Review: 150 Knit and Crochet Motifs by Heather Lodinsky

150 Knit and Crochet Motifs by Heather Lodinsky, Interweave: 2011, 128 pages. Paper back and digital editions available. Grade: A+

I think it’s pretty obvious why I bought this book a few years ago. It’s for people who like to knit and crochet. Another motive for getting it is that I’ll never stop adding things to my library, especially motif books and stitch dictionaries. They provide me with lots of inspiration. Finally, I was eager to grab this title because it’s no-nonsense.

It’s just motifs and a handful of projects to illustrate how to use them. The book starts with a visual table of contents. A clear picture of each motif is presented and captioned with its page number. All dictionaries should be planned this way. It’s so much easier and time-saving to just see all the photos and decide which ones are appropriate for the project in mind. There are very few squares in favor of more interesting and unusual shapes. It’s delightful to see circles, leaves, flowers, and many other cool forms.

Although the idea here is to create interesting projects that combine knit and crochet, the reader doesn’t have to do that. I like the idea of combining the two crafts but I haven’t really got serious about it just yet. I see myself trying it out in the future.

After the motifs come five projects using some of the presented patterns: two beautiful afghans, a bag, and a cushion. The directions are very straight-forward and visual. I hope I have time in the future to try one out because they’re really beautiful designs.

At the end of the text comes a little tutorial on techniques. Among the more useful instructions are on how to fit motifs together and planning an original project.

Something that has come to mind while thinking about this book: It’s possible to combine stuff from this book with others from other catalogs, both knit and crochet.

This dictionary most certainly isn’t for everybody because some people only know how to do one craft or the other. I recommend this title to people who equally enjoy knitting and crocheting and would like to have a book with motifs made with the two methods. Anyone who is curious about creating original designs that combine knitting with crochet would also want to add this book to the pattern stash. I’m certainly not sorry I bought it. I hope in the future more references include a visual table of contents. It’s one of the strong points of this collection aside from the fact that I want to knit and crochet all the motifs now that I’ve perused it again!

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.

Dollar Store Knitting and Crochet, part 3

For Christmas I got the book Beyond the Square by Edie Eckman, a book with patterns for about 144 crocheted motifs. It is awesome. It has all kinds of interesting motifs that aren’t just squares. I found a hexagon pattern that looked quite promising to me and I decided to use my dollar store yarn to make an afghan. I’m discovering that this is a nice, cheap way to experiment with color. Here’s my progress so far:

Photo Jan 27, 1 35 27 PM

I like this motif because it offers lots of opportunities to play with color combinations. So far, I’ve tried up to three different colors in a hexagon. As you can see, I’m crocheting the motifs together as I go using gray yarn. I’ve decided to put some concentrated splashes on the blanket in random places.

Anyway, I’m having fun with this project because it’s just satisfying to try different combinations. Here are some close-ups of the multi-colored hexagons: