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Book Reviews: 20+ Crochet Stitch Guides

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My recent freeform project – inspired by my Year of Projects goal to work my way through Crochet Master Class: Lessons and Projects from Today’s Top Crocheters and the Crochet Liberation Front’s July freeform CAL – has reminded me how much I love my stitch guides.  I use them for inspiration for my own projects, to come up with techniques or projects to teach my crochet students, and for designing patterns.  I have quite a few in my collection (over twenty!) so I thought I’d share my thoughts on each one (listed alphabetically).  Since this is such a long post, I thought I’d reward you for reading it by offering a giveaway at the end! Read on for details…

63 Cable Stitches to Crochet
by Darla Sims

Summary: 63 different cable patterns which can be made into a sampler afghan, with directions for edging, assembly, and border.

What I like:

  • The special stitches are described within the pattern so you don’t have to do a lot of flipping to the back of the booklet.
  • The booklet lays flat, so you can easily read and crochet at the same time.
  • The booklet is more affordable and lightweight than a book.
  • There are more cable patterns included in this booklet than you would likely find in a thorough stitch guide.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • The sampler is made in an off white color, so it is hard to see some of the stitch detail in the photographs.
  • Since the booklet is really a sampler project, and not a stitch guide, you aren’t given stitch multiples but rather the number of chains to start with for a 7″ block.  (A little “reverse engineering” is required if you want to adapt the stitches for another project of a different width.)
  • The pattern difficulty rating is only listed for the sampler project (intermediate), rather than for each stitch.
  • There are no stitch symbols, only pattern abbreviations.

Type: Booklet

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 4

63 Easy-to-Crochet Pattern Stitches
by Darla Sims

Summary: 63 stitch patterns (6 of which are squares worked in the round) to make into a sampler afghan, with instructions for edging, assembly, and border.  (Side note: I’d describe this as an “entry level” stitch guide designed for someone who isn’t quite ready to buy a stitch guide but who is tired of using the “same old” stitches.)

What I like:

  • The special stitches are described within the pattern so you don’t have to do a lot of flipping to the back of the booklet.
  • The booklet lays flat, so you can easily read and crochet at the same time.
  • The booklet is more affordable and lightweight than a book.
  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • Most of the stitches are pretty standard, so if you have any other stitch guides, there is likely to be a lot of overlap.
  • There is no pattern difficulty rating listed.
  • The font is fairly small.
  • There are no stitch symbols, only pattern abbreviations.

Type: Booklet

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 3 (if you already own a comprehensive stitch guide) or 4 (if this is your first stitch guide)

99 Crochet Post Stitches
by Darla Sims

Summary: Post stitches worked in 1, 2, or 3 color designs.

What I like:

  • There is a large, well lit photograph of each stitch in vibrant, colored yarn.  (This booklet is fun to flip through!)
  • A great range of stitch designs using post stitches.
  • The special stitches are described within the pattern so you don’t have to do a lot of flipping to the back of the booklet.
  • The booklet lays flat, so you can easily read and crochet at the same time.
  • The booklet is more affordable and lightweight than a book.
  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • Darla assumes you are always starting with a foundation chain, and it isn’t clear until reading through the pattern how many stitches are turning chains.
  • There is no pattern difficulty rating listed.
  • There are no stitch symbols, only pattern abbreviations.

Type: Booklet

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 4.5

101 Double-Ended Hook Stitches: Crochet (Crochet on the Double)
from Annie’s Attic

Summary: A stitch guide featuring double-ended (also known as Crochet on the Double, Crochetnit, Croknit, or Cro-hooking) crochet stitches.

What I like:

  • Color photographs show the front and the back of each stitch.
  • Clear instructions (with photographs) on the basic double-ended crochet stitch are included for beginners.
  • There aren’t many stitch guides available for double-ended crochet, so it’s mere existence is something I enjoy.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • Many different designers are included, and there’s a lack of consistency in instructions (e.g., purl stitch is also called pearl stitch).
  • The photographs are of variable quality.  Most are clear but there are quite a few which are fuzzy or very bright/low contrast.
  • Although this is a booklet, it doesn’t lay totally flat, so you do have to crack the spine to crochet and read at the same time.
  • There is no pattern difficulty listed.

Type: Booklet

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 4

101 Easy Tunisian Stitches

by Carolyn Christmas and Dorris Brooks

Summary: A stitch guide featuring Tunisian (also known as afghan or tricot) crochet stitches.

What I like:

  • The introduction includes photographs to guide Tunisian crochet beginners through the basic stitches and the different methods of hook placement.
  • The booklet is organized into five sections (Puffs, Pebbles, & Popcorn; Shell Stitches; Openwork Patterns; Cable & Post Stitches; and Pattern Stitches), making it easier to find stitches.
  • There is a large, well lit photograph of each stitch in vibrant, colored yarn.  (This booklet is fun to flip through!)
  • The booklet is more affordable and lightweight than a book.
  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.
  • There aren’t many English language stitch guides available for Tunisian crochet, so it’s mere existence is something I enjoy.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • There is no pattern difficulty rating listed.
  • There are no stitch symbols, only pattern abbreviations.

Type: Booklet or e-book (PDF)

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 4.5

Harmony Guides: 101 Stitches to Crochet
Edited by Erika Knight

Summary: A stitch guide on cards.

What I like:

  • Each card features a large photograph of the stitch or motif.
  • Both pattern abbreviations and stitch symbols are used.
  • The card format allows you to take a few stitches with you when you’re crocheting on the go, and also let’s you see the card while crocheting.
  • A table of contents card lists all of the stitches and the card number (so if you can remember the name and keep your cards in order…).
  • The special stitches are described within the pattern so you don’t need to look at other cards.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • Most of the stitches are pretty standard, so if you have any other stitch guides, there is likely to be a lot of overlap.
  • There is no pattern difficulty rating listed.

Type: Card box set

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 3 (if you already own a comprehensive stitch guide) or 4 (if this is your first stitch guide)

108 Crochet Cluster Stitches
by Darla Sims

Summary: Cluster stitches worked in 1, 2, or 3 color designs.

What I like:

  • There is a large photograph of each stitch.
  • A great range of stitch designs using cluster stitches.
  • The special stitches are described within the pattern so you don’t have to do a lot of flipping to the back of the booklet.
  • The booklet lays flat, so you can easily read and crochet at the same time.
  • The booklet is more affordable and lightweight than a book.
  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • Darla assumes you are always starting with a foundation chain, and it isn’t clear until reading through the pattern how many stitches are turning chains.
  • There is no pattern difficulty rating listed.
  • There are no stitch symbols, only pattern abbreviations.
  • It is difficult to see the detail on the stitches worked in the grey yarn.

