I have a pile of new books, and thought I’d share some with you.

The first is Positively Crochet by Mary Jane Hall. This books has over FIFTY designs. My absolute favorite is the Easy Shrug [Ravelry]-a ribbed shrug style I’ve seen a lot in knitting patterns (It looks a bit like EZ’s ribwarmer), but not many crocheted versions. You can actually get a sneak peek of this pattern because Mary Jane has re-written it with updated sizing on her web site.

I also love the jewelry and accessories in this book. There’s a felted “net” scarf, a very cute Noro bag with little flowers, and a neat watchband that would be good for some thriftstore refashioning–you could find the watch face at the thrift store and make a new band for it in an afternoon. There’s a cute “mini keychain purse” and a beaded ring made with crocheted wire.

The book is a nice large format with lots of color photos–it could use more detailed schematics and stitch diagrams. And although most of the garments in the book don’t fit my own personal style, there are enough accessories in this book to keep me busy for some time.

I also recently ordered a new stitch dictionary, Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss’ new book 365 Crochet Stitches A Year It’s a perpetual calendar so it can be used to try a new stitch each day, or as a conventional stitch dictionary. The calendar is well designed. It’s sturdy and stands up well. It’s big and easy to flip through. I love stitch dictionaries and even if I may have lots of the stitches in other books, seeing them in a new format can bring inspiration. There’s no obvious organization to the stitches but there is an index in the back listing them alphabetically. My only pet peeve with the book is there are no stitch charts!

The only knitting book currently on my review list is Iris Schreier’s Lacy Little Knits. Lace is big these days, but most folks I know are using lace weight yarn to make scarves and shawls. Iris’ book is different because it features mostly garments. The book begins with some lace knitting how-to, and then the projects range from easy to advanced. All of the projects in the book use Iris’ on yarn line Artyarns.

One of the easy patterns that I like is the Four rectangle sweater–as the name suggests it’s a simple drop shoulder design but the beautiful lace pattern and semi-solid yarn add the necessary sophistication. The book also has a fun “Faux Crochet” bolero (that’s it’s real name!) and I like the Baby’s breath Tee which is mostly stockinette with lace edgings. Iris uses her famous modular knitting techniques to great effect in the retro-looking “Shapely Symmetry Sheath.” I love the construction of the “Long Stitch Wrap,” This hardcover book is beautifully produced with big color photos and clear schematics, but once again, no stitch charts!

Finally, two new crochet books from Lark Books, Crochet Chic by Francine Toukou. This book begins well with a chunky ribbed cowl that you can pull up over your head. It’s a super-simple project of back loop crochet but the result is stunning. The book is full of simple patterns that are styled and finished to great effect. There’s a double-crocheted scarf that has a very dramatic two-foot fringe, and a pretty mohair lacy scarf with little v-stitches and a ruffled edge. Mohair is used again in a beautiful granny scarf–it’s amazing how sophisticated the granny can look in the right yarn.

I have to admit-when I first glanced at this book, I thought it wasn’t for me, but I realized what didn’t like was the photo styling, not the projects–the models are heavily made up with “big” hair dos and “glamour-shot” style pictures. When I looked past the styling I realized there are many projects I’d like to make. Alas, there are no schematics or stitch charts for this book.

Finally, a new kids’ crochet book by Jane Davis, Crochet: Fantastic Jewelry, Hats, Purses, Pillows and more. When I teach beginners to knit or crochet I often recommend children’s books because the instructions and writing is clearer than traditional pattern books. Jane Davis’ book is no exception. There’s a simple introductory section with photo how-to as well as written instructions, discussion of abbreviations for pattern reading and even instructions on increasing and decreasing. I love that there are projects for using the miles of chain beginners always create. The patterns in this book are for kids, but not lacking in sophistication. Kids quickly move from rectangles to crocheting in the round, and there they can make balls and stuffed animals. There’s a great section on crocheted mesh with fun projects for string bags, a toy hammock, and finally a beautiful shawl all using the same technique. The book includes felting sewing in a zipper and more challenging techniques for those with an adventurous bent. I love the photographs of real kids (boys and girls!) crocheting and enjoying crochet. Prior to this book, there were only a few kids crochet books, and Jane Davis’ makes a nice addition.

There you have it! Have you used any of these books? What do you think?

Book Review Roundup