Saturday, September 20, 2014

Book Review: Stitches a' la Carte

Stitches a' La Carte Is Tote Bag-Sized
Lynda Richardson's new book sold out at the Destination Dallas market and there's a good reason for that--it's a charmer!  The book is called Stitches a' la Carte.  It's a ninety-three page spiral bound book.  As you can see from the photograph above, it's not a big book.  But it is packed with diagrams of background stitches, designed to be stitched in mostly tent stitches using light coverage, i.e., a thinner thread than usual so that the background shows through the stitches. There are a few diagrams that are straight stitches over one thread done in a horizontal or vertical direction and 1-2 that are long stitches.

Two Random Pages From the Book

None of the diagrams are numbered which is a deal-breaker for some folks, but Lynda says this was a deliberate decision so that folks would experiment with the stitches and adapt them to their own style.     I found the diagrams easy to read.  Most are black and white although at least one has gray stitches to point out where a repeat starts.  In other words, if you are color blind, you won't have a problem reading the diagrams.

Some of the stitches are quite complex patterns as you can see from the glimpse inside the book I posted above. If you have trouble counting out complicated patterns you may not like this book, but I can't count to five reliably and I love it!  It would be worth the pain to work out the repeats to have such lovely stitches in my backgrounds for me.  I should point out I picked some of the most complicated stitches I could find, just to show you the worst you'll have to cope with should this book end up in your stitching library.  Erin posted another stitch on her Needlepoint Land blog, by the way.  You can see it here.  Lynda is stitching a fabulous parrot canvas from Georg James (distributed by Alice Peterson), by the way.

I bet the stitches above are stunning stitched.  Very few of the stitches are ones I have seen before, so if you collect unusual stitches or always need background stitch ideas, this is a Must Buy book.  Some of the denser stitches will probably work in smaller areas, but I think most of the patterns will need space to show off, so they are really more suitable for large areas.

But diagrams are not all that is inside this little book.  There are vignettes of Lynda's stitching life, things she learned from friends and family or discovered at one of the many trade shows she's attended over the years.  Lynda is the owner of Dream House Ventures, you see, the distributor of painted canvases from folks like Cricket Collection or Fiori Designs, and the creator of many fine threads like the skein of Baroque Silk in the photo above to help give you an idea of scale.  They also have the wonderful Soy Luster, perfect for variegated hair or fur, and the gorgeous Empress Elite cashmere/silk blend.

After I wrote this but before it published, Vicky DeAngelis also did a short review of Lynda's book, which I've linked to here to help you make up your mind if this is a book for you.

Lynda often stitches models for the designs she distributes so I suppose it was inevitable she would want to share some of the lovely stitches she has created.  But that isn't all that is inside the book.  Every few pages there is a little vignette from Lynda's life.  You will get glimpses of things she learned from trade shows, her family or her friends, shared generously along with all those beautiful background stitches. Lynda will come alive as you read.  The book has places for you to list the gifts you've received from your needlepoint as well, making this a book that could become very personal indeed.

For a long time I've been sorry the stitch dictionaries we have available today are so sterile.  Most never give you a glimpse of the author, unlike the great books by Sylvia Sidney or Mary Martin I so loved when I first taught myself needlepoint. I use the stitch dictionaries all the time, mind, but I long to have a bit more besides lots of diagrams.  Yes, I am a romantic--I want to see the stitcher who went to so much trouble to diagram those stitches for me.

Stitches a' la Carte is a book with heart as well as some fabulous background stitches.  I plan to treasure my copy and use it often.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright September 17, 2014 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

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