Crochet Fantasy came in the mail yesterday. I hold my breath whenever a crochet magazine arrives because I’m never too optimistic about what I’ll find inside. I still wish someone would take the time and money to add the production (photography, lighting, paper, graphics, layout) value to crochet magazines that seem to be inherent in most knit mags (Vogue & Interweave esp.), but that’s another blog post…

This issue had a couple of pretty patterns (Including Carol Ventura’s amazing Whole World Coat in tapestry crochet) but what really caught my eye was an article describing Judith Copeland’s Modular Crochet — classic crochet book from the seventies — in great detail. The article had a really nice biography of Ms. Copeland and instructions and schematics for producing your own version of her sweater construction.

The Modular Crochet method is similar to other new-sew methods of construction–rectangles of fabric are crocheted together and the garment builds as you go instead of creating the pieces one at a time and sewing them all together at the end. (I suspect she was one of the first to publish them) but the one thing that makes sweaters made with her method fit so well is that the crochet is turned on it’s side. The fabric which is created from top to bottom is turned 180 90 (doh!) degrees and assembled “sideways.” The resulting fabric has an unusual drape which is hard to achieve in crochet. The sweaters are a bit boxy because there’s no real shaping, but so much less so than many crocheted garments I’ve seen with lots of shaping that I’m eager to try. Coincidently, the vest I’m designing right now also uses sideways crocheted fabric but a different sort of construction…

I had heard of modular crochet for some time, but Ms. Copeland’s book is out of print and apparently hard to find (there were no copies on e-bay, but I got lucky last night and found one for sale on Amazon for much less than it’s normal $100 price tag…)

This sweater was made by Linda Grafton of Grafton Fibers in the vein of Judith Copeland. I’d love to see how it looks on a person…

When I was searching for examples of modular crochet to show in this post, I came upon the amazing blog of a longtime crocheter and new knitter. She has such detail about how she designs and constructs her garments–it’s really fun to read about her successes and challenges. I can’t find her name anywhere on the blog, but here’s a link to a sweater she made in the modular style.

Ever since I tried to teach myself top-down knitting construction and made a little sweater out of soy silk yarn for the folks at Now and Then where I teach knitting in Takoma Park, I’ve been fascinated with top-down construction and I’d like to modify it for crochet. (I designed a skirt from the top-down recently, which was fun, but didn’t involve the fiddlyness of sleeves and necklines, etc.)

The blogger I spoke of earlier has done this with some success, here are the online resources she used:

UPDATE: Erica at Bound by my Hook” has a cool capelet she crocheted top-down raglan style…

If you’ve made any modular crochet garments or top-down crochet sweaters e-mail me and I’ll post pictures here.

Oh, and speaking of crochet from times past, I got a new book in the mail today: Vintage Styles for Today edited by Nancy J. Thomas of Lion Brand Yarn. It’s a big, glossy full-color book that takes patterns from Lion’s extensive archive and updates them for the modern stitcher. There seems to me to be about a 60% success rate with this book–in 30% of the patterns, the new version is *right on* and looks a lot like the model, and it’s cool–like the grey jacket featured on the back cover or the white, ribbed knitted shrug called the “Huge me tight shrug.” In 30% of the patterns, the new version looks *better* than the original lik in the Alpine Toque or the Sandal Sock. But in about 30% of the cases, the old picture is cooler looking than the remake–it seems to be for a couple of reasons–either the new yarn chosen just doesn’t work–i.e. to bright, too furry, too chunky, or as with the “Third Time’s a Charm Shawl” it’s because the designer changed the look of the pattern. In the picture which must be turn of the 20th century, this shawl has an almost sweater feel, and fits snugly and the sides look like sleeves. The modern version is a simple triangle shawl that’s oversized and doesn’t have the same fit…

The book is neatly laid out with clear instructions, schematics where appropriate and charts in some cases. There’s an index and a bibliography, but little information about where the original pictures came from or which designers created which modern versions. Oh, one other plus for crocheters out there–finally, a book with more crochet than knitting patterns!

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Modular and Top-Down Crochet: great garments without (much) sewing…

6 thoughts on “Modular and Top-Down Crochet: great garments without (much) sewing…

  • January 11, 2006 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing the information on modular and top-down crochet – very interesting! Like you, I just got the magazine with the modular crochet article and it prompted me to search for her book again. Coincidentally, I also found it for about half the usual $100…weird, eh? If I succeed in completing something modular, I’ll send a pic your way. Have a great day!

  • January 14, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    Nice post on modular work. 🙂

  • February 19, 2006 at 10:01 am

    I have been doing this type of crochet & knit style for over 57 years and NEVER knew it had a name. LOL

    I started it as a child for dolls dresses kuz it was so easy and I couldn’t read patterns at 6 years old anyway..!!! and I have continued the style ever since. With the advent of manual knitting machines I carried it over to knitting. To this day I use a manual machine and crochet in this fashion. I sure do love the NO JOINING ..


  • February 27, 2006 at 7:29 am

    Very interesting information. But don’t you mean that the crocheted piece is turned 90 degrees (not 180)? 🙂

  • June 27, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Copeland’s MODULAR CROCHET is available from Dover Books for about $25.

  • June 27, 2015 at 9:03 am

    That’s great to hear! It’s a wonderful book, so glad it’s being reprinted!

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