Everything ‘Blackwork’ is New Again, Julia Key Snyder, self-published, 2011 (available at needlepoint shops)
Updated September 27, 2022.
I love Blackwork and love to do it on my needlepoint, so I was very excited when I read about this book. When it arrived, I was a little skeptical because it was just pages and pages of patterns with no names and no text. After reading at it, I am now a fan of this approach.
Each pattern is numbered and the diagrams are large. They are big enough to show several repeats of the pattern. That’s great because you really get a feel for how they will look. For one part of the pattern, the stitches are numbered, but arrows showing the direction to use for each stitch are shown on every single stitch in the diagram.
That is the most incredibly helpful thing!
Blackwork as a technique on needlepoint canvas has two stumbling blocks and Snyder addresses them both beautifully in this book.
First, many blackwork patterns look like the diagram above, with the stitches on the lines of the grid. In needlepoint the convention is to have the stitches begin and end in the holes of the grid; these diagrams can be very confusing. In this book, all the diagrams are like good needlepoint diagrams; the stitches have curved ends so you see every stitch and they begin and end in holes.
If Blackwork diagrams have defeated you in the past, this will help you understand the technique.
Second, because canvas is so open, it can be hard to figure out a path to take so that threads don’t show on the back. Snyder acknowledges this as a problem with Blackwork on canvas and in her numbering she has worked out paths for most patterns that aren’t double running (used for Blackwork on cloth) but that don’t leave thread trails.
There is a one-page introduction that talks about some ways to use Blackwork, as well as some working notes on the diagrams. Then it’s on to the patterns.
The patterns are wonderfully varied and I can think of tons of projects sitting in my stash where they would work.
Many of the patterns are variations of other patterns and this is the source of a small complaint. I’d love to see related patterns next to each other. Occasionally this happens, but mostly it does not. Having related patterns next to each other would make it easy for me to decide if I wanted to add more stuff to a simple pattern or not.
There are a few patterns in her that are not strictly Blackwork, I saw a laidwork pattern and some textured stitches, but there aren’t many of these.
All in all, it’s a simply fantastic book and I’m so glad I have it.
About Janet M Perry
Janet Perry is the Internet's leading authority on needlepoint. She designs, teaches and writes, getting raves from her fans for her innovative techniques, extensive knowledge and generous teaching style. A leading writer of stitch guides, she blogs here and lives on an island in the northeast corner of the SF Bay with her family
Leave a Reply