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Stitch N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker - Debbie Stoller

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3 Reviews

Genre: House / Garden / Author: Debbie Stoller / Paperback / 256 Pages / Book is published 2006-04-24 by Workman Publishing

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      13.04.2012 22:02
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      A very good book with fantastic reviews - great value for money. Great one-book option.

      Debbie Stoller is a well known stitcher, and this is a well-known and fat book. The idea of it is to teach you to crochet from scratch, and it makes a fantastic reference book for when your skills reach their height.

      Voulez-vous crochet avec moi?-

      This section of the book includes a brief history of crochet; why it is so much fun to crochet; crochet vs knitting, oh - don't go there. The last bit in this section gives a guide to crochet terms.

      Hook, line and sinker-

      This section is about hooks, types of yarn and reading yarn labels. It also helps with substituting yarn by providing a yarn weight table. This helps because we cannot get many brands of yarn over this side of the pond. You don't just get balls of yarn - you can get skeins and hanks. Hanks are long twists of yarn that have to be unravelled and rolled into a ball. There is a section within this book showing you how. It is not as easy at it sounds.

      Get shorty-
      I have a minor problem with this section. The Americans and British have different terminology for the stitches:

      American - British

      Slip Stitch Slip Stitch
      Single crochet Double crochet
      Double crochet Treble crochet
      Treble crochet Double treble crochet
      Double treble crochet Treble Treble Crochet

      The above terminology is correct. However, Debbie states in her book that the American slip stitch is called a single crochet in British terms. THIS IS WRONG! Britain and American both call it the slip stitch. Never have I come across the single crochet term in a British pattern.

      This section also starts you off with the actual act of crochet! Making a slipknot, how to hold the yarn, how to make a chain, how to work stitches into the chain, what a turning chain is, what tension is and why it is important, slip stitches and finishing off your work.

      Walking tall-

      This sections is about the other stitches. The various basic stitches just vary in height. For example, if stitch a scarf in the smallest basic stitch (double crochet) then you would be a long time. If you use the treble then your scarf will stitch up quick.

      The shape of things to come-

      This sections shows you how to shape, increase, decrease and how to get a small hole within you circle. When I started to crochet my flowers the middles used to be huge. There's a technique to getting a small hole that appears non-existent.

      Hooked on a feeling-

      This sections shows you all about different stitches:

      puff stitch
      popcorn stitch
      bobble stitch
      fishnet stitch
      picot stitch
      mesh stitch
      shell stitch
      ribbing
      crossed stitch
      crocheting around the post (this can create the waffle stitch, I believe)
      making a granny square.

      Picture this-

      This section is pretty small, but it touches colour work using tapestry crochet, working filet crochet and learning the Afghan stitch.

      Off the hook-

      This sections explain what blocking is and why you need to do it. It also goes into detail about sewing your pieces together and crocheting your own buttons and button holes. Creating tassles, fringes and pom-poms is all in this sections.

      Then comes the patterns:

      FORTY expertly written and designed items for men, babies and women (mostly women than men). The patterns vary from a scarf made of giant crocheted flowers, a scarf you can make from one skein, a cowboy hat that's rigid and retains its shape, a skirt, a professional looking cardigan, a bikini to sun yourself in, small bags and big bags, a shawl, a shrug, a short-sleeved top and many more. Each pattern comes with a full-colour picture (sometimes a few of them) and plenty of information: yarn and tension.

      The book itself is very colourful and written in humour. It is 292 pages long and worth every penny. The back of the book says $15.95, which is about a tenner. It can be bought online (the newer version has the mistakes correct, and that is important to get the product you want and not get frustrated with the craft) and can be bought for £6.92 and is eligible for FREE delivery. Second hand copies can be bought for less than £5, but postage is £2.80.

      I always check reviews online before I buy this book and it has phenominal ratings on Amazon.

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      01.03.2012 12:30
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      Full of fun, funky, contemporary and easy to follow patterns

      As a child my mum taught me to knit and when I moved out of home I decided to take it up again (mostly influenced by the fact that my new flat was above a wool shop, admittedly!). After a few months, however, I wasn't feeling the love for knitting and, having always fancied having a go at crocheting, decided to give that a try instead. As luck would have it, the woman that owned the wool shop was a knitter, not a crocheter and I'd been relying on her to teach me the basics, so I ended up perusing the trusted Amazon for books that might be useful instead. I ordered a selection that all received decent reviews and Stitch and Bitch The Happy Hooker was one of them - who could resist a book with a name like that?!

