Book Review: Poetic Crochet: “20 Shawls Inspired by Classic Poems”

I’m pretty excited to share another book with you, one that is simply lovely! “Poetic Crochet:  20 Shawls Inspired by Classic Poems”, by Sara Kay Hartmann is a wonderful collection of shawls that are approachable for any crocheter, from a confident beginner to the seasoned expert. The shawls are mostly of the lace style, but a few are made by crocheting a more solid fabric. All use the most basic crochet stitches and the hooks you already love.


From the cover to the end of the book, I was impressed with the stunning photography which is beautiful and fitting for the “poetic” inspiration of this work. The photography is also very detailed and instructive. The close up shots of the designs not only show you the pattern of the stitch work, but also gives you an almost three dimensional feel for the yarn being used. I can feel the crocheted fabric in my mind as I flip through page after page.


Each design has a very detailed stitch diagram to help you understand the instructions.  The author also includes some very helpful information on blocking your work.  This is especially helpful if you are not used to working with some of the more natural fibers like mohair and wool.


Most of the shawls are made using high end yarns, but don’t let that discourage you if that doesn’t bless your budget. The weight of the yarn is provided for every design so that you can try to find an adequate substitute if that is your wish.  This is going to be very helpful to me personally as I seek to utilize some of my yarn stash for some of these designs!


Two of my favorite designs are “Spring Dream” (p. 38), and “Skylark” (p. 86 and photo below). I am particularly drawn to these shawls partly because they are easily customizable should a scarf (instead of a shawl) be desired.  By following the designers instructions and stitch diagram, the same shawl pattern can easily become a scarf!

Poetic Crochet is one of those books that will most likely occupy a table in my home, inviting you to peruse its contents whether you are a crocheter or not!  Yes, it is as beautiful as that...

Poetic Crochet: 20 Shawls Inspired by Classic Poems
By Sara Kay Hartmann (
Interweave/F+W; $24.99



Book Review: Crochet Stitch Dictionary by Sarah Hazell


If you get the chance, you’ve got to take a look at this Interweave book!  Whether you are a beginning crocheter or a seasoned designer, I believe this book will serve you in numerous ways.  It didn’t take me long to get out my little sticky note markers to preserve the pages and stitches that I plan on putting into action.  This way I can turn right to the page I need instead of searching through 190+ pages looking for that special stitch.  This “Crochet Stitch Dictionary” definitely lives up to its name with 200 stitches!

This book is very clearly laid out to be user friendly.  The table of contents not only lists all the stitches and page numbers, but also includes a small photo to give you an idea of what the stitch will look like, even before turning to the page!  This is a huge time-saver.  I also like the way these are all crocheted in different colors, which helps me to remember the stitch and differentiates it from the others.  It also makes for a very pleasing, colorful book.

For each stitch in this book, Sarah Hazell has provided a beautiful photo of how the stitch should look; a paragraph describing the characteristics of the stitch and some of its possible uses; clear step-by-step photos of how to crochet the stitch; written directions; and lastly, a stitch diagram at the bottom of the page.  


The 200 stitches include many basic forms of crochet stitches; fans & shells; clusters, puffs & bobbles; spikes, relief stitches; mesh, filet & trellis; crossed and interlocking stitches; waves & chevrons; and decorative, which covers adding sequences, beads and stitching using a needle.  I enjoyed studying some new possibilities of making a crochet “fabric” that isn’t simply all one stitch.  Some of the combining of different stitches (as in the Wattle, Spider, and Crunch stitches) makes for a lovely background to help make the cables that I love to really “pop!”


