June McKnight, self-published, 2012
I’m of two minds about this book. While I think the information and ideas in the book are wonderful and amazingly creative. And I love the way it gathers so much useful information in one place. There are some small improvements that could be made to make it one of the most useful needlepoint books I’ve seen.
The book combines in one, project-bag-sized book information about so many kinds of embellishments. A fantastic opening chapter is called “Beading 101.” Along with learning about June’s inspiration for and development of the book, she has a fantastic glossary of different kinds of beads and embellishments that is the best I’ve ever seen. In this chapter she also has useful tips on how to test beads for colorfastness, shading with beads, and tons more.
There are chapters on beads, bugle beads, crystals, pearls, rhinestones, sequins, and a final chapter of embellishments inspired by the gowns worn by First Ladies at Inaugural Balls that use a variety of embellishments.
Each of these chapters has different stitches or specialty effects (check out the bugle bead candelabra), taking two pages each. On the left page is the name of the stitch, a close-up picture, and a list of what threads and embellishments are used in the sample. On the right page is the name, a large diagram, done in several colors, and some stitching notes.
I love the way that so many of the stitches and effects take common stitches such as Pavilion, Scotch, or Cashmere and add beads in inventive ways. Or add other embellishments you may not have thought of. For example, you may know that seed beads can be put between the units of criss-cross hungarian, but what if you lengthened the units, put more space between them and used sequins. Attached with beads, it makes for a bold, modern look. That’s just one of the many great ideas in this book.
But there are some problems. The book would be improved as well by a table of contents. This would make it easy to find different kind of effects. I’m planning on making mine easier to use by adding tabs, but with a table of contents I wouldn’t need to. The index in the back of the book breaks stuff down this way, but the back is not the first place people look for this, the front is.
The fancy display font used in the stitching notes makes them hard to read. I’m glad that Beading 101 and the introductions to each chapter weren’t in this font; they would be impossible to read. Even so, I found looking at the notes to be tiring. June’s readers would be much better served if she had used her text font for the notes.
The most difficult problems revolve around the pictures of the examples. When there is good distinction in color between the thread and the embellishment, it’s easy to see how they interact. But, often enough, the stitched examples use colors that are the same or too close, making it difficult to see the effect. If this was stitching on a canvas, that would be great, but these are supposed to teach me something, to give me an idea of how this would work. But if I can’t see how the thread and embellishment interact, why bother?
But most importantly, the pictures are badly inconsistent. I know, from frustrating experience, that taking extreme close-up shots of needlepoint that clearly show the stitches is difficult, but there are at least three different types of pictures here. Some, the smallest number, have clear stitching and canvas mesh. These are wonderful. The majority have clear stitching but out-of-focus bare canvas. It’s a legitimate choice for this kind of photo, even if it is not the more usual choice. But far too many of the pictures have both the canvas and the stitching out-of-focus. That’s bad. Sometimes it is so bad, I can’t even tell what the stitch is supposed to look like. This is a big flaw in the book, especially if I’m paging through looking for a stitch to use.
Bling is a good and useful book, one much needed in the needlepoint world, I just wish it was better.
Please note: A copy of this book was furnished to me for purposes of review. I was not compensated in any other way.