Ruth Schmuff, self-published, 2016, ISBN: 13-978-1-4507-2554-2
With over 300 stitches diagrammed Stitches Volume Four is the latest in Ruth’s excellent series of stitch dictionaries. Currently (April 2016) it is only available in print, although an iOS app should be coming.
It’s available in two coil-bound sizes, 8.5×11 and 6×9. With one stitch charted per page, neither are lightweight books.
The diagrams are large and very few are numbered. This isn’t a problem for me, but many stitchers prefer numbered diagrams. If a stitch needs multiple steps, they are shown in separate diagrams with the older steps greyed out somewhat. Although many stitches could be beautifully done in more than one color, solid grey symbols are only used when a second color is required, for example in her Gingham Scotch.
As in the other books, the stitches are listed in alphabetical order by stitch type. Unlike the other books, if a stitch is compound, it will be listed in every stitch family that applies. This makes finding a stitch much easier. It’s especially important because Ruth does not always use standard names, so it’s likely that you will know some of the stitches by other names.
This book has large diagrams and virtually no text. The name of the stitch is at the top of each page. At the bottom you’ll find the stitch family for this section. In the 6×9 size I have this is in very tiny print, small enough that it’s difficult to read. That’s a problem because there are not signals when the chapters/stitch families change. Something simple, such as a heading or an inserted blank page, would make the book so much more user friendly.
The small print size continues in the index, which almost looks as if she took the pages of the larger book and shrunk them on a copier. There’s many good reasons to want a book this size in the smaller format, it would have been nice if the index was more user-friendly by having larger type — would that have been so difficult to do?
I love that Ruth has very creative stitches and ideas and I use her books often. One thing I have noticed though, is that her stitches look far more open in the diagrams than they do once stitched. Many of the stitches have single threads/lines open and appear as if they will give light coverage. Instead often their coverage is close to full. If this is a concern for you, stitch a bit on a doodle cloth until you get the hang of the stitch and her open diagramming style.
I like that other popular techniques such as Bargello, pattern darning, and others are not neglected here. There are even some techniques adapted from free embroidery. This makes the book an excellent resource for experienced stitchers, but the lack of text or hardness rating of the stitches means that most newer stitchers will just be confused by the choices here. There are other stitch dictionaries better suited for beginners.
Although the lack of text might not bother many stitchers, it is a flaw. Ruth is a gifted teacher and having insights about these stitches, even a sentence or two would add to the usefulness of this book.
The book packs lots of stitching ideas into a compact book, one that’s great for experienced stitchers.
Because of the weight, I’m looking forward to the app.
The book is available at your local needlepoint store.