By Julia Key Snyder, self-published, 2013
Updated September 6, 2019.
This book, Julia’s eighth, looks at laidwork stitches. This lovely method is less well-known than it should be and currently there are no books in print on the subject. The best book on laid stitches book is Joan Taggert ‘s Laid Fillings book, but it’s hard to find used.You are seeing laid stitches more often in newer stitchdictionaries, but comprehensive information on the technique can be hard to find.
In Laidwork a grid of stitches, going from end to end of an area, is put down. These long threads are then tied down with stitches in a specific pattern. Additional stitches can, and often are, stitched in the open areas. It’s not necessary to make all layers of a Laidwork stitch in the same thread. Variety is a big part of this technique.
Julia’s book is essentially a stitch dictionary of laid stitches. It’s organized by grid styles, so that all stitches that use the same grid are grouped together. Each stitch has a name that is a key to this. The letters are an abbreviation of the grid type. After that is a number.
There can be as few as four or as many as 28 stitches for a grid.
On the good side there are plenty of engaging stitches here, so there’s lots to like. But there are flaws.
First, neither the grids nor the stitches inside them are ordered in any way. Stitchers might find it more useful to have stitches inside a chapter go from simple to complex, and for similar grids to follow this, which happens sometimes but not always.
The grids inside chapters are not always consistent. Grids that have straight horizontal lines have different chapters for two threads per hole, one thread per hole and every other hole. But diagonal laid lines group laid stitches of every line, every other line, and every five lines into one chapter. Without an index it’s hard to know where to find things. Of course with only numbered stitches, an index might not be a good solution. Better organization is needed.
A bigger concern is that it can be hard to figure out the grids. There are no diagrams of the grids themselves. Even if it were small, it would be nice to see them. This is especially problematcal because the laid stitches are the same color as the canvas lines. I know the choices in a black & white book are small, but making the grids easily distinguishable would be a great idea. This is particularly important because this technique is not well known.
For many stitches there are arrows to show the direction to make stitches. This is helpful but is not done consistently or in a way that is always easy to see. For example in the two pages I’m viewing some Cross Stitches have easily seen arrows (on “white” stitches), but in other diagrams, the arrows aren’t there or are extremely small.
This book is valuable. With a minimum of text, it puts the emphasis on the stitches. I just wish for two things. First, that Julia would have thought more about how this book could be an effective tool for learning. Second, that she had paid more attention to consistency.