I learned to crochet from a variety of sources. When I first started it was a leaflet from a kids kit I bought from amazon, and some help from youtube.
As I progressed, I began to buy crochet related books. I love learning online but am also attached to the printed page. So I thought I would share some of the books that have helped me out on my crochet journey.
Most of these books are books which I bought, and either still own or have owned and passed on, or borrowed. There are two books listed which I have not read, but am interested in. I make this clear as I go through. The reviews are my opinion only.
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Tldr (too long, didn’t read): If I had to suggest one book out of this pile, it would be the Crochet Every Way Stitch Dictionary – mainly because it is an incredibly useful resource, regardless of your crochet skill level.
Before I start, one thing to bear in mind about crochet books is which crochet terminology they use, US or UK standard crochet terms.
Although I am based in the UK, I learnt with and continue to use US crochet terms (though I am happy switching between them). The books I have suggested here are mainly written with US terms but it’s always worth checking before you buy.
Many of the books I see in UK book stores use UK terms, so if that’s your preference, there are still plenty of options out there for you.
Beginner’s crochet books
I have a couple of solid foundational crochet books and dip in and out of them even now.
The first crochet book I ever bought was call Crochet step-by-step.
The company I used to work for used to have book sellers come in every now and again, and I spied this not long after I learned to crochet. It was a great investment and a great foundational crochet resource.
Next, after seeing people wax lyrical about The Crochet bible, I bought a copy. Only I actually bought a slightly different version, called ‘My Crochet Bible’ which seems to be UK specific. A lesson in reading the small print.
There are a few books with similar titles including the term Bible, the availability of which will vary depending on your geography. I always advise reading the description to check what is included and if it is what you’re looking for! The reviews are helpful too, I find.
Either way, this version is a really useful book with lots of solid info included. It has a big section on tools and all kinds of techniques as well as a whole bunch of projects.
I find this kind of book a good reference tool for those moments when you need to check something basic (we all have moments when we second guess ourselves) without reading all the blogs.
I think that out of the two, the first one wins slightly for me because I like the theory more than the projects, but it’s really down to personal taste!
Seeing as this book review is turning into a bit of an autobiography, I thought that, before I end the beginners section, I would share that this is similar to that Amazon Kit I started with.
All these years on, they don’t have exactly the same thing, but this looks like the updated version. It’s great for anyone right at the beginner stage or looking to encourage new crocheters!
Crochet Books for Improvers & Intermediate Crocheters
Once you have a grasp of the basic crochet stitches, I recommend adding a good crochet stitch directory to your library.
I LOVE stitch directories and can spend ages browsing through them.
Yes, I know there are a lot of stitch tutorials on line – I have a bunch of them! But browsing through the pages of a book can feel much calmer.
Sometimes I’ll have a vague idea for a project and then go to a stitch directory to help it to take shape. Even if I don’t use one of the stitches listed, I may play with a variation or it may trigger another idea. They are endless sources of inspiration.
You don’t have to be a designer to use these. You might want to make a blanket for a friend, but are lacking inspiration or haven’t seen a pattern you’re bothered about. A browse through a stitch directory will light you up with ideas. They usually (or certainly should) include the stitch multiple needed, so you can just pick up and go!
There are a huge number of crochet stitch directories on the market and it can get a bit overwhelming.
I have two absolute go-tos.
Firstly I use a book called 500 Crochet stitches. This is a really comprehensive crochet directory. It includes loads of interesting stitch patterns, motifs and borders / edging & trims, so it has lots of uses.
I also have a book called “The Complete Stitch Directory: Knitting Crochet, Embroidery and Needle Point ” which includes way more than just crochet (the clue is in the title!).
This one was picked up in a charity shop so I was shocked to find it listed on amazon from a second hand book seller.
It is pretty old skool (published in the 80s) and one for the vintage lovers more than anything else. Modern books are probably much more practical, but I LOVE older crochet books, so wanted to include it because it just feels a bit different to the standard.
Charity and thrift shops, and second hand book shops are a great place to hunt for old craft books. It’s one of my favourite things to shop for. I am a big supporter of second hand.
