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I was very excited when I received my review copy of Crochet Stitches VISUAL Encyclopedia: 300 Stitch Patterns, Edgings, and More by Robyn Chachula from Wiley. Robyn is a structural engineer by training and is known for using stitch symbols with her designs. I’m a stitch guide junkie (see my reviews of 20+ crochet stitch guides in my collection here), and had really high expectations of this Encyclopedia. I fully expected the book to include the stitch symbols Robyn is known for as well as the detailed photos that you always find in books published by Wiley’s VISUAL imprint. My excitement about the book kept building during the 14 stop blog tour which ended last week.
The Encyclopedia is organized into nine chapters, which are further subdivided into different types of stitches:
- Chapter 1: Simple Stitch Patterns includes Slip Stitch Patterns, Single Crochet Patterns, Half Double Crochet Patterns, Double Crochet Patterns, Treble Crochet Patterns, and Combined Stitch Patterns,
- Chapter 2: Textured Stitch Patterns includes Simple Texture Patterns, Bobble Texture Patterns, and Cable Stitch Patterns,
- Chapter 3: Lace Stitch Patterns includes Chain Space Stitch Patterns, Shell Stitch Patterns, Cluster Stitch Patterns, Wave Stitch Patterns, and Pineapple Stitch Patterns,
- Chapter 4: Unique Lace Stitch Patterns includes Filet Stitch Patterns, Short Row Stitch Patterns, Brussels Stitch Patterns, Loop Stitch Patterns, and Partial Motif Stitch Patterns,
- Chapter 5: Colorwork Stitch Patterns includes Mosaic Stitch Patterns, Embroidery Stitch Patterns, and Charted Color Stitch Patterns,
- Chapter 6: Tunisian Stitch Patterns includes Simple Stitch Patterns, Textured Stitch Patterns, Lace Stitch Patterns, and Color Stitch Patterns,
- Chapter 7: Square and Hexagonal Granny Squares includes Classic Granny Squares, Hexagon Motifs, and Lacy Motifs,
- Chapter 8: Flower, Snowflake, and Joining Motifs includes Flower Motifs, Circular Motifs, Snowflake Motifs, and Joining Motifs, and
- Chapter 9: Edgings includes Simple Edgings, Shell Edgings, and Special Edgings.
There is also an Appendix which includes a key to the standard crochet pattern abbreviations and symbols, and written descriptions of different standard stitches.
What I liked about the book
- Each stitch includes both pattern abbreviations and stitch symbols.
- Robyn made an effort to include stitches that are less common in U.S. crochet stitch guides, including Brussels (Bruges) stitches, Tunisian crochet, and joining motifs. If you are interested in one of these techniques, there are stitches here that you are unlikely to already have in your collection.
- There is a close-up picture of the swatch for each stitch. The swatches are made using a variety of yarn colors, which makes the book “eye candy.”
- The book is highly organized, making it easy to find a stitch you liked again after closing the book.
- The book is a hardcover. This is great because stitch guides tend to see a lot of wear, so it makes the book more durable. It also makes it easier to hold the book open while you are crocheting.
What I didn’t like (or what’s missing)
- There are no photo or illustrated tutorials in this book. I was quite surprised by this, especially since Wiley’s VISUAL imprint is known for great step-by-step photos. Most stitch guides I own include a small section with illustrations or photos of forming the basic stitches and/or less common techniques (e.g., Tunisian crochet, working in the round, etc.). This means that you essentially can’t use this book unless you already know all of the basic stitch techniques, are quite adventurous and don’t mind many stitch failures, or you have the ability to learn from written technique descriptions. Alternatively, you could use other sources to find out how to do Tunisian crochet, for example, and then come back to this book for stitches – but that means this book isn’t a “one stop shop” of stitches.
- I find Robyn’s way of describing some of the less common stitches confusing. This is probably not her fault, but due to the fact that there isn’t a common language for these stitches. For example, I worked on a swatch using a Brussels crochet stitch for yesterday’s post, and had to rework it several times before the meaning was clear. I think if there was a small tutorial (see point above) introducing new techniques, these stitches would be much easier to follow.
- It is not always clear where the hook is inserted from the stitch symbols. I use several Japanese stitch guides, and I am fairly comfortable with stitch symbols. However, at times the stitch symbols in this book are sort of floating and it isn’t clear if the stitches are worked into the previous row or a space between stitches. I think using a larger size for the stitch symbols would help. In many cases, there was a lot of “white space” on the page, so a larger size for the symbols would have been possible.
- The stitch symbols don’t have a “start” and “end” symbol. This is challenging in some sections with more complicated symbol charts since every row isn’t numbered during a pattern repeat.
In some ways, I held this book to a higher standard than most stitch guides based on the author and the publisher. My expectations weren’t entirely met. In particular, I was disappointed by the lack of tutorials/illustrations and the issues described above with the stitch symbols. I think a newbie to stitch symbols would find this book very challenging.
On the other hand, the book is beautiful to look at and has a very thorough approach to a range of stitches. I was pleased to see many new (to me) stitches, and I own more than 20 stitch guides! If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I usually host a giveaway for my review copy when it is provided by the publisher. In this case, I’m keeping it – so I was generally pleased with the book obviously.
I think an intermediate through advanced crocheter would love this book for the design possibilities. A beginner through intermediate crocheter, or a stitch symbol or pattern reading newbie, would probably find this book much more challenging than the other comprehensive stitch guides on the market.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.