Type: Booklet

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 4.5

Adventurous Stitch (Japanese)

from Nihon Vogue

Summary: 32 elaborate crochet stitch patterns, most of which use Tunisian crochet.

What I like:

  • There is a large, well lit photograph of each stitch in vibrant, colored yarn.  (This booklet is fun to flip through!)
  • Each stitch is shown in 3 versions, using different colorways and often different weights of yarn.
  • The stitches are quite unique and not likely to appear in other stitch guides you own.
  • Each pattern is shown using very large crochet stitch symbols.
  • The special stitches are shown with illustrations on the same page as the pattern so you don’t have to do a lot of flipping to the back of the booklet.
  • The booklet lays flat, so you can easily read and crochet at the same time.
  • The booklet is lightweight.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • There is no “glossary” of stitch symbols, so you will need to know the basics before picking up this book.
  • The text is all in Japanese, so if you have difficulty understanding an illustration for a special stitch, you are pretty much out of luck.
  • Because the booklet is imported, it costs more than you would normally pay for a booklet with only 32 stitch patterns.
  • There is no pattern difficulty rating listed.

Type: Booklet

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 3 (if you are new to stitch guides, this one is probably too difficult to use for the price), 4.5 (for a stitch guide fiend, this should be required reading)

Around the Corner Crochet Borders: 150 Colorful, Creative Edging Designs with Charts and Instructions for Turning the Corner Perfectly Every Time by Edie Eckman

Summary: 150 stitches, with instructions for turning corners on edgings.

What I like:

  • There is a large, well lit photograph of each stitch in vibrant, colored yarn(s).  (This booklet is fun to flip through!)
  • A great range of stitch designs for borders, many of which you are unlikely to have in other stitch guides.
  • The special stitches are described within the pattern so you don’t have to do a lot of flipping to the back of the book.
  • Each stitch includes both pattern abbreviations and stitch symbols.
  • There is a glossary and guide to stitch symbols in the back.
  • Many of the patterns incorporate different stitches, so that a multiple row border will not just repeat the same pattern each row.
  • Many stitches can be adapted for using throughout the project, rather than solely as a border.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • There is no pattern difficulty rating listed.
  • The binding doesn’t lay flat, so it is difficult to crochet and read the pattern at the same time.

Type: Softcover book

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 4.5

Crochet Patterns Book 300 (Japanese)

from Nihon Vogue

Summary: A stitch guide organized into different types of crochet stitches.

What I like:

  • There is a large, well lit photograph of each stitch.  (This booklet is fun to flip through!)
  • The stitches are organized into several sections.  I don’t read Japanese, but the sections are defined enough (e.g., cluster stitches) that you can easily find specific stitches.
  • Each pattern is shown using very large stitch symbols.
  • There is an illustrated guide to special stitch symbols in the back.
  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.
  • There are many stitches you are unlikely to have in your other stitch guides, including several pineapples.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • There is no pattern difficulty rating listed.
  • The binding doesn’t lay flat, so it is difficult to crochet and read the pattern at the same time.
  • The text is all in Japanese, so if you have difficulty understanding an illustration for a special stitch, you are pretty much out of luck.
  • Because the booklet is imported, it can be costly to order and ship.
  • About 20 patterns are in the back, rather than on the page with the photo, due to space constraints.  The patterns are numbered, but not in numerical order, so you have to flip around a bit to find these stitches.

Type: Booklet

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 4

Crochet Techniques
by Renate Kirkpatrick

Summary: 5 stitch sampler rug projects, including “classic” stitches, hexagon motifs, Jacquard squares, Tunisian crochet stitches, and double-ended crochet stitches.

What I like:

  • The book includes UK/Australian abbreviations with US terms in parenthesis, as well as stitch symbols, for each pattern.
  • There are illustrated instructions for basic as well as special stitches throughout the book.
  • There are joining suggestions for each project.
  • There is a large, well lit photograph of each stitch, as well as full project photos of each rug.
  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.
  • There aren’t many English language stitch guides available for Tunisian or double-ended crochet crochet, so it’s mere existence is something I enjoy.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • The “classic” sampler is made in an off white color, so it is hard to see some of the stitch detail in the photographs.
  • The pattern difficulty rating is only listed for each sampler project, rather than for each stitch, and is so vague (e.g., “average to advanced”) that it is almost meaningless.
  • The binding doesn’t lay flat, so it is difficult to crochet and read the pattern at the same time.

Type: Softcover book

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 4

Crochet the Complete Guide
by Jane Davis

Summary: A crochet reference guide including over 150 stitch patterns.

What I like:

  • The stitches are organized into 19 sections (Basic Stitches & Stitch Combinations; Shell Stitches & Shell Stitch Combinations; Chevrons, Ripples, & Waves; Stretched Stitches; Post Stitches; Clusters, Bobbles, & Popcorns; Ruffles & Cords; Leaves & Flowers; Blocks; Color Changing Rows; Colorwork; Bead Crochet; Edgings and Insertions; Lace Backgrounds; Filet; Irish Crochet; Snowflakes; Tunisian Crochet; CroKnit), making it easier to find stitches.
  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.
  • This guide includes many types of crochet not generally included in English language stitch guides (e.g., Tunisian crochet, double-ended crochet or CroKnit, bead crochet).
  • There is a photograph of each stitch on the same page as the pattern.
  • Each stitch includes both pattern abbreviations and stitch symbols.
  • The book has a spiral binding, allowing it to lay flat so you can read and crochet at the same time.
  • The book also includes other reference information and patterns.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • Some of the stitches are made in an off white color, so it is hard to see stitch detail in the photographs.
  • Many of the stitches are pretty standard, so if you have any other stitch guides, there is likely to be a lot of overlap.
  • There is no pattern difficulty rating listed.

Type: Hardcover book with spiral binding

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 3 (as a stitch guide), 4 (as an overall crochet reference book)

Crocheting for Pleasure
by Mildred Graves Ryan

Summary: A crochet reference guide with more than 50 stitch patterns plus sections on Tunisian crochet, hairpin lace, broomstick lace, Irish crochet, filet crochet, woven crochet, and medallions (motifs).  (Side note: This is a sentimental favorite for me, since I inherited it from my grandmother.  It is also the book that taught me how to do broomstick lace!)

