Book Review and Giveaway: Curvy Girl Crochet by Mary Beth Temple

This post contains affiliate links.

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!

Book Review

Curvy Girl Crochet

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 GravesSkirt 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.

Blogiversary and A Tour Through Crochet Country!

Today marks my two year blogiversary, and I’m one of the stops on A Tour Through Crochet Country!  If you haven’t been following along, this is a wonderful blog tour organized by Crochetville.  The tour features over 50 Associate Professional or Professional members of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA).

Click here for the free pattern for the Recantgular Sampler Blanket.

If you’re new here, welcome!  I’m a crochet (and knitting) teacher, designer, and blogger.  In addition to sharing my own projects and news on my blog, I also do a lot of interviews (I’ve even won a few awards) and book reviews.  I’m really honored to be part of A Tour Through Crochet Country.  To celebrate National Crochet Month and my blogiversary, I’ll be sharing a free pattern below.  But first I’d like to talk about how important the CGOA has been to me.

As many of my regular readers know, my grandmother taught me to crochet.  After she passed away in 2007, I didn’t have any important people in my real life to talk with about crochet.  Through my membership in CGOA and my involvement in the CGOA Professionals listerv, I’ve had the chance to virtually meet many wonderful crocheters who share the same passion for the hook as I do.

Me and my grandparents, at about the age when I learned to crochet.
Me and my grandparents, at about the age when I learned to crochet.

Back in 2009, I had the honor of being introduced to a wonderful mentor, Mary E. Nolfi, through the CGOA mentoring program.  When I was first exploring design, Mary guided and encouraged me.  Her primer is a great intro for aspiring crochet designers.  I still remember my excitement at emailing her when my first designs were selected for publication.   I’m also grateful to Michelle Maks, yesterday’s stop on the the tour, for taking a chance on me when she was the editor of Crochet World.  I’m thrilled to have another mentor, Marty Miller (March 13’s stop on the tour), who is helping me explore tech editing.

Now I’m paying it forward by volunteering to write book reviews for the CGOA newsletter and blog, and by serving as a mentor to another designer.

My first designs, published in Crochet World in 2010.

And, of course, CGOA membership has other benefits, even if you aren’t a professional (or aspiring professional) in the industry.  You get a subscription to Crochet! magazine and discounts at national retailers as well as on CGOA educational offerings.  You can also participate in your local chapter.  (I’ve been a member of the NYC Crochet Guild for years and in addition to great monthly meetings where I can hang out with fellow crocheters, they also offer classes and local discounts.)

I’d like give a shout out to a some other CGOA members I’ve met (in real life or virtually) who have been very helpful to me in the past few years.

Vashti Braha (interview) has taught me so much through her Crochet Inspirations newsletter, which has also inspired me to keep experimenting! Kim Guzman (interview) is so generous with her knowledge online and is a great teaching author.  Juanita Quinones (interview) is a wonderful tech editor that is volunteering on the Home work project on Ravelry, which is giving a second life to vintage designs.  Mary Beth Temple (interview) is a very strong advocate for crochet and has been a professional inspiration.  Charles Voth (a.k.a. Stitch Stud) (interview) is a talented – and nice! – designer and tech editor who always shares so much of his knowledge with his fellow hookers online.

If you’ve made it this far, your probably asking yourself, “Didn’t she promise a freebie?”

Charity Crochet for Project Night Night – The Rectangular Sampler Blanket

Early in my career, I worked for an organization that provided temporary housing for hundreds of homeless families, so the tour’s featured charity, Project Night Night, is really close to my heart.  I wanted to create a project that was beautiful to look at but also fun to make.

blog Rectangular Sampler angle view

The Rectangular Sampler is a variation on the traditional granny square that incorporates a stitch sampler to keep things interesting.  There’s a granny rectangle, an alternating v-stitch, staggered puff stitches, and a fun edging.

blog Rectangular Sampler flat

Click here for the Rectangular Sampler Blanket pattern!

This makes a great stroller blanket or play mat, or even a baby or comfort blanket.  I plan to donate my sample to Project Night Night, and I hope you’ll consider making one to donate to Project Night Night or a local children’s charity.
Rectangular Sampler V st detail

I crocheted the sample with Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash in Pacific, Cordovan, and Alaska Sky.  None of these pictures really do justice to the Alaska Sky, which is a pale, sky blue.  I like using non-traditional colors for children’s blankets because I think it gives them a longer life cycle when they can be displayed in more settings.

blog Rectangular Sampler on chair

And now back to a A Tour Through Crochet Country

Here’s the schedule for the rest of the tour.  I’ve actually had the pleasure of interviewing several of the CGOA pros on this list, so I’ve also included the links to those interviews below.  I hope you will stop by and check out all the posts (and tutorials, giveaways, and discounts) the other participants have to offer.  Enjoy the rest of National Crochet Month!

March 1 Shelby Allaho

March 2 Ellen Gormley (interview) and Nancy Nehring

March 3 Phyllis Serbes and Mona Muhammad

March 4 Amy O’Neill Houck and Akua Hope

March 5 Mary Jane Hall and Lindsey Stephens (interview)

March 6 Edie Eckman and Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby

March 7 Jennifer Cirka and Annette Stewart

March 8 Andrea Graciarena and LeAnna Lyons

March 9 Dawn Cogger and Angela Whisnant

March 10 Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten and Renee Rodgers

March 11 Joy Prescott and Donna Childs

March 12 Pam Daley and Deb Burger

March 13 Tammy Hildebrand and Marty Miller

March 14 Jocelyn Sass and Jennifer E Ryan

March 15 Andee Graves and Kimberly McAlindin

March 16 Laurinda Reddig

March 17 Brenda Bourg and Susan Lowman for CGOA

March 18 Rhonda Davis and Tammy Hildebrand for CGOA

March 19 Julie Oparka and Cari Clement for CGOA

March 20 April Garwood and Mary Colucci for CGOA

March 21 Alaina Klug

March 22 Erin Boland and Jenny King

March 23 Margaret Hubert (interview) and Jane Rimmer for CGOA

March 24 Bonnie Barker and Marcy Smith for CGOA

March 25 Kim Guzman (interview) and Susan Huxley (interview)

March 26 Susan Lowman and Michele Maks

March 27 me! and Brenda Stratton

March 28 Kathy White and Lori Carlson

March 29 Amy Shelton (interview) and Donna Hulka

March 30 Linda Dean and Kristin Dragos

March 31 Karen CK Ballard and Gwen Blakley-Kinser (interview)