Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Book Review: Everyday Crochet by Doris Chan

I love this book! Oh, do I start a book review like that? Well, it just burst out of me. What do you say about a book, or a designer, that changed the focus of your craft?
The book itself invites, "Whether you're a crochet newbie seeking inspiration or an old pro looking for a new take on this fun craft, Everyday Crochet is packed full of innovative designs for stylish, up-tp-the-minute crochet clothing and accessories." I fall somewhere in between a 'crochet newbie' and 'an old pro' and this is absolutely true! This book really inspired me.

I found when I was browsing around for patterns to start doing clothing, most often the ones I liked that others had done were from this book. So I had to get it. My first impression was, "I can't do that!" "That's too advanced!" Then I thought, I know how to read directions so I got a cup of coffee, sat down and just read it.

Wow, how did I crochet all these years and never know that I could make these beautiful things. Doris Chan explains a solid way to start a project with her 'Base CH/SC', with clearly illustrated how-to's on page 139. Her patterns all start with a base design and the garments take on their individual personality from there. If you are a garment seamstress you've seen the spot on paper patterns that say "lengthen or shorten here", well in Ms. Chan's patterns there's clear direction on adding 'short rows' for fuller bust, wider hips, etc. Very innovative as the book cover says.

Let me tell you another wonderful thing about these beautiful sweaters - they all start from the top down and there's no seaming. You try on as you go along, so it does fit! When you're done, you either already have an attractive, solid tie attached, or have the option to add her In-Line Links shown on page 137. Beautiful button closures that, to my surprise, made up in about 10 minutes and really add to the look of your design.

Don't hesitate to advance your crochet. Stop wishing you could knit - you can CROCHET beautiful sweaters that people will stop you on the street and ask, 'Where did you get that?"'!

What have I made from the book:


The cover picture is a cute shrug called the Mei-Mei. My daughter in Law loves shrugs and looks so cute in them that I thought this was the perfect gift for her. Pink is also her favorite color, so it had to be pink. I made the extra small, using a J hook, but it came out more like a size 8, I would say. I made my sample for guage but I think I loosened up a bit as I went along. But the nice thing about this project is it has a SC border that the pattern suggests you do in a smaller hook, that snugs it up a bit. I could've 'snugged it up' a bit more for Lindsey, but it was a surprise and I didn't have her as my model. She says it still fits her and claims to love it so I'm happy. I started it about noon one day, and it was done about 7pm. Of course, I'm not really addicted to crochet (she says sheepishly) so I actually did get up a time or two in that 7 hour period. One thing I do wish about this project. I wish I had spent more on the yarn and gotten a mohair, or something with a natural fiber that would have allowed better blocking and shaping. What I did use was still a pleasure to work with, it's just all acrylic so it's limiting in the shaping department.

Oh, and I did make the button closure. I forgot to leave a spot for a buttonhole so I did attach the buttons, but still followed the elastic beaded closure that Ms. Chan describes. It was so easy and made it all look so pretty!

I have also started another project from the book. At this point it's still a "Jewel", but from here I can decide to make a "Runaround" or a "No Sweat" or a combination of all of them.

Don't be intimidated by the beauty of the designs in this well made book. You CAN do it! If you are like me, you will really love this book!