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Today is National Wear Red Day, the American Heart Association‘s annual event to bring attention to women’s heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S. This year, Jimmy 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. Since I don’t have much red in my wardrobe, I thought I’d spread awareness by reviewing Crochet Red, instead. (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.
- 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
- 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 here. (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 pattern collections and who enjoys crocheting projects for women.