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Book Review: Uncommon Crochet – Twenty-Five Projects Made From Natural Yarns and Alternative Fibers by Julie Armstrong Holetz

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When I think of crochet, I generally think of long hemp vests worn by spacey hippies at Woodstock – with headbands to match. But like this new, hip revival of knitting, so too has crochet gotten a second life. In Uncommon Crochet, Julie Armstrong Holetz offers 25 fun and modern patterns to crochet.

One thing that sets the projects in this book apart from other patterns is that they are all done with “alternative fibers”: raffia, hemp, jute, sistal, leather cords, wire, fabric remnants, and miscellaneous recycled materials. Mixing unique crochet skills, multiple fibers, and an assortment of different sewing and embellishing techniques creates a wide variety of projects. Many projects include tips on creating your own variations.

The projects. The Hong Kong bag is a cute felted purse accented by grommets and leather lacing. The Window Bag is a felted piece that is reminiscent of a lunch sack with handles. The Vintage Satchel is a messenger bag with asymmetrical flap and hints of fabric incorporated into the chic black and white scheme. Red’s Goodie Basket is a squat, bulbous multi-purpose basket (perfect for yarn!). Sushi is exactly what is sounds like – little pieces of crocheted sushi, completed with beaded masago. The Strappy Clutch utilizes a delicate lace pattern and strips of fancy fabric, though I can’t see it being used for any evening affair. The Wire Flower makes a unique and professional piece of jewelry. The Corde Market Bag is a distinctive alternative to the traditional “green” market totes.

Some of the patterns are less than thrilling. Like a Sake Set that, for obvious reasons, is non-functional and, frankly, barely even resembles a sake set. The Petite Fleur Vases and Lace Vases should really be called pencil cups, and resemble something that you would make in 3rd grade for Mother’s Day. The Patchwork Handbag, sewing together crocheted squares and contrasting pieces of fabric, looks like Grandma’s bag.

Uncommon Crochet is a great introduction to uncommon patterns and uncommon fibers.

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