Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book review: Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller

cover image from
Let me get my complaint out of the way first: I hate how hard this book (and others of its type) tries to convince me that crochet is hip. For one thing, I don't care if crochet is hip or not--I do it because I enjoy it, not because I'm trying to make myself cooler (that's a lost cause anyway). And if I were that insecure about a hobby, well, I'm not sure that the semi-forced girlfriend-to-girlfriend banter and "edgy" title would convince me. No one I know actually talks like that.

That said, I deeply appreciate the book's attempt to provide patterns that are flattering and wearable for younger consumers. Some of us might have learned to crochet from our grandmothers,* but that doesn't mean we want to limit ourselves to the the sort of things our grandmothers crocheted. If that makes sense.

The patterns are largely aimed at women; there are a few unisex and more masculine patterns, three baby patterns, and a few miscellaneous items (housewares, stuffed animals, etc). Most of the clothing patterns go up to size XL or XXL, and, of course, the accessories are one size fits all. Some of the patterns are questionable (just because you can crochet a bikini doesn't mean you should), but most are patterns I could picture a real person wearing or using, even if they're not all to my personal taste. (I am picky.) The range of styles and designers that Stoller has collected is fairly impressive and goes a long way towards disproving the notion that good crocheted clothing can't be done.

The instructions are fairly clear and easy to follow, and usually include diagrams. So far I've made five of the patterns (and modified versions of one or two others) with reasonable success, and I have my eye on several more. I've also taught myself several new stitches and techniques from the book, including tapestry and filet crochet, so it makes a handy resource for planning your own projects.

Of course no book can possibly be error free, so it's always wise to check the errata before beginning any pattern. (So far, I haven't run into any problems with errors, but they exist and they drive the Amazon reviewers nuts.) One thing that is somewhat unusual is that the patterns are not rated according to difficulty. This doesn't really bother me, since a quick read through the instructions is usually enough to tell if I can handle the pattern.

Overall, Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller is a good resource for the younger crocheter, or anyone who has gazed in despair at bulky, boxy crocheted sweaters and resigned themselves to a life of making hats, scarves, and granny squares. And you really can't beat the price-- $10.58 on Amazon.


*I didn't. Both of my grandmothers crocheted, but I didn't learn to appreciate the craft, unfortunately, until long after they'd both passed away. And, actually, they crocheted some pretty fab stuff, but it was mostly of the afghan variety.

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