Learn to Crochet however left me feeling a bit "meh". This is not a very technical term, but I'm sure you know what I mean! I wasn't sure if I was going to review it at all (because if you can't think of anything nice to say, don't say anything at all, right?) but it made me think about what I look for in a craft book and how nowadays, with so many crafty how tos available online for free, a book has to have something special about it which makes it worth buying.
Generally, I like my craft books to either be instructional (detailed guides to crafty skills or techniques) or inspirational (creative projects, gorgeously photographed and nicely presented). The best craft books are often a mix of the two, but I find that I'm either drawn to a book for the one reason or the other: it either makes me go "oooh, how lovely, I want to make that!" or it seems to be a great resource for a craft I want to try / want to develop my skills in and I buy it because it looks really "useful".
Learn to Crochet includes introductory info on crochet materials and how to follow patterns and diagrams, and then a series of step by step guides for different stitches and techniques, and 10 simple projects for testing out your new skills. It definitely falls into the "instructional" category - the projects included in it are quite boring, and I could find some much nicer simple crochet projects online with just a few minutes of Googling, and there are some lovely modern crochet books available (like Cute and Easy Crochet which I reviewed last year) so the only reason I'd buy it would be for the "how to" parts... to help me learn crochet and then to give me something to reference if I came across something in the other patterns which I didn't understand.
The step by step guides look great, with lots of photographs but when I was trying to follow them last year when learning crochet for the first time I found them a bit confusing (although this could be a fault on my part not on the part of the author!) and I've read a few complaints about them not being beginner-friendly enough in other reviews online which makes me think that the book wouldn't actually be that useful to me after all.
The 10 beginner projects also take up many more pages of the book than the "how to" sections, and they feel a little padded with photos. I don't have an issue with picture-heavy craft books as long as the photos add something to the experience (e.g. if they're gorgeously styled and inspiring, or if they show lots of different details of a finished piece so you can see how seams etc fit together), but one page worth of simple blanket instructions padded out to four pages with photos like these?
This definitely doesn't feel like value for money to me (especially compared to the quilting book). I feel a bit mean writing a bad review, but I do think it's important to be honest about these things and, being totally honest, if I flicked through this book in a shop I'd put it back on the shelf and look for something else.
What do you guys look for in a craft book? Are there any that you've bought or been given and been disappointed in, and if so, why were they diappointing? I'd love to know your thoughts about this!
Learn to Crochet is published by New Holland, RRP £7.99. In case you've looked at these photos and totally disagree with my thoughts, it's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops :)
[Disclaimer: New Holland sent me a free review copy of this book, and the Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links which means if you click on them and then make a purchase I get a very small % as a referral fee.]