Friday, March 25, 2011

book review: Teva Durham; Loop-d-loop Crochet

A couple of years ago Teva Durham published her crochet book. I was excited to see it, because I kind of like Teva Durham's desings. I have her first book, and I was expecting more of the same, this time using the wonderful possibilities of crochet.

I was sorely disappointed. I couldn't understand what had happened. Then I read the introduction.

Teva speaks about her grandmothers and mentions researching crochet patterns...
I suppose that's the problem then. She has learned to see knitting as just a tool, but she doesn't know enough crochet to understand the possibilities.

It becomes painfully obvious as I read on the introduction.
"the lacy stitches lending themselves to a vintage feel", "crochet possesses an air of domesticity"... "looking at doilies, gloves and tablecloths for inspiration..." Oh my.
Does she look at knitted doilies, gloves and tablecloths for inspiration for her knitted items? I strongly doubt that.
There is an ocean of crochet techniques created to produce material suitable for bags, sweaters and rugs, decades and dozens of cultures using crochet to produce things, but for some reason she didn't find that interesting enough to "inspire" her...

Perhaps the antimacassar she was referring to looked a bit like this?
"I confess that for a long time, I was a knit snob who viewed crochet as a lesser craft, the poor stepsister to knitting".
Yeah... it shows, Teva.

"I needed enough facility to my crochet designs to possess the same character as my knit designs - not to imitate my knitted fabric, but to exhibit the same signature qualities."

Oh. Now, THAT doesn't show. I suppose she is too afraid of "imitating her knitted fabric", then. Pity.
Medallion cardigan from Loop-d-loop Crochet
"I have somewhat "ouside-the-box" approach to design... takes old-fashioned techniques and styles out of context and into the hip-hop age."
I couldn't help but laugh when I read this... Hubris, much?
Sure Teva is a talented and unique designer, thinks differently from most, and finds interesting and new solutions, but so does most designers.
Solomon knot flower shawl from Loop-d-loop Crochet
"After exploring crochet in depth, I have an equal love and respect for it and knitting. Some of my knit-blogging friends will have fits of the vapors upon reading this. Yet, still more are simultaneously joining the crochet cognozcenti in droves. I hope my perspective will be enjoyed by knitters who are delving into crochet as well as by crafters for whom crochet is their forte".
I'm sorry, but that sounds like egocentric, sanctimonious crap to me.
(And why not say "crocheters" instead of "crafters for whom crochet is their forte", as she repeatedly says "knitters"?)
Knotwork Socks from Loop-d-loop Crochet
I think about Maria Gullberg, who published a book "Time to Crochet" (tid att virka) 1998. She studied crochet also with the purpose of renewing the technique and bringing it to date with the rest of the world. She went to grandmother's grandmother and created lovely, modern patterns.

I could continue to amigurumis, but that's a bit different. Nevertheless, amigurumi crocheting has lead dozens of crafters into free crochet, which in itself is a wonderful, inspiring and modern artform.

I think about Danielle Kassner, who also went further back in history to find inspiration, and brought with her very nice modern designs. Now, Danielle designs colorwork which Teva doesn't much do.

I think of Nicky Epstein and her Medallion Medley and Temair Throw...
Now THAT is "your grandmother's crochet" taken into hip-hop age! It blew me away when I first saw it, and it STILL impresses me. Nicky's "Crocheting over the edge" was published 2008, a year after Teva's crochet book, but these two books are close enough each other in time so that we can safely say that when Teva was working with the models for her book, Nicky was working with her models...

I like Mandy Moore's hoodie vest (2009), Mary Jane Hall's cap sleeve top (2008), Doris Chan's Lace bolero (2010), Annie Modesitt's pretty pleats skirt (2009)... simple enough designs, and every one much more modern, "out-of-the-box" and inspiring than anything Teva published in her book...
Her "medallion cardigan" is right out SCARY!

I think of Jane Snedden Peever's crocheted aran sweaters, and the Cathy Merrick, mother of Babette (2006) and Boteh scarf...

If Teva Durham did something like THAT, THEN she might be able to utter the last words of her introduction. The truth is that when she wrote the book, she was still a beginner, and had no "perspective" to talk about. I haven't seen much development since then. Drops has better crochet patterns than Teva Durham does.

Nevertheless, some people disagree strongly with me, so look for yourself. (Interestingly enough, she's a knitter, not a crocheter, so what does she know?)
(And I have to admit that she did manage to get in a little nice details, like the back of Lazy Wheels Coat, or the angle on the hip-slung belt.

P.S: Look what Burberry Prorsum did:
Crocheted trenchcoat! LOVE!!!

P.P.S "You shouldn't be so quick to judge!" said someone, after reading the review.

I sat down and designed a collection I would have wanted to see.
I copied her quite heavily, after all, my intention was to see what I could expect of her. If *I* can do it - and who am I? - then she most certainly should be able to, at least as well as I did.
I wanted to see how disappointed I have the "right" to be. (Naturally, I have right to be as disappointed as I am, but I might be unfair to her.)

I managed to "design" 48 pieces in two hours. I'm pretty sure that if I had her assets, I'd be able to get the pieces into publishable form within a couple of months.

I assume Teva Durham is in "design mood" more than I am, after all, she lives on this, I don't. Also, she "copies" herself as much as I do, in fact, she does it automatically, as ANYTHING she does is hers.
Naturally, I think I know a bit more on crochet than she does. It shouldn't be that way, as by publishing a book of crochet designs she has opened herself up to being judged with the best of crochet designers. No-one forced her to publish anything.

So, I did that and now I'm even more disappointed AND slightly disdainful.

She published the book too early. She should have crocheted more, and she should definitely have looked at CONTEMPORARY design as she was trying to renew crochet, and not to what her grandmothers did in last century.

Am I being too harsh? After all, she's not as experienced in crochet as in knitting, and haven't done that much yet...
She acts as if she was just as good with crochet as she is with knitting, and she is not.
She waltzes in and claims to be a new wind in crochet, and she's not.
Perhaps she will be, in some 10 or 20 years, but this book is a great disappointment.


lilycobweb said...

I agree. I was excited to buy this book, and shared it with a group of crocheters. They chose the child's bolero as a group project, and I was tasked with trying out the pattern.

What a disaster! Though it looks simple enough in the photos, it is really annoyingly designed. The pattern does not seem to me to work at all. It is SO obvious that it has been designed by a knitter and someone who does not understand the directional possiblities in crochet. Paid $60 for yarn and I cannot 'frog' the thing. Each row is standalone and yarn is cut at end. Not good, not good at all.

Pamela Bourque said...

Well crap! I'm in love with the Solomon knot flower shawl! Doesn't that just figure. It's so hard to find patterns like that in a google search, when I find one, it's like finding a jewel in the hay. So disappointing to learn I either can't find a link to pattern or it's a book no one likes. Story of my life.

Ketutar said...

So sorry, Pamela :-D
It's not that NO-ONE likes the book, it got quite a lot positive reviews at
You could get more luck looking for the pattern at Ravelry:
Good luck with finding the pattern or finding another pattern you can adjust so that you can get your shawl :-)
I personally think it's awful, but I'm just one person of the 7 billion on this planet, don't let that influence you :-)
Hugs, Ket