This is a book review of Simply Crochet: 22 Stylish Designs for Every Day
If you have single balls of yarn hanging around in your stash, this book is worth taking a look at. Among other things, the book includes some fantastic one-skein and two-skein crochet projects that are useful to have on hand — plus much more!
Author: Robyn Chachula
Publisher: Interweave Press
ISBN 13: 978-1-59668-298-6
This book is available in multiple formats, as follows:
I am reviewing a softcover copy of the book.
Number of Pages: 159
Retail Price: $22.95 US dollars
The Focus of This Book:
Simply Crochet is all about getting the best value out of your yarn stash and the money you spend on your crochet. The book is packed with tips for crocheting on a budget, how to use your stash most effectively, and what to do with just one ball of yarn. There’s also an emphasis on patterns that help you maximize the value you get from your yarn stash.
The book is organized into sections according to how much yarn you need:
- Projects that use one ball of yarn or less
- Projects that use 2-3 balls of yarn
- Projects that use 4-5 balls of yarn
This could be a helpful book for those of you who are bargain shoppers and are able to pick up inexpensive odds and ends of yarn at thrift stores, garage sales and clearance sales.
Crochet Projects Included in This Book:
Projects Requiring One Ball of Yarn or Less
- Iced Ascot — This is an easy, pretty lace keyhole scarf designed by Rebecca Velasquez. I worked part of this pattern, and found the instructions to be clear and easy to understand. The stitch pattern is lovely.
I unraveled my scarf because I chose the wrong yarn for the project; I began working the project with a handspun yarn blend that had too much variation from thin to thick. I was enjoying the project otherwise, so I’m likely to try this scarf again in the future with a more suitable yarn.
- Flapper Hat — This is a unusual, lovely and interesting two-color hat that actually requires two skeins of yarn; however, the two skeins together give you enough to make 2 of these hats. The pattern design is by Margaret Hubert.
- Billows of Baubles Crochet Scarf — This is an intriguing scarf that looks like something you’d buy in a chic high-end clothing boutique. The pattern design is by Sheryl Means.
- Twist Cowl Wrap — You can use Solomon’s knot stitch to crochet this feminine mobius style wrap by Linda Permann.
- Mystic Cuff Bracelet — You can combine laceweight yarn or size 10 crochet thread with beads to crochet Robyn Chachula’s imaginative cuff-style beaded bracelet design.
- Emma Lace Scarf — This is a dramatic, eye-catching lacy scarf with lots of texture and appeal. The pattern design is by Simona Merchant-Dest, who, thanks to this book, is one of my new favorite crochet pattern designers. This scarf and her other pattern designs are really sophisticated and feminine, with interesting details. Please note: other reviewers have mentioned needing more than twice the amount of yarn called for in this pattern.
- Diamonds and Lace Hat — Linda Permann designed this textured hat pattern using front and back post stitches.
- Tunisian Crochet Neck Lattice — Vashti Braha designed this interesting triangle scarf, which you could possibly also think of as a shawlette.
Projects That Use 2-3 Balls of Yarn
- Botan Felted Crochet Placemats — This set of placemats are colorful, they look like they’d be really sturdy and practical. The pattern design is by Marlaina Bird.
- Felted Tapestry Crochet Basket — Carol Ventura designed this useful basket in the tapestry crochet technique. This looks like it would be a fun project. It would be a great gift for people of either gender, and it’s one of the few guy-friendly designs in the book.
I attempted to work this pattern, but was unable to achieve the correct gauge, even when using the suggested yarn (Cascade 220, one of my favorites.) I should have known from the pattern introduction, which starts out by saying “If you like to crochet loosely, this is the project for you…” I crochet tightly, and ran out of time for attempting to “loosen up.” If you crochet loosely, you’ll probably have better success with this design than I did.
- Blooming Beauty Purse — I’m quite intrigued by this pretty design featuring lacy crocheted hexagons with flower-like motifs in the centers. I commend the pattern designer, Tracie Barrett, and the team at Interweave Press for including helpful finishing instructions for lining the bag and attaching the purse handles. Many crochet books gloss over or ignore finishing details like these, but the team at Interweave Press included them with this project — hooray!