      It is one in a series of books by the American crafter Debbie Stoller (other titles cover knitting as well) and is available on Amazon for £6.92, although I believe I paid about £8 for it several years ago. It's a very appealing book, lookswise, with a nice bright cover with a picture of Debbie on the front looking all cool in her crocheted creations (cowboy hat, top, trimmed skirt) and gives you a clule as to what you'll find inside.

      The Happy Hooker is divided into the following categories:

      - Voulez-Vous Crochet Avec Moi?
      Which gives general information of the craft of crochet including its history and further details of what you can expect to get out of the book

      - Hook, Line and Sinker
      Where you can learn all the basics of crocheting and it's equipment and the different yarns you can use

      -Get Shorty
      An introduction to the very basics of beginning to crochet including how to hold your hook and yarn (much harder to accomplish than you would ever think!

      -Walking Tall
      A guide to the other crochet stitches, more complicated steps such as changing your yarn colour and understanding and following a crochet pattern. This section is incredibly useful as US terminology and UK terminology differ somewhat, so if you have an American pattern this part makes it easy to translate into "English"

      -The Shape Of Things To Come
      How to make your work more interesting by shaping it and crocheting in a circle rather than in a line

      -Hooked On A Feeling
      This part includes much more complicated stitches which make your patterns more interesting and crocheting the Granny Square - what most people think of when they think of crochet!

      -Picture This
      Again, more complicated aspects of crochet and a section I've not bothered with much yet, but it could be of use to grandma's and mummy's who are crocheting for little ones as it shows you how to add pictures in your work

      -Off The Hook
      This section deals mostly with finishing off your crochet, how to join pieces together and add embellishments, weave in ends, etc

      -Crochet Away
      For me the most interesting part, the patterns! Here you'll find a huge variety of patterns (40 of them) for all sorts of things; scarves, hats, bags, blankets, tops, gloves, slippers, jewellery...even a bikini! The patterns have different ability levels and skill levels so as you get better at crocheting you can advance through the book and find something that takes your fancy.

      Each pattern starts with an introduction from the author of it (these aren't all just written by one person, hence the wide variety of designs available) and is then followed by the instructions. There is also a phot of each pattern in it's finished form, and down the side of the page is a useful section telling you how big the finished item will be, which yarns are suitable for using for that project, what size hook you need to use and any other equipment you might need. It also gives a recap of instructions for any of the more complicated stitches used in it.

      I've made numerous items from this book now including the Garden Scarf, One-Skein Scarf, Anarchy Irony Hat, In Bloom Bag, Fat Bottom Bag and the Ruffled Corset Belt and there are still several more that I want to have a go at in the future (I'm thinking the Yeehaw Lady Cowboy Hat might be needed for my trip to Arizona this summer!). Each of the patterns has been easy to follow and, more importantly, easy to adapt to my own requirements. I've given several of my projects as gifts and they've all gone down a treat, especially the belt.

      All in all I've been happy with this book, mainly for the patterns. It's incredibly good value when you consider that if you buy individual patterns you can spend up to £3, even more in some cases, so to get 40 patterns for a little over 6 quid is great. Ok, there will always be some in there that you wouldn't touch with a barge pole (aforementioned bikini comes to mind!) but even if you only make three projects from it you're quids in.

      If, however, you're a beginner to crochet and are looking for a book that will teach you the basics of the craft then there are better, more detailed, more illustrated books out there. I didn't find this particularly useful for teaching me to crochet as I didn't find the instructions that clear and the illustrations provided, to be honest, are neither use nor ornament. Fortunately one of the other books I'd bought at the same time had a much better "teach yourself" section (although, ironically, not very nice patterns!) so I used that to learn all the stitches.

      Overall, this is a good, quirky book - I love all the word play etc - but if you're a beginner it probably won't help you learn how to crochet although it will provide you with a variety of patterns that will start you off gently and then increase your confidence and skills as you go through it. Just bear in mind the American terminology - but don't let that put you off, it really is very easy to convert. I won't be buying any of the knitting books in this series, but I am seriously tempted by Son Of A Stitch And Bitch, which is full of patterns suitable for men!