What I like:

  • This book has the clearest illustrations I have ever seen.  Each stitch is illustrated and there are also many “how-to” illustrations.
  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.
  • This guide includes many types of crochet not generally included in English language stitch guides (e.g., Tunisian crochet, hairpin lace, and broomstick lace).
  • The book includes a range of interesting information for crocheters at all levels on fit, materials, reading patterns, construction, and blocking.
  • There is a section at the beginning for left-handers.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • There are only 13 color pictures in the book (of projects).
  • Most of the projects are stylistically very dated, since the book was published in 1983.
  • There is no pattern difficulty rating.
  • The binding doesn’t lay flat, so it is difficult to crochet and read the pattern at the same time.
  • There are no stitch symbols, only pattern abbreviations.

Type: Hardcover book

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 3 (as a stitch guide), 5 (as an awesome crochet book with great information, if you can handle the dated patterns!)

Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet

by Donna Kooler

Summary: A crochet reference guide with over 150 stitch patterns.  (You can read my full review of the book here.)

What I like:

  • The stitches are organized into 14 sections (Simple Combinations; Fans & Shells; Lace Patterns; Waves, Ripples, & Chevrons; Angled Patterns; Spiked & Crossed; Post Stitches; Bobbles, Popcorns, & Puffs; Tapestry, Jacquard, & Mosaic; Net, Mesh, & Trellis; Motifs; Filet Crochet; Edges, Edgings, & Insertions; and Tunisian Crochet), making it easier to find stitches.
  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.
  • Variants are included for many stitch patterns.
  • There is a large, color photo of each stitch.
  • This guide includes many types of crochet not generally included in English language stitch guides (e.g., Tunisian crochet and Jacquard).
  • Each stitch includes both pattern abbreviations and stitch symbols.
  • The book also includes other reference information and patterns.
  • There are illustrated instructions for left-handers at the beginning.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • There is no pattern difficulty rating.
  • The binding doesn’t lay flat, so it is difficult to crochet and read the pattern at the same time.

Type: Softcover book

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 5

Encyclopedia of Tunisian Crochet

by Angela “ARNie” Grabowski

Summary: A Tunisian crochet reference guide with, according to the back cover, over 400 stitches.

What I like:

  • There aren’t many English language stitch guides available for Tunisian crochet, so it’s mere existence is something I enjoy.
  • The stitches are organized into 16 sections (Basic Foundations; Double & Treble Stitches; Front Crossed Stitches; Back Crossed Stitches; Open Work & Lace; Shells, Fans, & Stars; Three Dimensional [Relief] Stitches; Cables, Ropes, & Braids; ‘Honeycomb’ Combos; 2 Stitch Honeycomb Combos; Basket Weave Patterns; True Checkerboard Patterns; Vertical Stripe Patterns; Horizontal Stripe Patterns; Diagonal Stripe Patterns; Zig Zag Stripe Patterns; and High-Low Honeycomb Combos), making it easier to find stitches.
  • The book is spiral bound, so you can read and crochet at the same time.
  • There are many tips that would help a beginner to Tunisian crochet.
  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • Most of the photos are grayscale and it is difficult to see stitch detail.
  • While there are photos of over 400 stitches, most of them are more like “recipes” than patterns (e.g., there will be pictures of 10 vertical stripes variations, and then on another page you will be given instructions about how to make a vertical stripe).
  • There is no discussion of finishing the final row of a Tunisian crochet project (sometimes called “binding off”).
  • While the stitch pattern section is well organized, it can be difficult to find information in the rest of the book and some sections appear unedited.
  • There is no pattern difficulty rating.
  • There are no stitch symbols, only pattern abbreviations.

Type: Spiral-bound book

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 3

Good Housekeeping The Illustrated Book of Needlecrafts
Edited by Cecelia K. Toth

Summary: A needlecrafts reference guide with over 50 crochet stitch patterns.

What I like:

  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.
  • There is a well lit photograph of each stitch in a colorful yarn on the same page as the pattern.
  • The book also includes other reference information and patterns about crochet and seven other needlecrafts.
  • The introduction includes photographs to guide crochet beginners through the basic stitches and the different methods of hook placement.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • There is no pattern difficulty rating.
  • The binding doesn’t lay flat, so it is difficult to crochet and read the pattern at the same time.
  • There are no stitch symbols, only pattern abbreviations.
  • The stitches included are pretty standard, so if you own many stitch guides, there will be a lot of overlap.

Type: Paperback book

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 3 (as a stitch guide), 5 (as an awesome needlecrafts reference book)

Harmony Guide to 100’s More Crochet Stitches and 300 Crochet Stitches (The Harmony Guides, V. 6)

vs.

The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches


I had to list these three together, since there is so much overlap!  All three are fairly comprehensive stitch guides, but you can find virtually everything contained in the two Harmony guides in the Ultimate Sourcebook, down to the exact same (poorly lit) photographs!

  • The Harmony guides include both pattern abbreviations and stich symbols, while the Ultimate Sourcebook uses only pattern abbreviations.
  • The Ultimate Sourcebook lists a pattern difficulty level for each stitch, as well as a rating of the drape produced.  This feature makes it my ultimate favorite stitch guide for teaching and designing, since it gives is an objective opinion about whether a certain stitch is, for example, intermediate or beginner.
  • All three books include a photo of the stitch and the pattern instructions on the same page and have an illustrated introduction to basic stitches in the beginning.
  • All three books divide the stitches into sections, so it is easy to find stitches.
  • None of the books lays complete flat (for reading and crocheting), but The Ultimate Sourcebook comes closest since it is a hardcover book.
  • If you had both Harmony guides, or The Ultimate Sourcebook, you would probably be in possession of every “standard” crochet stitch and motif out there.
  • The Ultimate Sourcebook has the added benefit of including a knitting stitch guide.

Type: Harmony Guides are paperback booklets and The Ultimate Sourcebook is a hardcover book

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 5 each for 300 Crochet Stitches and The Ultimate Sourcebook; 4 for 100’s More Crochet Stitches

Interlocking Crochet: 80 Original Stitch Patterns Plus Techniques and Projects
by Tanis Galik


Summary: A reference guide to interlocking crochet (also known as intermeshing or interlock filet crochet) with 80 stitch patterns.

