Although I own a lot of vintage crochet pamphlets, you might be surprised to know that I actually only have a few contemporary crochet pattern books on my library shelf. I generally don't pick up newer crochet craft books for the simple reason that the projects in modern books aren't usually that different than some of the vintage resources that I already own.
However, I found that both Connect the Shapes: Crochet Motifs (Edie Eckman) and Crochet One-Skein Wonders (Judith Durant & Edie Eckman) add a number of new resources to my current library of patterns, so I'm glad that I was sent a copy of both books for review.
Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs is Edie Eckman's second book about crochet motifs; the designs can be used for embellishments upon clothes home decor projects, or they can joined together in order to create a larger project such as a scarf or afghan. You are probably familiar with the most common crochet motif -- the granny square. This book is full of new motif designs that are not in any of the crochet resources I currently own, and there is an entire section of 3D motifs that are among some of the coolest crochet designs I have ever seen.
As granny squares are most familiar to me I crocheted one of these first in order to test the clarity of the instructions in this book. Overall I was pleased as I found the instructions and diagrams to be very clear and easy-to-follow in the motif section. The instructions to create each of the motifs are presented in full on one or two pages, and I really liked that I didn't have to flip to a stitch glossary in the back of the book for each new stitch type. And the book has a covered 3-ring binding so it lays flat while open, making the book easy-to-read and use (hooray!).
I consider myself an intermediate crocheter, so I spent quite a bit of time working some of the motifs in this book to test the instructions and also to try out new designs that I had never seen before. Some of the techniques were new to me, such as joining motifs as you go (JAYGO) instead of sewing them together when finished, and so were some of the stitches used in several of the motifs (for example, the Crocodile Stitch).
There are twelve fun patterns in this book for items such as a pincushion, skirts, a placemat, a welcome mat, a baby blanket and more. Although you've probably seen similar projects before the motif variations may be new to you, and no doubt you can interchange some of the other motifs instead of those presented in the pattern section to customize the project to your liking.
I really did enjoy this book and plan to continue working out of it to advance my own crochet knowledge. I would recommend Connect the Shapes to intermediate or advanced crocheters. You must be somewhat familiar with crocheting in the round and I believe that a beginner will find some of the newer stitches and complicated motif patterns too challenging to be satisfying at first. I found the instructions for the Magic Loop (Sliding Loop) technique to be insufficient; crocheters will want to consult a friend or look for an instructional video on You Tube if they are unfamiliar with this method of starting a piece in the round.
Crochet One-Skein Wonders is a book that crocheters of all skill levels can enjoy. The "One-Skein Wonders" series of books is very popular and you may already have one of these books on your bookshelf. As I recently received this book I haven't had a chance to make some of the wonderful projects in here as of yet, but I'm certain that I will use this book in the future for gift - making. The projects are cute and I really do love projects that can help me use up leftover yarn in my stash!
I do wish that this book had a covered spiral binding as does Connect the Shapes. And it is unfortunate that this book does not assign difficulty ratings (to let you know if a project is suitable for beginners, intermediate, advanced) to the patterns. However, many of the 101 projects use common stitches and are suitable for beginners or advanced beginners.
The projects are arranged by yarn weight and range from using cotton thread and lace-weight yarn all the way up to bulky weight yarn. Although some of the projects are common (e.g., coasters, baby booties, hats) there are some very unique and modern designs in this collection. I liked that there is an entire section on amigurumi animals (and these cute little guys are great for gift giving!).
Two of my favorite projects are the Sea Breeze Shawlette made with super-fine weight yarn and the Burgandy Lace Hoops made with crochet thread (pictured below):
The instructions and diagrams in Crochet One-Skein Wonders are very clear and easy-to-read. Again, new stitches within the pattern are covered on the pattern page so a reader doesn't have to flip back and forth from a stitch glossary (so convenient!). Consider this book if you have some single skeins languishing in your stash that are leftover from previous projects.