Are you interested in designing your own crocheted blankets and afghans? But have you been hesitant to dive into blanket design, because it seems complicated? How would you feel about taking tried-and-true afghan squares and edgings that an experienced crochet pattern designer has created, and putting them together in unique ways to customize your own extra special blankets?
If these ideas sound exciting to you, you are definitely going to want to take a look at DIY Afghans by Mary Beth Temple. This book comes bundled with a CD-rom that contains helpful design software to speed up the process of afghan design. If you aren’t interested in being the one who designs every last stitch and detail of your crocheted blankets, this bundle is likely to be an appealing purchase for you.
Publication Name: DIY Afghans, with bonus interactive CD
Author: Mary Beth Temple
Publisher: Leisure Arts
Copyright Date: 2009
Format: Softcover Book With Staple Binding + CD rom
Number of Pages: 40
Cover Price: $10.95 US dollars
DIY Afghans Book by Mary Beth Temple, Published by Leisure Arts
The Focus of This Book
Quilts and quilt blocks provided the author of this book with the inspiration for designing these crocheted afghans. With the help of the enclosed CD, readers are encouraged to design their own quilt-inspired afghan patterns using the stitches, edgings, and blocks included in the book. There are also 8 ready-made patterns to choose from, plus 2 blocks, 8 stitches and 8 edgings.
As I read the introduction to the book, I got excited thinking about the possibilities. Combining these ideas into one pattern book was a creative and ambitious undertaking. I think this is a timely idea for a book, considering that many crocheters have expressed interest in re-interpreting quilt designs into crochet.
Quilts and crocheted afghans have common elements:
- Both are textural.
- Both lend themselves well to block designs.
- Both lend themselves well to experimentation with color.
Some of these afghans do remind me of traditional quilt patterns. Some look more contemporary, and not as quilt-like.
Some of the designs in the book are more successful than others, but you can easily reinterpret any of the designs shown. Changes are relatively easy, as the author has done a tremendous amount of work to simplify the design process for readers. So, even if you don’t like any of the designs as shown, you can change the aspects you don’t like.
Of all the finished afghans photographed in the book, I think the “Flying Geese” afghan pictured on page 16 is one of the more successful projects. The colors are lovely, and I think that design would be appealing to crocheters who favor either a traditional style of decorating or the “country” style.
The Bottom Line:
There are parts of this book that I really love, and parts that, in my opinion, are disappointing.
I do think that, for some crocheters, this book will prove to be more than worth the $10.95 cover price. It all depends on what your objectives are.
If all the following are true:
- You like the look of the patterns in the book
- You would like to be able to design your own quilt-inspired afghan patterns without investing a lot of effort in learning a bunch of technical details
- You’re confident of your ability to do a good job of finishing your DIY afghan(s) using the stitches you’ve chosen,
Then this book is likely to be money well spent.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in designing your own afghans, you’re willing to put in a reasonable amount of effort, and you don’t already own a stitch dictionary, then I’d recommend prioritizing the purchase of a stitch dictionary over this book. This book is not a good replacement for a quality stitch dictionary, but it does make a good supplement if you already own one.
The Things I Like Best About this Book Bundle:
The CD-Rom is loads of fun. I found it more entertaining than any video game I can think of.
The CD-Rom is easy to use. It’s intuitive enough that even a computer newbie should be able to figure out how to use it.
The stitch patterns and edgings included in the book are beautiful. If you already own a good stitch dictionary, you could live without them, but they’re well worth owning even if you do.
The colors used throughout the book are, for the most part, lovely and inspiring.
Other Observations About This Book Bundle
The CD has limitations.
I couldn’t find a way to save my designs. Either there isn’t one, or it’s hidden so well that I couldn’t find it.
I couldn’t find a way to work with color or color palettes; the blocks all seem to be- in black, gray and white.
The Crochet Edgings in DIY Afghans
I really like the edgings presented in the book. I can see myself using any of them in future projects.
