Saturday, April 12, 2014

Royal School of Needlework's Canvaswork Book UPDATED AGAIN

The Royal School of Needlework has published another in its series of Essential Stitch Guides, this time one on needlepoint (or as it is called in England, canvaswork).  As I read the review, I can't say I would recommend this to anyone who wants to add good needlepoint books to their library.  Not  if you do needlepoint American style, anyway.

The English style is on limited colors of canvas with fewer threads than what we have available to us, uses mostly slate frames (which are hard to find here, expensive and heavy--they also need good support which means a floor frame), and the English are used to working needlepoint from kits on large count with wool.  Mary's quote "there’s a small revival of individuality in canvas work today" pretty much sums up how the Brits view the world of needlepoint.  Recently I talked to a famous American designer about her one foray into producing designs for Ehrman, the well-known English needlepoint company.  Although Mr. Ehrman was delightful, "he had a ‘formula' of X-number of colors, 10-12 mesh, stitch painted, and he would determine subject."  This rigidity of format has produced some lovely designs but they are a far cry from what an American needlepointer expects and desires.  So the only reason I would see to buy this book is if you are interested in learning to transfer a design you want to stitch onto needlepoint canvas.  The Royal School knows everything there is to know about that topic!

It's not a Must Have, in other words, at least not for American stitchers.

UPDATE:  I got a note from Gretchen, the owner of Threads in Charlottesville, VA this week.  Gretchen has seen and sold quite a few copies of this book.  Here's what she has to say about it.

"I noted with interest your comments on the Royal School's book on Canvaswork. I have sold 6 copies or so to a variety of customers. Personally, I think it is eye candy for many levels of stitcher, has some great ideas for stitches, and above par color illustrations. And, at $21.95, it is a good value to boot! I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it!

FYI, the Royal School also has books in this series on Bead Embroidery, Silk Shading, Stumpwork and Whitework.  the only one I have not sold is the Whitework - as it isn't applicable to my shop.  I have been favorably impressed with each  - especially at the price point."

Thanks for the input, Gretchen.  Judging from the comments I got from Donna and Carol (see below), I've been too hard on this book!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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  1. I found this book to be very interesting. These RSN books are being written by younger stitchers who occasionally have a different take on things. I wouldn't say it's a must have book, but it is worth looking at it.

    1. Good to know, Donna. My critique isn't based on seeing the book, so yours is much more valid than mine.

  2. I love the book. It recommends 18 tpi canvas (and up to 24 tpi), not the 10-12 you mention. It also uses stranded cotton in examples as well as wool in others.
    I have been able to teach myself the 50+ sample stitches, the book encourages you to create your own pieces (not use a kit as suggested in the above review). I am creating a piece from a photograph of my snow covered house and garden, using only stitches from the book.

    Dependant on size of piece they suggest either a ring frame or a slate frame. As my piece is quite big I am using a slate frame (as you say very easy to find in UK)

    There is no limit on colours in the UK we have both Anchor and DMC full colour range.
    I would thoroughly recommend this book as very easy to use, full of diagrams and photo's.

    Jane - I wonder if the reviewer that you read had seen the book, as the conclusions you've come to on the book seem to be a little misguided.
    If you ever get the opportunity of attending any of the RSN weekend classes at Hampton Court, London (there are always a few Americans attending them) I would thoroughly recommend it. I've done Goldwork, silk shading and whitework classes, all are great. Attending a class in the Hampton Court Palace with views over the amazing gardens is very inspiring, stepping back hundreds of years...

    1. Carole, I think my mention of Ehrman kits which are on 10-12 count was confusing. I was trying to make a point that this book isn't for American audiences who have access to a huge range of supplies and stitch dictionaries that are better suited to our stitching styles. I think it is very likely that the Royal School's technical skills are much better than mine but based on Mary's review, this isn't a book I will be adding to my library. Some folks will find it invaluable but for me, I already have much better information in the books I have already. Still, it would be great fun to study at the Royal School. We all have much to learn!