I was beyond thrilled when I found out that Amanda Perkins was going to be writing a crochet book. I have long been following her beautiful work, always stunned by her unique color combinations, her layout of intricate crochet motifs and her prolific production of truly impressive designs. I have always thought of her crochet blankets as individual works of art and was surprised the first time I learned that she offers crochet patterns so that others can replicate these works of art. I think it’s brilliant that she does this and would definitely encourage blanket-makers to check her out. And those who wish to can now do that with her book!
Rainbow Crocheted Afghans: A Block-by-Block Guide to Creating Colorful Blankets and Throws is more than just a collection of pretty crochet blanket patterns. It gives true insight into Amanda’s creative process to help the readers understand that each work of handcrafted art is more than just the curation of motifs in the correct order. For example, she explains her rainbow palette of yarn colors and how / why they differ slightly from more traditional bright rainbow colors. She includes information about using color wheels, determining color density, and making decisions about fiber. She also shows her own color collection. This is something that Amanda is knowledgeable about since she has a lot of experience, learning to dye her own fabrics and embroidery threads using plant based dyes grown herself. She launched a business called The Natural Dye Studio, a successful business that she ended in order to focus on her love of crochet. (You can learn all of this and more about Amanda from the beautiful, personal introduction in Rainbow Crocheted Afghans.)
In addition to sharing her own understanding of color for crochet, Amanda provides tips and insights into her crafting process itself. She explains how she joins motifs, how she sews in ends, how she works borders, if /when and how she chooses to block her work. She gives a clear explanation of her crochet motif symbol charts, with notes indicating where to crochet as you work the stitches. She gives you a lot of information that isn’t just teaching you how to crochet but showing you how to crochet her way. Not that it’s significantly different from how any of us crochet, but we each have our own quirks and adaptations and preferences; most designers don’t think to share theirs but Amanda has been thoughtful in this way and it provides information that can help in learning to replicate her unique, detailed designs.
There are ten crochet blanket books in this collection, but you could make so, so many more afghans using the information in this book. Each crochet pattern has its own color choices and layouts that you could alter to your own preferences to make blanket after blanket that differs slightly or dramatically from the ones before it even though the basic instructions would remain the same. And indeed, Amanda shows you a few different color design layouts to give you a sense of what impact different choices would have.
For example, the first crochet pattern is for “Crop Circles”, a circle motif inside of a square, worked in the round. The crochet pattern shows round by round how to make the 8-round square, providing both written instructions and the symbol chart. There is a layout key that clearly explains how to make each different color combination used in the blanket and how many of each to make. There is a detailed design chart that shown how to arrange each of the squares to create the blanket; each square type is given a number and they are attached in a specific order, which is clearly indicated step-by-step. The design chart shows the motifs laid out by number while a second chart shows the motifs laid out by color arrangement, providing two different options for people to review based on their learning / visual preferences. That latter chart, laid out by color arrangement, is also shown in two completely different color variations (for a total of three color options). This is only one of the ten crochet patterns but you could vary it in so many different ways (changing the colors, changing the placement of different motifs, etc.) that you could make an almost infinite variety of crochet blankets using just this one design.
And there are nine more of these patterns in the book! Many incorporate variations on the circle-in-a-square. There are circles inside of triangles, triangles inside of triangles, triangles inside of squares and mitered squares. Each motif is unique but it’s really the genius of how they are laid out together in fabulous combinations that creates the impressive graphic nature of each blanket. In her introduction, Amanda encourages you to consider each blanket that you make an adventure and not to stress out about doing it “wrong” but rather to take each motif one at a time and “enjoy your own achievement at creating a masterpiece”. It is clear that she loves what she does (she even enjoys sewing in ends, considering it a form of soothing meditation) and this love comes through in the beauty of the designs that she creates. There may be a lot of crochet books out there with blanket designs but this one is truly one-of-a-kind.