Creative Crochet: A Vintage Resource on Freeform Crochet

I’ve been on a kick lately where I’ve been hunting down vintage crochet books through my local library. I love seeing what was written about crochet in different eras of the craft, especially in the 70’s and early ’80s. Previously my vintage resources were mostly limited to crochet magazines but these books provide a lot of fun stuff that I’m happy to be checking out. I’m especially excited about a book I’ve discovered called Creative Crochet that I swear is an early resource for freeform crochet before anyone was calling it freeform crochet.

What is Freeform Crochet?

Okay, so for those people who aren’t too familiar with freeform crochet, it refers to a type of crochet where you are free to break the rules of crochet. You don’t necessarily work in rows but instead just in any direction your heart desires, adding any stitches you feel like adding. You can do this as art but it can also be shaped to be a unique wearable item. Freeform is fun because it really opens up the possibilities for crochet and lets you be wildly creative if you want to.

About the Book

Creative Crochet is a book by Nicki Hetz Edson and Arlene Stimmel. It is subtitled: “Step-by-step demonstrations that take you from basic stitches to creative techniques”. It was published in 1973 by presses in New York and London. One downside to the book is that most of the pictures are in black-and-white although there is a nice color section in the center. Other than that the book doesn’t seem too dated and offers lots of great ideas for freeform crochet.

Some Fun Vintage Features

One of the things that I like about vintage crochet books is that they have information you don’t see a lot in modern times. This info can be useful. This book includes:

  • Yarn Chart. It shows the descritions, pros and cons and best uses for various types of yarn and some of it is vintage yarn that you don’t necessarily find info on today. So if you’ve ever wondered how to use that old rug yarn that your aunt gave you or fisherman’s yarn or cowhair then this book can tell you. (Yes, cowhair, apparently used to crochet Western stuff mostly).
  • How to Use a Yarn Swift. I’ve never seen this in a contemporary crochet book so I think it’s kind of fun extra info.
  • Different Names for Familiar Stitches. Today we saw BLO or FLO for crocheting in just the back loop or just the front loop. Apparently in 1973 BLO was called Rib Stitch and FLO was called Albanian Stitch. I love these little insights.
  • Slightly Different Crochet Charts. I don’t typically use crochet charts but from what i can tell the symbols are a little different in this vintage crochet book. I may be wrong on this detail, though. I’m so not a chart-visual style of person.
  • Crocheter’s Work Showcased. There are a lot of crochet items from different designers shown in pictures in this book. I have created a list for myself of people to look up to see if I can get more info on any of them.

The Normal Stuff in this Crochet Book

Although vintage books like this do have those fun bonus things, it’s still your basic crochet instruction book so it has much of what you’re used to from your crochet books including:
  • How to do the basic crochet stitches. Very clear drawings help if a beginner were to come across this book.
  • How to do some basic crochet techniques like weaving in ends.
  • A simple guide to some common “fancy stitches” like shell sitch. These come with row by row instructions as well as graphs.
  • A guide to making the basic geometric shapes. This mostly explains increases and decreases to get different common shapes.

Project Ideas, Not Patterns

There are row-by-row instructions for some of the things in this book for the most part the instructions are designed to guide you in creating a work rather than tell you exactly how to make something. This makes perfect sense for freeform crochet. So for example, the pillow sampler “pattern” tells you to make a circle of a certain size, squares of a certain size and then stitch them together in a certain layout but it doesn’t say row-by-row how you have to make your square or what yarn to use or anything like that. In that way, this vintage crochet book is kind of timeless because you could always adapt the ideas to a contemporary design.

A Few Examples

As I said, I’m going to be researching the crocheters with work in the book so I’ll hopefully be able to showcase their work in individual posts but for now here are a few examples of the items that are highlighted in this vintage crochet book.
Starry Vest by Dina Schwartz, Cloud Coat by Sharron Hedges, Swan by Cindy Picchi, Geometric Pillow Cover by Pauline Stammer

Buy the Book

This vintage crochet book is available on Amazon. As of the writing of this post there were copies available priced at as low as $3.

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Kathryn

San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!

23 Comments:

  1. @CrochetBlogger Very cool book. One reason I like to collect very old cookbooks is the way language and vocabulary has changed.

