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I first saw a Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby design shortly after I set up my Pinterest account a couple of years ago. I dedicated a board to granny squares, and when I saw a photo of a chic, black and white motif dress , I immediately added it. I also knew the designer, Shibaguyz, was going somewhere.
And I was right. After having over 200 crochet and knit patterns published in a multitude of national and international fiber arts publications, the Shibaguyz team has produced a new crochet pattern book, Designer Crochet, which, I have to admit, I begged to review.
A Pattern Book a Step Above the Rest
Several factors work together to produce a book of crochet patterns that set it apart from the crowd:
- Lighter weight yarns – Having lived through the worsted-weight crochet designs of the 70s, it’s a welcome relief for me to see a designer use lightweight yarns exclusively. The yarns selected range from lace to DK weight and result in flexible fabrics that drape beautifully.
- A Wide Range of Sizes – It’s also a delight to see crochet patterns in such a wide range of sizes, from Small to 5X! No one is left out because of size, and the book includes a variety of body shapes modeling the designs.
- Symbol Charts and Schematics – The patterns also include a symbol chart for the intricate stitches used in many of the designs. And an entire page is devoted to each clearly-labeled schematic, making them easy to read and understand.
- Photo Tutorials – A section at the end of the book includes photo tutorials on how to work foundation stitches, as well as such finishing techniques as sewing in a zipper, setting in sleeves, and professional seaming.
- Special Notes on Increasing and Decreasing – This section is particularly helpful for those who don’t have much experience using increasing and decreasing for shaping in garments.
In addition to these factors, the Getting Started section provides invaluable information to help you choose the project suited to your skill level, and helpful advice on how to make yarn substitutions if you aren’t able to purchase the yarn used in the pattern.
Designer Crochet is expertly photographed and formatted, thanks to the other half of the Shibaguyz team, Jason Mullett-Bowlsby, Shannon’s talented photographer husband, who also happens to be an accomplished graphic designer. It shows!
The soft cover book is 8.5” x 10”, which allows for a lot of white space to make pattern reading a breeze.
The patterns themselves have a uniform layout, starting with a full-page photograph on the left-hand side and a brief description of the design, along with finished measurements, and materials and tools on the right.
The interior of each pattern includes information on “blocked” gauge, pattern stitches (with symbol charts), special techniques, and important notes that will be helpful in understanding the pattern instructions. Finally, the generous use of subheadings ensures that you know exactly where you are in the pattern instructions.
32 Scrumptious Projects
The bulk of the patterns in Designer Crochet are geared to intermediate-level crocheters, with a few beginning and advanced patterns. Having most of the patterns at the intermediate skill level makes them accessible to beginners who want to take their crochet skills to the next level.
In fact, several of the intermediate patterns with minimal shaping (e.g., the Duster and Cardi With Attached Scarf) could easily be crocheted by advanced beginners. I especially like the Off-the-Shoulder Dress, a stylish Beginner project with minimal shaping.
There’s a lot to choose from, including outerwear, sweaters (both cardigans and pullovers), dresses and skirts, vests and tanks, and accessories.
Many of the designs incorporate seemingly intricate stitch patterns (e.g., cables); however, as I mentioned earlier, the symbol charts go a long way in making these stitches easy to understand and execute. You could even practice the stitches before beginning the pattern to make sure you understand how to work it.
Don’t let the fact that you’ve never crocheted a garment before stop you from investigating Designer Crochet. With the wealth of helpful charts, tips, and pointers, as well as the extensive design information included in each pattern, it’ll almost be like Shannon is sitting next to you to guide you toward success.
Yes, you’ll be challenged to do things you may have never attempted before. But in the end, you’ll be a more skilled crocheter and have beautiful, new designs in your wardrobe.