Friday, April 3, 2009

The Happy Hooker

Stitch'n'bitch The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller

Contents: A brief history of crochet - Tools of crochet - Making the basic stitches - More advanced stitches and How to add yarn - Increasing, decreasing and working in a circle - How to read a crochet chart and Fancy stitches - Color work and Filet crochet - Blocking and Sewing pieces together - How to read a crochet pattern and Abbreviations (the book covers a lot of ground so this is just a taste of the contents!)

ISBN: 0761139850 / 978-0761139850
Pages: 256
Language: English
Flickr search: debbie stoller + crochet
Buy it: amazon.co.uk - amazon.com - bookdepository - play

The first part of the book is all about the techniques. Everything is explained very clearly and simply. The pictures and diagrams are also very precise. The conversational style makes you want to give it a go. And it does a very good job in my opinion. I'd been trying to learn to crochet for a year until this book crossed my path and taught me to crochet. Just like that! Sort of.

It comprises pretty much anything a beginner 'hooker' could want to know - and quite a few things that the more seasoned one sometimes need to go back to.

The second part of the book is all about the patterns. For each project the first spread has a large picture of the final project and a page like the one above. There is a short introduction to the inspiration for each project (they are all designed by different designers), a sidebar with the measurements of the final project, description of materials (yarn, hook, notions), gauge and special stitches. The patterns are all very clear and fairly easy to follow -of course, if you've just learnt to crochet you probably won't jump straight onto a cardigan - start with a scarf or a shawl.

For each pattern there is also a diagram and/or sample pattern which is very helpful in instances where you can't get a grip on the written instructions. Knowing how to read a crochet diagram is very useful - luckily the book teaches this in part one!

A few examples of the projects to make; there's lots of variety and something for everybody (even the guys!): scarves and shawls, hats, bags, tops, bikini, accessories, softies and a sock monkey baby set. Some of the designers behind the patterns include: Julie Holetz, Camilla Engman, Cat Mazza, Linda Permann and Ileana Rodriguez.

If you want to learn to crochet, this is one of the best books there is. It covers everything you need to know. And when you've crocheted for a while you probably find yourself going back to it from time to time too brush up on stitches or other that you don't use regularly. This is definitely a book that your personal crochet library won't be complete without.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

200 Ripple Stitch Patterns

200 Ripple Stitch Patterns: Exciting patterns to Knit and Crochet for Afghans, Blankets and Throws: Textured Blocks to Knit and Crochet for Afghans, Blankets and Throws - by Jan Eaton.

Contents: Introduction - How to use this book - Colour - Texture - Yarn weight - Stitch collection - Projects - Knitting techniques - Crochet techniques - Yarn directory - Index

ISBN: 184543112X / 978-1845431129
Pages: 128
Language: English
Flickr search: jan eaton + ripple
Buy it: amazon.co.uk - amazon.com - bookdepository

First of all, it should be noted that there are not 200 patterns in the book, "only" 100. The 200 in the title is the 100 patterns + a colour variation for each pattern. Of course, using different yarns or colours can definitely make a great difference in the look and feel of the final outcome. (but that still doesn't make it 200)

Secondly, seeing as we focus on crochet, it should also be pointed out that half of the patterns are for knitting. So if you only crochet, you will only get half the options. But if you "swing" both ways, you can get the maximum use out of this book!

There is a range of difficulty levels: Easy, Intermediate and Difficult. There is a nice introduction to yarn weight, tension and comparing swatches. This will of course mostly be relevant to someone fairly new to working with yarn. But useful just the same.

The "crochet techniques" in the back of the book includes "making a slip knot", "turning chains" and "working into the front and back of stitches". Basic things, so you could use the book to teach you to crochet.

Other than the stitch patterns themselves, there are also a handful of actual projects to make, for example a wrap, a scarf and the stash afghan in the picture above. For each of these projects there is one pattern outlined, but also suggested alternatives.

Each page has a large picture of a swatch of the pattern, the pattern itself (including special abbreviations), a smaller picture of the variation on the pattern with suggested yarn sequence. In the top corner there are 2 symbols telling you that it is a crochet pattern (hook, or needles for knitting), 1-3 balls of yarn to tell you the difficulty. Which is quite helpful for a quick at-a-glance information.

If you want to recreate some of the patterns exactly there is a complete yarn directory at the back of the book, which is a nice touch.

The book essentially does what it says on the tin; except that there's only half the amount of patterns. If you make a lot of afghans/blankets and are looking for new patterns, this book would be very useful. But if you just want to make the odd ripple blanket, perhaps take this book home from the library first. Then, get hooked on ripples and buy the book for your personal library!