A review of Crochet Stitch Guide by Jean Leinhauser & Mary Ann Frits

Reviewed by Molly Martin

Crochet Stitch Guide
by Jean Leinhauser & Mary Ann Frits
Photographer: Carol //Wilson Mansfield
Pattern Tester: Tammy Layte
Leisure Arts, Inc
96 pages, 2013,ISBN-13: 978-1464707438

Jean Leinhauser & Mary Ann Frits’ Crochet Stitch Guide is a dandy for needle work enthusiasts. This book is one of my favorites of needle work, including crochet and knit pattern productions. I like to design my own afghan, baby items, toppers, shrugs, placemats and whatever I wish without being bound to the instructions of someone else. Having a handy book filled with stitches in swatches, squares, helps me envision a finished product.

Crochet Stitch Guide provides a varied selection of motivating stitches designed for needleworking skill levels, from novice to advanced.  I like that the work filled with 86 stitch patterns does not mention gauge… how many stitches I must achieve per inch…. The writers mention that while the thread used for producing the samples is Red Heart ® Luster Sheen ®; a size 2 fine weight yarn…. The designs are planned to be worked with the type yarn, bulky to fingering, or other thread the needlework artist may prefer.  Gauge cannot be standard for bulky, cotton or size 10 threads and yarn worked with varied sized hooks and needles.

Each of simple-to-follow, first-rate instructions is presented with a nice clear photograph of each of the various stitches detailed in the book. I particularly like the variety of stitches offered in 7 kinds of stitches including shells, textures, clusters, picots, V stitches, special stitches and miscellaneous.

Twenty seven stitch patterns are presented using cluster stitch as the main focus.  I think my favorites of these delicate, lacy stitches may be a blue fan created with Cluster (CL) and Double Cluster (dCL) as well as chains and double crochet (dc) comprised of 5 rows set upon a chain of 10 +4 stitches repeated across and down as the work continues.  This particular stitch will work up nicely as a baptismal or christening shawl using soft yarn or as a shoulder wrap for an adult worked in a heavier cotton type thread.  Most of the cluster stitch patterns are delicate and lacy.

Seven patterns using a more dense, textured Stitch includes 7 stitch patterns employing different height combination, cluster and post stitches, as well as working into the front or back loop to create textured surfaces.  As a rule I find pieces worked using dense type work causes the piece being created to become quite heavy and awkward to deal with.  I prefer lighter threads and airy open patterns.  Three of the 7 patterns are worked as chevrons.
The section highlighting Picots includes 6 lacy, picot stitch patterns.  Picots are little loops formed in the work to give the piece a light, airy feel and often works up nice as baby items, christening gown, shawl and the like.

The section featuring V-stitches includes 8 pretty variations with the work implementing v-stitch and picots and v-stitch and shells.  When viewing the work, the Vs are noticeable with other stitches worked into them or around them.

Special Stitches includes 10 patterns using a variety of stitches including popcorns, love knot, berry stitch, blocks and bars, and spikes. Well explained directions include the how to for each of the stitches as well as the foundation chain and multiples needed for beginning the pattern i.e.  chain multiple 9, chain multiple 9+1.

I am very fond of shells, fans, and this particular work includes 14 stitch patterns to be created using combinations of shells/fans.  Depending upon thread used these patterns will work up very well as baby shawls, afghans, shawls for over the shoulders and pretty place mats. The 14 miscellaneous designs includes patterns calculated for using a varied stitches.

I like that a page is included to serve as a guide novice needle artists and those who may use European terminology as to U.S. crochet abbreviations and terminology.  These are the terms and abbreviations one finds in the pattern directions i.e. 3 T in 5th ch from hook, skip next 3 chs, sc in the next ch *ch 2, skip next 3 chs, 5 tr etc. which means, begin with the chain multiple indicated in the top of the pattern direction, and begin row 1 of the pattern by working in the 5th chain from the loop with your crochet hook create 3 treble stitches, then skip 3 of the foundation chains, and single crochet in the next chain. This means what now follows is to be repeated across the foundation chain, then move on to row 2 and 3 and etc.  patterns run the gamut of repeat 5 rows or 10 or 3 etc for the pattern, desired.

Learning to read directions may seem daunting to the novice, but once a pattern is begun and checking the back of the book for explanation will move novice and European needleworkers right along across the pattern written with US terminology.

Despite being thin, the book contains nearly 100 pattern stitches.
Each pattern stitch is shown in a color photo of the finished work alongside the written directions for creating the stitch.  I like that, as a crocheting needle worker who can understand crochet terms and create the pattern, I can grasp the stitch visually as well.

For the needle crafter who has learned to crochet by only looking at the picture and then figuring out, by trial and error, how to accomplish the work, and there are some of these folks using their crochet hooks even in this advanced world in which we live today; the photos provide enough detail to allow success when coupled with checking to understand the pattern detail. It is much easier to produce a pattern stitch when the needle enthusiast does learn to read the directions.

As with every pattern book written there are stitches that will have more appeal to one needle worker than another, on the other hand; I have yet to meet a needle aficionado who purchases any pattern sheet or book providing more than single pattern who loves them all. This is a book that will appeal to needle work devotees, boutiques specializing in needle arts, homemaking teachers, as well as home and public library shelves.

Reviewed by: molly martin
30+ years classroom teacher