I learned how to crochet about the same time that I learned how to knit, but I haven’t done much crochet as an adult. I enjoy crocheting quite a bit, and I generally find it easier to create something with crochet than with knitting, especially small accessories and toys, but when I start a new project I usually find myself reaching for my knitting needles.
My grandmother almost always knitted sweaters, but she always used crochet for making afghans and toys. I still have collections of strange things that she made with crochet: Barbie doll dresses, a turtle, an ice-cream cone, a watermelon slice potholder, and more. I love all of these things, even though they’re silly. But, as I said, I haven’t done much crochet myself, and I’m not sure why that is. My first book idea was about the topic of crochet for knitters, I’ve published one crochet pattern, and I’ve tech edited several crochet books over the years. Lately I’ve found myself thinking about crochet more and more, and I wondering if I will start working on more crochet projects in the future, in a move away from writing patterns and more into creating artful and whimsical pieces to explore my creativity.
Thinking about this, I was very excited to be asked to participate in the blog tour for Amy O’Neill Houck’s book, Crochet for Bears to Wear. This is a book my grandmother would have loved. It’s full of small projects to make for the children in your life – those little boys and girls (and perhaps a few big ones, too) who love teddy bears.
Because I’ve been thinking about crochet a lot, I decided to make a small project to see how I felt about Amy’s crochet pattern writing style. I found the instructions to be very clear and easy to follow. The project I chose to make, the Show Your Colors Book Bag on page 57, included a stitch I always forget: esc, or extended single crochet. I wasn’t sure if this book included techniques, because I jumped right into the patterns at the beginning, so I flipped to the index and found extended single crochet was, indeed, explained. Although there are no pictures to go with the instructions (readers should have a basic knowledge of crochet stitches), the step-by-step instructions for all of the special techniques included are also clear and easy to follow.
All of the projects are contemporary and classic. What do I mean by that? Some crochet toys and garments, to me, are kitschy to the extreme. But not these projects. They have a modern styling and the bears wearing the garments in this book would be at home in upscale gift shops, not just at charity craft bazars.
But my favorite feature of this book is not the patterns themselves, it’s the fact that Amy gives tips on each project so you can customize it and make it in a different size – to fit your favorite bear. Making these small projects does not take much time or money, and I think it’s a wonderful way to explore designing your own projects and learning about sizing. Making small projects is also an excellent way to learn a new craft, or brush up your skills if you haven’t done much crocheting lately.
If you are a knit-only crafter, you should also check out Amy’s book Knits for Bears to Wear instead. But if you know how to crochet, even if you rarely use it for whole projects like me, I highly recommend this book for getting your creative-crochet juices flowing.