April 9th, 2010

Book Review – Comfort Knitting & Crochet Afghans

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It’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a book here on the blog, but when our lovely friends at Berroco unleash a new publication it’s time to stop and take notice.

Comfort Knitting & Crochet Afghans – More Than 50 Beautiful, Affordable Desings Featuring Berroco’s Comfort Yarn by Norah Gaughan, Margery Winter & The Berroco Design Team has just been released.   As the title says, it is packed with more than 50 afghan patterns knit and crocheted using Berroco’s very price-conscious Comfort yarn.

For 150 or so pages, I was treated to project after project that simply tickled me.  I love that the book is a blend of knit and crochet AND that they are pretty equally represented (27 knit afghans and 24 crocheted afghans to be exact).  Crochet projects are often thrown in as a token gesture or after thought but the team creating this book, lead by Norah and Margery, did the crocheters proud.

With so many patterns to choose from, it was hard to select favorites.  In fact, it seemed my favorites kept changing each time I took another look.  I finally narrowed my picks down to 5:

Although Garter Stripes is “the ultimate in easy knitting” I make no apologies for loving it.  

It’s simplicity speaks to my own personal aesthetic of minimalism.  Since Berroco  Comfort features over 95 colors, the possibilities for customizing this blanket are endless.  There are three panels that are joined at the end to create an afghan 66″w x 60″ long.

Although the color selection doesn’t speak to me despite its ties to the history of this particular design, Crazy offers a very interesting construction using only single crochet and decreases at the beginning and end of rows.  

Inspired by crazy quilts of the 1880′s, the afghan is a series of 6 squares constructed by creating 4 individual triangles and joining upon completion.   Having said that, upon further inspection I now realize that the shapes that constitute the squares aren’t all exactly triangles but since my high school geometry is failing me at the moment, just cut me some slack.  (NOTE:  My very mathematically inclined Berroco rep, the lovely Andra, just returned my call and she was able to solve the mystery – of course, they are simply quadrangles.  I remembered trapezoids and parallelograms but not the simple quadrangle – thank you Andra).

Staying with crochet for the moment, we must take a look at Pinwheel:

Comprised of 140 squares, each is “composed of open-grid filet crochet, which is then embellished with a pinwheel of crocheted chain stitch”  There was no way I could have explained that any better so why try?  Once all of the squares are completed they are simply chain stitched together using a contrasting color.

Not overly difficult, but certainly time consuming, Pinwheel is a good travelling project.  Small and compact you don’t need to lug a lot around with you and you can alternate between creating a bunch of squares and then doing the embellishment and then back to squares to keep things interesting.

Nordic Holidayis bold and modern and it just intrigues me.  It was pointed out to me by my math consultant that it has vague resemblance to a lovely handwoven rug by Jason Collingwood that we have on display at the store.

Again – no intricate knitting is involved here but some smart design techniques result in a graphical wonder.  Love the red stair steps!  Directions are included for both a large blanket and smaller throw.

Herringbone is an afghan I would by in a store if I saw it.  It’s modern and classic all at the same time  - I can easily imagine it in the Calvin Klein bedding section of Bloomies.

I love this blanket.  It speaks to me and I want it.  What more is there to say?  It’s a great project for those of you who have been intimidated to try cables – the herringbone pattern is created using cables and twisted stitches.  The afghan is finished with a lovely 2-row crochet edging.

Now a few words about Comfort yarn.  Comfort comes in four weights – sock, dk, worsted and chunky.  It’s 50% super fine acrylic/50% super fine nylon.  Don’t go making faces or saying impolite things about Comfort.  It is a fine yarn – a might fine yarn at that.   This is not your typical acrylic yarn.  It’s soft and sophisticated and not at all icky.  The worsted and chunky retail for $5.75 per ball with 210 and 150 yards respectively.  DK is only $3.25 per ball with 178 yards while sockis $7.50 for 440 yards.  Comfort is machine washable and I would even hazard to say machine dryable – just be gentle!

I think overall the book is fabulous.   It is soft cover, lovely paper that are a joy to turn, gorgeous photography.  The page numbers are microscopic – I’m all for the “design elements” of a piece but it bugs me when it’s they are not functional.  The instructions from what I’ve gathered assume a certain level of basic knitting and crochet skill meaning not every last thing is spelled out.  I don’t find this problematic but it’s important to point out.  At $19.95 it’s a book you should seriously take a look or two at.

If you will be attending Stitches South in two weeks, you are in for a great treat in the WEBS booth!  The lovely Andra has been working overtime (as have her knitters/crocheters) to create large squares representing 16 of the designs in the book.  They will be on display at the show and I can probably arrange to have them in the store after that.

Finally, on Monday, we will have a VERY special Q&A post with Norah Gaughan herself.  I asked her a series of questions about the book and it’s creation.  I’m thrilled to have Norah share her thoughts with all of us!  Stay tuned for Monday!

Enjoy,

Kathy

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  • knittingcontessa

    Kathy——– I do love this book and have it on my wish list—– however, more importantly (to me anyway and it is my birthday so there shall be no discussion) my chicken is DONE! I knew right away that I would have to ask after YOUR chicken? Hmmmmmm? Photos on the blog—-

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