Monday, June 8, 2009

Book Review: Beautiful Hand-Stitched Jewelry


I mean, wow. There are some creative people in the world and the things they come up with just boggle my little mind sometimes.

Take the stuff in Beautiful Hand-Stitched Jewelry: Crocheted, Embroidered, Beaded by Emi Iwakiri (128 pages, 200 color illustrations, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-906525-36-1) for instance.

I was all prepared to mock the first half of this book to cover up my own feelings of inadequacy since I can barely sew on a button.

But after spending some quality time together, I realized the poor book doesn't deserve my sarcasm. No, it wants to be my friend and invite me into its textile world.

There are 35 projects in the book, some of which are variations on a main project—such as a bracelet based on the principles introduced to make a necklace.

The first half of the book features items constructed out of beads that are either sewn out of fabric or created from strips cut from old cashmere (!) sweaters. Which is a really environmentally sound method, when you think about it, and should be good for people who like to pick up old sweaters at thrift shops.

The directions seem clear and easy to follow, without going into excruciating detail, and include both illustrations and explanatory text. As many of the projects have only five or so little steps, they appear rather achievable, even for someone such as myself who can't sew her way out of a paper bag.

Well, at least until I got to the line that says, "Make 78 balls." And I realized my attention span isn't up to the challenge.

flower ringsFlower Power!
Oh, but the back of the book is where all the action is.

The back of the book is all crochet patterns!

The patterns again cover necklaces and bracelets with fibers ranging from raffia and lame to silk and cotton.

And so cute that I just had to make these adorable rings right away. The patterns called for silk yarn and No. 8 pearl cotton, but I used some Luster-sheen that has been in my stash since, oh, 2002 or something.

I made the blue flower first on Thursday. This is why I needed the C crochet hook, and the yellow bead is the other bead I bought that day. So the blue ring cost me all of 50 cents for the bead.

Then on Friday I made the yellow ring with some of my beloved hematite beads in the center. I fancy this one looks like a sunflower. Then I made the white one, which is actually a different pattern from the first two. I was going to use a variety of colors in the center, but it turned out they didn't harmonize, so I just went with the red.

So the yellow and white ones basically cost me nothing because it was all from my stash!flower rings side

I have pink and lavender Luster-sheen as well, but I had to draw the line somewhere. (Although I might break down because I'm wearing a purple shirt today and the first thing I thought was, "Drat, none of my new rings match.")

They each took about an hour, with the most fiddly part being sewing the little bitty beads in place and then attaching the flower to the ring. But Hubby was at a graduation party on Friday, so there was no one to stop me. hehehe.

Well, that is, the blue one would have taken a hour if I had remembered to work each petal in a different foundation stitch and didn't have to rip back. And if I had refreshed myself on how to work a double treble, rather than working three normal trebles and thinking "Hey, that doesn't look right" and having to rip back, again. But, really, once I got over being me they just zipped along.

Another project that intrigues me is a chain made out of lame yarn which reminds me of a smaller, crocheted version of those big, knit chain scarves that were in Loop d'Loop.
I wonder, if I made a really long one, would Hubby let me use it as a Christmas tree garland? Considering the way he balked at the Wee Hats, probably not.

And a Techniques Section
The waaay back of the book covers equipment and techniques you will need to make the projects. There are illustrations of the embroidery and crochet stitches used and instructions for making pompoms and tassels.

I haven't seen this book or any of the patterns on Ravelry yet, but it only just came out in March, so people might not have caught up with it yet.

If you are into sewing and textile crafts, I think you'll really dig this book. Crocheters will find a lot of inspiring stuff as well. And knitters, well, it's about time you got with the program and learned more about the other craft. Then you can have cute flower rings, too.

PS—My profile picture is me, in pigtails with the blue and yellow rings. snicker. The loops are two small for a full ponytail. But now I'm plotting...


  1. now i was looking at this yesterday. Got some other books as i can't crochet but great to hear your review. a future purchase I think.

  2. Another good review!! Alas, not up my alley again. I am cracking up, though, at your picture with the rings!! You are the BOMB diggity! :)