Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Angele Lumiere

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This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

Today, I’m very excited to interview Spanish crochet designer and blogger, Angele Lumiere.  You may have seen Angele’s designs on her Ravelry page or her French/Spanish bilingual blog, Le flux de la creativite.  You can also find Angele online on Ravelry, on Artabus, or in her DaWanda shop, L’Atelier d’Angele.  All images are used with Angele’s permission.

Angele Lumiere with some crocheted goodies.

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

Angele: Some of my earliest memories related to wool and crochet are of a small yarn store near my house.  There my mother bought wool for various knit clothing. The saleswoman helped her with knitting since she was not an expert. I keep fondly a red wool skirt from when I was 6 or 7 years old.

My mother taught me to crochet when I was 10.  My mother was taught by her ​​grandmother. I remember making dresses for our dolls together with my cousin.  Little by little, I taught myself more.  With some 1980s crochet magazines, I learned the symbols and how to interpret the charts.

Another woman was important, too — my husband’s grandmother.  She was a crochet expert who had worked for a textile company in the 1930s, crocheting garments. We shared our passion for crochet, and learned and shared many things together.

When I was a college student, and then, when I started working as a professor of philosophy, in my spare time, I crocheted to avoid anxiety and to relax.

Primavera bag design by Angele Lumiere.  (Click for pattern link.)

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Angele: I am by nature very curious and creative. I have always felt the need to create things with my hands. I try to be as creative as possible in everything I do. I do not like to repeat things in my work as a teacher of philosophy or as a painter (I also paint) or crocheter.

My crochet and my painting cannot be separated from my other passion, philosophy.   Philosophy is the creation of concepts and crochet and painting are the creation of visual sensations. For me, both to live and to create are essential. To quote Friedrich Nietzsche: “Without art, life would be a mistake.”

One day, I thought it would be interesting to share my crochet designs. I set the challenge to draw and explain my creations and patterns in three languages ​​(Spanish, French, and English), using international symbols to reach as many people as possible that are interested in crochet. My first pattern was a beret I posted on Ravelry in February, 2011.

Corinto purse design by Angele Lumiere.  (Click for pattern link.)

UC: You use a lot of circles and waves in your designs. What inspires you about these geometric shapes?

Angele: The geometric shapes are everywhere in nature. I love the harmony of nature and its beauty. I am inspired by the sea, the ebb and flow of the waves, flowing water, the leaves of plants and trees, dancing in the clouds…

To the Greek philosophers, the circle was a perfect figure because it has no beginning or end, and represents life itself.  I use circles and waves in my designs because they are natural and essential figures.

UC: Tell us about crochet in Spain. 

Angele: In Spain, at present, there is the same general interest in crochet and knitting that exists in other European countries, such as France or England, or in the U.S. There are no crochet magazines published in Spain, there are a few books (most are translations of American or English books), there is no major wool industry. It is considered a thing of grandmothers. This art is not valued, but even despised.

Unfortunately, grandmothers who knew crochet disappear before their daughters and granddaughters learned to crochet. It isn’t taught in schools. I admire the U.S. interest in the art of crochet and knitting. I find it really important to value creativity.

In the last 4 years, thanks to the Internet and access to French, British and American blogs, crocheters have emerged in small groups of interested people who struggle to spread this art. They have opened new stores that make wool and offer small workshops and classes.

In the main Spanish cities – Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, and Vigo – groups typically meet one day a week to share the passion of crochet and knitting.

I am part of a group that meets every Saturday morning.  The group includes women who are between 20 years and 66 years old. I like that there are young people who are interested in this art. Most of the material online is purchased from other countries, and most of the patterns that people follow are written in English.  Thanks to the people in this group, Valencia Knits, I discovered Ravelry.

There is no rivalry between knitters and crocheters in Spain.  On the contrary, we are woven together in a very nice and friendly way, and people teach each other and share many things.

Scarf/Stole/Echarpe “Granade” (click for pattern).

UC: Many of your patterns are available in Spanish, French, and English, and some are charted with international stitch symbols. Your blog is in Spanish and French. Tell us about your decision to offer multilingual patterns and write a bilingual blog. 

Angele: Over 3 years ago, I created my blog because I had the need to share my creations and I felt very isolated.

I decided that the blog was bilingual: Spanish and French. In Spain, as I have explained before, there were no crochet blogs. I speak French and I knew there were a lot of crochet blogs in French. For example, I participated in and am a member of a blog specializing in crocheted grannies, Granny Mania.

Over 70% of the followers of my blog are from French speaking countries and 20% of my followers are Spanish-speaking fans.  I believe that blogs written in various languages ​​have many advantages.  They are a very rewarding.

