Book Review of Unexpected Afghans by Robyn Chachula
Would you like to own a beautifully styled collection of outstanding, innovative crochet blanket patterns? If so, you’ll want to check out a fabulous book called Unexpected Afghans: Innovative Crochet Designs With Traditional Techniques.
Author: Robyn Chacula; the book also includes patterns contributed by 24 other crochet designers including the Crochet Dude (Drew Emborksy), Edie Eckman, Doris Chan, Kim Guzman, Carol Ventura, Kristin Omdahl, Tammy Hildebrand, Kathy Merrick, Kimberly McAlindin, Marly Bird, Dora Ohrenstein and others.
Publisher: Interweave Press
Copyright Date: 2012
ISBN 13: 978-1-59668-299-3
Number of Pages: 159
Cover Price: > $22.95 US dollars
Skill Level: No skill level ratings are included by the publisher. This book has many tips and hints that would be helpful to any crocheter — especially to novices. However, if I were tasked with assigning skill level ratings to these afghan patterns, I’d rate most of them as “Intermediate” or “Advanced”.
The Focus of This Book:
This book is a collection of crocheted afghan patterns created using a variety of traditional crochet techniques that are also currently popular right now. The techniques utilized in these pages include Tunisian crochet, motifs, crocheted cables, tapestry crochet, colorwork and lace. The apparent goal was that each pattern included in this book would be innovative and unexpected.
This book also includes several pillow patterns plus some additional informational text.
The Best Things About This Book
When I first opened the book, my initial impression was favorable thanks to the sheer beauty of it. The afghan designs, the colors, the textures, the techniques, the styling of the pages — they’re all delightful. As far as visual presentation goes, this is a masterpiece of a crochet book.
One of my favorite patterns in this book is the “Kaleidoscope” afghan pattern by Tammy Hildebrand. The Kaleidoscope afghan consists of two basic granny-square style crochet motif patterns — a kaleidoscope motif and a filler motif. To create this afghan, the crocheter makes multiples of these two motifs and then joins them in a kaleidoscope-style repeating pattern. The edges are filled in with a partial motif pattern.
This design is not only eye-catching, it’s also intriguing to crochet. I can say this after having crocheted it several times in different colors, and I still want to crochet it in other colorways too. The yarn colors I used don’t do the design justice at all; I was so interested in trying out the pattern that I just grabbed the closest bits of scrap yarn instead of planning out what the nicest colorway might look like.
This pattern includes symbol crochet charts, diagrams and written instructions. Since my goal was really to give you the full report about whether the instructions are clear and accurate or not, I worked from the written instructions. I found them to be concise, clear and easy to interpret.
My favorite things about the book:
- I really appreciate having the symbol crochet charts. Even the Tunisian crochet patterns have charts included! If you enjoy working from symbol crochet charts, this is a book you’re going to want to have in your library.
- There are some exciting, intriguing and outstanding crochet stitches presented in the book.
- I’m inspired by the photography, color stories and styling choices included in this book. I think you’ll be really inspired by them, too.
- The wide variety of book contributors resulted in a refreshing and almost overwhelming amount of diversity. Whether you want to try a familiar technique or explore one that’s new to you, you’ll probably find a satisfactory option from among this pattern collection.
- Every design included in this book has something noteworthy about it. Although some of these patterns are not to my taste, I made interesting discoveries from looking at just about all of them. Even if you’re an expert crocheter, I think you’ll probably pick up some interesting insights from this book. I did, and I’ve been crocheting for more than 30 years. If you haven’t reached expert level status yet, you’ll be much closer to that level of accomplishment after you work through some of the diverse patterns in this book.
- I think the tips included in the book are helpful, and that they would be valuable to all but the most experienced of crocheters. I certainly appreciate having access to such an outstanding collection of insights contributed by a diversity of expert crochet designers.
The Not-So-Great Things About This Book:
This book doesn’t have many downsides, but since this is a book review, I’m of course going to give you the whole honest truth about the book, downsides and all:
- There aren’t many patterns in this book that I didn’t like, but I think a few of them are mediocre. I question whether those few would be worth either the time or monetary / yarn investment. Your mileage may vary.
- It’s debatable whether this book lives up to its title or not. My smart-aleck husband’s first comment about the book was, “What’s so unexpected about a bunch of granny square afghans?” My response to him was “Nothing! So what?” But he brings up a point worth mentioning. If you’re looking for crochet that’s bizarre, weird and truly unexpected, this book is likely to disappoint you. There’s nothing really oddball here. I personally think that’s a good thing, because I enjoy traditional crochet techniques such as the granny squares, Tunisian crochet, lace, and colorwork that are included in this book. I’d apply the adjective “innovative” to these designs, but wouldn’t necessarily label them “unexpected.”
- No skill level ratings are provided by the author or publisher for individual patterns.
I’m thrilled to recommend this book to intermediate and advanced crocheters.
If you’re a beginning crocheter, this book might or might not be a great purchase for you. If you’re looking to relax with your crochet and ease into it with simple, no-brainer projects, this probably isn’t the best book to meet your needs. If you’re looking to master the art and craft of crochet, and you’re serious about improving your skills, this is probably a book you’re going to want to own.
I think the majority of crocheters would find this book inspiring. However, I’d only recommend the book to those beginners who have realistic expectations and are willing to invest some effort in getting to the point where you can work these patterns.
Where to Buy This Book
This book is available for sale in different formats from many different booksellers. Here are links to a few places you might like to shop for it:
- Shop for the Unexpected Afghans paperback book at Amazon.
- Download the Unexpected Afghans Kindle version at Amazon.
- If you’re a beginner to crochet, or you’re looking for easy crochet afghan patterns, there’s a brand new book you’ll definitely want to consider as an alternative to Unexpected Afghans (or possibly, in addition to it). The book is called Crochet Afghan Revival. It features 40!!! different patterns for crocheting easy blankets and afghans. I personally prefer Unexpected Afghans, because I enjoy challenging crochet. But if you aren’t up for a challenging project right now, Crochet Afghan Revival is likely to be a better choice for you. There’s a truly wonderful mix of afghan styles and crochet techniques included in the book. I also think it’s an excellent value for the money — you get more patterns than you do in Unexpected Afghans.
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