Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Review: The Big Book of Granny Squares: 365 Motifs by Tracey Lord, et al

Like all great things, the granny square has come and gone in waves. In the 70s it was the go-to technique; creative hobbyists and artists alike found ingenious ways to use it with great flair.

Silver Evening Bolero from The Golden Hands Complete Book of Knitting & Crochet, 1973
In the 90s, it got a bad rap as “tired, trite and needing a lift”. During that period, crochet in general was on an upsurge and unenlightened journalists often used the phrase, “Not your granny’s crochet” to demean the past and focus on the “new present.” These frequent slights fueled a revolution for passionate crocheters, led by the Crochet Guild of America, who stood up for their beloved craft and brought it to the fore not only as a hobby, but also as an art form and fashion-inspiration. That popularity of crochet as art and fashion surged upward and is currently at its apex of acceptance as a valid fiber art.

Vintage motifs on canvas by Kathleen Holmes, The Fine Art of Crochet, 2013
With the introduction of The Big Book of Granny Squares by Interweave/F+W, the publisher did its part to stir the waters and create a new wave for the granny square. The "biggest collection of crochet motifs ever," this collection of both historic and modern designs has something to tempt the taste of any crocheter. “Whether your taste is for floral or lacy, textural or modern, there is plenty to capture your imagination and get you hooked.”

Not only are there 365 granny squares with complete instructions, but also included are twenty-five pages with a wealth of basic crochet knowledge clearly and beautifully illustrated. Whether you enjoy crocheting a square in the evening for relaxation or plan to create a future heirloom, there is something for everyone! The photos for each square are bright and bold; some larger than others. A lot of effort went into naming each square; they are clever and unique.

Many of the squares are familiar and traditional, but there are certainly plenty of permutations on the granny square to keep it interesting. I particularly like the few descriptive sentences for each motif which includes information on the inspiration behind the design along with hints as to how to best incorporate the square into a project: "Kilim-Rich colors maintain the vivid tones of the Middle Eastern carpets which inspired this design." A clever approach to visually describe the colors of each motif is included on each page edge with the corresponding letter used in the pattern instructions.

Well done, this book is a must for every crocheter’s library. Published in November 2014 by Interweave/F+W, The Big Book of Granny Squares retails for $29.99.

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