Jaleo shawl by Angele Lumiere. (Click for blog post.)

UC: How do you share your love of crochet with others?
Angele: For two years, I’ve taught crochet to my fellow teachers. Working with adolescents as a young teacher is hard work that can produce anxiety and even lead to depression.  Female colleagues attend my class, once a week, and I share tips and crochet techniques. Crochet is good therapy for anxiety.

Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, said that “philosophy was the medicine of the soul.”  I think that crochet is, too.  It is a kind of “meditation” that helps us feel better and be happier. My colleagues and students enjoy the course and have made several blankets and shawls in the past. And, they keep doing new projects.

I have a friend who is battling cancer. I advised him to crochet. Crochet helps you feel better when you create beautiful works with your hands. (Edited to add UC comment: For more on the healing power of crochet, check out my interview with Kathryn Vercillo about her book, Crochet Saved My Life.) My friend gives her crochet creations to nurses, doctors and caretakers. She lives far from my hometown, but in the summer, we crochet together. This summer, I taught her to crochet mittens. Now my friend is excited, crocheting mittens for Christmas gifts for her daughters and friends.

UC: What are your future plans?

Angele: Another of my projects is to continue designing crochet patterns. I have many ideas for new scarves, shawls, and handbags.  I also started to learn to knit. I knitted two shawls of which I am proud.

And finally, in the future I want to write a book linking philosophy and crochet.

 

Thank you for stopping by for an interview, Angele, and sharing your perspective on crochet with us!

Interview with Deborah Atkinson (Snowcatcher)

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Do you ever stumble across a blogger or designer and wonder how it is that you haven’t seen her work until that moment?  This is exactly how I felt when I first saw Deborah Atkinson’s Snowcatcher blog.  I literally couldn’t understand how so much time had elapsed without me being exposed to her amazing snowflake patterns and jaw-dropping outdoor photography.

Deborah can be found online on her Snowcatcher website and blog, her Ravelry designer page, her Etsy shop, and her photo website.  All pictures in this interview are used with her permission.

Deborah Atkinson on her bike.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?
Deborah: My grandmother began teaching me when I was about 8 or 9, I think. I saw her making a beautiful lace table cloth, and I wanted to learn how to do what she was doing.

A Flake of Its Own pattern.

UC: What inspired you to start designing, in general, and designing snowflakes, in particular?

Deborah: When I was young, we couldn’t afford patterns. Or hooks, needles, yarn or thread, for that matter. I had a new little baby sister coming, and I wanted to make booties and cute little dresses for her. From the beginning, my grandmother had encouraged me to experiment with different shapes and stitches. My first pair of baby booties was something I came up with on my own, with no pattern, because I had no pattern, and I wanted to feel like I had some ownership in this new little baby coming into our home! I think I ripped the first bootie out about four times before I finally came up with something I liked. This process at that age also taught me to try to remember what I’d done so I could create a duplicate that matched perfectly, and it taught me to “read” my stitches.

Incidentally, my first hand-sewn dress for my baby sister was a pattern I made up, too. It didn’t fit her, but the bright pink and green flowered fabric was cute, and years later she used it on a doll.

I was attracted to my grandmother’s lace crochet, in particular doilies and round table cloths, since I was a young girl. She tea-stained her thread with real tea. She made a few snowflakes, too, and she stiffened them with sugar water. I loved the way her tiny, delicate snowflakes twirled on the Christmas tree.

My first purchased snowflake instructions were in Volume 9 of McCall’s Design Ideas Christmas Knits and Crochet, way back before the publishing date was included on the bottom of every page and before restrictions on how items made with the patterns could be used (or sold). The lone copyright information on the inside title page includes six different years from 1976 to 1982, so I assume this particular magazine was published in 1982, but the patterns originally may have been published in any of the regular, non-holiday issues before that. The snowflake patterns were designed by Sister Norma Gettelfinger back in a day when such credit was rarely ever provided (and other patterns in the magazine are not credited to designers), so we are very lucky to know the snowflake designer! These snowflakes were not stiffened, and there were some other things about the patterns I did not like, such as tri-picots that didn’t match on both sides. I also didn’t like slip stitching to the next point to start a new round, which always made the starting point bigger, bulkier and uglier than the rest of the points. I hated that and was always trying to come up with a way to get around that method of starting new rounds.

I made so many of Sister Norma’s snowflakes, I eventually memorized my favorite patterns, and after making too many of each one, I began modifying them to my own liking. I also began collecting every snowflake pattern or collection of snowflake patterns I could find. I didn’t want my snowflakes to be alike, so I searched for variety everywhere I could find it.

