Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Needlepoint Stitches: A Field Guide to Birds UPDATED

Carolyn Herself, At Her Book Party

I just bought a copy of Carolyn Hedge Baird's newest book, Needlepoint Stitches A Field Guide to Birds.  The book is 299 pages full of black and white diagrams of the stitches she uses for birds.  It is spiral bound with a laminated back page and a clear plastic sheet over the cover.  

Like all of Carolyn's books, this one reflects her personality.  It is crammed full of black and white line drawings, a list of her previous books and stitch guides, quotes from her students and dedication, a graph paper page for sketching your own ideas—all in the first five pages before the Table of Contents even!  Carolyn says that this book was a sort of collage of bird clip art and her favorite stitches, written in the way a bird watcher would keep a journal.  If you are looking for a well organized book, this is not for you.  This book is more like a six year old's idea of the perfect birthday cake—layers of vanilla and chocolate cake topped with three kinds of icing and six kinds of candy sprinkled on top with whipped cream over all!  In other words, there are lots and lots of bits of wisdom sprinkled throughout the book.

Not that there isn't organization.  Carolyn has divided the stitch diagrams in the book into five areas:  very small stitches, small stitches, medium stitches, large stitches and what she calls "bird details," which is ideas for eyes, outlining feathers, beaks, legs and feet.  You can find ideas for combs and wattles, nests, eggs and chicks in that section also.  There is a reference section in the back where the stitches are listed in mostly alphabetical order, an index of background stitches (including birdhouses and chicken wire) and an index of stitches that use beads.

Bird Icons, From Carolyn's Facebook page

Carolyn also has included clip art birds next to all the diagrams.  (See above)  These little black silhouettes show the direction your bird design should be facing to make best use of the stitch.  That's a great idea, Carolyn!  Speaking of diagrams, they are all black lines on a grid.  Some are numbered but many are not.  There are not any photographs of the actual stitches on a needlepoint canvas, but if you happen to have a Facebook account, you can see many of the stitches in photographs of Carolyn's students' work.  This adds immeasurably to the value of the book.  Publishing a book with color photographs of stitched examples would cost the earth, but anyone with a Facebook account can visit Carolyn's Needlepointing In Your Nest page and browse, looking for bird designs.

In a way, not having the stitches matched to a photo of a bird canvas emphasizes that this book isn't just for bird stitches.  Many of the stitches will work just as well on fish or dragon scales.  This book is great to browse but there is a lot of repetition.  There are roughly 80 stitches diagrammed in the section on small stitches.  (There are a lot more charts than that in this section since Carolyn diagrams the stitches slanting left and right or running vertically and then horizontally which is useful for those who have trouble changing stitch direction in their heads. But it made counting diagrams hard. ) Roughly 43 of those 80 stitches are ray or leaf stitch variations of some sort.   They certainly have a lot of variety but this makes the book less useful than a more general book like Carolyn's Needlepointing in Your Nest which doesn't concentrate on stitches for one type of design.

This is the sort of book that you browse looking for ideas.  And there are plenty of those hiding among the clip art.  Is it a great general stitch book?  Probably not as it really is geared toward a certain type of painted canvas.   But is it a great idea book?  Definitely.  It will spark your creativity.

I'm glad I have my copy to browse periodically.  It's going to give me some great ideas, I just know it!

UPDATE: Here's a bit more about the book from Needlenook of La Jolla to help you make up your mind if you want to invest in this.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright October 1, 2017 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

Needlepointing for Puerto Rico

We've all heard a bit about the massive infrastructure destruction in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma hit, causing extensive damage.  Now Orna Willis is doing something to help through a new design which is a fund raiser for a charity dedicated to helping.  You can read the details here.

Orna is going to kit out the design for those interested.  There are five color ways.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at
and at
© Copyright October 9, 2017 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.