This delightful book from Finger Step Designs (distributed by Custom House) is such as treasure. The idea behind the book, and the samplers you create from it, is to make a diamond-shaped box, and through the borders and stitches you choose, create a unique needlepoint piece.
The idea is compelling and endlessly creative. Susan Jones, the designer, came up with the idea, when she needed to stitch a purse, which is pictured at the beginning of the book. She took a box, 12 threads square, and turned it 45 degrees to make a diamond. Then on the diamond-shaped grid, she filled it with different patterns. Every stitch or stitch grouping in the book fits inside the box.
To these grids you can add borders, outlines, centers, and placeholders. You can group them to make patterns. And, just like blackwork, you can shade them by adding new elements to a stitch.
The book begins simply, with a sampler, to get you familiar with the concept. Through this sampler, which has 8 bands, you will stitch boxes with borders, placeholders. and centers.
Next the book covers the issues behind creating your own design, looking at fabrics, threads, and design issues. One of the best things about this short section is that Jones is familiar with stitching on both canvas and fabric, so she can tell you what will work and give the reader great tips on stitching.
Now you have the tools to create your own sampler. I love this part of the book, because Jones goes into so many aspects of design which are important to making a great piece, but often are not covered. They are illustrated with large, clear stitch diagrams, color pictures, and graphics to make each concept clear. The book is worth it, just for the information about creating outstanding designs in needlepoint or counted work whether it is a traditional one or a filled shape.
There follow pages of stitch and pattern ideas you can mix and match. Stitches and stitch patterns fill the box partially or completely and can be combined with smaller centers, borders, or placeholders to create new combinations.
The book ends with a useful section of grids and patterns. There are five of them, two of them indicate the box on standard graph paper, one is a diamond grid to work out the weight of the stitches, another a set of simple outlines to fill, and the last grid shows you some quilt block patterns superimposed on the diamond grid.
I keep thinking of more great ways to use this wonderful idea!