Review: Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker ~ Debbie Stoller

The Happy HookerDebbie does crochet! Debbie Stoller, the “knitting superstar,” has been leading an entire movement of hip young knitters with her New York Times bestseller Stitch ’n Bitch and its follow-up, Stitch ’n Bitch Nation, together with over 521,000 copies in print. But guess what? For every one knitter in the world there are three crocheters—which translates into millions of hip, crafty, 18- to 35-year-olds ready to be happy hookers with Stitch ’n Bitch attitude, sexiness, ingenuity, and cool.

Written in the author’s cheeky chick style, this heavily illustrated book—featuring four-color photographs and instructional illustrations throughout—is chock-full of instruction, inspiration, and to-die-for designs, from a Fishnet Skullcap to a lacy evening wrap. For knitters and new crafters exploring the hook comes the primer: the advantages of crochet and the ways in which knitters (and nonknitters) benefit by learning this sister craft; a discussion of tools; all the cool yarns available, and what the different gauges mean; plus basic techniques and stitch patterns—including the chain stitch, picot, flowers, filet crochet, changing yarns, and finishing. Then come 40 fabulous, funky projects—the kind that make Stitch ’n Bitch rule—for crocheters: Pom Pom Capelet, Retro Clutch Purse, Anarchy Irony Hat, Ms. Pac Man Change Purses, Doris Daymat, Va-Va-Va Voom Bikini, Animal I-Pod Cozies, Kid’s Sock Monkey Poncho.

No, these aren’t your grandma’s doilies.

5 Thumbs-UpI’ve been a knitter for many many years, but have always wanted to learn how to crochet but, as my yearly attempts always seemed doomed to failure I was beginning to believe that old saying ‘knitters can’t crochet, and crocheters can’t knit’; until I found this book.

If you are starting from scratch after many frustrating attempts, this is the book for you and is a perfect example of what ‘learn how to’ craft book should be like.  Written in a clear and easy to understand manner, which is also laced with humour, this book covers it all.  If you are a visual learner, don’t despair, as this little tome is full of easy to understand illustrations that add weight to the ‘lessons’ they are contained in.  I found them very useful as, for some reason, when my brain wasn’t prepared to process the words the illustrations helped them sink in and stay there.

The book starts with a brief history of the craft and then progresses from there through tools, getting started, how to read charts and finally finishing with some easy first patterns to follow.  It covers yarns and the hooks that go with them, so even the most die-hard knitter will maybe have to shell out a couple of dollars to get themselves started.

The only thing I would say about this book, other than how wonderful it is, is that it would have been nice if the beginners patterns wear more along the line of household items and accessories rather than the usual wearables; however, this didn’t take away from my thorough enjoyment this book gave me, and the feeling of accomplishment that I now have from using it.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who, like me had given up hope of ever learning to crochet. Crocheters who want to learn to knit, don’t despair as this Author also has a book that covers this written in the same fashion.


Review: Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design ~ Amanda Brown

SpruceThis is the only book you’ll need to learn the craft and art of upholstery from start to finish. With clear instructions illustrated by more than 900 step-by-step photographs, the five projects included here are designed to teach all of the techniques and skills you need to reupholster any piece of furniture to suit your own taste and style.

2 Thumbs-Up

I am very much into upcycling and recycling old furniture as a way to reducing my carbon footprint, so when I was given the opportunity to review this book I jumped at the chance, thinking I would be now able to take on bigger projects and expand from the usual tables, bookcases etc., that I normally do.

The cover for this book is bright and colourful, and held at lot of promises as to what I might find within its pages, but it didn’t keep those promises.  Firstly I looked for the easiest project, in my mind, in the index which was an ottoman; again I was wrong, this was not going to be the easy to follow guide I imagined it to be.

For the experienced or intermediate upholsterer, this book is ideal and will help you take your skills to a top-notch level, but for beginners it will make you feel that all your successes up to this point have been failures, and this is not a feeling a book that describes itself as ‘the only book you’ll need to learn the craft and art of upholstery from start to finish’ should project.  Yes, the step by step instructions and accompanying photographs are very clear and detailed, but it isn’t until you read the list of required tools at the end of the book that you realise this is not for those wanting to learn the basics.

I felt that the ‘tool recommendations’ would have been better placed at the beginning of the book, along with some upholstery techniques that the reader would need to be familiar with before trying to start on these projects.  Also it needs to state that these are projects that may be best carried out in a workshop and away from inquisitive tiny hands due to the tools used, and that the materials suggested may turn out to be expensive for those on a limited budget.

I did enjoy looking at this book imagining myself doing these kinds of projects, and I do commend the Author for her skill in this area.  With this in mind I would recommend this book to anyone with more than a basic knowledge of upholstery, and who may be looking to take it to the next level with the intent of turning a hobby into a business.  Unfortunately this was not the book I was hoping it would be.