Thrift Store Find: The Complete Encyclopedia of Stitchery

January 14, 2014 in Reviews

Review of The Complete Encyclopedia of Sitchery | Thrift Store Finds on


Good crafting books can be really expensive, so whenever I’m at the thrift store I like to peruse the craft books section since every book is under $3.  On my last trip through I was in a hurry but the cover of this book caught my eye and I picked up on a whim for $2.99.  I definitely got my money’s worth!

The book is split into 7 parts: crochet, embroidery, knitting, macramé, rugmaking, sewing, and tatting.  I love that crochet was the first section!  The book was printed in 1979 (it’s older than I am!) so I’m very appreciative to the owner for taking such good care of it.  The dust cover is a bit tattered by the book itself is in perfect shape.   It doesn’t contain any photos, but there are page after page of absolutely fantastic line drawings.

The crochet section along is 147 pages.  I think if you were an absolute beginner this book would cover everything you’d ever need to know to crochet.  It covers terms and abbrevations, basic crochet stitches and their variations, materials and tools, stitch patterns, and styles and types of crocheting.  It also covers tunisian, fillet, and irish crochet techniques.

The other parts of the books are similarly decadent.  I’m one of those folks who crochets and knits so I can see myself getting a lot of use out of the knitting section as well.  I’m going to spend more time in the embroidery section because I think it might be a good way to dress up the amigurumi.  It’s also been fun to read about tatting.  I had always assumed it was some form of crochet but it’s completely different.

There are tons of cool techniques and stitches I’d never seen before that I can’t wait to turn into tutorials!  I’m so pleased with how nice the book turned out to be since I didn’t even have time to crack the cover before I purchased it.  The book is out of print (at the moment) but you can find used copies from anywhere from a penny to $18 on Amazon.

Review of Amigurumi: Super Happy Crochet Cute

December 13, 2008 in Reviews

Elisabeth Doherty is without a doubt one of the trail-blazers in terms of taking amigurumi from a hobby to an art form.  In fact, it was one of her creations that originally inspired me to start crafting them.  Her book, Amigurumi: Super Happy Crochet Cute, was released in September of 2007.  I was a little apprehensive at first because there are only 14 patterns, but the first 32 pages alone makes it worth the price.

In the first section of the book she gladly shows all her cards.  Her list of materials contain not only a what but a why and goes beyond the basic tools to the things she uses to take her creations to a professionally finished level.  She describes (with illustrations) many more crochet stitches than are found in the typical amigurumi tutorial.  She also broaches the subject of gauge which is practically a taboo in the amigurumi world but goes on to explain why it’s so important in getting a precise replication of her patterns.  She even shares several of her techniques for adding the emblishments that are so key to her designs and also my primary reason for purchasing the book.  My only disappointment was the section on assembly.  Her instructions were brief and lacked the useful illustrations found elsewhere in this section.  Still, it’s a staggering amount of knowledge that you’re not likely to find in other books or internet tutorials.

The book is designed so that the patterns increase in difficulty from a simple carrot to Strawberry the cutely-punk kitty girl.  The beginner patterns are all foods and might be a little disappointing to people hoping for more intricate patterns but they’re worth reading just for the great techniques.  She shows that even for something that seems typical she’s got something new to offer in terms of techniques and details.

This is followed by a brief section of small animals which includes a portly mouse, a spunky weiner dog, a sweet pig, and an adorable fawn.  The last section of the book contains the four humanoid patterns: Hep Cat, Benny the Monkey, Punk Bunny, and Strawberry.   However, all of the patterns begin with detail information about finished size, materials, gauge, and techniques used.  Her instructions for completing the faces is extremely precise down to the exact position and expression to be conveyed.  Although there are no in-progress shots, there are shots of every pattern from multiple angles.  The patterns end with a list of the brands and colors of yarns used to help answer that universal newbie question “What kind of yarn should I use?”

Alas, this is not the first book I would recommend to someone wanting to learn crochet and amigurumi at the same time, but it is definitely the first book I would recommend to someone wanting to take their amigurumi to a higher level.   Don’t get me wrong, I think the book is excellent, but I don’t think the early patterns are sufficient to instill the sense of confidence that will be needed for her advanced techniques.  It’s an excellent resource and I’m very grateful to the author for sharing so many great insights both in the creation and design of amigurumi.