Suzanne Howren, 2019, ISBN:978-0-578-56136-3
Father B, as Robert E. Blackburn was known in the needlepoint world, was known for his endlessly inventive stitches and small projects, many of which graced the pages of ANG’s magazines. That how I first got to know him. Later we became good stitching friends through internet chats during his final years.
He compiled most of these stitches, plus many others, into a book in 1982, Father B’s Book of Stitches. His stitch diagrams, done using MacPaint, were state-of-the-art then. That first book had about 100 stitches.
Over the next 18 years he found and created new stitches, diagrammed and wrote about them, and created new editions of the book. The sixth and final edition, Father B’s 21st Century Book of Stitches came out in 2000, not long before he passed away. It has about 350 stitches. Throughout the editions, the book kept its format with MacPaint diagrams and text for each stitch.
I treasure my copy, but it has long been unavailable except in used editions. Rainbow Gallery’s Sally London proposed an idea to bring his diagrams up-to-date and to create a sampling of his stitches. Suzanne Howren took up the task and has written A Father B Sampler which came out in September.
The slim volume is just the right size to fit into a project bag. It has 110 stitches, charted two to a page. Stitching sequences are numbered, something Father B’s diagrams often lacked. Howren has even provided numbering for stitches that were without numbering in the original.
This book has about 1/3 the stitches in the Sixth Edition and reproduces none of the text. With very clear, easy-to-read diagrams, it’s a wonderful reference.
Father B’s organization of stitches was often, but not always, by stitch family and none of the books contain information about why each stitch is placed where it is. The Sampler is far better organized. It has three sections: stitches, backgrounds, and borders. Each section has a one-page introduction that says something about what’s in the chapter and ways to use those stitches. Having this makes it much easier to find a suitable stitch.
Within each section, the stitches are arranged alphabetically, making it easy to find stitches. All of them are listed at the front of the book with page numbers. The symbols for stitches and threads, up to four in a diagram, are easy to distinguish. Another great help for stitchers is that several of the borders are diagrammed in corners, giving you two sides of the stitch.
I am so happy that this book has come out. It brings so many of the stitches and stitch variations of this wonderful man to our attention!