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Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet (Leisure Arts #15906) (Donna Kooler's Series) Paperback – 2002
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From Library Journal
Produced by the Kooler Design Studio, this authoritative encyclopedia of crochet credits a number of well-known designers and writers in the field for its contents, including Nancy Nehring, Gwen Blakley Kinsler, Melissa Leapman, Ann E. Smith, and Kathleen Power Johnson. It includes a beautifully illustrated and footnoted history of crochet, instruction in basic crochet techniques for both left- and right-handed learners, detailed information on the abbreviations and chart symbols used in crochet patterns, instruction in specialty and thread crochet techniques, a selection of illustrative projects for crocheters with beginner to advanced skills, and a crochet pattern gallery. The gorgeous, elaborately detailed "Philosopher's Coat" pattern for advanced crocheters shows the art of crochet at its best, while the information included on wire crochet and crocheting socks is difficult to find in other crochet handbooks. Essential for public library crochet collections.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Donna Kooler is the founder of Kooler Design Studio, which is now led by her daughter Basha Kooler as president.
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Top Customer Reviews
Four stars for the old version, only two for "enhancements" of the second edition. If you are lucky, you can see all the new info inserts in the Amazon "Look Inside" preview. For new buyers it is still four stars. It would have been five, if it did not aspire to be an encyclopedia.
The second edition magically has the same number of pages, which is not a good sign. In particular, the stich gallery starts and ends on the same page numbers: 132 - 240. This means that the second part of the book, including the index, has only minimal changes - no new stitch patterns.
The beginning, namely the whole history chapter and the following crochet essentials are the same on pages 8-26. The first improvement is an insert on a new tool: the Knook, but you don't really learn about how it works. The reader is referred to LeisureArts.com web site with no specifics. I could not find another nice tool: a double ended hook or cro-hook, a version of Tunisian crochet, nor a hairpin tool.
What is nice, the new material is clearly marked by pink background or pink frame, or a pink arrow on new patterns, but deletion edits, of course, are harder to identify.
All the edits and insertions happen at the cost of smaller pictures, which is OK, but also at the cost of dropping pictures' descriptions, e.g. on pages 29-31, which is a real pity. In particular, the yarns on the pictures are not named and their structure, texture, and contents are not explained. Too bad. A beginner would like to know what a visual difference is between a 2-ply and a 4-ply yarn and that this does not correspond to the yarn's thickness, and what the difference is between the look of cashmere, angora, mohair, merino, raffia, hemp, and especially so rare yarns as pure silk and qiviut. The picture of various textures of wool on former p. 31 is dropped altogether to accommodate recycled yarns and a whole page on New Trends, because the Basic Crochet Techniques HAD to start on page 34, as previously. What's worse, the pictures' descriptions are no longer found on pages that otherwise did not change at all, e.g., where Thread Crochet starts.
These cuts were done to accommodate the insertion of the #0-#6 numbering system developed by the Craft Yarn Council of America (CYCA) to make the yarn weight descriptions more user friendly. What is lacking is a cross reference table comparing all existing systems. It can be found on CYCA web site and it is included in many recent publications, but no, not in an "encyclopedia" of crochet. Even with the new additions, I did not find a reference to aran or DK (double knit) weights, quite common designations found on yarn bands. There is no mention of the now historical yarn weight descriptions in terms of standardized ply multiplicity, which causes a lot of confusion among knitters with no background in textile, but is still commonly used in other countries. The "Encyclopedia" ignores also British names of stitches; a cross reference would suffice.
In the crochet instructions I found only one insert, the one on foundation stitches, which can replace the foundation chain on some projects. However, it describes only the one loop foundation single crochet (FSC) stitch, though a much preferred version is the two loop FSC.
The projects, however, are predominantly new and there are more of them, but they take exactly the same number of pages! So the only section that shifted by few pages is the "beyond the basics" techniques. There are only 5 projects that are the same as in the first edition (Decorative slip stitch Hot Pad, Aran Isles Muffler & Tam, tapestry Lap of Luxury, Baby Bobbles blanket, and Delicate Filet Edging) and the total is 29 rather than 21, counting all components of sets like "hat and scarf" separately. However, the vast majority of the "new" ones are reprints of older patterns found in other Leisure Arts publications. I only found four that I could not find anywhere on the internet, including Ravelry, searching also by the designer's name. Some reprints are disguised by a new name, very few of them have a schematic or a stitch diagram. The welcome additions are visual difficulty scale (not defined!) and the use of the numeric yarn weight logos instead of verbatim descriptions. However, I would argue with several ratings, e.g. the beginner rating of the filet crochet, due to mere difficulty of working with a very thin thread and several other patterns. There is no advanced pattern, the philosopher's coat is gone. Some intermediate level patterns are included before the "beyond the basics" section, while there are beginners' patterns in the later section. However, yarn thickness ranges from #0 (thread) to #6 (super bulky) and the yarns used are usually affordable and include cotton, acrylic, wool, alpaca, microfiber, recycled (eco) fibers and many mixes thereof. The only pattern I would like to try right away is the amirugumi hedgehog. Maybe I'll try socks as well.
In summary, the editors tried very hard not to change too much in the layout of the second edition. As a result, many pages are packed or have an odd layout, while some pages are still half empty. There is a lot of wasted space especially on stitch gallery pages - there are 164 stitch patterns on 95 pages. Readers asked to use fewer abbreviations to make the reading easier. After all, it is a full size book. The publisher could also include the most common abbreviations at the bottom of the pages. The footnotes even could be customized to reflect the current page content, like I've seen in other publications. Many stitch gallery pages contain only one or two stitches per page and there is plenty of room to expand the language or insert helpful hints. Unfortunately, the editors did not listen.
The lists of abbreviations and chart symbols disappeared from the inner sides of the cover! It is only in the text, a much less convenient location. They could have omit the in-text location instead and gain two pages for their edits on yarns.
The first edition of the book was quite good already, but it is far from an encyclopedia. Too many terms and techniques are still missing and there are way too many projects included. I am especially disappointed with the advertised enhancements. If you have the old edition, you would be buying only the new projects' patterns: 2 shawls, 2 stuffed animals, socks, a lined market bag, a felted bag in two yarn colors, a granny square slouchy beanie, a 2 stitch hat & scarf set, a lacy tank, a boat neck sweater, a Tunisian crochet pillow, a hooded baby cape and booties, a baby cocoon, a beaded wire purse, and few blankets. This is not a bad price for 16 patterns, but I was hoping for more enhancements to the information part. The encyclopedia should at least contain all the information listed in Industry Crochet and Knitting Standards documents as posted on CYCA web site.
P.S. The table of contents shows one new project as old. This is the Cuddly Cables baby hooded cape and booties.
Aside from that, it's beautifully written and laid out. A perfect book on crochet for the rank beginner to the very advanced crocheter. I fall somewhere in the middle, I guess.
It's heavy due to the sheer volume of information. At first, I thought it was a hard-back and was disappointed. Then, I realized it was a giant paperback and all was well. I've only skimmed it a bit. Which is what this sort of book is meant for the reader to do. Each time, I learn some little nugget.
Well done to Donna Kooler!
I have been crocheting for a few years now. Taught myself through books like this, and I think this book is extremely helpful to a beginner and at least an intermediate crocheter. Not sure how much an advanced person would enjoy it, but for the stitch library. I highly recommend this book.