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Recently, I received two new crochet books from Leisure Arts for review: Everything the Internet Didn’t Teach You About Crochet by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss and Crochet Stitch Guide by Jean Leinhauser and Mary Ann Frits. Usually, I have a giveaway for the books I review, but these two will be the prizes for the Rectangular Sampler Blanket CAL.
This book aims to fill in the gaps for anyone who primarily learned to crochet from YouTube videos. One can learn quite a lot online these days, but a newbie without a framework for the questions to ask can also miss out on a lot of important foundation knowledge.
The first section, Tools, focuses on crochet hooks and discusses sizing, material, and hook anatomy. There is a some discussion of other tools, including those for specialty crochet techniques like broomstick lace.
The next section, Yarn, includes information about yarn weight, fiber content, care instructions, and reading ball bands.
The Importance of Gauge notes that “[m]any new crocheters tend to shy away from gauge as if it were a dirty word.” As a crochet teacher, I can say that is absolutely true! This section not only explains why gauge is important, but shows how to measure gauge and gives tips for adjusting your gauge.
The next chapter, Reading a Pattern, provides a glossary of crochet abbreviations along with an explanation of the symbols like the famous * * and terms like work even. My favorite chapter is the next one, Working a Pattern, which includes three annotated patterns. In each, the pattern with U.S. abbreviation terminology is shown on the left while on the right, full written instructions with explanation are provided. This would be a wonderful way for a pattern reading newbie to check their understanding of pattern abbreviations.
In Making Fringe and Tassels, illustrated instructions are included for these finishing touches. The final chapter, Refresher Course in Crochet, provides written and illustrated instructions for the basic crochet stitches, post stitches, increases and decreases, and basic finishing techniques.
Everything… is written in a conversational tone that is easy to follow. It’s about the size of a folded piece of letter paper, and at 96 pages, it’s thin enough to fit into your project bag or purse to carry around as a reference guide. The book definitely shares a lot of information that would improve the stitching, pattern reading, and yarn/tool selection of a newbie or an internet taught crocheter with more experience.
I would have liked to see some discussion of crochet stitch symbols included. A more detailed index would have been really helpful because a newbie crocheter might not even know which chapter to explore for the answer to their question. In spite of these shortcomings, I think the book is a worthwhile companion to the library of a newbie or advanced beginner crocheter. It would also make a great gift for a new crocheter in your life.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of crochet stitch guides. You might even say that I’m a stitch guide collector. The Crochet Stitch Guide is designed to be an on-the-go stitch guide. The book is about the size of a folded piece of letter paper, and at 96 pages, it is thin enough to be truly portable.
The 86 stitches are organized into 7 sections.
- Clusters includes 27 stitch patterns. Many of these are quite lacy, although there are several that have a denser feel.
- Textured Stitches includes 7 stitch patterns that use post stitches, clusters, combinations of different heights, and working into the front or back loop to create textured surfaces.
- Picots includes 6 lacy, picot stitch patterns.
- V-stitches includes 8 variations on the v-stitch.
- Special Stitches includes 10 patterns using a variety of stitches such as popcorns and spikes.
- Shells includes 14 stitch patterns made with some combination of shells/fans.
- Miscellaneous includes 14 patterns using a variety of stitches.
There is a short appendix in the back that includes a guide to U.S. crochet abbreviations and terminology.
Each stitch pattern includes a swatch photographed against a black background. Special stitches are explained at the beginning of the pattern, so you will not need to flip back and forth.
Since many contemporary stitch guides show swatch pictures against a white background, the stitch pictures in this book have a vintage feel. It isn’t immediately clear why some patterns are in the Special Stitches section while others are in the Miscellaneous section. There are no international stitch symbols in this book, and only a brief explanation of the differences between U.S. and U.K. pattern terminology. There is no index, and there are no illustrations to demonstrate unusual stitches.
Overall, the Crochet Stitch Guide is a solid stitch guide for a crocheter without an extensive stitch guide collection. If you have an existing American stitch guide collection, you may want to skip this book because some of the patterns will be familiar. On the other hand, the portability of this book makes it a good addition for a crocheter who travels a lot or crochets during while commuting.