Last week I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Urban Edge, by designer Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby, published by Leisure Arts. And I'm super excited to be able to give you an inside peek! I snapped a few pics this overcast May morning (hence the blurriness, my apologies), so let's dive in.
There are 13 sweater and vest designs in this book, all of which are previewed on the front and back of the book (above). While I'm not usually a vest person, I couldn't help but feel drawn to the vest designs in particular! The Rio de Janiero hoodie vest is the first project I plan on, whereas when I showed a book to a friend, her eyes went straight to the green Bangkok jacket on the front, which shows great attention to detail and clean lines.
In fact, all the designs show a lot of thought and attention to the small details that will give these pieces drape and let them flatter most women. And it's not just for skinny girls either - all the patterns include instructions for six sizes: Small through 3X! As a "bigger" crocheter, that's so encouraging. Trying to figure out how to upsize a pattern - particularly when you are new to garment making, can be overwhelming. These patterns already have it all laid out. I do, however, have to wish that they had included a few more pictures, to show the clothes on women of various sizes. These models make everything look good, but don't really represent how the clothes will look on me.
There are a plethora of positive things to be said about this book though, including the use of charts and diagrams. Never fear, there are also detailed written instructions. But the charts and diagrams make everything much clearer and help those who need more visual instructions. I know lots of American crocheters find charts intimidating. I did too when I started. But the amazing thing about charts is that they are truly an international language. Learning to read charts not only adds to your understanding of patterns in your native tongue; it lets you understand and make patterns from all over the world! Traditionally, American publications have been a bit behind the curve in publishing charts - it's great to see them getting on the bandwagon.
Another thing I love about this book is the use of readily available yarns for many of the patterns. While most crocheters aren't afraid to substitute yarn when they make a pattern, it's nice to be able to make a garment in the recommended yarn and not spend $600 (no exaggeration - I've come across a couple of these, and yeah... not gonna happen). Many of the patterns use Caron brand yarns, which are readily available in the big box craft stores. A few of the patterns do recommend pricier brands, like Malabrigo and Classic Elite, but even those are readily available online. No hiking the Alps in search of yarn made from the undercoat of an endangered horned muskrat, promise.
And if you do want to substitute yarns, all of the info you need is right there on the front page of each pattern - but, alas, herein is my only other complaint about this book. They've included the yarn weight symbol, and the number of balls you'd need of the recommended yarn to make each size, and the number of yards in each of those balls. But they've left you to do the last bit of math - you have to multiply the yardage in one of the recommended yarn balls by the number of balls you'd need for your size, to get the total yardage needed. Why not include the total yardage in the printed info as well? To be fair, this seems to be standard practice for many pattern books. Perhaps it is publisher policy, or something the yarn manufacturers insist on, thinking we'll just buy their yarn to avoid 4th grade math. And sure, it's easy enough to figure out, but it's information I would prefer to be able to see at a glance.
One last note. It might be a silly thing, but kudos to Urban Edge for being an actual pattern book! It encompasses all the necessary info, including chart symbols and tutorials for some of the lesser known techniques and stitches. What they've left out is that whole "how to crochet" section you get in the front of so many pattern books. We don't need to buy the same 15 pages of basic instructions in every crochet book! It's a waste of paper, time, and shelf space. Urban Edge gets it just right, including only what the average crocheter needs.
Overall, I have to give Urban Edge a huge thumbs up! There are a range of difficulty levels included, but I have no doubt that with time, practice, and their excellent instructions, each of these patterns is very make-able. I plan to get started on that myself very soon! Thank you so much to Shannon Mullet-Bowlsby and Shibaguyz Designz for this copy of their fantastic book! You can purchase your own copy at Amazon (now on sale!), or directly from Leisure Arts, as a paperback or digital download.
What's your favorite Urban Edge design?
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