Monday, June 1, 2015

The Needlepoint Book, Updated for 2015

The long-awaited 2015 edition of Jo Ippolito Chriestensen's Needlepoint book is out.  The publisher kindly provided me with a review edition.*  It's a hardback, with good quality glossy paper and a sturdy binding.  It will last for years of use.  For those who prefer spiral bindings, the author had a copy cut and bound into a spiral edition at a copy shop and says you don't lose any information in the process, which is good to know.  I don't like spiral bindings but I know many people prefer them in their stitching books.

The latest edition of Needlepoint is like the first two but with more stitches and more chapters. It really should be called the Needlepoint Encyclopedia because that's what it is--an encyclopedic volume on all aspects of needlepoint.   It touches a bit on almost everything in short discussions. Want to know how to block your stitching? Want to learn how to clean needlepoint? Want to know how to frame it? Want to know about shadow stitching? Want to learn a bit about beads and sequins and crystals? Silk ribbon embroidery? Want to learn design and color theory and how to apply it to your stitching?   This is the book.

A lot is rather esoteric (does anyone use rabbit glue any more?) but the information is there if you want to learn about it.  Many of the items discussed such as blocking and finishing may not be something you care about but if you want to try this at home, it gives good information.

Nothing is too detailed, it's a book that mentions everything (or tries to) without going into great depth on any one thing except the planning/color theory/design theory chapters. With "over 430" stitches, including pulled stitches which are hard to find if you don't have Pageant of Pattern, this book has lots and lots of stitches diagrammed. It probably has more stitch diagrams than any other book I own. The stitches that are diagrammed in her book are not the fanciest available, although she's added more Jean Hilton type "string art" stitches and several types of silk ribbon embroidery stitches. The black and white diagrams themselves are fairly detailed with special starting and ending symbols and arrows to show what direction to pull the pulled stitches in or to help you understand which layers are on top, etc. That's excellent information for pulled stitch diagrams in particular, although I found the symbols confusing at first until I got used to them.

The diagrams are black and white as are the stitched sample photos for each diagram.  The samples appear to be done in wool, which shows the book's age. The bulk of these were stitched in 1978 for the first edition and it would be a lot of work to update them.  (Since stitches change appearance according to the type and weight of thread used it may well be useless to show other threads anyway.)  There is a lot about the various types of thread, including how to test threads for their fiber content with the burn test, which I found interesting, but it's not nearly as good a resource for threads as the Thread Thesaurus or even the three Stitches for Effect books. But that's typical of the Needlepoint book--it tries to cover everything without going into great depth on anything. Mrs. Christensen says just enough to give a stitcher the basics on many, many topics.  It really is like an encyclopedia.

Stitches are divided into types so that all the boxed or tied or straight stitches are in one chapter together.  My favorite part of the book has always been the charts in the beginning of each section    that detail which stitches in that section cover well, tend to distort the canvas, make good accents, are fast or slow to stitch, etc.  The first five or so years after I taught myself to needlepoint I made very good use of this part of the book.

I found the design and color theory section confusing but that may just be me. The author touches on a lot of information and this is a topic that is really complicated. Like the earlier editions, this is an attempt to gather everything needlepoint-related in one place. It's a good book for someone who wants only one stitching book, or for someone who is curious about all the topics around needlepoint, but I am not certain someone who has the other editions should buy this unless they use the earlier editions constantly. If you do that, then you'll want the new edition. Someone outside of the USA who is really into needlepoint but can't easily get books about the topic will find this a very useful purchase as it has a bit about almost everything. A brand new stitcher with a ton of questions and no shop or local stitches to help also will find this a good buy as she talks about tools, how to put a canvas on stretcher bars and scroll bars, needles and laying tools, etc. 

It's an amazing amount of work but it is a dry, technical book at heart, a reference book.  You won't be reading this for anything except learning the basics about this or that topic or to find a stitch that will work for your next project or to look up how to do a stitch.  This is THE reference book on needlepoint, no question about that.  When stitch guides first started becoming popular, many stitch guide writers often omitted stitch diagrams because they could tell folks to check page 299 of the Needlepoint book to learn how to stitch a Mosaic Stitch.

