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Today, I’m excited to review Curvy Girl Crochet by Mary Beth Temple. I actually received a review copy of this book from Taunton before I interviewed Mary Beth at Vogue Knitting Live last January (egads!) but life got in the way of me finishing the book and writing the review.
To reward you for the long delay, I’m also offering a giveaway today!
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 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 here) 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. (You can check out my interview with Charles here.)
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 this book was provided by the publisher. Although I accept free books for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. This also post contains affiliate links. You can read my affiliate and review disclosures here.
Giveaway Are you ready to win your copy of Curvy Girl Crochet, courtesy of Taunton Press? This giveaway is open to all readers with a shipping address in the United States. Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, January 18, 2014.