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Tuesday, August 08, 2006 Arts & Crafts Review The Happy Hooker Crochet Book

The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller

Humble crochet is due for a resurgence. I know, I've said it before, but this book of modern crochet certainly shows it. The patterns in this book are fresh and different. If you're an experienced crocheting, you will be happy buying this book for the shapely sweaters, cool hats, unique baby items, and other interesting patterns.

If you haven't crocheted, or have just crocheted a little, this book is a comprehensive primer on exactly how to do it, how it differs from knitting, and what you need to get started. Not much is necessary, and there's a great explanation of different yarns and hooks.

Though I grew up with crochet, I enjoyed reading about the history of crochet and what types of item crochet makes best - lacy items and sturdy items, but not stretchy ones.

Crochet, through the years, has been taught from person to person. It's probably easiest to learn from someone else. But, if you can learn from a book, this book may be the one. The instructions are conversational and full of little tips. Different methods of holding the yarn and creating the basic stitches are also explained.

The instructions chapters start with a chain stitch, move into single crochet, then into types of double and triple crochet. Adding yarn, increasing and decreasing are also demonstrated. Fancy stitches like shell, popcorn, ribbing, spike stitch, and even granny squares are explained. Tapestry and filet crochet are shown, along with the afghan stitch. The instructions finish with all the info you need to finish a project - joining pieces, seaming, buttonholes, blocking, and more. It is very comprehensive!

Let's talk patterns. The designs are from a variety of the new breed of pattern designers, and they vary a bit in their styles. There are more than 40 patterns, sorted by category. Each pattern lists the weight of the yarn used, which is nice to see.

The scarves and shawls patterns are nice, and the hats are cool enough for teenagers and boys. The bags and totes are unique and mostly retro-modern.

I really liked the clothing in the Spring & Summer and Fall & Winter sections. The summer tops, halters, tanks and t-shirts, are very cute, and similar to what I've seen in stores. The often-requested crochet bikini is vintage style, and includes a carrying bag. The Fall and Winter sweaters are not boxy, and do not look homemade. Your favorite guy might even wear the jolly roger sweater. The "Unseamly Sweater" is shaped through changing stitch patterns. The only seams are at the underarms and armholes.

Patterns for accessories include a wide corset belt, fluffy bunny slippers, wire jewelry and more. Home, gifts and baby items are rather miscellaneous. The sock monkey baby set is a nice change from traditional baby layettes, while still being very cute.

Crocheters of all levels can find something to enjoy in this book. The instructions and reference are valuable to have on your shelf, and there are probably a few patterns for everyone. I even enjoyed reading it.


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