What I like:

  • I don’t know of any other stitch guide focused on interlocking crochet, so it’s mere existence is something I enjoy.
  • Color photographs show the front and the back of each stitch.  The pictures use high contrast yarns so the designs are really clear.
  • There are many really interesting geometric patterns.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • There is an error in the basic instructions which can make the process quite confusing.  (Corrections for the book can be found on the author’s web site.)
  • Most of the stitches are done in the same yarns, which can make looking through the book a bit dull.
  • There is no pattern difficulty rating.
  • The binding doesn’t lay flat, so it is difficult to crochet and read the pattern at the same time.
  • There are no stitch symbols, only pattern abbreviations.
  • The colors used in the finished project patterns didn’t much appeal to me.

Type: Paperback book

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 4

Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework
(1979 edition)

Summary: A needlecrafts reference guide with over 70 crochet stitch patterns.  (Side note: You can tell this one is a classic because I inherited it twice – once from my grandmother and once through MC’s mother.)

What I like:

  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.
  • There is a clear photograph of each stitch on the same page as the pattern.
  • The book also includes other reference information and patterns about crochet and nine other needlecrafts.
  • The introduction includes illustrations to guide crochet beginners through the basic stitches and the different methods of hook placement.
  • The book more or less lays flat so you can read while crocheting.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • There is no pattern difficulty rating.
  • There are no stitch symbols, only pattern abbreviations.
  • The stitches included are pretty standard, so if you own many stitch guides, there will be a lot of overlap.

Type: Hardcover book

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 3 (as a stitch guide), 4.5 (as an awesome needlecrafts reference guide)

Textured Crochet: More than 70 Designs with Easy-to-Follow Charts
by Helen Jordan

Summary: A stitch guide with more than 70 textured stitch patterns.

What I like:

  • There is a well lit photograph of each stitch in colorful yarn.  (This booklet is fun to flip through!)
  • A great range of stitch designs using textured stitches.  (This is the only stitch guide I have which has a whole section on “three-fold fabrics” to use “the unique three-loop top of the half double crochet…”)
  • Each stitch includes both pattern abbreviations and stitch symbols.
  • There is a stitch symbol key on each page with any special stitches used so you don’t have to do a lot of flipping to the back of the booklet.
  • The book is spiral bound and lays flat, so you can easily read and crochet at the same time.
  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.
  • The book is small and portable.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • There is no pattern difficulty listed.
  • The stitches are so fun that I wish there were more!

Type: Spiral-bound hardcover book

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 5

Tricot Crochet: The Complete Book
by Rebecca Jones

Summary: A quirky Tunisian crochet (also known as tricot or Afghan crochet) reference guide with over 50 stitches.

What I like:

  • There aren’t many English language stitch guides available for Tunisian crochet, so it’s mere existence is something I enjoy.
  • The stitches are organized into 5 sections (Plain Tricot Patterns; Textured Patterns; Lace Patterns; Trebles & Cables; and Patterns Using Two or More Colors), making it easier to find stitches.  There are also several methods for Tunisian in the round.
  • The book is hardcover, and it lays flat so you can read and crochet at the same time.
  • There are many tips that would help a beginner to Tunisian crochet.
  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.
  • There are some great vintage yarn advertisements (late 1800s to early 1900s) in the “Coffee Break” section.
  • What the book lacks in production values, it makes up in character.  There are many cute drawings in the “stick figure” style throughout.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • Most of the photos are grayscale and it is difficult to see stitch detail.
  • There is no pattern difficulty rating.
  • There are no stitch symbols, only pattern abbreviations.

Type: Hardcover book

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 4 (4.5 if you are a Tunisian crochet “junkie”)

Tunisian Crochet Patterns 100 (Japanese)

from Nihon Vogue

Summary: Tunisian crochet stitch guide.

What I like:

  • There is a large, well lit photograph of each stitch.  (This booklet is fun to flip through!)
  • The stitches are organized into several sections.  I don’t read Japanese, but the sections are defined enough (e.g., dimensional stitches) that you can easily find specific stitches.
  • Each pattern is shown using large stitch symbols.
  • There is an illustrated guide to special stitch symbols in the back.
  • Stitch multiples are included so that you can easily adapt the stitches for a project of a different width.
  • There are many stitches you are unlikely to have in your other stitch guides.

What I don’t like (or what’s missing):

  • There is no pattern difficulty rating listed.
  • The binding doesn’t lay flat, so it is difficult to crochet and read the pattern at the same time.
  • The text is all in Japanese, so if you have difficulty understanding an illustration for a special stitch, you are pretty much out of luck.
  • Because the booklet is imported, it can be costly to order and ship.

Type: Paperback book

Overall rating (out of 5 stars): 4.5

If you’d like more reviews on stitch guides from the pros, check out this article about stitch dictionaries from Crochet Insider.

The Giveaway

I’m giving away my almost new copy of 101 Stitches to Crochet (reviewed above).  I bought it on sale at Home Goods and since it was sealed in plastic, I didn’t realize that I have most of the stitches in my stitch guide collection already :(.  I have unwrapped the plastic and looked through each stitch, but it looks brand new otherwise.

An interview with crochet’s queen regnant, Gwen Blakley Kinsler

This post contains affiliate links.

I’m excited to be joined today by Gwen Blakley Kinsler, founder of the Crochet Guild of America, as part of my ongoing series about teaching needlecrafts. I met Gwen (online, of course) in the Crochet Instructors Lounge group on Ravelry.  In addition to being a nationally known crochet teacher, Gwen is a designer, a crochet artist, author of Crocheting (Kids Can Do It), and the editor of DRG’s Talking Crochet newsletter.

Gwen, also known as Crochet Queen, can be found on her website, her blog, her Flickr photostream, her Facebook page, her Twitter page, or on Ravelry (as crochetkween or in her Rav group, Cro-Kween Designs).  She is a proud lifetime member of the Crochet Guild of America.  (All images in this post are viewable on Gwen’s Flickr photostream and are used with her permission.)

Gwen, the Crochet Queen (or Kween, as the setting dictates).

Underground Crafter (UC): What first inspired you to teach crochet?

Gwen: My passion for crochet got me started.  In 1982, I had two little children and decided to offer crochet classes at a local park district.  It was something I knew a lot about and cared about and it got me out of the house a little bit.

Gwen’s “garden path rock.”

 

UC: Has teaching crochet impacted your own personal crafting?