When choosing a stitch directory, I recommend reading the details of what’s included. If you know you have a particular preference for working motifs, for example, then go with something that focuses on that.
There are so many sides to crochet, but whatever area floats your boat, there will be something for you!
Books for New Crochet Designers
If you’re thinking about starting to design your own crochet projects, whether for yourself, or to publish, Dora Ohrenstein’s Crochet Every Way Stitch Dictionary will be of immense help to you.
I got it last year and I love it. It is a bit different to the normal stitch directory because it breaks down how to increase and decrease and add internal and external shaping to stitch patterns.
This is so useful for problem solving when designing your own patterns.
Working out shaping is one of those things I’ve spent hours and hours over the years working out. So having this book to check in on if something is stumping me really helps.
It is a real gem!
The other book I have seen aimed specifically at teaching crochet design – which I have not read – is “Design your own crochet projects: Magic formulas for creating custom scarves cowls, hats, socks, mittens & gloves”.
As I haven’t read this one I can’t say one way or another if it’s helpful. However, it certainly looks suitable for a new designer who isn’t sure where to start (though reading this post might be a good place!!).
I think I resisted buying this one because I like to work things out for myself. Though looking again at the blurb for this post, I’m curious to see if it has come to the same conclusions that I have!
Crochet Garment Construction & Design Books
I have left this category to last because it is the most recent book rabbit hole I have been down.
The books I mention below have all helped me to understand these concepts. I would not be where I am without them.
I like books that explain how things are structured. This helps me to understand the principles so that I can apply them in different ways. It’s how my brain works and how I learn (there is a lot of swearing and frogging involved too).
Another entry from Dora Ohrenstein here – she is by far the most educational modern crochet writer I have come across – she knows her stuff!
Blueprint sweaters: Techniques for custom construction was the first book I bought to help me understand garment construction. It was a great place to start.
It looks at 4 different constructions styles and has a few patterns in each style to support them. Each time, it breaks down how each one is constructed.
I confess that I haven’t made any of the patterns because I bought the book for the theory. This is the case with most of the garment books I have bought.
But if you’re new to garment making then there are lots of patterns for you to try in a guided way.
I soon became very interested in top down design and set off on a quest to understand how one would go about the maths for these.
I’ll tell you now that as beautifully simple as top-down sweaters are to make (no sewing), they are HARD to design in lots of sizes. Lucky I like a challenge 😉
Anyway, “Top down Crochet Sweaters; fabulous patterns with perfect fit”, (another book from Dora Ohrenstein), was the first top down book I bought.
This was hugely educational for me as it talked a lot about theory and fit before even getting started with the patterns.
It starts by explaining the top down methods, necklines, creating underarms. It moves through techniques such as shaping gauge, drape, and blocking. Then it works through the making process, explaining how to measure yourself, adjust and alter your garments.
In the second part of the book it has a number of patterns for you to put it all into practice.
There is so much useful information here, all of which has helped me through any number of design challenges.
The last book I want to talk about is actually a book about knitting.
Over the years I have found that if I can’t find the information I am looking for relating to crochet, I turn to the knitting world which has more extensive resources.
This was one such case.
“Knitting from the top by Barbara G Walker” is a seminal knitting book. Though it was written in the 90s, it seems to have become a classic in the knitting world.
I want to make it clear, I can’t really knit (I can just about knit and purl, and that’s it). This is another case of learning the principles and applying them elsewhere.
And just look at the 90’s vibes all over that cover!!
My awesome friend and crochet mentor Joanne Scrace from The Crochet Project, lent me her copy of this book and I loved it. I loved the style of writing and the dry humour that runs throughout it.
Plus I learned a lot, even though some (most) of the knitting references went right over my head.
I wanted to end with this book so I could reiterate how helpful it was for me to broaden my horizons beyond just looking at crochet resources. So much inspiration and understanding can come from parallel crafts and be brought into the crochet world.
Innovation comes from the breaking, bending and blending of existing ideas in new creative ways. Any book that can help inspire that works for me!
Happy Hooking (and reading!)