Several years ago, I found the remnants of a Snowflake Monday group on Yahoo, and I petitioned to join the club but never received a response. I’ve been told Noel Nevins, whom I believe may have started the group, had less and less time on the internet as the years went on, and I’m not sure anyone on Ravelry or Crochetville has heard from her in several years. I eventually found some of the group members on Ravelry, and I began participating in 2009, I think. Marikamum on Ravelry tried to keep the Snowflake Monday, or Snowmon, as it has become known, going on Ravelry and Crochetville for a while when the Yahoo group faded, and I eventually sort of tried to keep both groups active until my own leisure internet time became more limited.

Marikamum asked if I would share my patterns after I announced I liked the weekly pattern selections featured but wanted to do my own instead of the same flakes everyone else was making, and that’s how my own Snowflake Monday was born. I started my blog as a way to keep my family up to date and to share cycling training tips with other beginners and non-super-hero athletes. I had no idea when I started the blog it would become a snowflake pattern collection, but I’m delighted it did. Now Snowmon is a combination of passion and challenge; I sometimes wonder how long I can keep coming up with new ideas, and that’s what keeps me going.

Lollipop Snowflake pattern (one of my personal favorites).

UC: When do you make snowflakes? How do you find the time?
Deborah: I’m very fortunate to have access to public transportation, which gives me up to three hours per day on bad weather days to do whatever I want without interruptions, other than sardine-like conditions from time to time, fare checks and the occasional obnoxious passenger. This is when I do most of my crochet, knitting embroidery and hand-quilting. I’m also very fortunate my husband likes to do most of the driving when we travel, and he doesn’t mind if I work on stuff while he drives. I also try to make use of every unexpected free moment I may find. I work on snowflakes in waiting rooms, in long lines, even when I have to stand on the train because they are so portable, quick and mostly easy. I always have thread and hooks in my purse, and I generally carry something to work on in my backpack when I’m camping and on overnight cycling or backpacking trips.  (UC comment: As someone who also does a lot of my crocheting during my [much shorter] commute, I can completely relate to Deborah’s experience.)

From Deborah’s “The Wave” series of photographs.

UC: The outdoor photography on your blog is incredibly striking. Other than suggesting that we all move to Colorado, what photography tips can you share with the rest of us?
Deborah: Thank you! (blush!) I do think ALL snowflake aficionados should move to Colorado so we can have snowflake bees every Monday night together in the same room. Or maybe we could do a snowflake retreat in the mountains, and everyone can enjoy the very same mountains and wildflowers inspiring my creativity! Seriously.

I taught photography in college and in community education for a while, and I think one of the tips most of my students got the most from was from a demonstration my own professor, Ray Kissiah, gave during my first year of photography classes. He pulled out a dollar bill, cut a tiny circle out of the center and told us that’s what we were doing every time we took a photo and didn’t use every bit of the space in the frame. He said we see the little focusing circle in the middle, and that’s where we place our subject, and we don’t try to get closer, so we waste all the outside of the dollar. He encouraged us to spend the entire dollar, not just the center of it. I didn’t cut up money when I did my demonstrations, but I did cut up photos the very same way to demonstrate what he tried to teach.

Valentine Wave II pattern.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
Deborah: Literally everywhere. Tiles on the floor, wildflowers, real snowflakes, long miles of solitude while hiking, cross-country skiing or cycling, quiet moments, music, sparkles, danglies, new thread and yarn colors, new thread and yarn color combinations, paint swirls, rainbows, butterflies, snowflake books, Christmas advertisements and wrapping paper, red rock, quilts, quilt shows…

Hanging by a Thread, Deborah’s 2012 PDF pattern booklet to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

UC: This year, you are again offering a PDF version of your snowflake patterns in exchange for a donation to the National MS society. I think this is a truly wonderful way of sharing your work while also raising funds for a favorite charity. Can you tell us more about this project, and how you were able to organize it.
Deborah: We owe this to the economy. I’ve been doing the MS-150 since about 2002, and I would host an ice cream social at work to raise the required amount each year. Some years I did well, some years I had to put some of my own funds in, and I always bought the ice cream from my own money. Then the economy tanked, and the office where I worked laid off about 20% of the employees. I’ve never been able to raise enough money since then. What they say about desperation being the root of all creativity is true. I needed to come up with a way to raise more money, and offering a collection of snowflake patterns seemed like it might work, so I tried it, and it worked! I still do the ice cream social, and most of the portraits I do are on the barter system, with recipients contributing to multiple sclerosis instead of paying me, but most of my donations are coming from snowflakers.  (UC comment: I purchased Deborah’s pattern book last year, and it was fabulous, and I plan to do the same this year.)

