Learning new crochet stitches is always something that I find fun. When you have mastered and understand all the basic stitches for this yarn craft (like single, double and half double crochet) a whole new world of possibilities is open to you. There are some very unique ways of combining these basic stitches to create patterns and designs that look particularly complicated to an untrained eye. Quite often these patterns look much harder to make then they actually are.
I love the challenge of learning new stitch patterns and more so than creating new yarn projects. There is a sense of achievement to learning new and more technical stitches and it makes the process of crocheting more interesting as well.
In my efforts to add new designs to my repertoire, I've been collecting up stitch guides and dictionaries that I can read and browse through easily on my iPad. This Big Book of Crochet Stitches by Rita Weiss and Jean Leinhauser was the very first stitch book that I bought. I have enjoyed many pleasant hours delighting in looking through it. There are some good points and some bad about this book which I will be addressing in this review. 
Note: If you already own the older 2007 publication by the same authors called 365 Crochet Stitches a Year Perpetual Calendar, you will not want to get this book since it covers exactly the same stitches. I did not previously own this older guide so I have read this new one from an entirely fresh perspective.
Here's What I Love About this Handy Stitch Guide
The book is big in terms of size and value. This book is exceptionally good value for money and is packed with instructions for over 350 different stitches. So many craft books are disappointingly short or feel incomplete in some way. This guide has been worth every penny.
Clear sections in the guide make it easier to find what you want. It has been very carefully divided into different stitch types which makes it easier to narrow down your search when browsing. Just recently, I was looking for some popcorn stitch inspiration after mastering it and I found what I wanted very quickly since there is a whole section on this in the book. There are 15 different parts in total including:
- cross stitches
- easy stitches
- raised stitches
- special stitches
There are good and clear photos to refer to. Every stitch has a clear photo of a stitch pattern so you can see what it looks like once made. I love that I can double-tap on the image displayed in the Kindle application of my iPad. This brings up a larger color photo to look at which gives me a better idea of what the pattern looks like.
Written instructions are easy to follow. The instructions are nice and clear. Details on the chain multiple needed for the foundation row are always given as well as basic abbreviated instructions written in standard American USA crochet terminology. If you are not familiar with American terminology for this craft then you will find it a little harder to follow. However, the book actually has a little table with a comparison of US and International terms right at the front to help you. It also includes an entire abbreviations list that you can refer to if you don't know what an abbreviation means.
It is a lot of fun to browse through this guide. This is a really great book to sit and browse through if you love stitch patterns. There is plenty in here to suit beginners as well as more advanced crocheters. Having such a big amount of choice packed handily on a color tablet device is exceptionally handy because it does away with the need to hold or carry a heavy book.
Once you get into this wonderful yarn craft, you will probably start to crave slightly harder challenges as well as wanting to have a bigger variety of patterns and designs that you can use. You can make blankets, samplers, throw pillows, quilts and so much more with these stitches. This is a really good book which is packed with plenty of new techniques for you to master.
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Improvements That Could be Made to this Crochet Book
Stitch charts are not included. This book does not include any crochet stitch charts with the patterns. Charts are a useful extra addition when learning new patterns, especially for people who prefer a more visual representation instead of text. Some stitch books include them but this one does not. Personally, I rarely look at the charts and prefer to follow the written instructions. If you rely on using charts, you'll be disappointed.
There is no additional stitch information. There is no supplementary information given on each stitch. Some crochet guides and dictionaries will tell you a little on: stitch history, alternative names for the design and the type of items that are ideally made with the pattern provided. This book could be improved by having that little extra information which would make it more interesting to read.
Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia: I also have this book on my iPad and although it has less stitches, it does make up for a few shortcomings of the other book I've reviewed. For a start, it has charts (double-tap to enlarge on a tablet) and it has a little supplementary information on the patterns too. I don't think the images are as good but it is still a fantastic book.
Bigger is Certainly Better with this Guide
Even with the few minor areas which stop this from being the ultimate book, it is one that I really love to spend hours browsing through. It has expanded my knowledge of this yarn craft immensely. I also love how very easy stitches like double crochet are in more technical and accomplished patterns.
I enjoy seeing patterns and testing out different swatches. I might never get round to trying all the stitch patterns but I shall have fun trying anyway. It's certainly one of my best buys on crochet and I'm very glad I bought it.
Image Credits: The introductory image belongs to the author, Marie Williams Johnstone. All other images (unless watermarked with the author’s name) are product photos from Amazon.