Sunday, November 18, 2012

Curvy Girl Crochet by Mary Beth Temple

Curvy Girl Crochet by Mary Beth Temple
I collect crochet books. Especially ones that have more than just patterns in them. I like books that have lots of explanations, like how to alter garments. I learn a lot from reading the explanations -  how to make patterns fit me. Even patterns designed for "curvy girls". Which I am not. But - I  find ideas, hints, and ways to make the patterns fit my shape. And my style. I like loose, not fitted waists. I like long sleeves. I like long sweaters that go below my hips. One reason I started designing sweaters was because I couldn't find patterns for sweaters that I liked. (The other reason is that I could never get the gauge for the pattern, even with the same yarn that was used in the pattern.) So, I started designing - for me, and then for others. But I still had to learn/know things - like how many inches to add to my actual measurements to accommodate for ease. And what kind of ease I wanted - negative or positive. And how to adjust the length of sleeves so I could have a short sleeved garment or a long sleeve garment, or even a sleeveless garment, with the same pattern. And how to adjust the length of the garment, so I wouldn't have it too long, or too short. I didn't want to sit on the fabric, nor did I want to have the hem at the widest part of my hips. And what should I do about the neckline? If I wanted something that was a V-neck, or even a rounded, scoop neck, I had to make sure that it wouldn't be too low, or too high, but just right. Lots of things to think about when designing a sweater, or when altering a sweater that's already been designed, and the pattern written, but that you want to change. It's not a matter of just adding or subtracting stitches to make an armhole wider or narrower. You have to know where and when to decrease or increase, and where or when to crochet "even". You have to know what the fabric will do, how it will drape with the alterations. If the garment has seams, depending on where you sew the seams, the fit may change. If the garment has buttons, depending on where you place the buttons, the fit and the garment may change. So for designers, designing a garment, and also for crocheters, altering an already designed pattern can be scary. 
But luckily, Mary Beth Temple has just solved our problems with her new book Curvy Girl Crochet

All of those things I mentioned in the above paragraph - all those things that could cause problems, whether you are designing a pattern or following a pattern, Mary Beth explains thoroughly. And more. She even talks about yarn and hooks. Even though yarns may have the same CYCA weight designation, they may not be equivalent. The fibers may react differently, they may not be exactly the same weight, they may handle differently, etc. And hooks - when you make your gauge swatch to see if your fabric that you make will be what you want, use the same hook that you will be crocheting the garment with. Hooks made with different materials may give you different gauges. Also, make sure you check the millimeter measure for the hook you use. Hooks that have the same letter designation made by different manufacturers (or by the same manufacturer but made at different times) may not be the same millimeter size. And even if they are the same millimeter, the shape of the hook may be different - inline or tapered. And even inline hooks, by the same manufacturer, out of the same material, may have a slightly different shape if they were made at different times. And not all tapered hooks are the same tapered shape. So the best thing to do is to keep your hook with your project! I have found this out by experience, and teach my students this - that all hooks are not equal!
Mary Beth even explains how to measure yourself, and why you shouldn't use old tape measures. And throughout the book, Mary Beth has tips and hints to make your crocheting and your projects better. This is one thorough book!!!
Looking through this book, I've been picking out garments and accessories I want to make for me. The Stratum wrap - it's one-size fits all, so I may not have to do too much altering. The Sensible Shawl,
the Shimmer Scarf, 

felted Carryall

also look interesting. I like the Peacoat for Rule Breakers, the Simply Stripes Jacket, 
the Perfect Base Tank Top,

the Progressive Tunic, 

and the Essential Pullover.

Hmm - now I just have to find the time.
Oh - two other things in the book. Things that I just love to find! Pattern schematics, of course. And STITCH DIAGRAMS! So if you're used to using them, you can. And if you're not used to using stitch diagrams, you can practice by reading the pattern directions and looking at the stitch diagrams, and working back and forth. 
This book, Curvy Girl Crochet, by Mary Beth Temple is a definite must for your book shelf! 

The pictures in this review come from Curvy Girl Crochet, published by Taunton Press in 2012. All photos ©Susan Pittard, the photographer, and reprinted by permission.