Gwen: Oh, most definitely!  I learn so much from my students.  I keep my ears open and listen to what they share.  There is often crossover in their interests in crochet and other crafts.  I think mixed-media work is the “hot” new thing right now and it is my new “frontier.”  (UC comment: Gwen has some very interesting mixed media work for sale on her website.  In particular, I was struck by her pieces incorporating photos of Frida Kahlo and prints of Kahlo’s paintings.)

UC: Do you have plans for expanding your teaching?  What goals do you have for the next year?

Gwen: I plan to search out a new venue, such as a fiber fest or sheep and wool fest.  I like teaching at venues that are bi-stitchural.  The students come with good handwork skills and also a sense of mystique about how to crochet.  I like to birth new crocheters into the world!  (UC comment: Note to self: Now I will have to find some sentences to use “bi-stitchural” in… here’s my first one:  In addition to Gwen’s classes at various regional and national venues, she teaches at her local bi-stitchural yarn shop, Fuzzy Wuzzy Yarns.  If you are in the Chicago area, stop by for one of Gwen’s bead crochet, flatwork bead crochet, symbol crochet, or crochet socks classes this fall.)

Gwen will also be teaching “Bead Crochet Basics” as a Market Session class at Stitches Midwest.

UC: What are your favorite things to teach?

Gwen: Bead crochet and freeform crochet.

Another example of Gwen’s freeform work.

UC: What are you hoping no one will ask to learn? 🙂

Gwen: Fridgies!!  (UC comment: Gwen and I must be kindred spirits.  We both love to crochet, we appreciate the work of Frida Kahlo, and we are both, er, um, disinterested in fridgies.)

UC: You are a CYC certified crochet instructor.  What did you find most useful about the program and how did it prepare you to teach?

Gwen: I have been CYCA certified since 1996 and it is kind of hard to remember what was most useful.  Back then, the teacher came to us and it was a group class and 2-day session.  I think the manual and the practice teaching, plus the use of the certification beside my name, have been the most useful.

There is still work to be done, though.  No one ever asked me if I am certified or otherwise qualified in any way in all the places I have taught.  I think CYC needs to promote the importance of teachers who are certified and educate the venues to expect this level of quality in the teachers they hire.

UC: You founded the Crochet Guild of America (and, as a member, let me say thanks!).  Tell me about that.

Gwen: I was at the right place at the right time with a little entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance thrown in for good measure!  I wanted to be able to share and to be part of a group with other crocheters.  I wanted to learn from experts.  I had a crochet party and 90 crocheters came to the first conference (1994).  Those in attendance voted to create a national organization.  More details are at www.crochet.org.

Gwen’s “Alan rock.”

UC: What advice do you have for emerging crochet professional designers and teachers?

Gwen: Do your homework and don’t jump in before you are ready.  Hone your crochet skills and specialize in one aspect of crochet and strive to make a name for yourself in that arena.

Bead crochet is one of Gwen’s teaching specialties.

Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Gwen!  In addition to the two Market Session classes mentioned above, Gwen will also be teaching Irish Crochet on Steroids and the Posh Post Stitch at STITCHES Midwest in August.  If you are in the area, you should check out one of these classes and support crochet at the STITCHES events.

Blurring the distinctions: An interview with LUKE, quilt artist

I recently discovered the work of LUKE Haynes through this post in Katharine Watson‘s blog, The Printing Press.  I contacted LUKE after reading Katharine’s post and checking out his website, and he graciously agreed to an interview.

For those of you who aren’t already familiar with LUKE’s work, he is an architect turned quilter.  LUKE’s background includes strong preparation in art and design which he uses to make quilts to “discuss utility in aesthetics.”  Like all quilters (that I know at least), he loves fabric.  He works with a lot of upcycled and repurposed materials and his website references the Quilters of Gee’s Bend as an influence.  Currently, LUKE is living in Washington State, but he was once a resident of my dear City and even attended the illustrious Cooper Union for graduate school.  His work has mostly been displayed in fine arts settings and textile museums, but he has also exhibited at quilting venues.  In addition to his website, LUKE can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Etsy, and Flickr.  (All the pictures I’ve posted here have been used with permission and are available for viewing on LUKE’s Flickr photostream.)

Self Portrait #2, Tradition

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to quilt?

LUKE: I faked it.  I started my first quilt in Arts school during a break from classes and went from there.  I took a sewing elective in middle school and learned a bit about sewing then, so I had a working knowledge around a machine.  I have also been knitting and crocheting for a lot of years, which adds to craft dexterity. (UC comment: LUKE’s sewing class sounds as useful as my middle school typing class.  I’m not sure I would have made it through college without it, and I certainly wouldn’t be writing a blog now!)

American Nostalgia #3, Abraham Lincoln

UC: You describe your recent work as being an investigation of nostalgia and function.  Tell me more about this and why you are working as a quilt artist.

LUKE: Quilts have implicit nostalgia in them.  I have found that more and more as I work with fabric and get responses from viewers, all art has within it a certain nostalgia for the artist.  They imbue the work with some idea or question which is then evocative for them in the future.  I want that to extend to the people who see my work.  I want to call memories and tactile experiences into mind as people experience my works and exhibitions.

The function is actually a means to that end.  An object with implicit function can call to mind its use.  You know intuitively and subconsciously what a blanket feels like and its importance in your everyday.  Clothes and fabric are the same.  So when those items are used as the media for an exhibition, you as the viewer have an existing response to the materiality.  This is the same way for me as the maker, which breaks down the gap between artist and viewer.

Gifts #17, Micala

UC: Do you quilt as a hobby as well, or do you have other creative pursuits in your down time?

LUKE: I quilt for myself and friends and family, though I wouldn’t describe it as a hobby as any project I make is a furthering of my own work and knowledge of the media.  (I haven’t had down time in a lot of years, though I would say that there are other projects that I create that are tangential to quilts, like rugs and clothes and installations.)

(UC comment: In retrospect, the intent of my question wasn’t that clear, but LUKE’s answer seems to get to the point.  Those of us who work at a craft are always creating and learn through everything we make.)

Man Stuff #1, Hammer

UC: What are your favorite quilting/sewing tools?

LUKE: I enjoy a lot of the process, but I would have to say that my favorite tools are the ones that have changed my method and helped me make better and faster work: the roller cutter and the long arm sewing machine.  Those two tools have streamlined my process and added years to my life I would have used with scissors or a domestic machine doing the tasks (that) those make easy and quick.  (UC comment: I have long dreamed of owning a long arm quilting machine, but alas I live in a New York City sized apartment.)

