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The Crochet Stitch Bible Spiral-bound – January 16, 2004
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About the Author
As a professional hand-knitter and needlecraft designer, Betty Barnden has produced patterns for numerous yarn companies. She studied at the Londons Royal College of Art. Her designs have appeared in magazines published in Britain. Betty is also author of The Embroidery Stitch Bible, published by Krause Publications in 2003. She lives in Shropshire, England.
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Before getting into the actual stitches, there is a "stitch selector" which is a fantastic idea. It's just a few pages with little pictures of each stitch so that you can visually pick one if need be. This is extremely helpful if you're designing your own patterns.
The stitches themselves are organized by type (i.e. basic, textured, openwork and lace), and the author also includes sections on edgings, multi-color patterns, granny squares, and appliqués. Stitch diagrams are included which are useful for visualizing how the stitches fit together in a pattern, and a key guide on the right side of each page shows which stitches are included in the pattern. Swatches and instructions are obviously offered as well. The book ends with a section on abbreviations and symbols and an index.
The book is spiral-bound so you can flip to any page and it will stay open. Another very cool thing about this book is that it includes a few stitches that I had never encountered before. I even Googled a few, and the only sites that came up were ones about this book!
As most who crochet know, having an easy-to-use reference for stitches is an invaluable resource. I've been racking my brain trying to think of a negative aspect to this book, and I honestly can't think of one. Tabbed dividers (like the ones used in binders) would've been a nice addition, but the book is easy enough to navigate without them. All in all, this is probably the best crochet reference book I've ever used, and I'd highly recommend it.
Update: I just received The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet. It is larger, and the photos are large, clear, colorful and much easier to see than the small pale images in The Crochet Bible. I'm a visual learner with aging eyes so that works better for me. Coverage of other crochet techniques is better in the Photo Guide too. If only it were spiral bound.
The Crochet Stitch Bible and The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet together are a sound basis for a crochet stitch library. There is of course some overlap, and a few stitches are the same but go by different names in the different books. It's handy to have both.
The book starts with instructions for how to do all the basic stitches, as well as other basic tips and tricks such as how to hold the hook and how to start and finish a piece. Even though it does contain this introductory information, I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner simply because it doesn't give you much guidance on how to put together an entire project.
The remainder of the book contains detailed instructions for about two hundred different patterns, including squares, shapes and edgings. (By patterns, I mean ways to put stitches together to create interesting textures, not patterns to put together an entire afghan or sweater.) The patterns are grouped together in a logical order, and with the index in the front it is very easy to find what you are looking for. The instructions use fairly standard abbreviations and repeats, with a helpful stitch key on each page and a glossary in the back. The diagrams are very clear and easy to follow.
The book does not contain many patterns for squares, although I've seen other books devoted to squares if that's what you're interested in.
It is sometimes difficult to get a sense for how the stitches will look from the included pictures, but to fix this problem I think they would have to have much bigger pictures, and I think that smaller pictures were a reasonable trade off for a relatively compact book.
I left off one star because of the above comments, as well as because (1) with the spiral binding it is sometimes difficult to turn the pages and (2) for a book that bills itself as a "bible" and "essential reference" I think it could have included more on joining, making patterns, and other larger-scale issues.
One note about Amazon - my book came with multiple pages missing from the middle (how random!), and Amazon sent me a replacement right away with no hassles.