crafts · Crochet · knitting · patterns

Book Reviews

I (happily) was given lots of yarny books for Christmas.  Over the next few weeks I will review: 101 Designer One Skein wonders, Knitting Little Luxuries, Favorite Socks, Sensual Knits, Sensual CrochetLacy Crochet, and a few other small books (Yes, I gave Marc a list to pass around.)

Today I will talk about two crochet books, Vintage Crochet by Susan Cropper, and  a new Japanese Book I got in the mail last week.

Vintage Crochet is a book of patterns by various designers, complied by the same author as Pretty Knits.  It’s certainly a pretty book, well photographed and full of soft focus photos.  It has a few sweaters, 2 headbands, a few afghans, a pretty baby sweater, a cute stuffed rabbit, and the blanket pictured on the photo and lots more (although not, I don’t think, the pillows on the cover… correct me if I have missed them, but I think they aren’t there.)

I want to like this book, because I love crochet, and because I love the idea of a book of updated vintage items, but something is missing for me.  I think that some of the designs are made in yarns that are too thick for them (what is the fear of small yarns in modern books?  Crochet is fast either way!)  Some of the projects are cute, such as the ones shown below.  In spite of the fact that I want very badly to give the model a comb, the sweaters are lovely, especially the motif sweater.  But… there are practically no schematics listed.  For the motif sweater, you get a back length measurement and a vague hem measurement.  There is a sort of diagram for the motifs, but why no real schematics?  I really can’t understand publishing a book today without including these details.  I am extremely disinclined to make any sort of large project from this book because of the lack of detail.

There are some very pretty patterns, and I will confess that I am not sorry I got the book as a gift.  It does contain a ripple pattern that is very much like the soft wave afghan that has been so popular this year.  I really like the baby sweater and the rabbit, and even the impractical patterns like the egg cosies are cute. It’s up to you to decide whether the lack of schematics bothers you.  For the non clothing patterns it may be ok, but it’s certainly is something to be aware of!  BTW, if you are a knitter, I have heard the same complaint about the author’s other book, Pretty Knits.  It isn’t the first book to do this (wasn’t Sarah Dallas’ Vintage Knits the same way?) but it always disappoints me.


Cape, Shawl, Stole, Bolero

ISBN: 9784021904189

Purchased: Saucy Louise, but it is available on YesAsia and Amazon Japan as well.

I really like this book.  As promised by the cover (no, I cannot read Japanese and have no idea what else it says) it contains nothing but the items above (ok, with a few scarves.)  It contains 11 basic patterns, most of which are shown more than once, in different yarns with different ways of embellishing them.  Whether you will love this book like I do depends primarily on how much you love the capelet.  Me… I love a capelet, and don’t care a bit if I look costume y in them.  This book is charted out the way all Japanese books are.  It has step by step directions for the challenging parts of each pattern (real photographs – so helpful!)  It has a glossary of common Japanese crochet symbols in the back, although I also own a guide to the crochet symbols because I found that they are not always covered in the back of the book.

The hardest part for me is figuring out what weight of yarn is being used for each pattern.  I know how to find the gauge information on the charts, but I’m not always certain what the gauge is being measured in.  The first pattern I’m planning to try will be either the brown capelet with the flower or either of the red shawls.  I actually really like those boleros, at least on the mannequins, so perhaps someday I will try one.  I would love to know what yarns are used for the brown scarf… they are so pretty!  The book is published by Olympus yarns, which I have seen in the US, but not very often.

This came at the same time as my new hooks for thread.  I’m very pleased with them – they are more comfortable to hold, and I like the double ended hooks.  I will try them out soon!

8 thoughts on “Book Reviews

  1. I absolutely love the fact that you take the time out to review a book and give us a review. As I am sure I have said before, I think you are very talented and I just hope that one day I will be able to do half of the things you can do. Second, I had no idea that you like to crochet. My grandma taught me when I was about 8 and ihave loved the feel of all kinds of fabrics and arts & crafts ever since. My point is that I have all of her old crochet books and mags, some of which date back to the 60s and less. I do know how you love vintage patterns, so if you are looking for something in particular I could take a look at some of the mags (they are actually small soft back crochet mags) and get back to you. Perhaps share some patterns. Let me know, I would love to share!

  2. Wow, that’s great! and what a haul you made at Christmas!

    I really can’t wait to hear about Sensual Knits….I love the sweater jacket on the cover so much. I really hope there are other great patterns in it as well.

  3. I wanted to let you know that I look forward to your posts so much – your site is the first one I go to daily. I am impressed with your flying fingers, and with all the gorgeous things you make – and I just love hearing about you and your life and your interests. I hope the new year brings you everything your heart desires.

  4. I’ve taken a look at Pretty Knits, I’ve wanted to like it, but no joy. You’re right, there’s something missing. It didn’t appeal to me, for some unfathomable reason, and I put it back on the shelves.

  5. Thanks so much for the book reviews, Jessica! And I’m so glad that your Christmas choir performances went really well.

    Wow – what an impressive yarn-ey Christmas you had! Thanks for sharing all of your knitting, crochet and life adventures with us this year – I really enjoy reading your blog. Hope you have a fantastic New Year!!!

  6. I love your blog! I love how you give very detailed reviews for books and your beautiful works of art. But I was wandering, where did you find those cool double hooks?? I gotta have them!
    Thank you Sweetie!! 😉
    ~ Jessica

  7. Hello! I just found your blog. I have discovered Japanese crochet recently and I have become addicted. The charts and details of the patterns have lead me successfully through the ones I have already tried. The things they do! It’s incredible! Japanese crochet has also developed the “free thinker” in me, as I’ve had to adapt the patterns to what I have and can understand. I’ve had to swatch for yarns and accept that I’ll never be able to get the colours just right, so I take the pattern as an inspiration and end up with something of my own. I’ve become a lot less attached to patterns in general. It’s very enriching!

    As for the yarn gauges, I’m just as lost as you! I assume they are very fine gauge (4, 3, 2 ply) and make swatches. The problem is that it is not easy to find the right yarn. The blends they make for crochet are so superior to our simple cotton threads! I guess our best bet is to explore the lace departments and the sock yarn department. They are making some fascinating blends lately which are worth trying. The other thing that worried me was the yarn amounts, but the grams required for each project is discernible at the beginning of most patterns. Between that and the look of the picture, that might suggest you the right gauge of the yarn. Or perhaps you’ll try it with what you have and end up with something different, thicker or finer, and still utterly beautiful and your own.

    I am now on the search of Japanese yarn importers. I still won’t know if I’m using the right one for the project, but I guess it’s worth a try. Not easy though!

    Good luck with your capelet. :o)

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