Friday, February 24, 2006

Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet - The Happy Hooker: A Review

[So I didn't have to put a million thumbnailed pictures in, there are lots of links, many of them to images. Just a heads up, since my link color doesn't contrast very well. I do apologize for any poor-quality pics; they were difficult to get just right and I gave up.]

The more I look through The Happy Hooker, the more and more satisfied I am with it. I admit, when I first read the introduction, I was a bit thrown off... there were some compliments that could have been taken as snarks, and at first I almost got the feeling that she was trying to "sell" crochet to knitters. And, the anal retentive proofreader in me wonders how the book ever went to print with "it all starts with the single, simple act of wrapping a hook around a strand of yarn" on it's back cover. What? Since when are hooks pliable?

But, whatever. There's so many good things about this book that it's just stupid to nitpick about silly things like that. First off, part one of the book, Hooking Up, is a great introduction to crochet, for knitters and newcomers to fiber alike. There are tips strewn about that are supposed to help knitters adapt to the new craft, and the very clear illustrations will be a great aid to someone who is not yet yarn-oriented. I would definitely recommend getting this book for anyone who you want to get "hooked;" the down to earth language and explanations, small compendium of stitches, and great array of patterns will be inspiring to the newbie and will be something they refer back to for a loong time. [A side note: I adore how Stoller refers to the rear, bumpy side of a chain as the "butt" and I'll have to call it that from now on.]

But, I know most of you guys already know the basics of crochet [and a good deal more] and you're concerned with the important part: the patterns. This book has over three dozen patterns in seven categories:

[Click HERE to view the TOC.]

    Scarves and Shawls - I'm more pleased with this section than I had expected to be, mainly because it's got the pattern for the beautiful Sweet Pea Shawl by Amie at Nexstitch. Although there is one uber-simple sc scarf, there's a rather cute one made out of oversized flowers that makes up for it, too, and a scalloped edged number that's simple but classic. This section also includes a capelet pattern that I'm not so fond of, but, in general I am not so fond of capelets.


    Hats - This part features designs by two prominent designers in the [online, at least,] crocheted hat world. Dot Matthews has the Yeehaw Lady cowboy-style hat [similar to, although not the same as, THIS ONE], and Laura Killoran, a.k.a. Croshay, has her Boy Beanie [pattern also available for sale HERE, scroll down the page.] I think my fave pattern in this section is Anarchy Irony Hat, although there's also a very cute earflap hat, and a scarf/cap set done in a petal stitch. [I have to wonder what they were thinking with THIS, though. Ugh.]


    Bags - Mostly cute, classic styles here. There's a darling, tiny retro clutch, as well a boho-style granny bag. There's a couple funky little tote patterns, like Orange You Glad, which are refreshing. There is also a nylon purse, and the bangle-handled Fat-Bottom Bag [in green or gold] is very fashionable. I like the variety of projects in this section, and I can see myself making every single one of these bags, if not for me than as a gift; that's not something I find very often!


    Spring & Summer - This is one of my favorite sections, cuz this is where the wearables are! There's 6 patterns, my favorite of which are the tops: Blissful, a smokin-hot ripple-stitch halter, and Cupcake, a charming square-necked tee. LaVonne has a lacy cropped jacket pattern, and there's two versions of the mesh, tie-front shrug that has been so popular lately. There's also a modest striped tank, and a not so modest Bikini In a Bag.


    Fall & Winter - Again, this is where the garments are, and again, there are six fabulous designs. The fitted Prepster jacket is a wardrobe classic, and the Jolly Roger makes a nice man-sweater. Quite possibly my two favorite patterns in the book are the Unseamly Sweater, shaped only by using different stitch patterns, and the FrouFrou wrap I mentioned yesterday. There's also a gorgeous lace cardigan, Go for Barouque, that looks like something right out of a boutique. Oh, and a great skirt, too...


    Accessories - My least favorite section, but that's probably because I'm not really the accessories type, y'know? There's a simple chain st wire jewelry set, which is like mandatory in crochet books lately. This section also includes a corset-style belt, some cute flower patterns for brooches, and a vintage-inspired pair of lacy fingerless gloves. The nicest pattern here [IMO] is for the fulled Fluffy Bunny Slippers - too, too adorable.


