I recently started crocheting again after a 15 year hiatus.
Okay, I’ll be honest. I had a brief fling with crocheting in high school, during which I made exactly one thing: a “dusty rose” pink afghan the size and texture of a trawling net. I’m not sure why I stubbornly completed the specified number of rows, instead of calling it a day when it got ridiculous. But I learned a valuable lesson about substituting hook sizes that I will never, ever forget. (Yes, the afghan still exists, but has not seen the light of day since I wearily attached the last tassel.)
At any rate, I already knew my way around a skein of yarn and felt pretty confident about the basic stitches. But I was still a little dubious from my afghan experience, and couldn’t really read a pattern, so the thought of making anything besides a rectangle (on any scale) was overwhelming. So I did what I always do in such situations – I ransacked the nonfiction collection for advice.
Six months later, I can’t claim to be an expert in either crocheting itself, or the library’s crocheting collection, but at least I’m well past the pot-holder stage. Here’s what I’ve read so far that’s helped me get started –
The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs: 500 Classic & Original Patterns by Linda P. Schapper
This book is based on a fascinating concept – can the author collect or invent 500 unique stitch patterns with the same boring white yarn? The photos and illustrations are helpful and understandable, making it a great stitch dictionary. Unfortunately, you don’t get a lot of advice on what projects are best suited to your new skills.
Crochet From the Heart: Quick Projects for Generous Giving and Blankets, Hats, and Booties to Knit and Crochet by Kristin Spurkland.
The patterns in these books are nice enough to give away, but easy enough for a beginner to follow. I learned how to make my first baby clothes from Spurkland, and I’m also planning a set of custom finger puppets based on her design. Crochet From The Heart also includes a list of charities that accept handmade donations.
Lily Chin’s Crochet Tips & Tricks: Shortcuts and Techniques Every Crocheter Should Know
Some things should be obvious, and they’re just not – for example, joining two pieces together by the edges with a neat, flat seam. Lily Chin solves this mystery, and other problems you didn’t even realize you had. (She also has a knitting book, if you’re into that sort of thing.)
Amigurumi Two! Crocheted Toys For Me and You and Baby Too by Ana Paula Rímoli
There’s a toy airplane in this book that I can’t wait to make. And if these patterns appeal to you, the author has several other good books on amigurumi (the Japanese word for small, cute stuffed toys).
Creepy Cute Crochet: Zombies, Ninjas, Robots, and More! by Christen Haden
Amigurumi isn’t just for kids! If you’re the kind of person that still collects action figures, loves awful movies, or spends a lot of time on the internet, there is guaranteed to be a project in here for you.
Of course, this is just a small fraction of what was on the library’s shelf, and there are a heap of other beautiful books I plan to read. Also, since the newest and most exciting books are usually checked out at any given moment, there is another heap I haven’t even seen yet. And as always, readers, I welcome your suggestions!
(PS – If you find yourself so excited about your new hobby that you just have to share it with someone, the library can help with that, too! Crocheters are welcome at the Main library’s Carnegie Knits and Reads, and many branches host their own crafty groups. And if you really can’t get to an existing group, you might be able to start your own. Search the Events Calendar for “crafts,” or ask a librarian for more information.)