Numerous crochet books are released in the run up to the festive season and press releases for many of them land in my inbox. Not all, but the majority that I am invited to review, seem to include a broadly similar selection of patterns - blankets based on joined motifs (granny-squares, circles or hexagons), tea cosies, pretty/colourful things for the home, flowery motifs, and so on. Having written about these types of books several times over the last five years (many of them are very good) these days I find myself drawn to the exceptions. When publisher Jacqui Small* invited me to review their new book, I could see this one was a bit different, and that I'd want to share it with you.
|Image (c) Konsta Linkola|
Crochetterie is the latest offering from Finnish designer Molla Mills, translated into English for this publication. It contains around 30 patterns billed as "cool contemporary crochet for the creatively minded", and in fact contains everything from whittling your own crochet hook to making a utility strap for a skateboard or a football bag. Yes, that's right, whittling and sports - you see, the patterns are bold and utilitarian and they are about as universally appealing (aka 'unisex') as crochet patterns get. The author says:
When I told my friends I wanted to create a crochet instruction guide that would appeal to men, their first reaction was astonished skepticism. They questioned whether men could really be enthusiastic about crochet. Why not, I thought. Technically speaking, crochet is downright engineer-level precise, and requires careful consideration with regards to sourcing materials, calculating wear resistance and colour choice.... Crochet is for everyone, and partaking is a great way to improve mood.
She goes on to say that her crochet seminars have included enthusiastic male participants and that in Finland, crochet has long been a popular hobby amongst boys who make their own beanies.
|Designer and Author, Molla Mills (c) Konsta Linkola|
So in the winter of 2014, Molla starting working on her book (I enjoyed the story of the creative process described at the beginning, but won't spoil it for you) and was inspired by the hand-crafters she had seen on her travels - whittlers, weavers, tanners, builders - all men - who worked with precision to get the perfect result. Molla tells us that her projects weren't all perfect and some (including the bag being sewn in the picture above) didn't make it into the book - instead they were opportunities to practice and perfect the designs. She says that learning to crochet will also take practice, and will involve starting over in order to get the result you want. Practical advice indeed, which is backed up by pages of clearly illustrated instructions on how to perform all of the crochet techniques used.
|Image (c) Konsta Linkola|
The book itself is a sturdy and chunky hardcover publication containing 271 pages. The crochet patterns in it have a timeless rustic quality including interesting (practical) yarns and leather accents. They involve a bit of sewing, hole-punching and construction and include bold geometrics (where there is a surface-pattern) or are beautiful in their simplicity (e.g. the bike bag pictured above).
Despite being translated into English, the instructions are clear. More intuitive language is used than might be typically used in other crochet patterns - such as 'single crochet in a tube' rather than 'in-the-round', and 'pillars' for 'trebles'. I'd say these things would help to make the content accessible to someone new to the craft and they can easily be followed by an experienced crocheter.
|Molla's father wears the Wayfarer's Jumper (and demonstrates how to whittle a hook) (c) Konsta Linkola|
As well as the patterns, which are presented in four themes - home, clothes, travels and equipment - there are mini-profiles of different artisans/ crafts people. It's a bit of a family affair too - Molla's father (above) is included and the final chapter features six pages of 'Crocheter's Stretching' exercises from Molla's yoga instructor brother, which aim to loosen stiff limbs and aching muscles from crafting.
I certainly think both the book and the designs have a masculine appeal, but also that they will be popular with anyone (like me) who likes simple shapes and geometric patterns. I found it quite refreshing and unlike other crochet books I've reviewed, and it's certainly worth checking out if you like this style too.
Find Molla Mills' website here and you can also find her on Instagram, Facebook and Ravelry. Crochetterie is available from Amazon UK (£16.99) and Amazon.com ($22.65) as well other craft book suppliers.
*A review copy of the book was provided by the publisher. As always, all opinions are entirely my own. Stockist affiliate links are included in this post.