Today’s crochet book review isn’t technically for a crochet book. However, it’s for a fashion book that I found really inspiring as a crocheter. I thought other people interested in crochet might be interested in it as well. It’s called Artwear: Fashion and Anti-Fashion and it’s by Melissa Leventon.

Who this book is for

This book isn’t necessarily for crochet artists. Instead, it is for anyone interested in fashion as an art form. I, personally, believe that many people who design their own crochet clothing would be inspired by this book.

Book format

This book is an oversized art book. Unlike other traditional crochet books, this book has the book format of a standard book. In other words, it is divided into chapters that discuss the topics in the book. The main topic is artwear. In the introduction, the author says this about artwear:

“Artwear, or wearable art, is a surprisingly difficult genre to pin down. It has gone by different names at different times in different places. It is a product of the postindustrial, Western battle of art versus craft, in which craft seeks validation as an equal to art and art seeks to maintain a proper distance. Yet it has also appeared in Asia, where the art/ craft divide traditionally has not existed. Artwear struggles with an ever-changing relationship to fashion, which informs it and which it informs, but from which it has sought independence in its wish to achieve recognition as art.”

The introduction is followed by chapters on:

  • Putting artwear in context. This is a lengthier description of what artwear is including some history of artwear.
  • Artwear in the U.S.A. Artwear as a movement was launched in the 1960’s and 1970’s in New York and San Francisco. This is about that period of time as well as about the development of artwear throughout the nation after that. This section includes several crochet pieces ¬†including a 1971 dress by Del Pitt Feldman made from crocheted rayon.
  • Models, methods and meanings. The U.S. exploration of this art form stemmed from various fashion and art techniques developed here as well as abroad. This chapter takes a look at some of those techniques including handweaving and airbrush painting. This section also looks at the meaning of this art in the context of other art movements like Pop Art.
  • Artwear outside the U.S.A. As the name suggests, this delves deeper into artwear elsewhere such as in Europe. There is some really interesting felt work in this section.
  • Stretching the boundaries: conceptual and performance pieces. Clothing-inspired performance art is a really fascinating niche of fashion and art. Crochet artist Olek is a great example of someone doing this type of work today. The book showcases others from varying time periods.

Favorite images from this book

This book is image-rich with nearly two hundred different photos of artwear. It’s tough to decide which of these I find most inspiring as a crochet artist. It’s the stuff that’s unexpected that really catches the eye here.¬†For example:

Mixed Media Headdress by Candice Kling

Additional notes

There are several crocheted and felted pieces in this book. However I would encourage others to look at all of the different fabric art in this book as a source of inspiration for crochet work.


Are you familiar with the term artwear? Where do you know it from?


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

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