Thursday, December 02, 2010

Doris Chan's Crochet Lace Innovations

Crochet Lace Innovations by Doris Chan 2010.

Shiver Me Timbers!
Crochet Lace Innovations is simply gorgeous--the photostyling, the layout, the production values. Potter Craft (publisher) pulled out all the stops on this one! Each page showcases the sophistication and elegance of Doris' crochet designs with lovely lyrical typefaces, chic photography, and refined color palette. This means I pick it up just to leaf through it for a hit of pure beauty. I get a delicious shiver, and then it happens again:

I take the long-range point of view about crochet's past and future, and I've got a thing about crocheted fashion. After the 1970's crochet somehow went from uber-trendy to fashionless--even anti-fashionable--in American popular culture! This isn't true in many other countries. It also isn't true in haute couture or in Hollywood. Yet even today, there's a big market in the USA for crochet patterns of non-fashion projects. For example, crochet designs for baby items and for home decor are in constant high demand; whereas crocheting modern fashion statements is low on the list. For some weird reason it's the opposite for knitting patterns. I like all crochet, I just don't know why there aren't more fashion crocheters in this country.

Crochet Lace Innovations doesn't just suggest some general wearable crochet style. It confidently, triumphantly presents crochet in the larger modern fashion context with a specific sense of style--and this gives me delicious shivers as a crocheter.

Shivers aside, I consider Crochet Lace Innovations to be an important contribution to crochet. It's not just daydream material, or a succinct answer to crochet's critics. It's also a friendly reference. It's one of those rare books that is as strong on clear, basic instructions of new techniques as on fashion context. I've seen knit pattern books that are so focused on conveying a fashion viewpoint that the hands-on how-to teaching side of pattern publishing is shortchanged. For me, those books are great as inspirational gallery-like coffee table books, but might not clarify new techniques.

Some crocheters seem to assume that Doris' crochet patterns must be challenging because they're beautiful. I hope people don't assume this about the patterns in Crochet Lace Innovations. Each crochet technique--Broomstick, Hairpin, Tunisian--has step by step tutorials, expert diagrams, and tips for success, all in a warm conversational tone. There's also a separate chapter just on the basics of garment construction. 

You can sign up here if you'd like to receive alerts from Potter Craft about any forthcoming books by Doris Chan. See more information on her first book, Amazing Crochet Lace, here; and Doris' book #2, Everyday Crochet, here.

I have to say one more thing. I felt beautiful when I wore three of the garments in this book: the Bozena Dress (p. 96) at a CGOA/Crochet Guild of America conference, a hemp yarn version of Rohise Skirt (p. 41), and a platinum-colored satin Inara Scarf (p. 21) at a TNNA/National NeedleArts trade show.

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