by James Walters
The book starts out with the basics of how to crochet, which was wonderful for me as I had never really got the hang of it before. Now it seems too easy!
Further chapters continue with how to read patterns and their little acronyms, technique, basic stitches and variations. I have to admit that I was attracted to the book by the design of the sampler stockings pictured on the cover. The bodysuit pictured on page 7 would be a tempting project as well, though there are few places that it might be appropriate to wear it!
A little history of crochet is given and followed by encouragement to look at possible clothing ideas with new eyes, to see that nearly anything can be done with crochet. If a craft book can be mind-expanding, this is the one. There is even advice to adapting patterns to left-handed workers. Simple practice exercises are suggested and we are assured that we don't have to manage perfection on the first try. The book seems more personal than your average craft instruction book, almost like a friend with a lot of patience is there to teach you.
After going through double, treble and half stitches as well as problems that might arise, we're shown how to make a basic fabric and how to work in rows without turning to achieve different textures. Variations in the base chain follow and suddenly we are able to make a circular design!
We get Granny squares of course, plus variations, how to work to a shape and splicing ends. Reading patterns comes after mastering the stitches and tensions, illustrated by simple diagrams of the shape of the fabric intended. Then we get into my favorite bit, embellishments. This is where the fancy stitches happen.
Some beginner patterns are offered, yet these are lovely! Not the simple round or square shapes that you usually see. From there we're thrown into a world of making shapes within shapes on a fabric and ready to make what looks like advanced projects, yet they have been made easy by the progression of the earlier part of the book and the exercises given. It's almost too easy.
This will probably be the only crochet book I will ever need, unless I want specific patterns from another source. I'm very impressed with the ease with which I've been able to follow the instructions to learn a craft that had eluded me before. The zaniness of the patterns that are given and the emphasis on interesting textures really appeals to me. It even shows how to make a wall picture in crochet, along with doilies that are far more interesting than the usual ones you see on grandma's side table. The little stars really interested be as well, as it's a favorite shape for me.
There's a section on finger crochet which I haven't tried yet, but looks fairly basic. One thing I didn't expect was the instruction on how to make pieces of fabric that allow for darts, so that you can shape a garment as you would in sewing. There is more about how to create the shapes you want than specific patterns, but those patterns that are provided are off the beaten track and the finished projects would impress any needleworker, though they aren't as hard to do as one might assume. Fancy edgings, covered button and button holes as well as woven crochet, which I had never heard of before are all included as well as information on different types of wool to work with.
The hanging crochet chair in the back really blew me away. All things considered, this is the most complete book on the craft of crochet that I can imagine and I'm really pleased to have found it. Easy 5 stars out of 5.