Ever since reading an advance for it on Alicia Paulson’s blog, I could not wait for Vintage Crochet, by Susan Cropper, owner of London’s Loop yarn shop, to come out. Finally I have it in hand, and it has thus far exceeded my expectations.
I adore crocheting ~ even more than knitting. The gal who taught me to crochet loves to tell the story of how I came to her granny square class, struggling and struggling to get it, and leaving so frustrated and angry with myself for being all thumbs. But I was determined, because the yarn shop, wild fibre, was right across the street from my house, and those beautiful yarns beckoned me. So I bought a simple how-to book at Barnes and Noble and showed up at Tracy’s class the next week with a fully completed crocheted dog sweater for my Yorkie.
Once I got started, I was hooked. That little piece of metal (I do like the aluminum cheapies best) felt so at home in my hand that soon I was turning out ponchos (Martha Stewart’s, of course), afghans and anything else I could think of. Despite my trouble with that first class, I come by the ability to crochet naturally ~ my grandmother Rose was buried, at 92, with her crochet hook and a piece of work in her hands ~ and I still like to break up the knitting with a crochet project every once in a while.
Problem is: How hard is it to find a decent crochet pattern? Besides blankets and the now-outdated ponchos, where are the patterns for crocheted garments you’d be caught dead wearing? I’ve bought every issue of Interweave Crochet that’s been published, but never made a single project from the magazine; watched Hip To Crochet and Hooked on Crochet gather dust on my bookshelf. Couldn’t even wrap my head around anything in Stitch ‘n’ Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. Every pattern I see is so precious or dated or over-designed or crafty-in-a-bad-way (see Rowan 43 for the most hideous of all, Chevelle, a cropped granny squarish top in a nasty ’70s color combo).
But Vintage Crochet is thoroughly enthralling with its old fashioned yet perfectly current patterns for clothing, accessories and home furnishings. The photography, by Kristin Perers, is delicious, and the book makes sure it shows you an item from several angles ~ up close and on a human or two. Thank you! There’s the ripple blanket shown on the cover ~ oh, and you Yanks, be sure to buy this version rather than the one with the gal in the sweater, as this is the U.S. edition, with American crochet terms. Precious egg, tea and coffee press cozies. A to-die-for lampshade. A button-trimmed shelf runner that’s def on my to-do list. For the adventurous, a crocheted picnic canopy. (Wouldn’t it be nice over a bed, too?) And even a bobbled-and-hooded dog sweater.
It was hard to decide where to start, but I decided to make a small item first, just to get the new off the book and give me some instant gratification. Here’s my Rickrack Kerchief, completed in about one day:
The project calls for three balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (one of my favorites), a bit of ribbon and a C hook. I used two balls of Baby Cash in off white and subbed some leftover Blue Sky Alpacas Sport Weight in moss green and some Rowan Wool Cotton in Citron.
I’ve never worn a kerchief in my life, but I wore this one today, an atypically windy end-of-April day for Savannah. Even the teenage daughter liked it!
I found no mistakes in the pattern, and it was easy to follow. (There are, however, a few errors in this first edition, so check Loop’s website before embarking on a project.) Making my little triangle was, dare I say, exciting, almost as exciting as trolling the Internets looking for bargain yarn for my next Vintage Crochet project. The crochet, she does eat up the yarn, y’know. I’ll probably go first with the Betty Shrug, to use up a bag of blush pink Blue Sky Alpaca Silk I’ve been hoarding for just the right project. Can you visualize?
And I think I’ll order a bag of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in Aquamarine or Rose for Alicia Paulson’s Millie Cardigan, the pretty sweater that got me interested in the book in the first place. It’s a sweet, delicate bed jackety cardi trimmed with dainty strips of Liberty of London florals. Go to Ravelry and check out what a few others have done with this lovely pattern.
I’m working out of several new books, and I’ll share my impressions with you over the next few postings. Also finishing up another FREE DOG SWEATER PATTERN that I’ll post soon.