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DIY Afghans by Mary Beth Temple

A Book Review

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DIY Afghans Book by Mary Beth Temple, Published by Leisure Arts

DIY Afghans Book by Mary Beth Temple, Published by Leisure Arts

Photo © Leisure Arts

Publication Name: DIY Afghans, with bonus interactive CD
Author: Mary Beth Temple
Publisher: Leisure Arts
Copyright Date: 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-60140-922-5
ISBN-10: 1-60140-922-2
Format: Softcover With Staple Binding
Number of Pages: 40
Cover Price: $10.95 US dollars

The Premise:

The crocheted afghans in this book are inspired by quilts and quilt blocks. With the help of the enclosed CD, readers are encouraged to design their own quilt-inspired afghan patterns using the stitches, edgings, and blocks included in the book. There are also 8 ready-made patterns to choose from, plus 2 blocks, 8 stitches and 8 edgings.

As I read the introduction to the book, I got excited thinking about the possibilities. Combining these ideas into one pattern book was a creative and ambitious undertaking. I think this is a timely idea for a book, considering that many crocheters have expressed interest in re-interpreting quilt designs into crochet.

Quilts and crocheted afghans have common elements:

  • Both are textural.
  • Both lend themselves well to block designs.
  • Both lend themselves well to experimentation with color.

Some of these afghans do remind me of traditional quilt patterns. Some look more contemporary, and not as quilt-like.

Some of the designs in the book are more successful than others, but you can easily reinterpret any of the designs shown. Changes are relatively easy, as the author has done a tremendous amount of work to simplify the design process for readers. So, even if you don’t like any of the designs as shown, you can change the aspects you don’t like.

Of all the finished afghans photographed in the book, I think the “Flying Geese” afghan pictured on page 16 is one of the more successful projects. The colors are lovely, and I think that design would be appealing to crocheters who favor either a traditional style of decorating or the “country” style.

The Bottom Line:

There are parts of this book that I really love, and parts that, in my opinion, are disappointing.

I do think that, for some crocheters, this book will prove to be more than worth the $10.95 cover price. It all depends on what your objectives are.

If all the following are true:

  • You like the look of the patterns in the book


  • You would like to be able to design your own quilt-inspired afghan patterns without investing a lot of effort in learning a bunch of technical details


  • You're confident of your ability to do a good job of finishing your DIY afghan(s) using the stitches you've chosen,

Then this book is likely to be money well spent.

On the other hand, if you're interested in designing your own afghans, you're willing to put in a reasonable amount of effort, and you don't already own a stitch dictionary, then I'd recommend prioritizing the purchase of a stitch dictionary over this book. This book is not a good replacement for a quality stitch dictionary, but it does make a good supplement if you already own one.

The Things I Like Best About this Publication:

The CD-Rom is loads of fun. I found it more entertaining than any video game I can think of.

The CD-Rom is easy to use. It's intuitive enough that even a computer newbie should be able to figure out how to use it.

The stitch patterns and edgings included in the book are beautiful. If you already own a good stitch dictionary, you could live without them, but they're well worth owning even if you do.

The colors used throughout the book are, for the most part, lovely and inspiring.

A Detailed Critique:

The CD has limitations.

I couldn't find a way to save my designs. Either there isn't one, or it's hidden so well that I couldn't find it.

I couldn't find a way to work with color or color palettes; the blocks all seem to be- in black, gray and white.

The Edgings

I really like the edgings presented in the book. I can see myself using any of them in future projects.

Having said that, I do not think some of these edgings are all that appropriate for the afghan designs they are intended to accompany.

If the goal is to make afghans that look like traditional quilts, some of these edgings tend to detract from the quilt-like look. Most quilts don't have scalloped or ruffled edgings, so several of the fancy edgings shown here seem out-of-place.

The afghan patterns shown all make colorful, bold statements. I have to wonder - why did the author give us scalloped and ruffled edgings to go with them? I would have liked to see a few more bold, dramatic options. The combinations she's given us don't all work, in my opinion. Some will, most won't.

For those who buy this book, use caution when choosing an edging, and think carefully about whether it's a truly appropriate finishing touch for the colors and design you've chosen. Don't feel obligated to use any of these edgings just because they're included in the book.

I'd use any of the edgings in the book for other purposes, though. Overall, the edgings are lovely, with many potential uses. I'd encourage you to use your imagination and think of other ways to use them - they'd be a beautiful finishing touch for so many different projects.

Colors

In my opinion, the colors used in these afghans are all workable as shown. This is good news for those who lack color confidence. The color choices are quite "safe;" for the most part, they have mass appeal.

For crocheters who do have the color confidence to re-color their work, these designs all lend themselves well to being recolored. The designs are versatile.

Project Construction:

It looks to me like you could potentially encounter some challenges with the finishing work on some of these designs. Let's take, for example, the Star Crib quilt pictured on page 14 of the book. It's marked as an "easy" pattern. Yet, the sample shown in the photo looks like it does not lie flat; several parts of it appear buckled, distorted, and crooked. If they had trouble putting their afghan together, I think it's fair enough to say that you might have difficulty too.

This is not all that surprising, considering that the design utilizes different stitches. I'd expect this type of design to take a bit of planning to put together successfully. So if you buy this book, please keep that in mind, and plan accordingly. When you get to the finishing part, think through it. Don't be afraid to pin the blocks together if you need to before you begin joining the pieces.

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