Crochet Stitch Dictionary is just that, a comprehensive, beautiful dictionary, and not a pattern book.  That does not diminish the value in any way!  I believe this is an excellent addition to anyone’s crochet library, even if you own another stitch guide.  This is one of 4 (or more??) that I now own, and each one is different, yet I refer to all of them throughout the designing process.  There is always more to learn, and Sarah Hazell’s book is a wonderful way to do just that!  Here is the link: 

Crochet Stitch Dictionary: 200 Essential Stitches with Step-by-Step Photos

By Sarah Hazell

 Interweave/F+W; $22.95


Crochet Home: 20 Vintage Modern Crochet Projects for the Home



This new release by Emma Lamb is a joy to flip through!  I think this is because the choice of colors used throughout this publication are so well chosen that they actually make me feel happy to see the beautiful combinations and stunning photography.  Overall, the projects in this book are very approachable for even the newest crocheters, making this book an excellent choice for a special gift for that crocheter in your life.  Do be aware though, that this book uses British crochet terminology, which can be easily converted to American terms using the provided conversion charts on pages 10 & 11.  I would just put a sticky note tab on that page and refer to it as often as needed and everything should be fine!


I love many of the projects in this book for the home.  The Flower Garlands and Polka Dot Streamers are so delightful and can be used in countless ways.  They (and many of the other patterns in this book) are a wonderful way to utilize those small amounts of scrap yarn in your stash!


Emma’s rendition of traditional crocheted potholders using her gift of color takes them to a whole new level.  All are made with 2 layers crocheted together, making them a truly functional pot holder, and not just another decoration.  Some also double as hot pads for your counters & kitchen tables.  I will most likely be making some of these for small gifts this Christmas, paying close attention to her color selections.


The Oversized Wallflower Hanging on page 44 made using jersey (or t-shirt) style yarn is just lovely and makes a bold vintage-modern statement for any room.  You could easily change up the color combinations to suite your home decor.  This too is going on my list!


My two favorite designs in this book are the round Scarborough Rock Floor Throw (p. 108) and the geometric style Granny Chic Pinwheel Blanket (p. 122).  Both of these are like candy for the eyes!  Both embrace the traditional granny square technique, but taken to another level both by introducing a variation in shape and color.  I know I am repeating myself by saying this, but they are both very interesting and deeply pleasing to study with my eyes.


This book is available from the Interweave on-line Store (  You can follow Emma Lamb on her website & blog at


Book Review & Giveaway! Edward's Managerie: BIRDS, by Kerry Lord

This book is a hoot!  (Pun intended…) Let me start by saying that I’m not naturally a fan of amigurumi, but this book by Kerry Lord may change all that. Just one perusal of this beautifully designed book - dedicated to the author’s sweet little boy, Edward - has reminded me of just how much I do love birds and that perhaps this book will have me covered on more than a few Christmas gifts!


[Edward’s Menagerie—Birds: Over 14 Soft Toy Patterns for Crochet Birds

By Kerry Lord

David & Charles/F+W; $22.99]

I believe that this is an excellent book for crocheters of all levels, and that this book is very user friendly. The edging of the book is color coded for you so that you can find the design of your level easily. That said, you will want to be aware that this book uses British terms, but on page 14 all of the easy conversions are clearly explained. The instructions for constructing the various body parts of these birds are laid out very clearly and include crisp photos.


As a mother, I can really appreciate the child safe design which uses only yarn for the accents instead of buttons or other small things that can be chewed off and swallowed. This makes these beauties excellent gifts for children of all ages!


All of these critters were made using TOFT yarn (, which is the author’s own alpaca fiber grown on the farm of her home in rural Warwickshire, England named Toft.  The making of these beautiful birds led to the expansion of the colors available in this line of luxury yarn. I’ve personally not crocheted with this brand of yarn, but I will definitely be exploring it in the near future. Of course these birdies can be made using the yarn you already have in your stash, and just about any weight of yarn can be used. The larger the yarn, the larger your bird will be, it’s as simple as that!


