Just in time for the holidays, I decided to update my post on must-have beginner knitting resources with a crochet version. I’ve been crocheting for 27 years and have been a Craft Yarn Council certified crochet instructor and teacher since 2008. I’ve taught about 125 beginners to crochet since then, and my students often wonder which of the many books out there are actually worth owning. Here’s my short list of beginner essentials. (Tip: If you’re a beginner crocheter, you just might want to “accidentally” email this list to a loved one in time for holiday shopping.)
Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet is one of my favorites. (I reviewed it here). It has recently been revised and re-released with all new patterns. I can’t quite decide if it has been eclipsed by The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet by Margaret Hubert, or not. I think it is fair to say that either one of these books will be about as much crochet reference as you’ll need for quite a while.
Unlike the Encyclopedia, which relies primarily on illustrations to demonstrate techniques, the Complete Photo Guide, as the name suggests, uses step-by-step photos. I think this gives it a slight edge over the Encyclopedia, as does its conventional size which allows it to fit on most bookshelves. (The Encyclopedia is more of a “coffee table book.”) However, if you are a lefty, you may give the edge to the Encyclopedia, which includes both right and left handed illustrations.
Once you have the basics down, I recommend that you pick up some project books to help you develop your skills and practice pattern reading.
Crochet Techniques by Renate Kirkpatrick features several great crocheted sampler “rugs” (a.k.a. blankets for the U.S readers). (I reviewed it here.) You will be able to learn new stitches and techniques while working towards a beautiful and useful project. The format of the book allows for a lot of customization of the projects.
Hats are great crochet projects – portable, fast, useful, and easy to customize. Get Your Crochet On! Hip Hats & Cool Caps by Afya Ibomu is my favorite hat book of all time. The hats are well designed, the writing style is casual and fun, and you get to fantasize about having your hats worn by Erykah Badu and Common (two of the many great models in the book). The best part is that the book is beginner friendly. Another great thing about the book is that Afya isn’t a yarn snob and most of the samples are made with regular ole Red Heart Super Saver. (The only difference of opinion I have with Afya is about the use of fabric glue for dealing with yarn ends. I much prefer to weave them in.)
These days, you can’t talk about crochet without mentioning amigurumi. I consider The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi by June Gilbank (a.k.a. Planet June) to be the definitive amigurumi guide. It isn’t as attractive to look at as some of the full color books, but June clearly talks you through all of the techniques and details that make the difference between a great-looking project and, well, a not-so-great-looking project. I generally avoid any book with Idiot or Dummy in the title, but this one is solid. Although the book is mostly in black and white, the idea gallery includes color pictures of many projects.
I think granny squares are to crocheters what sweaters and socks are to knitters. You can hardly be part of the “crochet culture” without at least giving motifs a try. Beyond-the-Square Crochet Motifs: 144 circles, hexagons, triangles, squares, and other unexpected shapes by Edie Eckman is just the book to indocrinate you, er, introduce you to motifs. The introduction discusses all of the critical techniques for successful motifs including starting methods (sliding loop, slip knot, and chain ring), tips for joining and dealing with ends, gauge, increasing, and troubleshooting. There is also a comprehensive overview of pattern reading using American abbreviations and international stitch symbols. The book features beautifully photographed motifs in several shapes (circles, hexagons, triangles, squares, and “unusual shapes”).
What are your favorite beginner crochet books?