- Nedburt Sock Puppet — Robyn Chachula designed this kid-friendly puppet using basic crochet stitches. The design is appropriate for both boys and girls. The puppet is easy to re-color, so you don’t need to feel compelled to use the suggested yarn colors; you can use scrap yarn in your child’s favorite colors (or whatever colors your yarn scraps happen to be).
- Natalie Shrug — This is a Tunisian crochet project by Megan Granholm.
- Giselle Vest — This vest by Simona Merchant-Dest is just simply stunning. The pattern is graded for sizes small (32 inch bust) through 3XL (52 inch bust).
- Sidney Baby Sweater — This cardigan-style sweater is crocheted using an interesting stitch pattern featuring post stitches and modified shells.
It looks as if the sleeves on this sweater are just a bit too long for the little cutie who’s wearing it in the pictures. Children come in many sizes; it seems likely that this could be a good choice of patterns for those of you who are crocheting for long-limbed children. My daughter is petite and short-limbed, so I have a feeling it might be necessary for me to adjust the sleeve length shorter if I were to crochet this little jacket for her — which I am considering, because it is a lovely design.
Projects That Use 4-5 Balls of Yarn
- Dots and Dashes Crochet Baby Blanket — Ellen Gormley designed this fun baby blanket, which would be ideal for decorating a midcentury modern or contemporary style nursery.
- Tallula Child’s Top — Marlaina Bird designed this gorgeous, feminine top that would be suitable for little girls ages 2-8.
While the design of the top is really pretty, it looks as if there are some fitting issues with it.
Without being able to try styling the top in other ways and trying it on a few other kids, it’s hard to tell where exactly the issues are; the problem might be with the styling presented in the book rather than the pattern or its grading. It might just be an issue of a mismatch between the garment and the model they chose for the photo shoot.
It seems like maybe the armhole and torso both fit their model incorrectly. It’s hard to tell, because the child is wearing another top underneath the crocheted one; perhaps the fit problem is actually with the t-shirt she’s wearing underneath the top. Perhaps it’s also a case of the adorable little fashion model being awkwardly posed.
Still, based on the photos presented in Simply Crochet, it seems to me that you’d have to prepare yourself for the possibility that you might have to make some fit adjustments to the pattern if you make one of these. The top is cute, and it looks like an interesting project, but the photos leave me wondering how much time I’d have to invest in making pattern adjustments, and whether I’d be happy with the fit on the finished project in the end.
- Amelia Baby Sweater — This is a cabled cardigan sweater designed by Julia Vaconsin for babies ages 6 through 24 months old. The fashion model chosen for this sweater is a baby girl, and the name of the sweater implies that it was intended to be a girl’s design. However, my opinion is that, with a color change to a more masculine color, the style could also be suitable for baby boys.
Except for the neckline, which looks like it went wrong somewhere, this is a wonderful little sweater. It’s a cabled pattern with lots of amazing texture and many interesting details.
The back views of the sweater look really compelling; it’s rare to find a crocheted cabled design that looks this nice. The waistband of the sweater is also really interesting.
If you want to make this pattern, prepare to invest some time in it; there are 12 pages worth of instructions!
- Float Vest and Float Cardigan — This is a lovely design that you can make with or without sleeves, depending on whether you’d rather have a vest or a cardigan. Robyn Chachula designed this drapey garment as a practical shawl replacement. The vest version of this garment performs the same sort of function as a shawl, but the armholes give you an easy way to keep it on you even if you’re on-the-go and carrying a big bag, groceries, a baby or whatever else you need to hold onto when you go out. I’m sold on this idea; I think it’s pretty genius.
The trefoil stitch pattern Robyn used for this design is simply delightful! It’s a lacy v stitch variation that’s easy to memorize, yet it looks complex and intricate.
This pattern is sized for ladies’ small through 2XL. The smallest bust size measurement is 41.5 inches and the largest is 68 inches. Please note that this garment is intended to have a relaxed fit.
- Spa Shawl Top — Doris Chan has designed another clever and practical garment that serves the purpose of a shawl but stays on your body more easily than an actual shawl would. This is an open, lacy design that can be crocheted with or without an optional skirt below the waistband that transform the piece into a tunic.
