Having been crocheting for a few years now with YouTube and Pinterest as my teachers, I have found that one of the most difficult things to overcome is the tricky transition from beginner to expert. When you're still fair-to-middling, it's surprising how hard it is to find intermediate information out there, and you're left feeling bored to tears by beginner patterns or squinting perplexedly at some of the more expert material.

Thank goodness, then, for people like Dore Ohrenstein; an American crochet extraordinnaire who's done what no author has done before and published a stitch dictionary so that you can start using those fancy expert stitches but in your very own patterns. Crochet Every Way Stitch Dictionary is the book everyone needs to step up their crochet game.

If you're a self-taught crochet fanatic like me, you'll know how confusing it is sometimes to create the most basic of patterns by ear, as it were. Even a basic blanket or scarf poses problems when it comes to crocheting back and forth along the rows without somehow ending up with less or more stitches than you had to begin with. Because while you may get the hang of the standard single crochet, double crochet, treble crochet etc., it's not always as easy to work out the actual technique.

Adding chains, skipping stitches, increasing and decreasing gets more and more complicated the more creative the stitch you are using, but Dora eliminates those worries with a simple guide to shaping for no less than 125 stitch types, from the humble basic shell stitch to the more deft lace stitches. So you may never have to give yourself a headache when working out where to insert your hook ever again.

Not only that but she has also included a detailed chart for each pattern (because any crocheter knows that written instructions are often confusing no matter how clear the writer tries to make them). These charts may look scarily complicated at first, but Dora also gives a simple overview on how to read them, complete with a symbol key to reference when things get a bit over-elaborate. Plus, there's a guide to abbreviations which is a lifesaver when you love to collect pattens but also have a memory like a sieve. Usually they're pretty self-explanatory, but every now and again you'll get tripped up with an abbreviation you're not used to using. Only the other week did I forget the terms "front post" and "back post" so "FP" and "BP" on a recent Pinterest pattern flummoxed me for about five minutes.

The different stitches are helpfully grouped into six sections to make it easier to find the stitch you need; usually you'll know whether you need a closed stitch or a lace stitch for your project, so this way it is easy to flick through just one section rather than pouring over the entire book. Trying to find a specific stitch among 125 of them randomly dotted around would certainly encourage most of us to give up.

The only thing that disappointed me about this dictionary was the lack of any basic guide on how to execute standard stitches. Beginner stuff like how to create chains, single crochets, double crochets etc., changing yarns and choosing a hook size would have been immensely helpful as these are things that are good to double-check time and time again. Crochet isn't always like riding a bike and sometimes the brain switches off and completely forgets how the half-double crochet is formed (not me, obviously, but... y'know... some people...). These are things that only require a simple chart to explain, so it's a little odd that this sort of information hasn't been included.

What also might have been helpful is examples of how to create circular patterns as this is only briefly touched on in the introduction, and I would like to have seen transitions from one stitch type to another as this variation is key to creating the most beautiful and unique designs.

Crochet Every Way Stitch Dictionary is certainly not a beginner's manual, but for those moving on from how-to guides to creating their own patterns, it's a bit of a lifesaver and a great way to practise some of the more complicated stitches out there without having to commit yourself to a project.

If you have a friend who is drowning in yarn and simply does not need another crochet hook set, this unique book will make for an excellent Christmas present. It simply needs to be on every crocheter's shelf so be that friend and buy it for your favourite yarnivore.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk