Whimsical Cross Stitch, Cari Buziak, Dover, 2019, ISBN: 978-0-486-82862-0, $19.95
There’s lots to love in this affordable book, with over 130 charted designs, for cross stitchers and needlepointers alike. The designs are small, no chart bigger than a single page, and range from simple one-color designs to more complex and realistic pictures.
Each chart is done in symbols on a grid with heavier lines for every 10 blocks. This makes it easier to keep your place when stitching. Every chart has a small color picture of the design as a reference along with a color key. The color key has the color block and the symbol along with the DMC color number and name. While DMC is the most common thread for cross stitch, you may want to use a different thread for needlepoint. In that case, just use the DMC numbers or threads as a reference to pick new ones.
The charts are organized into five chapters: Animals: Real & Fantasy, Dashing Designs, Home & Hearth, Nature in Bloom, and Special Occasions. The only indication in the charts for the chapter is found at the bottom of each page, near the page number. Within each chapter I could find little organization but similar designs, for example all the teapots, are often grouped together. Without an index, you can only find designs you want by marking the pages or by looking through the book. Having an index would have improved it greatly.
The vast majority of charts use only whole stitches, which makes them easy to use for needlepoint. Some designs use backstitching as an outline, which can be left out for needlepoint. Only a few charts use Backstitch for detail or to make ‘partial’ stitches. That makes them easy to convert to needlepoint (click the link to learn how).
For the needlepointer, the biggest problem is the lettering. With only a few exceptions, most of the letters are backstitched. When stitching needlepoint you will have to either replace these letters with Tent Stitch ones or stitch theBackstitch letters as overstitching over the background.
There are two other small faults in the book. First, the size of each design is given in inches, not in the more conventional threads. She is assuming you are using 14-count Aida. If your canvas is 14 mesh, your size will be the same. If it is not you will need to count yourself and convert to find the design size. The heavier lines in the chart are numbered so that gives you a head start. You will just need to count the number of squares beyond the last heavy lines to get the total count.Then divide by your mesh size to find the design size.
The second flaw is that depending on the size of the chart the symbols can be hard to distinguish.Often the different symbols are hard to see because the details are small and all charts have black symbols on white grids. A better choice and one used in many cross stitch charts is to use symbols inside colored boxes.
While it would have been excellent if the book had done this, you can do it yourself with highlighters or Copic markers. It takes time but go color by color changing all the squares in the chosen symbol to colored ones. Make sure your colors are easily distinguishable and remember to color the symbol in the color key.
Even with these flaws this is an excellent and very affordable book.