There is already a WordPress blog devoted to nasty crochet. It got its inspiration from the premier ugly yarncraft blog. Even James Lileks and the Institute of Official Cheer have gotten in on the act. But I have one thing that they don’t have:
Crochet Techniques & Projects, from the editors of Sunset Books. It looks fairly innocuous up front– a little out of date, maybe (look everyone: wood panelling!), but sane enough. The instructions contained therein are clearly illustrated, and the book includes some patterns that a beginner can and might want to make.
But we won’t concern ourselves with those today.
This book hales from a different era; specifically, 1975. If you can’t or don’t remember the ’70s, just keep in mind that people of that time did not have iPods. Nor did they have cell phones, plug’n’play, XBox or MySpace, and even cable television was kind of iffy. The point is, when the people of 1975 were bored, they had to actually do something about it. And so began the golden age of the do-it-yourself book.
From the back cover, a partial list of Sunset titles. This is just the Hobby and Craft series; Sunset also published books on Building, Gardening, Cooking and Travel. (Still do, in fact, but the Hobbies and Crafts division has passed into history.) With enough time, manual dexterity, and the complete Sunset library, one could build, furnish, and decorate a house from the ground up, single handed.
But what would it look like? Let’s look inside.
“Making this cape is an ambitious project, but it’s worth the effort; its classic style will endure the whims of fashion.“
Please note that in this context, “fashion” means “shapeless and impractical outerwear made from roughly four pounds of blue tweed.” According to the pattern, the cape (which has a “stand-up mandarin style collar”) can be worn separately from the hood and “capelet” section, which attaches with tiny buttons. Buy one cape, get the second one half off! BOGO at the Cape Emporium!
Even Beat chicks get the blues. Well, this giant alien parasite has attached itself to her chest and is draining the blood directly from her heart– no wonder she’s depressed.
“Display a favorite shell or bead in a dramatic necklace of warm colors.“
Warm, like fresh vomit. It’s “the perfect focal point for a dramatic evening dress or simple pants outfit.” Actually, you can wear it with whatever you want; nobody’s going to be looking at anything except your hand-crocheted prosthetic third breast, with fringed tentacles.
Against your own better judgement, and that of your closest friends and the world at large, you’ve decided to crochet a sweater for the fey-but-husky young man in your life. Which of the following attributes would you choose for such a gift:
“Sailors, skiers, and scavengers could warm up to this turtleneck nicely.”
Could, but won’t, as the lad’s expression indicates. But rest assured, if you wear this sweater, once the sailors have had their way with you and left you on some frozen shore for the scavengers, the ski patrol will have no trouble finding your seagull- and crab-picked body: in death as in life, you will stick out like a sore thumb.
“Like birds of a feather, hat lovers flock together.“
Everybody’s laughing at the lady in the yellow cloche, but that’s okay: she’s too stoned to care. Actually, her cap isn’t especially hideous, except for the massive tumor sprouting from the side. It’s the men who take the brunt of the abuse here. Mister Green Tyrolian has contrived to hide his face in plain sight. Only the walrus in the “cowboy hat” (frankly it looks more like something the pianny-playing gimp at the local saloon might have worn, although even he might draw the line short of crocheted mohair, at Miss Kitty’s insistence) looks like he wants to be here. Small wonder when you see what he’s wearing toward the back of the book.
Those are the patterns included in the book. The editors truly expected people to invest their time, money, energy and new-found crochet knowledge in producing these items. The next section, “Creative Crochet to tempt & inspire you,” is basically a
crapbook scrapbook of things that people crocheted without a pattern, presented for our enlightenment. We will consider the highlights tomorrow.