I was so excited about this book when I saw it on Amazon. The price is great ($6.99), and I was hoping it would be a great, inexpensive introduction to Bargello. Maybe it would even have a few easy patterns in it to get folks started.
Boy, was I disappointed. I felt as if I had been taken for a ride. The book, as is the case for most needlepoint books, is self-published. I don’t hold that against it. Unhappily, there is no author credited anywhere in the book. Let’s look more closely at its many faults.
The title gives you the impression that it is a book about Bargello. The sub-title, “Step by Step Guide to Beginner Embroidery,” does not contradict this. However, the book is only somewhat about Bargello, has no patterns, is confused about terms, and has incorrect or inaccurate advice. It spends far more time talking about approaches to stitching Tent Stitch needlepoint than on stitching Bargello.
The text is poorly written and badly formatted. Often there are references to specific titles, but there is no bibliography. That’s a shame because the titles the author cites would provide the projects this book conspicuously lacks. The author skips between first person and third person throughout the book. That isn’t necessarily a problem, but if the author is anonymous, why should he talk about himself?
Initially, I thought the poor formatting was just a little glitch, but it continues throughout the book. Headings are set in the same font and size as the text, line breaks are strange, and the formatting you learned in high school is often missing. It felt almost as though large sections of the book were copied from someplace and pasted into a file with no effort to make it look like a book.
The illustrations are all in black and white. I can understand this; some printers charge extra for color. But what use is a color wheel if it is in black and white? The color wheel is so poorly reproduced that the color names can barely be read. Why are there pictures throughout taken from other books and websites without attribution? Why are the stitch diagrams pretty much useless?
If the text had better explanations, perhaps this would be excusable, but nothing tells you how to make any type of Tent Stitch.
The opening chapters give a bit of the history of Bargello and they are correct but not special. As soon as the advice begins about stitching you will find incorrect information. Some of the more obvious errors are to use Half-cross in stitching needlepoint and to use a hoop for stitching Bargello.
You’ll find detailed instructions in this book on how to stitch basic needlepoint. Still, beyond a short discussion of different kinds of Bargello patterns and an even shorter one on color schemes, Bargello is not treated the same way, even though it is the book’s subject.
My advice, avoid this book, even at its low price, it isn’t worth it. If you want an inexpensive Bargello book, look for used copies of Elsa Williams’s classic book,
If you want inexpensive introductions to needlepoint and don’t want to overwhelm people with old copies of The Needlepoint Book, there are two excellent introductions out there. Dover has published Hope Hanley’s 101 Needlepoint Stitches for over 30 years. You can buy it new or find used copies for about the same price as this book.
If you are looking for an ebook, Learn to Needlepoint by Susan Sturgeon Roberts is under $4 at Amazon. You’ll get an excellent introduction from a gifted teacher.
In short, you can do better. Don’t waste your money on this book!