I purchased The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop by Dora Ohrenstein last year and while I have enjoyed simply browsing through it very much – nothing like a good crochet book and a cuppa, with or without a hook! – it’s time to up my game and read it properly and with intent.
There are over seventy-five swatch patterns included in this guide to honing one’s crochet skills, and I already love this hands-on approach to learning. The book has had rave reviews and Ohrenstein is clearly very highly regarded within the industry. She’s also easy to read and her tone is warm and encouraging to boot.
Chapter One is all about yarn for crocheting – its history, the varied sources, manufacturing processes, spinning, twisting, weights, specialty and hand-dyed yarns, fabric and drape. A wealth of information! There is clear discussion about how best to select yarn for a project based on its properties and the desired outcome in terms of drape. I have learned so much, and I thoroughly enjoyed hooking the Medium and Very Open Lace swatches that the author uses to illustrate this point.
Swatch patterns throughout the book are presented in both written and chart form. I am less familiar with charts but nevertheless found myself using the chart only by the end of the second swatch. There’s no doubt that the ability to read charts is extremely useful – not least if the project you long to attempt is written in Japanese only and that’s not one of your languages, for example! – and being able to learn to read charts while making these many small swatches is to my mind a fabulous added bonus.
Chapter Two is all about the tools of our addiction 🙂 The author explores the anatomy of the hook and the many choices we have in terms of the materials they are made from and the variations in shape of the component parts. I myself prefer ergonomic handles, and most specifically Clover Amours, or as a reasonably close second, Knitpicks ergonomics. I’m awaiting delivery of an Addi Swing ordered recently on a whim and am excited to try it. Ohrenstein encourages us to try different hooks before becoming too set in our ways, so I’m already heeding that advice! I’d love the fancy blocking board described in this chapter, but for now I’m managing ok with my DIY effort – a kids kickboard and bamboo cooking skewers 🙂 I have never heard of the T-pins detailed here – certainly they are more pleasing to the eye than my skewers! Something else for my ever-growing crochet wish list…
Chapter Three is all about tension. I was most encouraged to read that one’s tension can be adjusted, it is not a style set in stone! I struggle with too tight tension in more intricate stitch patterns and I am already managing to loosen it by adjusting how deep onto the hook I pull the yarn. Focusing on the minute maneuvers that make all the difference – for example swiveling the hook so it points down – has neatened my starting chains too.
Hand health is also covered here, such an important topic for the addicts amongst us. Having been forced to go crochet cold turkey for a few months recently due to RSI, it’s a topic I will cover in more depth in another post. However, right now I’m returning to Chapter Four, Fundamental Techniques. There are a fair few very interesting looking swatch patterns in this section, which I hope to be able to share with you very soon 🙂
You can purchase The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop from all good online bookstores. I always buy from Book Depository, so that’s where I link to. I am not affiliated with the author or publisher in any way. I do receive a small commission from Book Depository for any sales resulting from this post. I put it towards more lovely crochet books 🙂