Today I would like to share about Karen McKenna's new book, Formal Jewelry, published by Leisure Arts. (www.leisurearts.com)
I had the pleasure of meeting Karen this past summer in Manchester, NH for the annual CGOA conference. She is easy to talk to and so kind that you feel like you have already known her for years. It was fun to discover that our designs were in many of the same publications and I'm glad we've kept in touch since then.
First of all, the book is beautiful! All of the photographs (by Jason Masters and Ken West) are wonderful and perfectly highlight all of Karen's jewelry projects (which range from necklaces to barefoot sandals). They capture the 'dreamy' quality that weddings and formal events evoke as we prepare for and experience them.
At the beginning of every project's instructions it is written to first check the Basic Technique's section at the end of the book. This Basic Technique section is full of excellent graphics explaining all the crochet and jewelry making skills you need to complete every project. I especially like the step-by-step photos of how to use a 'bead stop' when stringing beads and how to use an eye-pin and end cone when finishing your piece. Knowing the proper finishing techniques makes a big difference in how good (and professional) your project will look in the end - It is great that Karen's book takes the time to explain these steps with such clear diagrams. Another bonus - different sizes are written with varying colors.
And if you learn better by having someone show you how to do the various crochet and jewelry techniques, then you must check out the on-line videos on Leisure Art's website. The videos (which take you through every step of each project) are of the highest quality and very helpful.
The only thing I would have liked to see included in this book is a list of jewelry tools needed for all projects put together - perhaps in the technique section - and some photos of the thread used (in skein form). Although, the lists of supplies and information for each project are very clear and thorough on every page.
I wanted to try a project since I love metallic thread and beads. So, I picked the Floating Pearl Necklace found on page 20 (It's also the necklace pictured on the cover). I used some light pink metallic thread and 6mm pink pearls that I had on hand. I was able to complete the necklace in less than 30 minutes and I love the results! The pearls go great with the metallic thread!
I would most definitely recommend this book to any crocheter - especially one who was planning a wedding or looking to go to a fun night out in a fancy dress. I could see a wedding party getting together to make these in the wedding colors. Karen's simply elegant jewelry designs would be the perfect accessory.