When this book arrived, I knew which bird would be my favorite: Sophia the Flamingo! Having grown up in tropical Hialeah, Florida, a town famous for its race track where flamingos were first bred in captivity in the United States, I grew up enjoying the rare beauty of these birds. But my “crochet list” has quickly grown to include Abraham the Bald Eagle, Rohit the Peacock, Ernest the Canary, and being a Carolina Gamecock, I’ll need to add Mateo - the Cock of the Rock (although I'll name mine "Cocky" for the South Carolina mascot)!


The author has written a delight personality description to match the name of each bird, making this book even more entertaining to read! Combined with the stunning photography, this book is an excellent choice even for non-crocheters. It would easily qualify as a table top book in my home.


You can follow Kerry on Twitter @kerry_lord, and should you decide to make one of these animals, be sure to share a photo with her at #edsanimals! You can also check out her shop on-line at  


To have a chance at winning your very own free copy of this beautiful book courtesy of Interweave, please do one of the following:  "LIKE" the Bonnie Bay Crochet page on Facebook, follow "Crochetw/Bonnie" on Twitter, or send Bonnie an e-mail at and simply say "enter me!" 


Book Review & Giveaway: Quick Crocheted Accessories

I really like this new accessory book published by Interweave (Quick Crocheted Accessories: 3 Skeins or Less, by Sharon Zientara, $23.99), but it did take me a while to warm up to it. Let me explain… 

My first glance at this book was purely that - a glance. This book is a compilation of several different crochet designers, giving it a pretty wide spectrum as far as style goes. Because of this, my heart didn’t naturally gravitate towards some of the designs at first. Let’s be honest, we all have different styles and preferences, especially when it comes to garments and accessories. However, because of this variety, I think this book is an excellent choice if you are looking for a special gift to bless your favorite crocheter! While you may not see yourself making all of the designs, (who would realistically make all the designs in any book anyway??) you are sure to find several to tickle your fancy. The variety of designs also provides many new opportunities to learn new crochet skills, which I truly enjoy. 

Another plus is that these designs won’t cut too deeply into your budget since they require only one to three skeins. Even if you are using high end yarn, you won’t need much. I was able to make two of the designs using comparable yarn from my stash. Speaking of our budgets, I have heard some folks fuss about how buying a book is too expensive as opposed to buying a single pattern. As a former math teacher and a mom on a tight budget, I respectfully disagree! With the many on-line buying options these days offering deep discounts, I know that buying a book of crochet patterns is actually a much better deal! For example, if you bought this book today from Interweave’s store (only $12.00!!), that makes each pattern only 52 cents! If you adjust for shipping, that may bring the price per pattern to 60 or 70 cents at the most. That's about the cost of 2 1/2 hot drinks from your favorite coffee shop!

Let me show what I made…

The first design that caught my eye was Sharon Zientara’s Buttons & Lace Hat on page 7. I’m a fan of buttons and can be easily lured by them when shopping. I have been holding on to a set of beautiful buttons given to me by my friend Diane Irvine ( for something special. Combined with less than one hank of Cascade’s Heritage Silk, I loved the way this hat turned out! The directions were very straightforward and easy to follow. What do you think? 

The second design I chose was the Flourish Cloche. It wasn’t until I was almost finished with this hat that I realized that this too was designed by Sharon Zientara! I used some Berocco’s Ultra Alpaca on this one. I think this could be a good seller at the upcoming holiday craft fairs this fall. It would be a good use of some of the worsted weight yarn in my stash.


Some of the other designs I have earmarked in this book include the Annulet Wrap by Cristina Mershon (cover photo), and the Oblique Cowl by Beth Nielsen. The Stellina Hat & Fingerless Mitts by Terri Keller are a blast from the past using the star stitch. I still have the Layette set using this stitch that I made for my babies more than 24 years ago! I'm so glad that this book is now a part of my personal crochet collection! 

(Above) Oblique Cowl by Beth Nielsen

Stellina Hat & Fingerless Mitts by Terri Keller

You can find more of Sharon Zientra's designs here on her Ravelry page.