Stitch n Bitch Crochet: the Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller
Despite the slightly dubious title, this is easily the best book for teaching crochet I have ever seen. The instructions are clear and non-patronising and they take you from the basics to doing more fancy stuff like crocheting with several colours at once. There’s a glut of patterns to try too, with hats, men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, toys and home decor. I will say that some of the patterns have dated a bit since the book was published in 2006. A crochet bikini might have sounded like a good idea at the time, but now? Not so much.
However, I’d buy this book for the instructions alone. When my old boss was learning to crochet, I lent her the Happy Hooker and I haven’t seen it since. If that’s not the sign of a good book, I don’t know what is.
200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws and Afghans by Jan Eaton
This is probably the most used crochet book I own. Not only is it a veritable treasure trove of patterns to mix and match for blankets that take you beyond the granny square, it’s also just the right thickness to sort out the wobble on my ironing board. That aside, it’s a great book. The patterns vary in difficulty so there’s something to test every skill level, and Jan Eaton also takes you through using colours – making suggestions for block pairings for each pattern. She also gives instructions for edging your blanket.
My only real criticism of this book is that the title is misleading. There are actually only around 100 crochet blocks – she instead uses different colour ways to bump the total up to 200. That’s a bit of a disappointment, but there’s plenty in there to keep you busy, especially when your friends suddenly announce they’re pregnant. As mine often do.
Essential Crochet by Erika Knight
This book has some lovely patterns in a range of areas – from home ware, to accessories to clothing. Some aren’t what I’d choose to wear myself (I’m thinking of the free-form camisole here. A bit reminiscent of What Not to Crochet) but heirloom stuff for babies and some of the home ware section is beautiful. My favourite project is from this book too – the filet lace cushion is easily the best thing I have ever made and probably what I would rescue from a burning building (after my family).
However, if you’re going to invest in Essential Crochet I’d have to warn you that there are many, many errata throughout the book. It’s best to read it in conjunction with the errata page for this book on Erika Knight’s website. I first noticed this on the filet lace cushion and ended up using the photo as a guide. But y’know, it turned out well, so I’m not complaining all that much!