Bed Clothes #1, Log cabin reverse (made with upcycled clothes seamed outside)

UC: Where do you find your creative inspiration?

LUKE: From other designers I appreciate, or in my own experiences as a person or a practitioner of the creative process.

Causes #1, Bra (for Simplicity Creative’s breast cancer awareness campaign)

UC: What are your favorite techniques to use?

LUKE: I don’t have a favorite.  I have ones that I use to get a result I want at any given time.  I use any and all to execute to the best of my ability the project I am working on.

Flightless Birds #3, Penguin

UC: Do you have any favorite craft or art blogs or websites to share?

LUKE: I am a designer.  I draw most of my inspiration from the design community, so the ones I turn to are today and tomorrow and Design Fetish (All Things Design.  All Things Fetish.).

Self Portrait #6, Stitched

Thanks for stopping by for the interview, LUKE!  If you haven’t already, please check out LUKE’s website, his Etsy shop, his Flickr photostream, his Facebook page, or on Twitter to see more of his work and learn more about his inspirations and methods.

Interview with Margaret Hubert with Book Review

This post contains affiliate links.

This must be my lucky week!  Just four days ago, I posted an interview with Ellen Gormley.  Today, I’m excited to post an interview with Margaret Hubert.  If you have been crocheting or knitting for any length of time, you have probably come in contact with one of Margaret’s books or patterns.  This post includes my interview with Margaret and a review of one of her recent books, The Complete Photo Guide to Knitting.

The Interview

A few years ago, I learned that the New York Public Library allowed card holders to search for and request books from any branch.  These books would be delivered to your local branch for pick up.  I was surprised to find out that the libraries have a pretty good collection of crochet books.  It was about this time that I was first noticing the names of different designers.  I was introduced to Margaret through the Hooked series of crochet books that I checked out from the library and had great fun making her bags and hats.

Margaret is also one of the designers featured in Crochet Master Class.  According to her bio in that book, her career has spanned various aspects of the needlecrafts industry, including owning a yarn shop, owning a hand knitting business, teaching needlework, writing crochet and knitting books, and teaching at local, regional, and national crochet and knitting events.  Her blog bio mentions that she has also published cross word puzzles and is a member of a Shakespeare club which is over 110 years old.  You can visit Margaret’s website, blog, or Ravelry designer page for more information.

 

Margaret Hubert in one of her beautiful free form garments…
…and the Free Form Raspberry Jacket in all its glory!

Underground Crafter (UC): Who first taught you to knit and crochet?

Margaret: My mother taught me to knit at a very young age.  I do not even remember learning.  According to my Mom, I used to try knitting with 2 pencils, and she decided that she should teach me the proper way.  I learned to crochet when I was 19 from the owner of my local yarn shop. I had knitted a sweater that needed a crochet border.  My Mom said that she couldn’t help me as she wasn’t a very good crocheter, so I asked for help.  Mrs. B. put a crochet hook in my hands, taught me to single crochet, and I haven’t stopped since.

UC: Since you are multi-craftual, what is your favorite “go to” craft these days?
Margaret: I love both knitting and crocheting, which I do constantly. I also do some sewing, quilting, and needlepoint, but do not have a lot of time for much of this any more. My most favorite thing to do, is to combine both knit and crochet in one-of-a kind free form garments. In fact, I do a workshop teaching this method, and it has become my all time most popular class.
Margaret is teaching her Combination Free Form Crochet and Knitting class at the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival in October.
UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
Margaret: My garden and the woods surrounding my home have a lot of influence on my creativity. I love flowers and use them a lot in my work. Living in the North East, every season brings its own fabulous array of colors, which are my greatest inspiration. Spring with its pastels and greens in every hue, summer brights, colorful fall leaves in yellows, orange and red, and even winter, all are so beautiful.
This Floral Quilt highlights some of the beautiful flowers Margaret enjoys making.
UC: I recently retaught myself to knit after about 25 years of avoiding it.  I found your The Complete Photo Guide to Knitting to be a really helpful resource.  What tips do you have for people returning to knitting or crocheting after a long absence?
Margaret: My tip would be to start with something quite easy, with very little shaping and finishing, perhaps a hat or scarf.  I would use a smooth yarn in a medium weight. Once your brain and fingers begin to remember the motions, then you will be ready to tackle something a little more involved.
UC: What are your favorite crochet and knitting books in your collection (besides yours, of course)?
Margaret: I have seven of the Mon Tricot series of knit and crochet patterns that are so tattered and torn, but I love them and use them a lot. I also love The Batsford Book of Crochet by Ann Stearns, A Treasury of Knitting Patterns and A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker. There are many more, but these are my favorites.
UC: You’re teaching several crochet classes this summer at ChainLink in Minneapolis and at the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival in October.  What do you enjoy about teaching?
Margaret: Of all the hats that I wear, I love teaching the best. I love the enthusiasm of the students, I love the look on there faces when they “get it”, I love how  they like to share and send me photos of their finished projects. Whenever I am at a conference several attendees will come up to me wearing one of my designs, they are so proud and it never fails to excite me.  Most of all, I do love sharing my knowledge and doing my bit to keep the needle arts alive.
Margaret is teaching Learning to Master Bavarian Crochet, Finishing Like a Pro (Crochet), and Oops How Can I Fix That? (Crochet) classes at ChainLink in July…
…and Bavarian Crochet, Intermeshing Crochet, Combination Free Form Crochet and Knitting, Free Form Crochet, and Entrelac Crochet at the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival.
UC: Do you have any favorite crafting blogs or websites you’d like to share?
Margaret: I don’t have a lot of time to read many blogs, or even write many blog posts myself, but I do like to check out Lion Brand’s, Vashti’s and Crochet with Dee.
UC: (Insert your own question here.)
Margaret: If you were to ask me what I thought the most important thing that I could teach someone was, it would be how to properly check gauge and to instill in them the importance of checking gauge before starting any new project. It is so important that I can not stress it enough. It makes such a difference in the finished garment/item and there would be so much less frustration and disappointment.
I can’t agree with Margaret enough about the gauge.  Most of my students who struggle with patterns have it much easier once they begin to swatch and check their gauge! I know Margaret is a busy woman, between designing, writing, teaching, traveling, and the rest of her life.  Thanks for stopping by Margaret!  And now on to…

The Book Review

After about 25 years away from knitting, in the last year I decided to conquer my fears (of making enormous trapezoids) and start to knit again.  Perhaps my motor skills are better now, or I understand yarn and needlecrafts better, or I’m just more patient, but this time it “stuck.”  An invaluable tool that I picked up along the way was Margaret Hubert’s The Complete Photo Guide to Knitting.  I recommend it to my beginner knitting students and think it is a great resource for your knitting library for several reasons.