Having said that, I do not think some of these edgings are all that appropriate for the afghan designs they are intended to accompany.
If the goal is to make afghans that look like traditional quilts, some of these edgings tend to detract from the quilt-like look. Most quilts don’t have scalloped or ruffled edgings, so several of the fancy edgings shown here seem out-of-place.
The afghan patterns shown all make colorful, bold statements. I have to wonder – why did the author give us scalloped and ruffled edgings to go with them? I would have liked to see a few more bold, dramatic options. The combinations she’s given us don’t all work, in my opinion. Some will, most won’t.
For those who buy this book, use caution when choosing an edging, and think carefully about whether it’s a truly appropriate finishing touch for the colors and design you’ve chosen. Don’t feel obligated to use any of these edgings just because they’re included in the book.
I’d use any of the edgings in the book for other purposes, though. Overall, the edgings are lovely, with many potential uses. I’d encourage you to use your imagination and think of other ways to use them – they’d be a beautiful finishing touch for so many different projects.
In my opinion, the colors used in these afghans are all workable as shown. This is good news for those who lack color confidence. The color choices are quite “safe;” for the most part, they have mass appeal.
For crocheters who do have the color confidence to re-color their work, these designs all lend themselves well to being recolored. The designs are versatile.
It looks to me like you could potentially encounter some challenges with the finishing work on some of these designs. Let’s take, for example, the Star Crib quilt pictured on page 14 of the book. It’s marked as an “easy” pattern. Yet, the sample shown in the photo looks like it does not lie flat; several parts of it appear buckled, distorted, and crooked. If they had trouble putting their afghan together, I think it’s fair enough to say that you might have difficulty too.
This is not all that surprising, considering that the design utilizes different stitches. I’d expect this type of design to take a bit of planning to put together successfully. So if you buy this book, please keep that in mind, and plan accordingly. When you get to the finishing part, think through it. Don’t be afraid to pin the blocks together if you need to before you begin joining the pieces.
All of the projects in the book are labeled “Easy.” The crochet work itself is totally easy. But, if you design an afghan with a complex mix of stitches, making it all fit together might or might not be quite as easy. The finishing work could be expected to pose a bit more of a challenge, especially with some of the DIY afghans. So, don’t let the “easy” label fool you into thinking you won’t have to do some work in putting it all together. You will, but even so, the author has done a great deal to simplify the design process to make it as painless as possible.
If you’re interested in customizing your own crocheted blankets, throws and afghans, this bundle is CLEARLY worth it’s asking price of $10.95 US dollars. Although there are some limitations, as I mentioned above, I think these block and edging patterns are definitely worth the money. I’m delighted to recommend this publication to other crafters.
Where to Buy DIY Afghans by Mary Beth Temple
- Click here to shop for this book at Amazon.
- Click here to shop for this book at the Leisure Arts website.
More Lovely Crochet Blanket Patterns
- Unexpected Afghans: My Favorite Crochet Blanket Pattern Book
- Scrappy Crochet Afghan Pattern Book
- Aran Afghan Patterns to Crochet
- Fair Isle Crochet Blanket Patterns
- Find more of our picks for the best crochet blanket pattern books.
More Knitting and Crochet Design Resources
- Best Crochet Stitch Dictionaries
- Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible
- Melissa Leapman’s Outstanding Crochet Stitch Dictionary
- Triple Play Pattern Stitches
This review is by Amy Solovay.
About the Author: Amy Solovay is a freelance writer who holds a degree in textile design and previously enjoyed a career in the textile industry. She has been crocheting and crafting since childhood, and knitting since she was a teenager. Her work also appears at AmySolovay.com, ArtsWithCrafts.com and KnittingandCrochet.net. Amy sends out a free knitting and crochet newsletter so interested crafters can easily keep up with her new patterns, tutorials and book reviews. If you’re already an Instagram user, Amy also invites you to follow her on Instagram.
This page was last updated on 6-24-2019.