Crochet with London Kaye: Book Review
I once read or watched or heard on a podcast (sometimes it’s difficult for me to remember these things. I have such an active imagination that I can read an article and then a year later swear that I watched a documentary) and in it they said the Missoni household is covered in their famous zigzags. I have a vivid image, imagined or not, of all three generations in their living room. Their rugs, couch, blankets, pillows, and outfits are covered in the zigzags. I remember thinking that was how I would love to live my life. That your passion for what you love could be so great that it simply can’t be contained in one aspect of your life. It oozes out until your whole world is consumed by it. No one visits the Missoni home and wonders what they do for a living.
I was reminded of this vivid memory or daydream while I was flipping through the pages of London Kaye’s new book Crochet with London Kaye, Projects and Ideas To Yarn Bomb Your Life. This book is more than a how-to book. While it does contain exciting and wonderful project idea, it’s almost more of a love note to crochet. To the feeling of finding your passion and sharing it with the rest of the world.
The book walks us through London’s crochet evolution. We get to learn about the moment she first discovered the endless possibilities that crochet has to offer, what inspired her very first yarn bomb, and the project that turned her happy place hobby into a full-time job. We even get to hear the stories behind some of her most memorable projects. The story behind her Fashion Through The Decades and Her Mother’s Day stories were my personal favorites. On an extremely selfish note, I need you to pick up this book just so that I have someone else to talk to about the Troll story at the end!
A few months ago a non-crafter asked me, what to them seemed like a simple question, \”What is the point of yarn bombing?\”. At the time I didn’t know how to answer them. How do you explain something to someone who just doesn’t get it? But as I sat down to write this review I had to pause and look at my own crafting history. I tend to craft more \”practical\” items. Usually, if I’m picking up my hooks to start a new project I’m making something for a gift, clothing for myself, or home goods. I could only remember a hand full of times, over the last few years that I’ve set out to make something that wasn’t in some way serving a utilitarian function.
I decided that I absolutely had to test out one of the projects. I originally wanted to test out the sneaker pattern, which is still on my list, but I decided it was too close to being a utilitarian item and wouldn’t push me far enough out of my comfort zone. So after some tough self negotiating I landed on London’s classic eye pattern. I loved that she encourages makers to customize the colors they use to make their eyes unique. One of the things that I love about my eyes is that they will always remind me of my Nana. In the summer this is even more evident, but I have hazel eyes that are surrounded by a ring of blue. My Nana was one of my favorite people in the world and I thought that this would be a fun way of honoring her and remembering one of the many things we had in common.
For this project, I decided to use scrap yarn that I had around the house and I was ready to dive in. The pattern was super easy to understand and work with. It wasn’t at all what I thought it would be going into it. One of my favorite things about trying someone else’s patterns is that you get a great peek into the way their mind works. It’s fun to see how they approach ideas and make it their own. I had to attempt the eye twice because the first time I used two different yarn weights that ended up fighting each other and I added in the ring of blue too late in the pattern. The second time was so much easier and I’m thrilled with the results.
Next, I had to decide if I was brave enough to leave my eye out in the world. The answer came to me almost immediately. No. I’m not. Maybe it was because the eye became too personal to me but at that moment I gained so much respect for what London does ALL THE TIME. She is spending countless hours, weeks, and months on a project only to release it into the world knowing that it will only survive a day if she’s lucky. Over and over again throughout the book, London writes about projects that only lasted for a day or in one case a few hours before they disappear forever never to be seen again. But at the same time, I know that a big piece of yarn bombing is about brightening up someone else’s day. I decided that the best way for me to do this was to appliqué my eye to my favorite jean jacket and take it out for a test walk.
It didn’t take long before the value in yarn bombing became abundantly clear. Person after person stopped me to say how much they loved it and wanted to know more about the eye and London’s work. Little kids pointed it out to their parents, an older woman stopped me to tell me about how she used to crochet but couldn’t do it anymore, people asked me if I could tell them more about crochet. I only walked around for a few hours, but in that short time it spread so much joy and I had so many authentic conversations with strangers.
If I could go back in time and explain the value of yarn bombing to that non-crafter I would explain to them that it is about sharing what you love with the rest of the world. It’s about bringing a smile to someone else’s face. London is making the world a brighter, more colorful, yarn filled place and I think that’s pretty special. If you’re looking to learn to crochet, wanting to get into yarn bombing, or wanting to get out of your crafting rut then you should definitely pick up this book. Crochet with London Kaye, Projects and Ideas To Yarn Bomb Your Life is available here or you can ask about it at your local yarn store! London will be signing copies of her book at NY Sheep and Wool this weekend and you can check here for a list of her upcoming events.