Book Title: Crochet Wraps Every Which Way: 18 Original Patterns in 6 Techniques
Author: Tammy Hildebrand
Publisher: Stackpole Books
Copyright Date: 2014
Book Format: The book is available for sale as a softcover / paperback. However, since I am outside of the USA, I was given a digital review copy of the book to save both shipping time and shipping expense. I'm mentioning this because I'm unable to comment on little things that I might make a note of in the review otherwise, like the print quality of the pages. To the best of my knowledge, digital editions of this book are not available to the public. You may wish to visit the publisher's website for ordering information.
Number of Pages: 112
Cover Price: $19.95 US dollars
The Premise of This Book
This book features 18 crochet patterns for shawls and wraps, but it's more than just a pattern book. It's also a technique book as well.
There are six crochet techniques presented in the book all together. Unless you're brand new to crochet, you're already familiar with one of the techniques in the book: traditional crochet. The other techniques may or may not be new to you, depending on your experience level and interests -- but even if you are familiar with them already, you are likely to learn something new from this book. I did!
Techniques Included in This Book:
- Traditional crochet
- Tunisian crochet
- Crochet motifs
- Hairpin lace
- Broomstick lace
- Double-ended crochet
Things I Like About This Book:
- There's a nice mix of shawl and wrap patterns in this book. Some of the shawls are dressy, some are casual, and some could go either way. To my eye, some of the designs are positively stunning, most of the designs are appealing, and they all look like timeless designs that won't quickly be outdated.
- The book provides an excellent introduction to multiple trendy, yet timeless, crochet techniques. Even for those who are already familiar with the techniques themselves, the book also includes insights and information that may be unfamiliar, and interesting new patterns to try.
- Skill level ratings are included in this book, a detail which I really appreciate. On the one hand, I sincerely believe that you can do anything crochet-related that you put your mind to doing, no matter what the skill level rating says and no matter what your actual experience level is. On the other hand, I get zillions of inquiries from crocheters that start out by saying "do you know where I can find an easy pattern for _____________?" Knowing that many of us are inclined to choose easy projects and patterns, I appreciate knowing upfront which projects are no-brainers, and which ones require a bit more thinking and a bit more effort to complete. It really saves me time and helps me to accurately steer other crocheters in the right direction. It also helps me to allocate my crochet time wisely when I am choosing my own projects to work on. It's also nice knowing what to expect from any given project, which I know many of y'all appreciate too.
- When it comes to crocheted garments, I like knowing what they look like on "real people". You know how sometimes you see sample garments being worn by someone who resembles a superhuman airbrushed plastic fashion doll, and you're left wondering whether the finished garment could possibly look as good on you -- a mere mortal with a mere mortal's figure? Well, that was not an issue at all with this book. I really appreciated this publisher's choice of models. On the one hand, she is beautiful. At the same time, it seemed to me that I was looking at honest photography showing a realistic representation of what the clothing would look like on your prettier-than-average girl-next-door, rather than a supermodel with a mannequin's proportions. Thumbs up to that!
Things I Didn't Like About This Book:
- More than half a dozen of the photographs in the book are blurry. Most of the blurry pictures are in the technique tutorial section in the back of the book. The pictures aren't so blurry as to be useless, and there are enough clear photographs that I didn't have a problem understanding the tutorials. I was still able to get the main idea that's being conveyed, but the blurriness does detract significantly from the images, in my opinion.
- There are no schematics included in the book. To my way of thinking, in some cases, they aren't necessary, because the photographs make it crystal clear exactly what shape that particular wrap is. However, many of the wraps are shown wrapped around the model in such a way that it's not easy to discern what the exact shape of the garment is when it's laid flat. I would have really appreciated either schematics, or an additional photograph of each wrap showing how it looks either laid flat or unwrapped. Either that, or at least some indication where it's spelled out in simple language that "this wrap is a simple rectangle shape."
This won't be a deal-breaker for a crocheter who's willing to invest some time and brainpower in reading through the instructions and trying to visualize what the output would look like. For those who insist that everything should be spelled out upfront, this aspect of the book could prove to be disappointing.
More Observations About the Book
The suggested yarn for each design is specified right in the pattern, which I really appreciated. I find it frustrating when publishers make a secret of which yarn was used to crochet the project sample, because I think it's important to know the exact fiber contents of the original design. If I'm going to substitute yarns, I think it's important to have an understanding of whether my substitution is alike enough that it would drape and perform similarly, and not come out looking strange and wrong. I'm grateful to have this information presented front and center, so I don't have to go hunting for it.
Unfortunately, the yarn weights for each suggested yarn were not given in the patterns, which meant that I did have to go hunting for that information. That's not a deal-breaker, since the information is readily available online, but it meant that I spent significantly more time than I originally anticipated for choosing a project to get started on, and trying to decide which yarn to use for the project.
This will probably not be an issue for you if you plan to crochet your projects using only the suggested yarns. It could prove to be an issue for you if you need to make substitutions, and are not already a walking yarn encyclopedia having familiarity with the suggested yarns plus a good memory. (I admit that I'm not.)
Symbol crochet charts are not given in the book. For me, this is not a deal breaker whatsoever, but since it's a popular question and request I felt the need to mention it.
Overall, for crocheters who are inclined to either wear shawls, give shawls as gifts, or crochet shawls for charity, I think this book is a valuable pattern collection and a worthwhile purchase. In my opinion, it's clearly worth its asking price of $19.95. At that price, you're looking at paying a dollar and change per pattern, and you get the tutorials too.
The book offers something potentially interesting to crocheters of all skill levels, and every crocheter could benefit from owning this book. The technique tutorials are great even for those who aren't interested in crocheting shawls. However, my opinion is that shawl-loving intermediate and advanced crocheters will get the most value out of the book, since they would potentially have the desire and ability to work the greatest number of projects in it. While some of the techniques may not be new to an advanced crocheter, the patterns themselves will all be new.
For beginning crocheters who are motivated to learn new techniques and work their way out of beginner status, this book would also be an excellent value, considering that most of the information in the book will be brand new to a beginner.
Bottom line, I'm happy to recommend this book to other crocheters. It has become a valued part of my own crochet library. Unlike some books that I get rid of after reviewing (or before bothering to review,) I'm sure I'll be keeping this one around, and will continue referring to it and benefiting from it in the future.