The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop Chapters 1-3

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Unicorns & New Crochet Books

April has been a great month! I’ve wholeheartedly accepted my permission to self to crochet, crochet, crochet and it feels fabulous! I’ve even sold one of my Barbie dresses, which was not my intention but a most pleasant surprise! I’ve opened a (very casual) custom order book via my Facebook pageย to which I may add other items in the future (this Facebook page no longer exists but Hooks and Hills now has a Facebook group – you’re very welcome to join us!)

I haven’t been writing here as much as I’d planned, but having a young family, my time is mostly not my own, and crochet comes first when I have to choose โ˜บย I did want to finish the A to Z Challenge before the month is out though, so I’ve wrenched myself away from my beloved Clover Amour and settled down in my hammock on the verandah with a cup of roiboos and vanilla tea. Obviously I’m not following the post-a-day rules here but I hope I’ll be forgiven!ย 

S if for…Skills. My goal is to one day create my own crochet patterns, and to that end I’m very focussed on honing my skills in all areas. I’ve recently started studying Dora Ohrenstein’s The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop –ย still in the early chapters as yet but looking forward to sharing my progress through this widely acclaimed book. There are over 70 swatch patterns included as learning tools and I can’t wait to get stuck into them!

T is for…Tunisian Crochet. I recently purchased a lovely book calledย 35 Crocheted Bags by Emma Friedlander-Collins. I was inspired to buy it by the gorgeous tapestry crochet bag on the front cover (pictured below). I’ve never attempted tapestry crochet, so I was delighted to find a couple of smaller such projects in this book and think they’ll be a great starting point. Hope to share my adventures in tapestry crochet soon!

U is for…Unicorns. I have to crochet one! Or two – my daughters would be so delighted, like all little girls they love them. I’ve shied away from amigurumi in the past, because I thought it was all micro-crochet – tiny hooks and thread, which my eyes would struggle with (I’m just getting used to bifocals). However, a friend recently explained to me that it’s not about size, it’s about stuffed animals and toys in general. So, I’m going to look into amigurumi soon – starting with unicorns!

It’s Sunday afternoon and time to go down to the beach with my family soon and enjoy some of this beautiful Autumn sunshine – after a little bit of crochet, of course! I’ll finish my remaining letters during the week. Until then, happy hooking!

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