Thursday, November 01, 2007

Half-assed Book Review: Everyday Crochet

i learned to crochet when i was 12 or 13, due to excessive boredom. i made a lot of dishcloths and afghans. i crocheted a few winter accessories and maybe even a toy or two. but whenever i'd attempt to make a sweater, it always turned out to be a hideous disaster, mostly b/c the available patterns i had access to were quite ugly, and also because i had no idea how to go about creating my own.

Today, there are starting to be more options for wearable crochet clothing, though in my opinion we still have a long way to go. Doris Chan's book, Everyday Crochet, is leaps and bounds above many other books i've seen.

The patterns are all top-down raglans. I can see how this could be a negative but it's not a bad place to start. the patterns are organized by type (tanks, pullovers, cardigans, vests, jackets, and accessories) and each type has a basic pattern with variations in body and sleeve length, or adding collars or different closures, etc. most of the patterns use either DK or worsted weight yarns. All of the patterns use some variation of a shell stitch. Chan explains in the book why she chooses the shell, but to me it's a bit limiting and would probably get boring after awhile. She also explains that it's not easy to substitute other stitch patterns and it would take more space than she has to offer this information, but in a perfect world it would've been helpful, nonetheless.

she offers a pretty broad size range, though the book is more limited at the smaller end of the spectrum. at least one pattern has the smallest bust size as 34", which is too large for me. Chan also does not include waist shaping in any of the patterns. b/c of the large number of sizing options offered, the pattern instructions are very long. i found them to be a little difficult to follow, mostly b/c the language is brief and sometimes requires leaps in logic to figure them out (like constantly referencing a separate set of stitch pattern directions). it's not too difficult though, if you read through the directions once or twice--i just don't think i'd recommend it for beginners. the instructions are also charted. i cannot follow crochet charts but it is nice to see them included for those who do.

the main advantage of the book for me is the relatively simple raglan construction of the sweaters, and the designs themselves. many of them are items i would wear everyday. they are certainly a far cry from ugly 70s hot pants. Again, unless i figure out how to substitute different stitch patterns, i don't see myself making more than one or two of the sweaters, b/c it would get boring and redundant (you're making that same sweater AGAIN?) but for the ones i do crochet, i'm sure they will get a regular rotation in my wardrobe, because they are lovely designs. i see this book as a great launching point for understanding top-down raglan construction in crochet, and i believe enough knowledge could be gained to enable you to branch out on your own if you are adventurous.

and the best part about crochet is how quickly you go from start to finish. i've already got one short-sleeved vest on the blocking board, and i hope to show the FO soon.


  1. It would be nice (not to mention fair) for the crocheters to have a book or two with patterns that resemble things that young folks actually wear....some of those patterns seem to be stuck in 1976.

    Which is probably before most of them were born!

  2. I learned to crochet first, and I'm glad I learned to knit. It seems like crochet patterns have to be much longer and not as customizable. No thanks!

  3. I wish I could crochet, but I just cannot get it. I look forward to seeing your FO!



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