Thursday, January 18, 2007

'70's Read-Along Book #2: Crochet and Creative Design

"So earnest was the enthusiasm of the young people toward creating their individual things, and so intense their endeavor toward this end, that even their first attempt toward a new style started a fashion trend, and indeed a very popular fad." Annette Feldman
Crochet and Creative Design (1973, 1st ed.) is Annette Feldman's first crochet book. Crochet sure was a natural high back in 1973! Just the historical background she gives in Chapter 1 left me jazzed; by the time she brings us up to 1973 (end of Ch. 2), I was breathless and even jealous! Crochet is bliss for me too, but I missed out on the wild sensation that it was. Imagine a shortage of hooks and yarn! Imagine writing that everyone's doing it--even if it wan't technically true, it must have felt like it was.

I collect needlework magazines & leaflets spanning the early '60's to the early '70's because I'm fascinated by the abrupt fashion shifts in the mid-'60's, and in these publications, crochet's fevered pitch peaked at or before 1973; perhaps the true peak is around 1971 and then it coasts through to '73? I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this who were there, you lucky devils. So I also felt sad for the author as I read these chapters. She clearly thinks the crochet hysteria has lots of life left in it. She would have written the manuscript in '72 at the very latest. I'm anxious to see shifts in the post-'73 books I'll be reading.

I'd sum up the message of Chapters 3-5 as: "If you think crocheting is outtasight, wait 'til you wear something you've designed yourself!" (I'm not denying that she's right.) Not only that, but designing is a piece of cake and now that it's 1973, you no longer have to worry about whether your design is fashionable. If it looks good to you, then "believe it is good" she says.

There is the usual "How to" section and she offers a bit of guidance for making circles that lie flat. The text goes on for long unbroken columns, but when Feldman is excited, it's easy to read and you're (I was) carried aloft. When she's explaining math, however, it becomes off-putting, even though I already know what she's trying to say. Some charts and visual aids would make it so much more accessible. Textbook writers know how to do this.

After these very dense chapters are six that are basically stitch dictionaries--Tunisian, filet, etc. These take up three-quarters of the whole book. I can report fingers itching for hook and yarn when I saw unusual stitch patterns that I'm sure she made up herself. Many incorporate long single crochet and split hdc-clusters that I hope to swatch up and post here another time.

The final chapter, the "Designer's Guide", is a fantastic idea, but of limited real use to me now. It gives standard dimensions or proportions for many items, but often the info is narrow, outdated, or the math is wordy and dense.

I thank the author for the exhilarating slice of '73 and the ambitious scope of this book. She's a true crochet sister. I'm not sure how long I will hold onto it--I doubt I would use it as reference but I may keep it for other reasons. I'll wait until I've read the others.


  1. Anonymous2:46 PM

    Bummer, I read the wrong book. Somehow I missed that you were reading Annette Feldman's book next and I reviewed Del Pitt Feldman's instead. I couldn't get the next three books on the list from the library, so I'll have to jump in when we get to Mark Dittrick's two books. Keep going, I'll follow along! Ellen

  2. Hi Ellen, I'm reading Del Pitt Feldman's Crochet: Discovery and Design right now. Is that the one you just read?

  3. Anonymous11:48 AM

    Actually, No, instead, I must have been destined to find this book, "Crocheter's Art" by Del Pitt Feldman (1972) because it attempts to answer one of my favorite questions, "is crochet art or craft?". It is a question that I enjoy thinking about, though it is ok with me that there may not be a definitive answer. Anyway, I am interested in hearing your review of Del Pitt's other book "Crochet" Discovery and Design" and if you're interested, I'll make a few notes about this book. Ellen

  4. Anonymous4:17 PM wish for you coming up! I was there...LOL!
    It was the time of the granny square...granny caps/hat; long granny scarves; vests (closed and open) and some shawls ala Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac fame (and they started in the 70's). Of course the author would feel as if it wouldn't end...all were into the here and now (just like today is to us??). Fashion didn't know what it wanted as it was the time of the Mini, Midi AND Maxi. And it was just after the 60's- back to the arts era and only 4 years after Woodstock.
    If she could see the future she'd know Disco was coming and that would be the start of designer jeans, silk shirts and high shoes!It's true that "what's old is new again"...I still have the original pattern booklets from that era and it's all back...just newer yarns (thank goodness!)but still many, many designs are "redone retro". BUT! Love that crochet is enjoying such a resurgence in popularity. I'm even back to it as never before.
    The 1970's I remember most as THE decade of music. So many names and bands began then that are still around was a big transition for music.
    I'll start the next book and try to keep on track for that. LOL!
    This is great! Anne

  5. Anonymous6:06 PM

    Vashti, this is just so much fun! If you liked this book by Annette Feldman, I hope you have a chance to also review her "Handmade Lace and Patterns" which came out in 1975. It contains more of the same kind of text, and covers lace (and patterns) made by knitting and tatting, in addition to crochet.

    I'm looking forward to your next review.

    B. J.

  6. Hi Anne, now that you mention Fleetwood Mac, I can see how Stevie Nicks could have inspired some crocheted shawls.

    Hi B. J.--I swatched up some stitch patterns from Annette's book, which I'll post--I need a sunny day--and I'll be writing up another review a.s.a.p.

  7. Anonymous7:52 PM


    I've been trying to find a certain knitting book which I believe is by Annette Feldman. Can anyone tell me if the author was born in Spain? It should say on the inside cover, "about the author". That would be the final clue to my search for this particular book.



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