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.