The book is organized into three major sections: Knitting Basics, Stitch Patterns, and Specialty Knitting Methods.  As the title suggests, the book is heavy on photographs and light on illustrations.  (Sidenote: I personally find it impossible to learn anything new from an illustration, but can use illustrations as reminders for techniques I’m already familiar with.)  Margaret opens with a brief history of knitting, and then jumps into the Knitting Basics section.  This section includes a review of tools, pattern abbreviations, and provides an explanation of how to read patterns in addition to the abbreviations.  At this point, the book jumps into various techniques for casting on (5 options), forming the knit and purl stitches (2 methods each), and binding off (3 options).  Each technique includes multiple, large photographs which are clearly lit.  Margaret then goes on to display several shaping methods.  This is followed by knitting in the round, again including photographs with double-pointed needles, one circular, and then two circular needles.  As you might guess from the interview, Margaret also emphasizes gauge!  There is also a nice piece on finishing.  This section has many photographs, but the text is rather brief.  If you are a visual learner, this is probably an ideal reference book for you.  If you learn best from reading descriptions of the process, this section is lacking some detail that you might need.  For example, there is no discussion about choosing yarn, or how to hold the needles, or the usual debate between the continental and the English knitting methods.

The next section, Stitch Patterns, is like having a stitch guide embedded in the book.  There are 185 stitch patterns, arranged by type:

  • Basic stitches,
  • Light textures,
  • Medium and heavy textures,
  • Laces,
  • Ribs,
  • Honeycomb and brioche stitches,
  • Eyelets,
  • Ripples and chevrons,
  • Slip stitches,
  • Color combos,
  • Motifs, and
  • Cables.

I love the way the stitch patterns are organized – like most knitters/crocheters, I hate seeing a wonderful stitch and then never being able to find it again.  There is also a difficulty rating for each stitch (using the Craft Yarn Council standard skill levels).  The swatches are beautifully photographed and are quite large, so you can see the detail.  The colors Margaret uses for her yarns are also lovely.  There are several project patterns in this section, generally following the type of stitch that is used in the pattern.  This section is worth the price of admission alone for me, since it is a great stitch guide.  However, if you are looking for stitch symbols, there are very few in this book – most patterns use abbreviations only. (The cable stitches in this section all include symbols though.)

The final section, Specialty Knitting Methods, introduces (or reminds!) the reader to (of) various techniques and includes at least one pattern along with a description of the method.  The methods included are:

  • One-Piece Knitting,
  • Entrelac Knitting,
  • Freeform Knitting (clearly one of Margaret’s favorite techniques!),
  • Crazy Lace Knitting (pattern by Myra Wood),
  • Knitting with Beads (pattern by Judy Pascale),
  • Intarsia Knitting (pattern by Sasha Kagen),
  • Twined Knitting (pattern by Beth Brown-Reinsel), and
  • Ouroborus Kntting (pattern by Debbie New)

The Crazy Lace, Intarsia, and Twined projects include charts in addition to pattern abbreviations.  As with the rest of the book, the projects are beautifully photographed and the colors and layout really bring the projects to life.  In the last section, the photographs are of the projects, not the methods for creating the projects.

Overall, I recommend the The Complete Photo Guide to Knitting to a beginner knitter looking for a book to “grow” into an intermediate knitter with.  I also recommend it as a stitch guide – it doesn’t have as many stitches as some guides, but the organization, skill levels, photographs, and yarn colors are superior to most on the market.  There are also projects included so you can try the stitches on something other than swatches if you aren’t at the stage of designing your own creations yet.  The photographs are great for visual learners.  On the other hand, there are few stitch symbols in the book, which didn’t bother me since I prefer pattern abbreviations, but I know that many knitters prefer symbols.  This is really a comprehensive visual reference rather than a thorough written treatise on knitting.  If you are looking for a wordy text, go for the Knitter’s Handbook.  Because of the visual cues, it is also a great book for a more advanced knitter who needs a quick photographic reminder (“Oh, right, that’s how to do the provisional cast on!”) before starting or while working a project.  I gave the book 5 stars.

Go Crochet! Afghan Design Workbook: Interview with Ellen Gormley and Book Review

This post contains affiliate links.

I’m thrilled to post an interview with designer and author Ellen Gormley.  I love crocheting afghans (in fact, at one point, I made nothing else for about 3 years straight!) and recently heard about her new book, Go Crochet! Afghan Design Workbook, on the Getting Loopy podcast.  I then read more about it through Ellen’s blog tour for the book.  Finally, I was convinced to part with my hard earned money and check it out.

This post is long, because I’m including my interview with Ellen and my review of the book.

The Interview

I’m having a hard time remembering the first pattern of Ellen’s which caught my eye, but I eventually began to notice that many patterns that I liked were written by her.  I love her afghan patterns, but Ellen designs many other things as well which you can see on her Ravelry designer page.   Ellen has been a designer for about seven years and, according to her blog, is also a mom and a lover of chocolate (who isn’t!) and Jazzercise (er, um…).

Ellen Gormley

UC: How did you get started designing?
Ellen: I had made 2 blankets for a friend’s wedding… his and hers mirror images, one was gray with white for him, and one was white with gray for her.  I had so much fun using the technique that I went ahead and practiced making the strip technique into rectangles.  It became the first pattern I ever sold, to Leisure Arts, in 2004. I never saw where the finished blanket ended up. When I sold the very first project I had ever designed, I knew I was on the right path and began truly researching how to make it a business.

UC: When I first became a CGOA Associate Professional member, you were the person who assigned me to my mentor, Mary Nolfi.  Tell me about how you became involved with the CGOA mentor program, and some of the benefits of having a mentor.

Ellen: I searched for crochet on the internet and found the Crochet Guild of America.  When I found out that there was a mentor program, I knew I needed the resource. Tammy Hildebrand was assigned to be my mentor. Soon after that, she became the Mentor Coordinator.  During our work, she had a personal crisis come up and asked if I would help her out temporarily with the Mentor Coordinator tasks.  Later, when it was time for her to move on from the position, she asked if I would take over, considering I had already learned the ropes when I had helped her.

