Bead Embroidery Stitch Samples by CBK Designs and Yasuko Endo is an interesting book. It’s an English version, by Interweave Press, of a Japanese book. Having a passion for Japanese books, I can pretty much say that they have kept the format and graphics the same, but translated the text.
This will be the first strange thing needlepointers encounter. The book is divided into four lessons. Except for the basic lesson which covers materials and some basic embroidery techniques, each lesson covers a number of stitches of various types. Within each chapter the stitches are mostly grouped from simple to complex and several variations of each stitch are shown. The lessons themselves also move from simple to complex.
There are no projects in this book, although there are some charted motifs. In essence this is a stitch dictionary devoted to ideas for incorporating beads in your stitches. Over 150 stitches in all are shown.
While there is a page illustrating with photographs how to make each stitch within the lesson, the detailed and numbered stitch diagrams are all grouped together near the end of the book. This is different than most American books.
Even stranger for needlepointers than the format is the idea that a book on free embroidery can help us. While it is true that this will be less helpful than a book with counted stitches, you will still find plenty to like and use in this book.
The vast majority of stitches in this book are stitches that are done in lines instead of filling stitches. While ‘fills’ is a common term in embroidery and Blackwork, needlepoint doesn’t use it much, so it bears explaining. Line stitches, even if they are complex, such as Herringbone, move in general in a vertical or horizontal straight line. If there are branches, they branch off this line. If there are motifs, they rest on this line. We often think of these as stitches for borders or bands, and tend to use them as single rows.
Contrast this to stitches such as Scotch or Rice that we use to fill an area. We still stitch them in rows, but when complete we see the stitch as filling the space, not as the rows we used. Other embroiderers might call these “fill” patterns.
In free embroidery there are specific stitches called ‘fillings’ that are covered in one part of the book. These complex stitches are generally done above the fabric and are a fairly complex technique.
To adapt these stitches to needlepoint and make this book useful to you, you will need to turn these stitches to the counted versions we use for needlepoint. Some will be easy to convert because we use these stitches already, for example, stitch 42 (beaded chain stitch). Others will need to be converted slightly.
To convert a free embroidery stitch to counted, look to see what parts of the stitch are even in length or width. These stitches will all be the same number of threads long. If there are top and bottom borders to the stitch, they will be an even width apart.
Use a doodle canvas to try out different lengths for your stitches. You can make some initial estimates by figuring most of the beads are size 11, so a size to fit 13-mesh canvas. If the stitch is three times the size of the bead, a good first guess would be to make the stitches three holes, or four threads long.
Once you have found a size you like, record what you have done in the book.
If you have been looking for new ways to incorporate beads in your needlepoint, try this book. It’s full of them.