Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday book review

"Country crochet & Knitted lace" by Jan Eaton
ISBN: 1-85368-227-6

UK crochet terms

This book is where my love for crochet first started... back when I was 17 I found this book in my local library and I fell in love. I could already crochet as I had taught myself a few years before from some old issues of 'Golden hands magazine' but I hadn't really gotten past making up test squares of the different stitch patterns. Then I saw the photos in this book of some stunning crochet lace pieces and I wanted to make it all. Sadly the Library wanted the book back and even though I tried a few bookshops no one could get hold of this title any more (even though at that time it had only been published two years before) and that was the last I saw of it.

That is until I recently found an entry for it on Amazon, without a cover image and available only through marketplace sellers. So I ordered myself a copy in 'good condition' and I'm delighted with how good the condition is. The book is as beautifully presented as I remember it to be, in fact with all the different crochet books I've read through since I can now see just how good a book it is. The photography is beautiful, there are some very lovely photos throughout the introduction of a number of the projects featured next to some other old and new pieces of lace that the author has inherited from her own grandmother.

This book is really two separate titles in one (see the bottom of this review for links to the original two books) - as I don't really do much knitting I'll just be focusing on reviewing the first half of the book which is all about crochet lace. 

The introduction is lovely and includes a detailed section about the history of crochet especially focusing on how crochet has been used to imitate a number of different lace making techniques. There is a good section on selecting the right materials and hooks for your project (with some handy conversion charts for UK/US hook sizes, yarn types and stitch terms) as well as a short but nicely illustrated section for how to work the various stitches. Then the book goes into detailed instructions on a number of crochet techniques from how to do filet crochet to following a written and a charted pattern. There is also an illustrated finishing techniques section that is very useful and some detail on how to care for your finished crochet project.

The projects are almost all worked using crochet thread of varying thicknesses so none of them are what I would term 'beginner' projects as I find working with thread to be very tricky and not very forgiving of mistakes. That said the projects have all been given a difficulty rating by using a cute ball of wool with crochet hooks stuck through it to show how much work each would take, 1 hook = quick to 4 hooks =  a very, very long time indeed. The larger 4 hook projects are both for table cloths one a beautiful looking butterfly edged table cloth and two a very large and wide edging for a 'crystal and silver' table cloth. Both of these would take me about 3 years to finish so I thought it better that I focus on the 1 hook projects.
Some of you may remember the Christmas tree stars I made for friends and family last year - well these stars are one of the first things that I started making and the pattern for them came from this book. These stars are very simple to make up - if you can do a granny square then you can make these. After working the central granny hexagon you then work each of the triangular points directly on to the sides, you then sew in a good number of loose ends and starch the finished star to make it stiff for hanging.

These stars went down a treat last Christmas (though I did at the time promise never to crochet with thread again after getting blisters on my fingers trying to sew in all the loose ends on these) as I hope will the next project that I have to show - little lavender bags.

These lavender bags are made using a filet crochet motif worked in thread which is then backed with some felt and made into a little lavender bag. They are simple and very effective, especially if you use a dark coloured felt to highlight the detail in the pattern. Though I had some trouble working the hexagon windmill design it turned out that the pattern was fine, it was me that was reading it wrong.

So after over a decade since last seeing this book my enthusiasm for it hasn't declined, in fact in some ways I appreciate it more as I've read through a lot of crochet books over the years and know how rare it is to come across a book as well written as this one. I love all the patterns, though I may never have the time to make most of them, and the detailed introduction as well as the pattern library that you find at the back make it worth having for just those alone.

After a bit of digging I've discovered that this book is in fact a combination of two earlier titles published by New Holland Publishers Ltd. You may have more success in getting hold of these as separate titles "A creative guide to knitted lace" & "A creative guide to crochet".


Mrs Twins said...

Hi Jess, thanks for the great comments on SIBOL.
If you want to take part in the Squares for America, just send me one Square. I'm trying to get 80 different people, so I have 80 different Squares. That will make them up one blanket when they receive them.
If you want to send any more, I will have to put them in the SIBOL pot. I have amended the post slightly. thank you!
Hugs Suex
have a good weekend.

"Never Knew" said...

How wonderful to find this book again. I know what it's like to have that happen - like being reunited with an old friend. :-) It sounds like a great book - thanks for the review.
Caz :)