Review: Beyond the Square by Edie Eckman

Beyond the Square by Edie Eckman, Storey Publishing: 2008, 201 pages. Spiral bound, paper back, and digital editions available. Grade: A+

Beyond the Square is an apt title. First of all, the motifs for which the patterns are written are not only squares. They come in a wide range of shapes. Second, the author provides a truly handy reference manual about everything related to creating beautiful things with crocheted motifs. I think it’s organized very well and it was very carefully planned to fulfill its aim at instructing crocheters on the principles and techniques of creating with motifs.

Rather than number the chapters, the author decided to just divide the book into three sections: “Crochet Motif Workshop,” “Motifs,” and a chunky Appendix that should be considered Appendices.

The workshop section – clearly taking new crocheters into consideration – begins with a “Quick-Start Guide” which discusses and illustrates crochet basics. There are lots of nice bits of information here, with so much wise advice, enough to interest crocheters of all skill levels. Some of the illustrations show Edie Eckman’s own personal tricks. She provides all kinds of information and instructions on the many ways motifs can be joined together, how to design with them, and many more lessons that should not be overlooked. Aside from the fact that this portion of the text is overflowing with tips and tricks, I think it’s quite original because, as far as I’m aware, it’s the first time a crochet book has ever attempted to catalog, describe, and instruct on so many techniques related to motifs.

After all of this educational goodness come the motifs, which are organized by shape: circles, hexagons, triangles, squares, and an “unusual shapes” category. The motifs are modern, refreshing, and there’s a really good balance of more “closed” versus “more lacy” patterns. Furthermore, I like how the title doesn’t disappoint. Not only do we see motifs far beyond the square, we also see new ways to create them. My favorite is the inclusion of the leaning tower stitch and illustrating how it can be employed to generate an infinity of shapes, textures, and color combinations.

Then, there’s an Appendix, graph paper, thorough directions on how to arrange and attach the motifs, basic stitches, and an index. Again, the emphasis is on creativity and options, not set patterns that instruct the reader on how to create something that looks “just like the photo.” As in the previous two sections, the Appendices are chock full of interesting and innovative tricks for making original designs all thanks to crochet’s versatility and convenience.

I recommend this book to all crocheters that wish to get their creative juices flowing when it comes to motifs and what to do with them. I truly love how this book encourages independent creativity while at the same time provides patterns to hook away at motifs. It’s a wonderful oxymoron, when you think about it, and why not say it? That’s what crochet is all about. It’s truly modular, as modular as the crocheter wishes it to be. We crocheters know that if we can imagine it, we can pick up a hook and yarn and make it happen. This title taps into that spirit of going far beyond the square.

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