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        21.09.2011 04:38
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        Worth Amazon's price, but generally much better value for beginner/intermediate crocheters

        I first purchased this book about 18 months ago from Amazon, mainly on recommendations from other "hookers" who had used it in the past, knew the sort of things I liked, and thought it would suit me. It currently sells for £6.84 on Amazon UK.

        -THE BOOK-

        This book has a laminated paperback cover, and 292 pages of various things to explore. It is printed in fairly large type, approximately the equivalent of size 10 Arial font in Microsoft Word, with clear spacing, so I think it would be easy to read and use for most people.

        The one niggle I have about the "physical properties" of this book is that over time, the pages do have a tendency to drop out. I haven't mistreated the book, only ever using small scraps of paper as page markers, but even so, with the opening and closing which comes with following a pattern from a book to make an item, several of the pages have fallen out and had to be "repaired" with sticky tape! I know it is a little bit "naughty" but because of this, I would (unofficially of course!) advise anyone that purchased the book to make photocopies of the pages needed for a pattern rather than working directly from the book itself, to try to prevent this from happening.

        It is worth noting that this book is printed in the USA, and as such US terms are used for the patterns, although there are "translations" provided in the first section of the book.


        -CONTENT-

        The content pages of the book are very well organised and set out. The book is split into two main sections, broken down into sub-sections. Each of the sub-sections in the main areas have their own lists of what is contained within them, which makes navigating the book very easy to do. For ease of reading, I thought it best to write about each section separately, as I feel this will give a clearer idea of the "good bits" and "not so good bits" contained in this book!

        -SECTION ONE: "HOOKING UP"-

        This section of the book is all about learning to crochet. It intends to teach anyone, even those who have never picked up a crochet hook before, how to crochet. It is split into 8 sub-sections, which I will cover separately.

        1.1 - "VOULEZ-VOUS CROCHET AVEC MOI?"

        This area of the book is a general introduction to the craft of crochet, including a little bit of the history of crochet, why crochet is good, a comparison between knitting and crochet, and a guide to the "lingo" used in crochet. The best feature, I feel, of this section is the chatty and informal way in which Debbie Stoller writes; when reading, it almost feels as though you are chatting to a friend about crochet, rather than reading any kind of "instructional manual". Debbie's style makes this section an entertaining read for those who are familiar with crochet, but is particularly fantastic for beginners, as she seems to have a knack of anticipating questions that newcomers may have, going on to answer them in her friendly style. Debbie's writing style is one of my favourite things about this book as a whole, as at no point in it do I feel "daft" for getting something wrong or having a question, but feel comfortable and not at all "lectured to"!

        1.2 -"HOOK, LINE AND SINKER"; THE TOOLS OF CROCHET-

        As the title of this section suggests, this part of the book is all about the things you need and use when crocheting. It covers everything from hooks and yarns, to textures, and sundries such as tapestry needles and stitch markers. It also includes some very useful information on how to choose a yarn for a project, and how to decipher the meanings of the often cryptic symbols on yarn labels!
        The section is very detailed and I have yet to think of a tools related crochet question which I haven't been able to find the answer to in these pages! Probably the bits in this section that I have made the most use of are those instructing how to "translate" US & UK terms for hook sizes, yarn weights etc. Yes, this information can be found online, but again the clear and informal approach to presenting it are what makes it a favourite resource for me.

        -1.3-"GET SHORTY"-

        Part 1.3 of the book covers the very basics and beginnings of a crochet newcomers' journey. Debbie assumes that you have no foreknowledge of crochet whatsoever, and begins with the simple slip knot. Whilst I suppose that some people may find the suggestion that they can't tie a slip knot a bit insulting, I actually like it as I think it is much better to start from the very beginning and include EVERY technique that someone may need to crochet, rather than presume that they already know little bits (and essential ones at that)and leave them with only half the knowledge they need to do something!
        This section also covers all the basic techniques and simple stitches, in a clear manner with great illustrations and photographs which help you to make sure you are on the right track with your work!

        -1.4-"WALKING TALL"-

        Walking tall builds on the techniques and skills learnt in section 1.3, and introduces the more complicated crochet stitches. It also covers how to add yarn when you come to the end of a ball, and information on deciphering crochet pattern abbreviations. Again there are clear and easy to follow instructions with helpful illustrations, and this is another valuable section of the book.