I enjoyed the tiny color plates. Hopefully the eBook and app version (when it comes out in June sometime) allow one to see more. You really can't tell much from the tiny photos.  Many were old friends, things I'd seen online that the stitchers have shared or exhibited but many were new to me.  Which brings me to the topic of the eBook and app versions of the 2015 edition.

The electronic editions come in two types (eBook and app) and several flavors (Kindle, Nook, iTunes, GooglePlay store).  The eBook is already available for the Kindle, Nook and Apple devices at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the iTunes store.  Some folks have had trouble with the Kindle edition (no stitch diagrams!) but many have downloaded the Kindle version without any problems so this is most likely a hitch in the connection for the download.  I haven't heard from anyone with the Nook eBook, so please comment below if you have it (or email me at chillyhollowathotmaildotcom if Comments doesn't work for you).

NOOK UPDATE:  Donna writes--"I bought the book on my Nook and the diagrams are large enough to be useful to me. Using it in my Nook app on my phone, not large enough." Thanks, Donna!  Never occurred to me that on the Nook a book is legible but on the phone Nook app, it isn't.

KINDLE UPDATE:  Jan writes about the Kindle version for her Kindle Fire HDX--Thanks, Jan.
"Hi Jane! I bought the Kindle edition from Amazon UK - on a Kindle Fire HDX, the diagrams are so tiny as to be almost unusable; I also have the same problem on my (rather elderly) Windows desktop. I ended up buying the book again in hardback as previous editions have been an essential part of my stitching library. Regards from Jan in the UK."

The iTunes eBook seems to be fine --I've compared the iBook sample from the iTunes store to the real book and the only flaw I see is that the links to the color pages don't work because you don't have the entire book in the sample, just the first 44 pages. I personally like eBooks because you can search them, jump to a colored plate referenced in the text and carry this very heavy book around with you in a small handheld device instead of having it take up space on your bookshelf.

The app isn't out yet.  The pre-publication publicity we all saw everywhere said that folks who bought the hardback or eBook version (apparently a paperback isn't planned) would get a code enabling them to download the app for free in either an Apple or Android version. Simon and Schuster told the author this on May 5--

"The Needlepoint Book App will be free to download for customers who purchased the print or ebook. The app is still under construction; expected launch date is sometime in June 2015. Customers should visit and enter their information. S and S will notify you with your download code as soon as the app is made available."

I am told when you go to the website, you have to click on a blue button labeled "Retrieve Download App Code."  Enter your name, email address and the date and location you purchased the book plus a purchase code and the publisher will get back to you when the app is ready.   I don't know what is meant by a purchase code but most folks seem to be signing up for the app ok. 

*By the way, the publisher has also sent me a second copy of the Needlepoint Book to be given away.  If you would like to be entered in a random drawing for a copy of the 2015 edition of Mrs. Christensen's book, please either add your name to the Comments below or email me at chillyhollow at hotmail dot com.  I'll collect all the names and pick one using a random number generator next week and announce the winner on June 8 and get it in the mail to the lucky winner on June 9.   It is now too late to get your name in the drawing as it is 6/8 now.  Sorry!  

Many thanks to Jo Christensen and Simon and Schuster for doing this!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright May 3, 2015 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

Repousse Tail UPDATED

Ruth Schmuff just posted progress photos on her newest mystery class, based on Michele Noiset's "Sitting Pretty."  Not only is it fun to see what Ruth's come up with to embellish the canvas, she throws in a free repousse lesson in case you need to add a dimensional line to your canvas.   The candlestick is pretty durn cool, too.

Thanks once again, Ruth!

UPDATE: Ruth's summarized the repousse technique in her latest newsletter.  Some folks may find this easier to follow.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright May 18, 2015 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

Metallic Hair

Mary Corbet mentioned this blog in her daily posting this week. I had no idea one could make good hair in gold work!  Charlotte is testing various techniques for creating people in needlework and is using what appears to be long and short stitches in silk for the face.

Here is Charlotte's previous tests.  The face is the same but the hair appears to be split stitch over padding of some sort.  She used stranded cotton floss this time.

For more information about Charlotte's gold work padding and hair, read these two articles.  British gold work is really really REALLY dimensional, which photographs don't convey.  You have to see gold work in person to appreciate the 3-D effect fully, but I think gold work hair would be spectacular.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright May 15, 2015 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.