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Today I’m reviewing Crochet Compendium: The Ultimate Collection of Crochet Techniques, edited by Connie Ellison. I have recently updated my crochet book collection, which is why you are seeing so many book reviews! The Crochet Compendium is an interesting book for the crocheter who is looking to branch out and learn new skills. It is basically a compilation of many DRG crochet books. DRG’s Annie’s Attic books often feature an innovative approach to a crochet technique, or a re-introduction to a lost crochet art.
Crochet with fleece
Learn to crochet socks
Each chapter includes an introduction to the technique and one or two patterns. I happen to own two of booklets exerpted in this collection, Learn to Do Hairpin Lace and Learn to Crochet Socks the Toe Up Way! by Kim Kotary.
I compared the original books to see what is actually included in the Crochet Compendium. The Crochet Compendium includes the entire set of instructions for each of those two books, so I assume that it includes the full instructions for the other books in the compilation as well. The benefit of this, of course, is that you have all of the same technique/skill information in this one book as you would get from purchasing about fifteen or so booklets. In addition to saving you money, having the one book saves some room on the bookshelf and you can actually find it later since there is a name on the spine (which the booklets lack).
I’ve always found the DRG booklets helpful for explaining techniques because they use a combination of illustrations and photographs showing exactly where the hook should be placed. This book continues that tradition (because all of the content is previously published). The Crochet basics section would be helpful to a beginner crocheter and reviews the basic stitches as well as simple color changes and finishing techniques. This is definitely a book that a crocheter could “grow” with since many different skills are included.
On the other hand, you have one or two patterns for each technique instead of the 5-10 included in the original booklet. I tend to rely less on patterns and am more interested in learning different techniques (I have been crocheting for 27 years after all!), so I don’t personally have a problem with that aspect of the book. The patterns are typical of what you would expect from DRG booklets (i.e., primarily using medium/worsted weight yarns from big box stores, clear instructions, and not particularly groundbreaking from a style or fashion perspective). Again, this is alright for me but this isn’t the book for you if you are expecting trendy designs with luxury yarns (or fitted fashions with a lot of drape). Rather, it is a book that emphasizes technique with a pattern or two to help you apply the technique. If you are the type of crocheter that really needs to work through several patterns to get comfortable with a new technique, this book may not include enough patterns for you.
The booklets were thin enough to lay flat when reading so you would be able to look at photos and diagrams very easily when learning a new technique; in book form, it is actually rather difficult to do that. The hairpin lace section, for example, is near the center of the book. Hairpin lace is a technique that is increasingly popular and I imagine many readers may want to learn it first. You would basically have to damage the spine in order to spread the book out so you could read the instructions and look at the visuals while you work. Your alternative would be to keep flipping to the book, working on your crochet, opening the book up again, etc. This is no different than most crochet books, but it is a definite disadvantage compared to owning the booklets that are compiled in this collection.
Is this book a must-have? I don’t think so. Is it a nice addition to your crochet library? Probably. Someone who has been crocheting for while and likes to shop at Annie’s Attic may already have several of these booklets in his/her collection. If you are interested in learning many of the techniques featured in the book, there is a definite cost savings compared to buying each booklet (and some are out-of-print or difficult to obtain). From that perspective, the book would save you some money and you would probably be willing to deal with the binding (no worse than most crochet books, just not as easy to use as a booklet). The book would also make a nice gift for a crocheter who is trying to learn new things – it includes some of the hottest techniques and skills in crochet right now (e.g., broomstick lace, hairpin lace, symbol crochet, crochet socks, and tunisian crochet) as well as others which are really fun. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.