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Easy Crocheted Accessories

Reported by Dana Vitek

I’m a beginner crocheter; I just started in January, and while I have moved passed the “what is THIS mess” stage, I’m still new to pattern reading and understanding. I chose Easy Crocheted Accessories by Carol Meldrum as one of my first reference books. It has tons of cute, easy projects to choose from, and is written in a clear, easy-to-read format.

The author included a fabulous “Materials, Tools & Techniques” section as the first chapter, great for newbies like me, but I suspect even a seasoned crocheter might learn a thing or two. She has terrific photos and diagrams of different stitches, which makes it easy to see what the finished swatch should look like. She also included an in-depth discussion on yarn types and how to go about making yarn substitutions. I really felt that this introduction added a lot to the book.

I picked three projects to make, and have spent the last few weeks crocheting furiously. I have an confession to make: I am a pattern maker’s worst nightmare, because regardless how how much experience I (do not) have with a craft, I assume that if I can’t understand the directions, something is wrong with THEM, not with ME. Thankfully, I had very few confusion episodes with these patterns.

I started with this super cute striped, felted bag.

It’s the first project in the book, and as written, requires the crocheter to change yarns every four rows. I assume that is to help you practice changing colors and fastening off, skills that every new crocheter needs tons of work on. I changed the pattern up a little (see, I told you, nightmare), and switched yarns every eight rows (or so). This bag is simple, uses only single crochet, and according to the teen-aged girls I had around as I was making it, “totally CUTE! I would DEFINITELY carry that!”

Feeling pretty good about myself, I tackled project number 19, the Open-mesh shrug.

I have to tell you, I’m pleased as punch with the way this turned out; it fits just like it is supposed to, and is something I would not be embarrassed to wear to work over a tank top. I had a little bit of trouble with the armhole shaping on the first side, but it was easier on the second, once I knew what I was doing. The last couple rows of the pattern didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but by that time I was feeling confident enough to just wing it, and it turned out great.

Finally, I whipped up this adorable bracelet in a couple of hours, because if there’s one thing I have languishing in my craft stash, it’s beads!

The pattern was simple to follow, although I’m glad I have a background in jewelry design and construction, because the directions were not all that detailed on how to attach the clasp, and I imagine if you didn’t know how, it might be confusing. I dare say that mine came out better than the author’s (sorry Carol!), and I definitely see myself making this one (and variations of it) again and again.

Each pattern in the book has a side bar called “Before you start” which lists all of the particulars (materials, hook size, gauge, finished size, key techniques and abbreviations) for that project in one easy-to-find place. I loved that feature, as I was able to tell at a glance whether or not I already had all the right skills, and all the right stuff to do the project. I especially loved that she re-listed the abbreviations on each page, because standard crochet pattern instructions read like another language, and I hate flipping pages to decipher them. She also has “Tips” and “New Skills” boxes scattered throughout the book which I found to be quite helpful.

Speaking of at-a-glance details, here are mine for this book:

Pros:

  • Great photos of finished projects as well as detail shots.
  • Clear directions in standard American crochet terminology (the author is Scottish, but I never would have guessed).
  • Includes a resource section on where to find specialty yarns in the U.S., as well as a project by project listing of each yarn used, a glossary, and an Internet resource list.

Cons:

  • Some of the patterns were not to my taste, but many were. I’ll get a lot of use out of this book.
  • I wish this book was spiral-bound so it would lay flat while I’m working. I have this gripe about most books, though.
  • I’m a lefty, and there was not a “special for lefties because you’re so awesome” section. Again, I have this gripe about most crochet books, and if I really need special directions, I hold a mirror up to the diagrams and pretend I’m DaVinci.

Where to buy:
I got mine at Michael’s, but you can also find it at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or directly from the publisher. If you have a local yarn shop, you could check with them too. It retails for $24.99, which makes it less than a buck a pattern, a great deal as far as I’m concerned. I give this book two overworked thumbs up!

Do you have this book? Do you love it, or would you change something about it? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Dana Vitek

Dana Vitek is a craft-‐‑supply hoarder with an obscenely understanding husband. She works full-‐‑time as a geologist, and spends her free time sort of paying attention to her two kids, reading a lot, and crafting. She's a crocheter, but not a knitter because knitting seems way too complicated. She's a card maker, but usually only 10 minutes before a birthday party. She cusses at her sewing machine. She has at least 12 different types of glue, but can never find the scissors she wants when she wants them. Dana started writing and editing for Craft Critique in 2008. She is perhaps best known for her Mother of All Black Ink Tests, and her annual April Fool's posts. She blogs extremely irregularly at Stamping Science. http://stampingscience.blogspot.com

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5 Responses to Easy Crocheted Accessories

  1. IamSusie April 30, 2008 at 9:17 am #

    Great job on that crochet! You don’t seem at all like a beginner! I love crochet so much. I do not have this book , but I will check it out because I prefer making accessories instead of clothes.

  2. Mary April 30, 2008 at 11:13 am #

    Great review – love your writing style (and the DaVinci comment LOL).

    I haven’t crocheted in years and your finished projects look awesome – I may start hooking again (in a crochet way!!)

  3. Alex April 30, 2008 at 5:30 pm #

    Oooh this is fantastic, you did a great job Dana, I love that bracelet, and you need to post a piccie of you in your shrub on your blog so I can come see!!! lol Great job xxxx

  4. Stampin Cats May 1, 2008 at 4:57 am #

    Great article. I’ll have to check out this book. It was mentioned about the bracelet that the directions where not very clear. That would be my only draw back from getting this book.

  5. Anonymous May 2, 2008 at 1:51 pm #

    Great review! I’m not into crochet myself but have threatened to take up the hobby after I retire. I LOVE the bracelet! I’ll have to refer the pattern to my mom or sister who do crochet so I can wear such a fabulous creation.