Saturday, April 12, 2014

Crochet Book Review: Fine Art of Crochet by Gwen Blakley Kinsler

The long-awaited Fine Art of Crochet by Gwen Blakley Kinsler is an important and exciting book. It's not only an essential addition to every crocheter's library, it's a must-read for the non-crocheting artists and art/craft critics who think they already know about crochet as a medium. 
Buy this book at

An exciting element of this book for me is reading each professional artist's own words: the specifics of why s/he chooses it, and the lived experience of employing it for artistic expression--often over decades. Gwen allows each artist a considered, intimate, introspective space. I've gained insights that are going to enrich my own crocheting experiences. These windows into the artists' process leave me feeling a kinship with them. I will hear their voices now (along with my mother's, who taught me) as I crochet.

Gwen's book is a gift and a valuable reference. We get to see the big picture of how crochet is breaking new ground -- and has been all along

I like to read theoretical and historical material about art world issues, such as "Fine Art" versus "Craft" (etc.) and I usually have to mentally include crochet as I read about the significance of weaving, sculpture, art quilts, etc. Fine Art of Crochet fills in gaps!

Part of the thrill of knowing how to crochet is sensing the incredible potential built into even the most basic crochet stitches. We know that each new crocheter has the tools to create anything and we know what that feels like! I see this look dawn on the faces of students and I hear it in comments like, "With crochet you can just turn and make stitches go anywhere any time." I heard this same idea in some of the reasons why seasoned professional artists also choose crochet as their medium.

An unexpected benefit of reading this book for me is a nuanced sense of the birth of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). Gwen, who founded the CGOA in 1994, was spearheading crochet art exhibits in CGOA's earliest days. I'd heard about these events over the years, but seeing a full recounting of them in the fuller context of this book gives them, and Gwen, the credit due. Yet another reason to celebrate the guild's 20th anniversary this year!

If you like to think about the creative possibilities of crochet, see how crochet has been breaking new ground right under our noses all this time, and want hints to crochet's future, get this book. I found out about classes these crochet artists have been teaching that I didn't know about, and modern crochet art happenings. 
Gwen (right) & Vashti (left) February 2014

Thank you, Gwen! Fine Art of Crochet fills in the sometimes huge gaps in the existing literature about modern developments in art and craft, while serving as a road map for crocheters and others to the ongoing crochet revolution. 
Edited to add: Holy cow, now go check out this image-heavy review. Love it!