As if to prove to you how much I am not a slave to finishing my sweater, I spent a great bit of my stitching time this weekend completely ignoring it.
Instead, I was crocheting.
Last month sometime, St. Martin’s Press sent me 75 Floral Blocks to Crochet by Betty Barnden, and I’ve been flipping through it here and there since then.
Much like the snowflake book they sent me, this one has four sections: basic information, motif directory, instructions, and projects.
My favorite of these sections has to be the directory. There is something about seeing the motifs all arranged together by color that is far more pleasing than looking at them on an individual basis. As a general rule, I don’t like to review craft books without doing one of the projects inside it. These motif-based books are perfect for that kind of thing, because you don’t have to commit to an entire afghan or anything. You can just whip up a single motif and use it as a coaster. I chose a square-shaped floral motif from one of these pages and got started.
Have you ever heard of the concept of stitching positive thoughts into your work? On the one hand it is a little bit hokey, but on the other hand, there is something nice about concentrating on happy things while you stitch. It gives the finished object a kind of magical ability to bring you back to those thoughts every time you use it. Most of my knit and crocheted objects have the power to transport me back in time to where I was and what I was thinking when I worked on it.
I bring this up, so that you will understand why my first motif went so poorly.
There was a heated debate raging in this house on Saturday night. One that ended abruptly, without providing a satisfying conclusion. And when I sat down with this book, three pretty colors of yarn and my handmade hook, I was not in the right state of mind. I was seeing red, and muttering to myself with every double treble crochet.
So irritated with the situation was I, that I didn’t notice my flower square was turning out to be more triangular in nature until the very last row. Hmmm, that’s odd. Ok, so I ripped back the green which was clearly wrong. I counted the ch 3 spaces on the white area, and oops – they were wrong, too. I ripped that back. It turns out I screwed up waaaaay back at the beginning when I only made six pink petals instead of eight.
That motif was doomed from the start, so I balled up the yarn, put everything away, and started fresh the next day.
This time, it went much better. I decided to choose colors and a motif that could work as a coaster in my family room. Already that was an improvement over the random pink and green square for which I’d had no purpose in mind.
With the calm of Sunday morning on my side, I finished that sucker without any issues, and am already using it on the side table.
A few things I didn’t like about 75 Floral Blocks to Crochet:
- I could have used a reference on basic stitches. I had to look up double treble crochet on the internet.
- The stitches were stated in the opposite way of how I like to read them (i.e. 3 ch instead of ch 3)
Aside from those minor things, I like the book. I thought it was well-photographed, and well laid-out. I found the block arrangement diagrams to be helpful. If I were to make a big pile of floral hexagons someday, it is nice to know how to put them together into a blanket. Along those lines, the author also included a handful of simpler, single-color motifs that would work well as a background surrounding some of the more flamboyant flowers.
The instructions for each motif include a written pattern as well as a chart. I always appreciate this. I am a pattern-reader, primarily, but I like to understand why I am being instructed to do a particular stitch. Sometimes the why is not obvious to me from the pattern, and in those cases, a chart is so handy. It’s also useful for those situations where the pattern is ambiguous in some way. So, yes, a big fan of patterns and charts together.
This is one of those books whose strength is in the individual components. I all but ignored the small project section at the back (although the scarf project was tempting…), but I can easily see myself thumbing through the motif section for inspiration the next time I want to design a blanket.
If you’re a budding blanket designer yourself, or just in the mood to amass a collection of floral blocks, here’s an affiliate link to the book on Amazon, where you can get more information (or buy a copy, if you’re so inclined): 75 Floral Blocks to Crochet