to experiment further yourself.

If you feel you need more explicit guidance before you begin ‘freeforming’, try Jenny Dowde’s books which offer a good range of projects to learn the different techniques.  They also give a good grounding in colour and basic design theory, along with additional stitches and motifs that you can incorporate into your own pieces, so they make great companions to this book, regardless.  However, if I was only going to buy one book on the subject of freeform crochet, Renate Kirkpatrick’s would be the one.  Although specifically not project-based, it provides all the tools and information you could need to embark on such impressive pieces as the cover design, but also to discover your own style and way of working.  In addition to that, I found I simply liked the book, in the same way I might enjoy chatting with an old friend.  There should be more books like that on everybody’s shelf!

HAVE YOU ANY WOOL? by JAN MESSENTWOOL’N MAGIC by JAN MESSENT

AMIGURUMI by ANNIE OBAACHAN

Amigurumi is a Japanese term for tiny creatures which are either knitted or crocheted.  The market for amigurumi books has become somewhat flooded recently, but for my money, Annie Obaachan’s is the best you can buy.  Find out a little about the history and culture of amigurumi in Japan, follow the easy instructions to learn the basic crochet stitches necessary, and you will be whizzing through the 15 cute and simple patterns in no time.  The book tells you everything you need to know, from understanding abbreviations and symbols to reading a chart.  Easy!

The best section in this book, however, gives guidance on creating your very own, unique amigurumi.  Combine a few basic shapes wth a little imagination, and it all falls into place! A gallery at the end of the book provides photo-inspiration for amigurumi of all shapes, styles and character, along with web-links and a brief introduction to a whole host of different designers.

As an introduction to amigurumi this really is the best starting place.  Other books will give you more patterns to follow and different styles to emulate, but no other book provides such a creative starting point, and wealth of amigurumi ideas and avenues to explore.

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