This tiny book opens up a world of possibility for crocheters eager to experiment. Nancie Wiseman gives basic information about wire, special tools, jewelry-making paraphernalia, and how to crochet wire with beads. The patterns, mostly for jewelry and small containers, are very simple, and beg to serve as inspiration for the more complex and interesting pieces you'll create after you get the hang of these new techniques. But having said that, the patterns are also lovely on their own, and I have many a girlfriend who will enjoy the compliments they'll receive when they wear any of the jewelry pieces. Many of the patterns involve embellishments and/or coloured wire, and I'm happy to report that the resulting pieces of jewelry are lovely and avoid the tackiness frequently associated with such combinations. I tend to be a purest, and so I prefer the patterns that highlight the lovely stitches in silver or black wire over the colourful pieces featuring lots of beads. But that's the great thing about this book: there's something for everyone. Paperback88 pages$14.95USAvailable at Powells.com
Cool Crochet by Melissa Leapman Watson-Guptill Publications
Melissa Leapman is on a roll. As one of today's most prolific crochet-wear designers (she designs for knitting, too), her patterns can be found in books and magazines everywhere. Her elegant aesthetic fills the pages of Cool Crochet with patterns that are simple and appealing. Garments like the "Giselle" and "Anika" sweaters, "Penina" jacket, and "Darla" wrap prove that crocheted tops can be shaped flatteringly to create a stylish fit. Utilizing waist shaping, stitch patterns with excellent drape, and details like bell sleeves and v-necks, Leapman's designs make me sit back and sigh the sigh of a satisfied crocheter. It's a big deal for me not to scowl at a crochet sweater pattern in disgust over its missed potential. Putting an entire book of fashion patterns in front of me usually leads to ranting and the exclamation of choice phrases. Alas, Cool Crochet is an exception. There are enough patterns in this book to keep you busy for many seasons, and I hope you'll become so spoiled as to never settle for a boxy, unflattering fit again. Paperback128 pages$19.95USAvailable at Powells.com
Yarns to Dye for Creating Self-Patterning Yarns for Knitting by Kathleen TaylorInterweave Press
Yes, here's another book with the word "knitting" in the subtitle. But I'm reviewing Yarns to Dye for in Crochet me for a reason: sometimes we just have to take what we can get. I have every confidence that if we're patient, eventually articulate crochet experts will start flooding the market with books written just for us. Until then, I'm simply not content to sit by and sulk while knitters get to have all the fun. And boy, did my mind race with possibilities as I read through this book! Kathleen Taylor gives detailed instructions for how to dye yarn at home so that it creates specific patterns (stripes, colour bands, Fair Isle, and zigzag) when it's knitted. Save for Fair Isle, these techniques can easily be used to create yarns that will work nifty patterns when crocheted, as well (and I bet some crafty crocheters could do some very clever things with her Fair Isle instructions, too). All that's necessary is a little experimentation, some good thinking, and a bit of math. Taking into account that crochet stitches use up more yarn than knit and purl stitches, and that crochet stitches are taller, we should have no trouble using the information in this book to create the yarns we always wanted to crochet but could never find commercially. It may seem like a frivolous investment to buy a book when you plan to ignore the 22 knitting patterns contained within it, but if you're looking to learn how to dye your own yarn at home, it's worth it. This book is an excellent reference, and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. I almost had to change into messy clothes just reading it. Paperback104 pages$21.95USAvailable at Powells.com
These books seem perfect for beginners such as myself. You know what would have been great? If they had phonics worksheets, so that when I crochet the wire with my beads, I can listen to what they say at the same time and repeat it simultaneously. I guess it would make all the teaching effort much easier.