When I said wouldn't buy another Japanese sewing or crafting book after making this felt wool jacket, I was wrong. At the time, I hadn't traveled to Portugal and come in contact with Japanese crochet books. I know, it sounds a bit weird, being sold on Japanese crochet books in Portugal. But the fact is that in Lisbon, I was actually able to see a selection of them with my own eyes, and flick through their pages.
The day I went to Retrosaria (here), a big stack of Japanese books for sale was sitting on a little table. At first I tried to ignore them, but before long I was browsing through them. They had impeccable illustrations, and the simple, fresh and captivating style that's so typical of Japanese craft books. Then I opened one on Bavarian lace, and made some remark, to which Rosa replied "I know, it's not their tradition and yet they make some of the best craft books."
She was right. (Look here for Retrosaria's online book collection - at the moment these Japanese crochet and craft books are sold out, but Rosa is expecting a new shipment shortly)
I bought the above book, Motif Designs, which surprised me: I've never been interested in granny squares, and I tend to get frustrated with the repetitiveness of motif patterns in general. Yet these motifs had something different from anything I'd seen in crochet books before - a delicate, quintessential crochet-ness that I just had to try for myself.
Now, the beauty of Japanese books on crochet is that the charts and symbols are international, so there's no need to refer to written instructions at all. And all the books I saw had a few pages of explanations (with very clear step-by-step drawings) for all symbols and related stitches, and for the tecniques used. The charts are flawless, and most use a simple trick that I personally have never seen before:
They actually provide the number of times each stitch is repeated! How clever is that? Seems like a small detail, yet this makes it so much easier to follow a chart, without having to put your work down again and again to count the tiny symbols in the book, as I often have to do.
Motif Designs has a total of 123 motif patterns, for "round, square, triangular, hexagonal, octagonal, snowflake, flower and colorful motifs", with a chapter devoted to projects as well. So much goodness in such a slim book! With so many ideas for future motif projects!
(In response to your email requests, the ISBN for this book is: 978-4-579-11269-2)