        -1.5-"THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME"-

        In this part of the book, Debbie introduces increases and decreases in crochet, as well as how to make a circular shape. My absolute favourite bit in this section is the part which covers how to make a "magic circle"...this is a simple technique once you have mastered it, but I had tried to learn it from several other sources with no success. Debbie finally solved that problem for me and it is a very useful addition to my crochet skills!

        -1.6-"HOOKED ON A FEELING"-

        This section introduces crochet charts, with instructions on how to read them, but is mainly focussed on some of the many different types of crochet stitches which can be used to create textured fabric. There are a good variety of stitches covered in this bit of the book, and again they are clearly explained and well illustrated/photographed. Despite having crocheted for some time now, I often refer back to this part of the book to remind myself of a stitch if I haven't used it for a while and it crops up in a pattern!

        -1.7-"PICTURE THIS"-

        I must confess that despite having owned this book for some time, I haven't actually tried the techniques in this section yet! It covers tapestry crochet, filet crochet, and the Afghan stitch. Although I haven't actually tried the techniques I have read it, and find the instructions as clear as in other areas of the book, with, again, great photos, so I do feel that I would be able to follow this section to do these things should I ever get around to it!

        -1.8-"OFF THE HOOK"-

        This section covers constructing garments from "pieces" of crochet and all the techniques required for that, such as seaming, weaving sides, making joins etc.
        It also has some handy bits on buttonholes, pom-poms and other decorative elements.
        The most useful bit for me in this part though was the blocking section; essential but always something that for some reason confused me! But it is explained very clearly, not only the how but the WHY, which I loved.

        -SECTION TWO:"CROCHET AWAY"-

        The second main section of the book is mainly made up of patterns, with a resource guide, credits and index at the end of it. It begins with a really informative and detailed look at how to read a crochet pattern, as well as a reminder of abbreviations, and then moves on to the patterns themselves which are split into the following groups:
        * Scarves and Shawls (5 patterns)
        * Hats (6 patterns)
        * Bags (5 patterns)
        * Spring & Summer (6 garment patterns for this time of year)
        * Fall & Winter (6 patterns, again for seasonal garments)
        * Accessories (5 patterns)
        * Home, Gifts & Baby (7 patterns)

        There are patterns which would suit a variety of tastes, but in all honesty I do feel that they tend to lean towards the "alternative" rather than "everyday", for example a hat with a skull on it, or a bright green mat with flowers on...this suited me but I do think would not be everyone's cup of tea.

        I hate to say it but this section of the book is, for me, a fair bit weaker than the previous one. I have used patterns from a number of different sources and have to say despite all the earlier great, clear information, some of these patterns do have bits in which are put in such a way as to leave me scratching my head and often having to try out what I THINK it is trying to say before realising I have the wrong end of the stick, meaning I have to undo that section of work and do it again in another way. Considering that this book is aimed at complete beginners upwards, I do feel that clearer instructions on some of the patterns would have been a great improvement to this book.

        A further irritation with this book is the amount of errata within it: if (like me) you purchase the first edition, there are 2 pages of errata in total within the patterns. This mightn't sound a lot when you consider the number of patterns in the book, but (silly me) presumed that patterns in a book would've been checked to the point of NOT being incorrect, and this did cause me a few problems with a couple of the patterns. The errata are available to download as a free PDF file (see link at bottom of review), but if I wanted to have to look things up online, I would just look patterns up online, and not buy a book!

        Another thing that niggles me is the naming of some of the patterns; whilst some are clear enough to work out what it actually is, others have lovely names but no actual clue as to what the garment/item may be. This is only a minor niggle really, as there are fantastic colour photos (several on each pattern, as well as diagrams and charts on some), but it does mean you have to look up a pattern in some of the sections to actually be able to see what it is.

        I was also less than happy with the "resources" section of the book, as having checked out a few of them I did end up feeling that many were there as they had "supported" publication in some way (e.g. by providing yarn for free to make samples to be photographed for the book), rather than because they were genuinely the best available. Having said that, there are a few handy ones so it isn't a complete waste of ink!

        -OVERALL IMPRESSIONS-

        This book aims to provide something for everyone from beginner to more advanced, and whilst I think the first section makes it a fantastic purchase for a beginner, the second section does rather leave something to be desired. Having said that, there are some really unusual and alternative patterns within the book, and it is available at a reasonable price. I think it was worth what I paid for it, and have used it to make several items, so from that point of view it is good value for money.


        Link to errata:- http://knithappens.com/snbhh-errata.pdf

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