Torreys Peak and Grays Peak from Deborah’s “Colorado Fourteeners” photo series.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?
Deborah: This may sound weird, but my favorite crochet books are snowflake books by Kenneth Libbrecht and W.A. “Snowflake” Bentley, which of course, have no crochet whatsoever. I can pick up any of these books any time and begin crocheting just by looking at the gorgeous photos. Of actual crochet publications, I probably enjoy the magazine Crochet Traditions and Linda P. Schapper‘s Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs most.

Torreys Peak Snowflake pattern.

UC: Do you have any crafty blogs or websites to share?

Deborah: Oh, my gosh, yes, but the list would go on forever. Most of my very favorites are listed on the sidebar of my blog, and what isn’t listed there is in my subscription list on my blog profile page. I also enjoy Crochetville and Ravelry when I have time, and would highly recommend both to anyone just getting started or wanting to go in a new direction. Both sites also are great for inspiration, support, resources, trends, hot topics, keeping up with needlework in the news, and friendship. There truly is a bond when people who are passionate about something get together, even if only online.  I also recommend the snowflake groups on Ravelry and Crochetville. Both are free and full of inspiration and support.

Thanks so much for stopping by Deborah, and sharing some of your passion for crochet and crochet snowflakes!

Awesome Crochet Blog Award! from Crochet Concupiscence

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Woohoo!  Kathryn from Crochet Concupiscence just awarded me her first Awesome Crochet Blog Award of 2011 for best interviews.  Kathryn is one of my favorite crochet bloggers and I check her blog daily for all the latest happenings in crochet.  I feel very honored.  Thanks Kathryn!

You can read all of my interviews here (and my interview with Kathryn herself here).

In celebration of receiving this award, I’ve picked out ten interview highlights.

By the way, Kathryn is hosting 31 days of giveaways and daily blog awards throughout December, so be sure to stop by her blog and check these out!  Thanks again, Kathryn, for the award, and thanks to all of the wonder artisans who have shared their time with me for interviews this year!

Blanket retrospective

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Barbara at Made in K-Town is hosting one of her awesome link parties, and this month the theme is crocheted blankets.  I was inspired to share some the blankets I made before I was blogging.

Way back in May, I posted about the project journal I used to use for my crochet projects before blogging.  Thanks to those lovely files, I have some great pictures of blankets from back in the day.  Be warned, these pictures were all taken indoors and I didn’t originally plan to share them with the world :).

2005

… was the year of the throw (a.k.a. lapghan) for me.  I had finally learned how to make a granny square (courtesy of a this free pattern from the JPF Crochet Club by Julie A. Bolduc).

This was my first project made by joining granny squares together.

I made this for my dad’s birthday.  I had never joined granny squares before so I hadn’t really thought about all of the ends that would need to be woven in.  I finished it on time, but was totally overwhelmed by the ends (48 squares, each with two yarn tails, plus I whipstitched the squares together with yet more yarn tails).  I actually took it back from him (yep, I did wrap it, ends and all, so I would have something to give!) and then let it sit in my closet for two more years until I was brave enough to attack the ends.  Since then, I’ve learned to weave in my ends as I go :).

I found the Lapghans pattern by Marilyn Coleman on the Coats and Clark website shortly thereafter, and took to making one-piece granny blankets.

A lapghan for my god daughter. My cat Yang, a.k.a. Mr. Cranky (rest in peace), had a way of working himself into the picture.
This one ended up as a Christmas present.

My first bedspread sized blanket was Garden Stripes by Aline Suplinskas in the Afghan Collectors Series from The Needlecraft Shop.

This was an engagement present. (Now that they are no longer together, I wonder what happened to it?)

I also made my sister a lapghan when she went away to college.  I used the Campus Colors pattern by Carole Rutter Tippett from Quick and Cozy Afghans.

Go Lords!

Believe it or not, these are just a few of the crocheted blankets I made in 2005.

Monet Pineapple

This is one of the patterns I fell in love with after 2005.

Monet Pineapple, circa 2006.

Monet Pineapple by Janie Herrin is one of my favorite designs in my beloved copy of 100 Afghans to Knit & Crochet by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss. I made several versions, but the one in this picture was a wedding gift.  It’s unfortunate that you can’t see the detail of the beautiful pineapples in my picture.

And, for good measure…

I’ve thrown in a picture of my favorite quilt.  I call it Log Cabin by the Sea.  This is the first first quilt I started (in November 2005), which I finally finished quilting in February, 2008.  I love it!  We sleep under it every night and it is super cozy.

What are your handmade favorite blankets?

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.