Recently, I passed the torch to Renee Barnes, who is the current Mentor Coordinator.  The program is great because it gives a one-to-one contact for the burgeoning professional to get a ‘reality’ check and ask for guidance.  Still, no one can build your career for you, and the Mentor is there to support and encourage you along the way.

(UC comment: The CGOA mentoring program is really a wonderful opportunity for anyone attempting to enter the crochet industry.  Yes, there are other more informal resources such as the Ravelry Designers group available.  But having a one-to-one relationship which is private and not on a public forum really can’t be beat in my opinion.  The best part is as the mentee, you are really expected to guide the process by asking questions, providing updates, etc., rather than sit passively while your mentor does all the work!)

UC: Crocheters and afghans (and crocheted afghans) sometimes get a bad rep.  When you’re designing afghans, do you feel additional pressure to break those stereotypes?

Ellen: In some ways designing afghans feels less ‘prestigious’ than designing garments; however, research shows that consumers make more afghans than any other type project.  Blankets fit without needing bust darts or specific measurements. They are awesome to give as gifts. You can take color risks with blankets that you might not want to take with a garment and blankets are easier to donate and are easier received than garments. Blankets are easier to hand down from generation to generation than garments. Blankets get used, which is the biggest compliment you can receive, to have your handmade item used.

UC: I recently bought a copy of your book, which I’m really enjoying.  What was the design process like for this book?

Ellen: Thank you!  I contacted the company with my resume and list of achievements and told them that I wanted to write the book.  I submitted the first several designs for them to consider. After the contract was signed, I started in earnest to design in batches of 8-10 motifs until all 50 were complete.  At the same time, I was noting which ones that I enjoyed the most that I would make into final projects.  Each motif had a hang tag and the editor would write comments about the color choice on the tag and return them to me.  On a few, we went back and forth with colors, sometimes even changing yarn brands until the right color combination was chosen.  Others we agreed on immediately. We wanted to have a bright, consistent color scheme, but at the same time knew we wanted a variety of styles to help every reader find something that appealed to them.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
Ellen: Generally it’s the yarn. Generally, I just grab the yarn and start and see what happens. Sometimes I start with goals or an idea of what I want to create.  I rarely “see” the finished project in my mind before I start.  I often see color combinations and patterns in clothes, wrapping paper, flowers, that inspire me.

UC: What is your favorite crochet book in your collection (besides yours, of course)?
Ellen: I love books!  I have many, many books.  I love my The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs by Linda P. Schapper.  I go back to all my Encyclopedia type books, 101 Easy Tunisian Stitches, and The Encyclopedia of Crochet Techniques. There are too many good ones to list.

UC: Do you have any favorite crafting blogs or websites you’d like to share?
Ellen: I love Vashti Braha’s blog.  Of course I love Doris Chan’s blog. For a variety of crafts, I enjoy Brett Bara‘s Manhattan Craft Room. I just came upon Craftsy.com and I think the classes on there could be really worth seeing.

UC: (Insert your own question here.)

Ellen: People frequently ask me how to make crochet their profession and I remind them that it is a career. It takes study, it takes research. It’s not easy to get a book deal. Many very successful crochet designers have never written a book or wanted to write a book.  Be professional always. Never miss a deadline. Always tell the truth. Do work you are proud of. Learn from your mistakes. Every colleague you meet today could be an editor or publisher tomorrow, so use good manners.

Thanks so much Ellen for sharing this great advice and for taking the time to join me for an interview.  And now, on to…

The Book Review

Go Crochet! Afghan Design Workbook is a really fun book.  It is a great introduction to personalizing your own crocheted afghans and also features 50 different motifs and 10 projects.

The book is organized into three sections:

  • Ready…Set…Go Crochet!,
  • Motifs to Go, and
  • Afghans to Go.

There is also an appendix which provides information on yarn weights, hooks, and crochet terms including comparisons between the US and UK terminology.

Ready…Set…Go Crochet! has a nice introduction to supplies including things like digital cameras and blocking boards which aren’t on the standard list of tools included in most crochet books.  It also reviews pattern abbreviations and international stitch symbols.  There are a few pages explaining the stitches used in the book, complete with instructions and diagrams.  This includes the basic stitches (sc, dc, etc.) as well as clusters, popcorns, and several types of decreases.

My favorite part here is the six pages devoted to “Creating Your Own Designs,” where Ellen talks about pattern modification, color, layout, and assembly.

I love Ellen’s discussion of color and yarn selection.

As someone who teaches a lot of beginners, I really enjoy the conversational tone Ellen uses as well as the information she shares.  She anticipates a lot of the questions that beginners or those who are just becoming intermediates have about yarn, terms, etc.

Motifs to Go includes ten designs each in squares, rectangles, triangles, hexagons, and octagons.   Each motif includes a small introduction about the pattern or colors by Ellen.  The colors are vibrant and the pictures represent the blocks well.

I particularly like that each motif includes five potential “Mix and Match” partners – especially since the partners are not always the same shape!

Before the patterns for the motifs of a particular shape, Ellen has a page which discusses – and illustrates – different potential layouts for blankets using that shape.  This is one aspect of the book that I think really separates it from other similar books.  For example, in Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs by Edie Eckman, you would find more motifs and equally great information about color and various techniques.  However, if you were trying to piece together an afghan from the different shapes, you would suddenly be presented with watercolors, which might make it tough for you to visualize a final project if you are a relative beginner.

From Edie Eckman’s Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs.

The final section has ten afghans using great color combos and different joining techniques to bring the patterns to life.

This isn’t a book where all the motifs will end up the same size or are easy to combine together – the All Call pattern, which includes every motif in the book, looks like it was a struggle to bring together!  If you are looking for a book like that, there are others on the market.  I definitely recommend Go Crochet! Afghan Design Workbook to anyone looking for another crochet motif book to add to their collection, to crocheters who want to branch out from following patterns completely to modifying patterns to personalize their finished projects, and to anyone who enjoys crocheting afghans.  In addition to all the content I’ve mentioned, the book is spiral-bound so you can lay it flat when working on a project, it includes a section on conversions from US to UK terms, there are both pattern abbreviations and stitch diagrams, and the motifs and blankets are beautifully photographed.  I gave the book 5 stars in my review.