Ruth Dilts, Rainbow Gallery, 2005.
Updated March 9, 2018
I’ve done needlepoint for almost 35 years and one thing I have always missed is a book that you can give to a beginning stitcher to help them with stitching their first few painted canvases. These days many folks who discover needlepoint do so because they are attracted to the beauty of a hand-painted canvas. They but the canvas and threads, take it home and wonder what to do.
What they should do is buy this book at the same time. Ruth has drawn on her long experience with needlepoint and with painted canvases to create a book for beginners. It starts out by discussing what to look for in your first painted canvas.
She then has a short chapter on getting started. This walks you through the steps of getting ready to stitch. She discusses making stitch choices on paper first (saving you from frog stitching), mounting on stretcher bars, and picking the focal point of the canvas. She also discusses stitch diagram numbers so that a stitcher who is new to decorative stitches will not get confused.
She continues with discussion of compensation and threads. She briefly talks about texture in threads, and types of threads which will give you a heavy or light look. She ends this section by discussing those threads which are easiest to use. She ends this chapter with short discussion of laying tools, dye lot changes, and working with your local shop.
The second section of the book has 20 different stitches diagrammed and discussed. The section opens with an effects index, suggesting stitches for all kinds of item from angels to wreaths. Each stitch has its own page. At the top is a short section with information about the stitch. A large, numbered diagram follows. Following this you find suggested uses of the stitch and some additional hints. Finally, examples using this stitch are listed. A glossary of terms ends this section.
The final section makes this book unique. Ruth has taken twelve painted canvases and stitched them using the stitches in the book. Each canvas is show in two color photographs, one of the unstitched canvas and on of the finished canvas. The photo of the finished canvas takes up a whole page and has great detail. She lists the
mesh size and the design size.
In the text for each project she describes her choices of thread and stitches for each section of the canvas. The names of stitches are in bold, so it’s easy to remember them and to find the correct diagram. Some of the canvases have backgrounds some do not. Even if you do not stitch any canvas pictured in this book, the book serves a valuable service by showing the stitches in action on a finished canvas. This is one of the most difficult concepts to convey to new stitchers, since rarely do shops or teachers have enough stitched canvases on hand to show everything they wish to discuss. Barring raiding your teacher’s stash of stitched but unfinished canvases, his book provides the next best thing.
She even discusses how to personalize a canvas. One of her canvas is a “lady vet” from Kathy Schenkel. Ruth wanted to make it as a gift for her daughter who is a veterinarian. In doing so she changed the color of the hair and changed the skirt to pants. In the text she discusses how she made these changes.
Scattered throughout this section are helpful hints. These short tips will make your stitching easier and more fun. She also has two pages which can be copied to create your own notebook. One is a stitch chart page which has two printed areas of needlepoint graph paper, which has thicker lines and shows the weave of the canvas, and an area for notes. I’ve used regular graph paper to diagram stitches for years and having pages like this is a real improvement. She also has a project record page which will allow you to note down in detail what you have done with a canvas.
Ruth’s writing style is easy to read, so that lots of information is provided without the reader feeling overwhelmed. I was so impressed with this book that I am going to recommend it to all my beginning students. Putting this book together with a small canvas, stretcher bars, and threads would be a great way to start someone with needlepoint.
This book is distributed by Rainbow Gallery. Many needlepoint shops keep it in stock and it can be ordered through others. It is not available on Amazon.