- Annabel Shawl — This is a clever design that’s modern, contemporary, lacy and romantic, all at once. Kristin Omdahl designed this shawl using the join-as-you-go technique — which means you crochet your motifs and then join them immediately rather than waiting until the end to join the motifs all together. This technique means you do less fastening off and less end-weaving, although with this particular pattern you’ll still have some end-weaving to do.
- Linked Jacket — This marvel of a short-sleeved jacket requires only 4 balls of the suggested yarn to crochet the smallest size, and 6 balls to crochet the largest size (which is 2XL.) That’s pretty amazing. Unfortunately, the suggested yarn for the project has now been discontinued; so unless you have the yarn in your stash already, you’ll need to substitute a different yarn.
This is a smart, businesslike design that would lend a tailored touch to the dress, skirt or pair of trousers you wear it with. It would be a great item to have in your career wardrobe, and it would also transition well from the office to after-work dinners or evenings out.
The pattern is graded for sizes small (32 inch bust) through 2XL (47 inch bust).
This is another detailed, 12 page pattern. The jacket is nicely fitted, and so you end up doing quite a bit of shaping to achieve that look — and that takes pages worth of instructions to communicate.
Additionally, there’s a bunch of helpful reference information included in the back of the book. You’ll find symbol crochet basics, a list of symbols, a glossary and list of abbreviations, and an illustrated guide to basic crochet stitches, basic Tunisian crochet stitches, and the embroidery and sewing stitches you’ll need to complete the projects in this book. There’s also an index and a list of resources for where to find the yarns used in the book.
The Best Things About This Book
- This book has some truly spectacular projects. I’m especially loving the Giselle vest, the Emma lace scarf, the Float vest, the Annabel shawl and the Spa shawl tunic.
- I think you’ll be truly inspired by the outstanding diversity of designs, designers and crochet projects included in the book. There’s some amazing talent behind this pattern collection.
- There are some really unique and unusual projects included in this collection — like that puppet. How many crochet puppet patterns do you have in your collection?
- The tips in this book are really informative. You’ll find an interesting diversity of insights here — tips that could help you get your yarn stash organized, make better choices when you shop for yarn, and better understand what a good value really is when it comes to yarn.
- The book includes helpful, concise schematics where appropriate.
- The book includes both symbol crochet charts (for most projects) and written instructions.
- Overall, the book is well-organized and well-designed. The fonts are clear and readable.
- The hats include pictures of both the top portion and the front, which makes it easy to see all the details you might be curious about when attempting to make either of these designs.
- Regarding the ladies’ projects, there’s a wide range of sizes presented, and plus-sized ladies are not left out of the fun.
This Book’s Shortcomings
I already mentioned what I see as being the greatest shortcomings in this book, but just to sum them up again quickly:
- Some of the yarns in the suggested projects have now been discontinued, so you’ll need to find substitutes unless you happen to have those yarns in your stash already.
- There might or might not be fit issues with a couple of the patterns, as noted above, so be prepared to use your good judgment in determining whether you will need to make pattern adjustments when making those designs for their intended wearers.
Something to Be Aware of Before You Buy This Book
One more thing worth mentioning: The styling in this book is nice overall, but I didn’t find it as inspiring as other Interweave Press books I own. Most of these projects are pictured against grayish damask wallpapers. While I love damask designs and think the look is quite pretty, the design of the wallpaper does compete with the actual projects for attention.
That aside, the majority of projects are presented in an appealing way; the wardrobe choices are appropriate and attractive overall. The crochet designs are paired with other pieces that have mass-market appeal, the type of clothing that people really do wear. They’re also accessorized well.
I think you’ll be able to look at the way these projects are presented and easily determine whether each piece would work well into your own wardrobe or not.
I think this book is definitely worth its asking price, and I recommend it to other crochet enthusiasts.
Where to Buy This Book:
- Click here to shop for this book at the Interweave Store.
- Click here to shop for this book at Amazon.
More Crochet Books by Robyn Chachula:
- Unexpected Afghans
- Vintage Modern Crochet
- Baby Blueprint Crochet