Project: Learn to Crochet, Part II

Happy Hooker

When Debbie Stoller's Stich 'N Bitch first came out, I snapped it up for a friend who had expressed an interest in trying to learn to knit. Said friend came over to my apartment a few times to knit with me, and was doing quite well at learning. However, she seemed frustrated with her misshapen scarf.

I knew nothing of this book, nor how popular it would be soon after its release. All I knew was that I was looking for Christmas presents, my friend was trying to learn to knit, the University Bookstore was having a major one-day-sale for students, and the title was hilarious. A quick scan of the book showed detailed diagrams of stitches and how to execute them, light-hearted and interesting writing, and some fun beginner projects that might help ease my friend's frustration.

I'd love to tell you that this very book helped inspire my friend and coach her to learn knitting, but I don't think she's picked up a pair of needles since she scrapped her misshapen scarf over three years ago. However, this book wouldn't be so damn popular if it hasn't helped numerous others learn. If I had learned to knit when this book was around, I would been one of those others. Instead, I taught myself at the tender age of ten using the much less fun Knitter's Handbook, which I checked out from my local library for over two months before buying.

This weekend, I once again turned to Debbie Stoller and bought The Happy Hooker. This time, the recipient of this crochet manual was me. After a number of frustrating hours teaching myself to crochet with a hook in hand and a laptop on my stomach, I decided I not only wanted something that held my hand a little more in describing the movements of each stitch, but I also wanted something I could turn to with beginner projects. I'm a learn-as-I-go person, not content to do swatch after swatch before moving onto a project. And yes, sometimes this bites me in the butt. However, my interest is peaked more when working towards an actual project. Stoller's book fits the needs of both swatch-by-swatch learners and people like me, who tend to run straight off the cliff.

And in case you know nothing of Stoller's books and couldn't tell from the title, "The Happy Hooker" is quite snappy in delivery. Think of it as learning from your youngest aunt, who has more than one tattoo, rides a Harley, plays bass in a rock band, has a Ph.D in Early American Literature, and owns a closet full of merino yarn.

This book is an indisputable reference for the beginner at crochet. No prior knitting knowledge is required. Stoller includes a thorough section about types of yarns and how they relate to the art of crochet, diagrams of how to execute each stitch, pictures of stitch swatches so you can easily see if you're doing it right the first time around, and a section on how to read patterns.

And of course, the patterns themselves account for more than half the book. The patterns are designed with fun, fresh fashion in mind. No granny afghans or bulky, form-hiding sweaters here. There's a few funky scarves to start on, a pair of lacy fingerless gloves, a shawl, a caplet, a slew of hats, purses purses purses, flower pins, iPod cozies, and more yarn-intensive sweaters and a blanket or two. While the book is obviously aimed towards women, a few men's patterns are also included. You know; for your manflesh. The Happy Hooker alone will certainly guide the crochet beginner on through intermediate status with the numerous fresh projects and their varying degrees of challenge.

Now excuse me while I go back to my flower scarf. I need to finish learning to crochet so I can teach my manflesh. He was expressing interest in making those hyperbolic shapes.