Full disclosure: Author Tammy Hildebrand, current Vice President of the Crochet Guild of America, provided a glowing blurb for the back cover of my book, Crochet Scarves: Fabulous Fashions, Various Techniques. Crochet Wraps is published by Stackpole Books, with whom I have done five crochet titles (and a sixth in the works). That said, the purpose of this review—as in all my book reviews—is to give crocheters an objective, accurate assessment. Here we go! For starters, the book is beautiful. It has a nice clean look with a good balance of text, photos, and white space. The size and style of the typeface make it very easy to read. Color bars at the top of each page provide a subtle yet effective way of designating each project.
If a book can radiate joy and energy, Crochet Wraps does that. You can tell that Tammy loved all of the projects she made, and is excited to share them. It's a happy feeling to leaf through the pages and discover one gorgeous project after another.
Part of the book's appeal is its variety, not just in the size and shape of the eighteen finished garments but also in skill level, time needed to complete an item, and technique. It's always fun to learn something new, and Tammy gives crocheters a great opportunity to do that here. I have never attempted hairpin lace but it's been on my to-do list for a while. Crochet Wraps has given me the excuse I've been waiting for—I just ordered a hairpin lace loom. I had never thought about working hairpin lace in the round, and I can't wait to try Tammy's "You Are My Sunshine" pattern. Really stunning. The other patterns that drew my eye right away are "Midnight Azaleas," which puts a twist on motif crochet by adding a ripple edging, and "Chianti," done in broomstick lace.
I love Tammy's color choices. "Mystic Stars" fits right in with Pantone's 2014 designation of "Radiant Orchid" as the color of the year. There are blues, greens, purples, yellow, orange...black and white in "Shimmering Pearls"...soft colors and vibrant ones...autumn hues and spring palettes...and attractive color combinations. Equally impressive is the variety of textures, from light and lacy to warm and chunky.
With three patterns in each of six techniques (traditional, motifs, hairpin lace, broomstick lace, Tunisian, and double-ended), this book truly has something for everyone. Instructions in the back of the book, thoroughly illustrated with photos, provide excellent tutorials. It's helpful to have the visual index. (Kind of unusual, though, to have the items listed there in columns rather than rows. I'll have to ask Stackpole why they made that decision.) Tammy used yarn from eleven different sources, some of which I was not familiar with. I'll make it a point to check the websites for those companies, conveniently listed in the "Resources" section, and see if there are possibilities for my own designs.
As I do with all books I review, I tested some parts of a couple of patterns. The instructions for "Midnight Azaleas" were easy to follow. I didn't get as far as the finishing, but looking over the instructions for the Bottom Ripple I am pleased to see that Tammy tells us how many of each type of stitch we should have at the end of Row 1. That way crocheters can be sure to count the right thing without any confusion.
I was intrigued with the interesting look of "Cascading Rivers." A lot of my work has been in Tunisian crochet, and I hadn't seen a windowpane type of texture like this before. The one-shoulder poncho style interested me, too. I followed the instructions for Row 1 with no problem, but I ran into trouble starting with the return pass of Row 2. After puzzling over the instructions for a while, I contacted Tammy and she tried it out for me. It turns out that there are serious mistakes on Row 2 return and also later in the pattern. We were both disappointed to discover that. As a designer, I know the sinking feeling when a published mistake comes to light, especially if it has been edited and tested. Sadly, these things do happen. To her great credit, Tammy has acknowledged the errors and has made the corrections.
I told Tammy that if I published a review I would have to mention the problem, and I offered to not review the book at all. Tammy responded, "I don't want to sweep this under the rug. I want people to know that I will provide whatever pattern support they need so they can make this project!" That's a classy response to an unfortunate situation. Tammy and Stackpole are working together to create and issue errata, which I assume will appear on Tammy's website, FB page, and Ravelry page; and on Stackpole's website and FB page. Future editions will have the corrected information. (As long as they're going to this trouble, I hope that they will take the opportunity to include some technique photographs for how to work behind the previous row to do a Tdc 2 rows below—a picture or two of hook placement would be helpful.)
If you are interested in making this beautiful garment, make sure you obtain the corrected version of the pattern first.
My experience with "Clementine Shells," the beautiful Tunisian crochet wrap that appears on the cover, was much more positive. It worked up fast and the instructions were clear. It's interesting how two different ways of saying something can both be correct. Tammy says "Ch 4, draw through next 5 loops on hook" where I would say "Ch 3, yo, pull through 6 lps." The outcome is the same. In her version, it may be easier for a crocheter to count the 5 loops and stay properly positioned; in my version, the last two steps are combined so the hand motion is uninterrupted, but perhaps it is harder to see 6 loops easily.
I highly recommend Crochet Wraps Every Which Way to any crocheter looking for beautiful projects to make for herself or for gifts. Mother's Day isn't that far away!
You'll find new takes on traditional methods and may also be inspired to learn a new technique or two. Be aware that there are some flaws in the instructions, but don't let that stop you from enjoying this exciting addition to your crochet library.
Want to win a copy? Leave a comment here, and a winner will be chosen at random on Friday, January 24th. Make sure you check back here and on my FB page (Sharon Silverman Crochet)--I'll need your mailing address so you can receive your prize. (US addresses only.)
Crochet Wraps Every Which Way by Tammy Hildebrand. Paperback: 112 pages. Published by Stackpole Books, January 1, 2014. ISBN-10: 0811711838; ISBN-13: 978-0811711838
Purchase from Amazon here.