If you sat in a needlepoint shop or went to a guild meeting and surveyed stitchers about why they love The Needlepoint Book, most, if not all of them, would say “The Stitches!” I know it’s what entranced me from the beginning. I had no idea there were so many stitches, and that they were so varied.
It also turned me on to one of the most useful kinds of needlepoint books you can own — a stitch dictionary. These books (or parts of books) are dedicated to showing you the many kinds of stitches, complete with diagrams.
If you’re stuck for a stitch, as I was last night, open a stitch dictionary — it will give you ideas. If you want to know how to make a stitch, look at one with numbered diagrams. Looking for a stitch for a particular effect, to fit a particular type of area, or in a particular size? There are dictionaries organized to help you with all these things.
Today we’ll talk about The Needlepoint Book and how its dictionary is ordered.The book organizes stitches by type. Some of theses types are you typical stitch families (straight, box, etc.) but others are less common grouping (eyelets) or techniques (ribbon stitches). Mostly if you know the characteristics of a stitch you should be able to find the chapter where it can be found.
Each chapter begins with a brief text telling you about the characteristics of this kind of stitch. While you may not use this in your everyday life, don’t ignore it. Understanding these groups will help you recognize the group of new stitches you encounter. If you know the group that will, in turn, give you clues about how to make the new stitch, where to use it, and stitches that might coordinate with it.
Always remember that even with all these stitches it isn’t every stitch there is — no book can have that.
After the text introduction comes the wonderful chart of stitches. It’s been there since the first edition and is so helpful. Jo has classified the characteristics of every single stitch in the book. The stitches each have a line and dots tick off the characteristics that apply.
Let’s say you are in a hurry to finish a project and you want to use a Diagonal Stitch. Go to the Diagonal Stitch chapter and see which stitches have dots under fast; that narrows things down some.The project is of a flower and you need some ideas for petals. Look for the stitches with dots under “flower stitch.” If there aren’t enough you can use these charts to expand your choice of stitches to other stitch types or to stitches with medium or strong patterns. Now you’ve got a nice, but edited selection of possible stitches.
Once you’ve figured out your choices, you can use the stitch index in the back to go to the page with this stitch on it. Some stitches here have explanations, but most do not. Every stitch has a picture of a stitched sample along with one or more clear stitch diagrams. These can be in one or more colors.
The genius of Jo’s diagrams is that they are packed with information. Not only do you see where different colors need to be used, you see the sequence for making the stitch and how to move from row to row. There are even symbols to tell you when to turn the canvas to make the stitch. In the newest edition, you’ll also find information about when you need to move your thread from line to line outside the stitching area and when compensation stitches are an important part of the stitch’s structure.
As is the case for many stitchers, I keep my well-loved copy by my desk to use as a stitch reference.
Tomorrow our celebration continues by looking at the color plates and what you can learn from them.