I mentioned the other day that I was spending a lot of time on Twinkie Chan’s blog. She wrote a small business rant titled Do Crocheters Support their own Craft? It’s worth reading and it’s kind of what inspired this post, because it got me thinking and paying attention to something I never really noticed, crochet books. Well, really, the lack of quality crochet books.
Let’s back up a minute. There were four statements on Twinkie Chan’s post that she discussed:
“Crochet books don’t sell as well as knitting books.”
“Crocheters don’t spend as much money as knitters.”
“Crocheters don’t spend as much money on yarn.”
“Crocheters don’t want to spend money, period.”
I don’t know how much of this is true, because I don’t know many people that crochet. I know a few people who knit (one who tried to teach me and promptly took the needles from me after I put one through my hand), but it’s not something they really talk about. They treat it like “It’s this thing I do. No biggie.”
Disclaimer: the bulk of this post, from here on out, is my own cynical opinion.
Now, before I go any further, I need to point out that I buy books. I mean, I spend a lot of money on books. I buy books just to read (I can finish the average novel in about 3 to 4 hours). I buy books that have something to do with my hobbies. I buy books that look interesting.
Every time we have moved, that person that has moved my book boxes spends an inordinate amount of time mad at me afterward because books are heavy, and I have a lot of them. One house we rented had bookcases built into the wall so I didn’t need them. When we moved I had to go to Ikea and purchase 10 bookcases…and still needed more.
This brings us to crochet books.
In the last week I have been at two used bookstores. The first was an independently owned store, the other was a chain store. The first store and at least a bookcase and a half of knitting books, and just over a single shelf of crochet books. 99.8% of those books were from the 60’s and 70’s. The second store had no crochet books. They didn’t have a lot of knitting books either. They are also very weird on what they will take.
I have also been scouring Amazon, Annie’s, and Herrshener’s for books, just to see what is out there. For the most part I am filled with disappointment. What’s even worse, is that I can’t trust some of the books out there.
Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ‘N Bitch knitting books are quite popular so I thought that I would have a look at the one crochet book she has put out. I am so glad that Amazon has the option to check out portions of books before you buy them. She really needs to stick with knitting. She wrote a section about the history of crochet. As a thing, this is a fascinating subject. She wrote that the term ‘hooker’ came from how, back in the day, in certain parts of Europe, that those who worked making handmade crochet lace were barely paid anything and were expected to turn tricks on the side to make money.
I thought that this was interesting as a part of history we hear nothing about, and went in search of more information.
She is completely full of crap. This was either made up as an interesting story or she found one erroneous source of information and used it. There is absolutely no truth behind this what-so-ever. While the etymology of the word is mucky, it defiantly came from the United States that dates back to the 1800s. One story has it referring to Corlear’s Hook because it was full of brothel type places that sailors hung out. Another ties it to General Hook in the Civil war and what amounts to “female groupies” that hung around the camp known as Hook’s Girls who provided services to the camp to boost moral. There is absolutely no reference tying it referring to those who crocheted back in the day. I spent a number of hours checking numerous sources on this.
It’s not the first time someone has printed “alternate facts” just to make a book more interesting, and because people don’t do their own research they accept it as truth.
My trust in Stoller’s book was broken early on, so I passed on it.
And this is is the problem. You really have to dig to find the quality crochet books. I have taken to reading the negative reviews of books before I buy them now. I realize that not every book is for everyone but if people are reporting errors in patterns or say that it’s hard to follow, there is a good chance they bought it to actually use it, and just not have it in their library. Some of the stuff I have seen on Amazon is poorly put together and rather amateurish. Why pay for something when you can find better, for free, on the net?
It’s my guess, as someone who doesn’t know anything about the publishing industry, that this is partly why crochet books may not sell. They also may not sell because they are not what people are looking for. When all we are offered is the same stuff we have been offered for decades. How many doilies, afghans, hats, scarves, dish cloths, and baby items can someone make? Let’s not forget the hundreds of books out there on making granny squares. Where are the amigurumi books? I mean, there are some, but they are always for the same things. We want to make more than teddy bears and bunnies. We just aren’t provided with any kind of selection. Where are the books for making pretty sweaters? A trip around the internet will produce a pattern for what you want, for free. Publishers aren’t offering anything better, or what people want. Annie’s and Herrsherner’s are just a guilty, to some extent. They publish new trendy patterns (many that I adore) but they are still the same thing; afghans, hats, shawls, and the like. As gorgeous as they are, I don’t need 500 afghans. I don’t even know that many people to give them away as gifts.
As far as crochet patterns not selling, there is no way that anyone can track how well patterns sell from independent designers on places like Etsy. These people sell hundreds to thousands of copies of individual patterns. Crocheters spend money on their hobby, just not in ways that can easily be tracked.
What I am trying to say is that the crochet industry (can I call it that?) hasn’t changed over the years. It’s not evolved like everything else (including knitting and quilting) to reflect what people like and want to make. Everything evolves and changes. Yes, baby items were a big thing back when the baby boomers were being born. There were a lot of babies being born then. Now, we are lucky if know one person who is having a baby that we can make that cute blanket or adorable bunny slippers for. Now that we have the internet and can easily see what is going on in rest of the world, amigurumi has become big, but publishers aren’t embracing this. Yarn companies put out better patterns than book publishers, and for free. For example, Lion Brand offers free “curvy girl” (plus sized) patterns. I am sure these have proven quite popular. Good luck finding like books.
I’ve been quite long winded here, but you see my point, at least as far as books go.
In the last week, I have found a few decent books I am happy with, even if the majority of them are more reference books than anything else. (these are affiliate links)