Book Review: The Fine Art of Crochet

This month I have the pleasure of reviewing The Fine Art of Crochet by Crochet Guild of America founder Gwen Blakley Kinsler.

I'd like to begin by saying that I really wish this book were available in the form of a museum or college course. There is so much information in here that a crocheter begins to wonder about as they become more involved in the craft, such as what are its roots and where is it going? The Fine Art of Crochet appears to have all the answers.

The introduction in the book alone is a goldmine of crochet history. Where most books sort of gloss over crochet's humble beginnings, Kinsler discusses the subject in-depth, and even gives names to the different eras in crochet (yes--crochet has differing eras, just as other art genres!).

Furthermore, as the title implies, Kinsler points out that crochet is an art form all its own, and while it can be used to mimic other art forms, it has the form and ability to shine in its own right. She sums this point up perfectly when she says, "The best examples exploit the special qualities inherent in the technique of crochet--no attempt is made, as was so often before, to imitate other forms of needlework or handicraft."

Once an appropriate background in crochet is given, Kinsler launches into the artist profiles. Each artist was chosen for their unique ability to bring a fresh perspective to the crochet world. While some of their techniques are commonplace now, someone had to be the first to crochet with wire or yarn bomb a tree, and Kinsler tracked them down and interviewed them for her book.

The artist interviews shatter so many stereotypes about crochet. "Crochet is for grandmothers."  "Crochet is knitting's poor, ugly relative." "Crochet is just a hobby." What may surprise people who think of crochet as a "woman's craft" is that four of the twenty artists interviewed are men, and their work is just as insightful and expertly executed as that of the ladies. What's more, almost all of the featured artists have higher degrees in the arts. And yes, they are actually making a living from their craft. 

Whether you've been crocheting for decades or have only just begun, this book is sure to give you a deeper understanding of the craft we have all come to know and love.