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  12. I love these early crochet trail blazers. Is it possible to keep a running list of 70s out of print crochet books somewhere…Here are my fav which involve freeform..

    Crochet Discovery and Design, by Del Pitt Feldman
    Published by Doubleday, 1972
    ISBN 0-385-05133-6
    A New Look at Knitting, by Elyse and Mike Sommer
    Published by Crown Publishers, 1977
    ISBN 0-517-52860-6
    also 1978 – ISBN 0-517-52861-4 (paperback)
    Knit Art, by Ferne Geller Cone
    Published by Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1975
    ISBN 0-442-21656-4
    New Design in Crochet, by Clinton D MacKenzie
    Published by Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1972
    ISBN 0-442-35069-4
    The Crocheter’s Art, by Del Pitt Feldman
    Published by Doubleday, 1972, 1974
    ISBN 0-385-05134-4
    there’s also a UK edition published by Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1975
    ISBN 0-17-149036-3
    A New Look at Crochet, by Elyse and Mike Sommer
    Published by Crown Publishers, 1975
    ISBN 0-517-51607-1
    also 1978 – ISBN 0-517-51608-X (paperback)
    The Crochet Workbook, by Sylvia Cosh and James Walters

    Published in the UK by B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1989
    ISBN 0-713-45915-8
    Published in the USA by St. Martin’s Griffin, 1990 (paperback)
    ISBN 0-312-04032-6
    Knit Like Crazy! by Poochie Meyers

    self-published, printed in McCaysville, GA by Letters etcetera! Inc. (3rd printing was 1996)
    ISBN 1-881571-04-1
    The Appeal of Crochet, by Kathleen Basford & Pauline Turner
    self-published by Pauline Turner/Crochet Design, 1992
    ISBN 1-874080-95-X
    and these are a couple of freeform techniques books not in English:
    In Dutch: Anders Breien en Haken, (alternative knitting and crochet), by Constance Nieuwhoff
    Published by Zomer & Keuning Boeken B.V., Wageningen, 1976
    ISBN 90-210-2072-6
    In Danish: Fri haekling, (Free crochet), by Lis Paludan
    Borgens Forlag, 1980, also a Dutch edition, published in Holand by Zomer & Keuning Boeken bv, Ede, 1980 – ISBN 87-418-2813-5

    Native Funk & Flash, by Alexandra Jacopetty

    Published by Scrimshaw Press, 1974
    ISBN 0-912-02037-7
    also ISBN 0-912-02038-5 (paperback)
    Wearable Crafts, by Elyse and Mike Sommer
    Published by Crown Publishers, 1976
    ISBN 0-517-52395-7
    also ISBN 0-517-52518-7 (paperback)
    Hard Crochet, by Mark Dittrick
    Published by Hawthorn Books Inc, 1978
    ISBN 0-801-53279-5
    also ISBN 0-801-53280-9 (paperback)
    Crochet Patterns, by James Walters (includes patterns by Sylvia Cosh)
    Published by Macdonald and Janes Publishers Ltd (UK), 1978
    ISBN 0-354-08534-4
    Louisa Calder’s Creative Crochet
    Published by Penguin, 1979
    ISBN 0-140-46370-4
    The Peter Max Book of Crochet (I don’t yet have this one, but have heard of it)
    (circa1972 ?)
    ISBN 0-515-09297-5
    New Directions in Crochet, by Anne Rabun Ough
    Published by David & Charles (UK) ,1981
    ISBN 0-715-38166-0
    Crochet Workshop, by James Walters
    Published by Sidgwick and Jackson Ltd, 1979
    ISBN 0-283-98396-5
    also ISBN 0-283-98408-2 (paperback)
    The Batsford Book of Crochet, by Ann Stearns
    Published by B.T. Batsford Ltd (UK), 1981
    ISBN 0-713-43312-4
    Crochet History & Technique, by Lis Paludan
    Originally published in Danish in (1986 ?)
    English edition published by Interweave Press, 1995
    ISBN 1-883-01009-8
    The Crochet Sweater Book, by Sylvia Cosh
    Published by Dorling Kindersley Publishers (UK), 1987
    ISBN 0-86318-201-1
    also published in the US by Crown Publishers, 1988
    ISBN 0-517-56478-5

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