Book Review: My First Crochet
I was rather flattered when my six-year-old asked me to teach her to crochet. I figure, how long will she actually want to learn things that make her a bit more like me? We had a few initial sessions, and I realised teaching one’s own child is very different from teaching others. The desire to ‘help’ her was rather overwhelming and kinda disrupted the teaching.
So, we picked up My First Crochet. Dear Daughter spotted it and was bouncing up and down with glee. What mother could resist? Despite my well-honed critical crafting book tendencies, I only looked at the cover, pointed out to her it said for 7+, and when her face fell, commented on what a clever six-and-a-half year old she is.
Back at home I was hugely impressed with the intensity with which she dove into the book. She quickly discerned that the number of smiley faces indicated how hard the project might be–and found a lovely first project, a necklace for one her friends.
I, however, was horrified this project was firmly wedged in the middle of the book. I took her back to the very beginning, where basic techniques are explained. I was even more frustrated here. I have more kid-friendly instructions and diagrams in some of my general crochet books.
The introduction and instructions in this book are very word heavy, and do not seem to take into consideration the reading level of a seven-year-old. Coupled with the fact that the projects are not organised by skill level or progression of techniques, it becomes clear to me this book is an ill-executed marketing mash-up. In fact, some of the projects and photographs are straight from one of the books I have by Nickie Trench.
I should add that there are lots of fresh and kid-appealing photos–as evidenced by my daughter’s interest. However, the ineffectiveness of the book has lead to a string of plans and a lot of frustration from my daughter.
Now I know my daughter isn’t yet seven, and I have discovered coordination and dexterity are considerations in introducing crochet, so concede I am partly to blame for her frustration. That said, she is now capable and very determined to make her own base chain, and some double crochet stitches. My daughter even wants to make sleeping bags for her Sylvanian figurines, to her own design, and necklaces for all of her friends.
So we have a summer project, and I still have some optimism. This book won’t, however, be the solution to my mother/teacher identity crisis.
I feel quite firm on this issue in part because I have found books aimed at children helpful in teaching sewing newbies, and have encouraged them to pick up such books (like Amie Petronis Plumley’s Sewing School). Regardless of age the projects are fun, the instructions quite clear, and the progression sensible.
I believe books like these can be invaluable to making textile crafts accessible, rather than intimidating. So all-in-all I was shocked and terribly disappointed by how poorly this book introduces crochet to the next generation. If I were Trench or her co-author, I would be upset my previous work had been re-used in such a poor execution of a crochet book.
Catherine is the founder of Significant Seams and is mostly committed to patchwork but has come to love a bit of crochet, especially sculptural stuff.
More experienced crochet-lover Debs is teaching Crochet for Kids this summer if your kiddo might be as interested as Catherine’s.