    Home, Gifts & Baby - I was refreshingly pleased with the patterns they chose here. First off are all the baby items I can actually see making - the Li'l Monkey set by Carmen is unique, unisex and something any hip parents would appreciate. The stuffed toy duo are cute and remind me of something old fashioned, and there's another blanket/hat set, Seija, that I adore for it's modern cuteness and my mom adores for it's practicality [acrylic yarn, carseat buckle hole, etc]. There's a few iPod cozy designs, which, like wire, also seem mandatory lately. The home dec designs are updated traditionals - a graphed skull hot pad, a funky faux-astro-turf Doris Daymat, and - I love this - the Color-Bar Blanket, one of the only cool granny-square projects I have ever seen.


I'm really satisfied with the recommended yarn selections in this book, too. No bias against cheap yarn here, as there are projects [nice ones, too] done in RH Super Saver, Bernat Big Value and Softee Chunky, LB Wool-Ease and Lion Cotton. There are some middle-of-the-roaders, like Paton's Classic Merino Wool, Cascade 220 and Classic Elite Flash. And then there's the higher ends, like Karabella Aurora, Noro Kureyon and Louet Euroflax. Each pattern has lots of info about the yarn, too, including weight and yardage, so it should make substituting easier.

Most garment patterns have four or five size options, too, going up to XL and XXL, with "real people" measurements like a 50" bust or 52" hips. And, most of the designs [excluding the bikini and halter, maybe] are such that they'd actually look good on fuller figures. Furthermore, each item of clothing has a labeled schematic drawing with it, which I find immensely helpful.

18 Comments:

Blogger SheCrochets said...

Thanks for the in-depth review! I have the original knitting Stitch 'n Bitch and enjoyed it, but was curious if the crocheting version would suffer from the "crocheting sucks" attitude present in the original. Glad to see it (mostly) doesn't; I'll have to add this to my wish list now!

3:54 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

That is a nice review of the book! Thanks!

4:13 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Very nice, informative preview of the book. Thanks

4:59 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Hey great job in reviewing the book! -Pam

5:02 PM  
Blogger Deneen said...

What a wonderful review! I want that Sweet Pea Shawl pattern anyway, so the book will be worth it. I also have bought a few of LaVonne's patterns, they're very nice too.

Damn, now I will have to get the book eventually.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Great review! Now I want the book.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Erica B. said...

Great review. I think we all should get together in craftster and do a CAL of the "Unseamly Sweater".

11:11 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Grrrr! Do you get kickbacks from the publisher?!? I'm trying soooo hard not to be a shopaholic and you blog this excellent review??? I'm so weak and you aren't helping! :-)

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

Thanks for posting a review! I was going to hold off on buying this book because I was a skeptic. Now that I have seen the gorgeous patterns, I'm gonna have to get it. :P

3:33 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

What a great review!!! Thanks for the info! (although my wallet doesn't thank you)

9:22 PM  
Blogger Lucy said...

Great review....I bought the book last night, but in trying to finish my olympic project I haven't even opened it. I tell you it is going fast in the stores though. Plan on spending my Sunday with my nose in that book. (did you ever consider a job in reviewing craft books...we all could use someone like you before we buy)

11:47 AM  
Blogger robyn said...

I saw your review on Amazon and I was wondering if you bought it there. I went to buy this book at a local bookstore and pages 263-278 were missing. I am trying to find a place that doesn't have the defective copies. Thanks.

6:43 AM  
Anonymous laurel said...

Thanks for the great review and links! I've really been looking forward to this book!

9:33 PM  
Blogger Colleen said...

Great review! The cheapest I've seen the book is for 15.95 at Borders in Novi. Oh yeah, I'm from the MI (a.k.a. "The Enchanted Mitten...hahahaha) too.

-colleen

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

woohoo! thanks for the great review. i appreciate all of the mouth-watering pics. now we know where some of my next paycheck will be going. (and of course, i'll have to buy yarn with the rest) :)

12:27 PM  
Blogger veronica said...

Thanks so much for the great book review. I was dying to know what it was like and you answered all my questions! I'm off to buy it! Thanks again and happy hooking!

9:28 AM  
Anonymous jen said...

Just been googing for ages to see what was in this book - love your review :) Thanks for taking the time to take pics and put it up.

2:17 AM  
Blogger Elena Melling said...

I am really struggling to get my swatch correct and looking like the pattern for the blissful halter top. My ruffles look more like S's. They don't lay out at all like the picture. Any idea what I'm doing wrong??

10:12 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home