Yogi Berra once said “You can observe a lot just by looking.”
He was talking about baseball, but it’s also true of needlepoint. Even if you are a turbostitcher and send your life stitching, you will only stitch a fraction of the canvases out there. And unless you both stitch from the same stitch guide and make no changes, your stitched canvases will be different from canvases stitched by someone else.
That’s why looking is such an important part of needlepoint. When we look at stitched canvases from other people we learn things. It might be seeing how cool this stitch looks when it’s done, or it might be loving the look of extensive beading so much you want to try it, but ideas will come when you look.
In the second, and now the third, edition of The Needlepoint Book the extensive section of color plates of needlepoint allow you to look and think and admire — all without leaving home or picking up a needle.
The second edition had 54 color plates, the third edition has a whopping 130, with almost no pictures repeated between editions. That makes over 180 pictures of lovely stitched and finished needlepoint.I you add in the black and white pictures of projects scattered throughout the books, there’s even more stuff to love.
But why is this so useful?
- Find a canvas you want. Happily for us every canvas has the designer listed. While there are many original projects, there are huge numbers of painted canvases shown. There are certainly canvases here that I knew i wanted as soon as I saw them.
- Get an idea for a stitch. Sometimes it can be hard to tell what a stitch looks like until you stitch a big chunk. By then you may not want to rip it out if it doesn’t work. When you see a stitched canvas where you love a stitch, you’ll know you want to use it on a canvas. We do this when we visit with other stitchers — why not do it with these pictures?
- Get an idea for a new technique.Many of the canvases pictured us special techniques and embellishments. These can give you both inspiration and courage to try them yourself. On a random two-page spread in the second edition I found: needlepoint plaids, buttons, feathers, beads, thread bows, silk leaves, and found objects. You aren’t likely to use all these ideas on one canvas, but when you see how the silk leaf makes a perfect accent for a 3-D pumpkin, you might try it yourself.
- Get some finishing ideas.We all know great finishing when we see it, but how many of your projects sit unfinished, often because you don’t know what to do with them. The lovely projects in these books will give you plenty of ways to finish those items in your drawers.
- Learn, most of all, learn.One of the strongest sections in the third edition is the second where we learn how to analyze and plan a hand-painted canvas project. Because the vast majority of our pieces are these kind of canvases, this knowledge is helpful for every stitchers. In this greatly expanded section, Jo uses the color plates to demonstrate the things she’s talking about. Because the pictures are there, the ideas become clear. Then we can take them and use them on our own projects.
Tomorrow we’ll take a quick look sat what needlepoint was like before The Needlepoint Book.