Thursday, February 14, 2019

iStitches, Volume Five: A Review

Santa brought me a copy of Ruth Schmuff's latest book, iStitches Volume Five, for Christmas and I've been dipping into it when I have time.  Ruth has five other books, iStitches Volumes 1-4 and Backgrounds Volume 1.   I own them all in one format or another and use them frequently.  They are all available from Bedecked and Beadazzled.

Note the varying formats.  The three earliest books are available on CDs or as hard copy spiral bound books.  All of the iStitches series are available in two book formats:  travel size (5 1/2 x 8 1/2) or regular (8 1/2 x 11).  You can also buy a digital version of all the iStitches series in both iOS and Android flavors except for iStitches 5 which won't be available until the spring as a digital download.   All are packed with stitch diagrams.

I own iStitches 5 in the travel size.  This is the first time I've seen the travel size format in person. It's really handy for those who are on the road a lot.  You can pop the book in your tote bag, suitcase, glovebox or purse.   Like the other books, it is spiral bound with a heavy plastic front and back cover for protection.  The book is 307 pages long, which includes the Table of Contents and a three page index.  The book is divided into stitch types to make finding what you need easier:  Diagonal Stitches, Straight Stitches, Crossed and Tied Stitches, Eye Stitches, Darning Patterns, Laid Fillings, Blackwork Patterns and Decorative Stitches.

Interior of iStitches 5, Page chosen at Random

There is one stitch diagrammed per page but some stitches are complex enough that there might be as many as three diagrams on one page so you can easily follow the various steps.  All the diagrams are in black and white and gray.  Most are numbered so you can follow the stitch path easily.  As far as I can tell, none of the stitches in iStitches 5 are in Ruth's other books.  There are a lot of variations on a stitch presented, which comes in handy when you want to unify a design by using several similar stitches in various places.

Some stitches are repeated in chapters if they can be classified many ways.  One is in four different chapters!  Quite a few occur twice.  But you still have a reference book of nearly 300 stitches to choose from.  Ruth is a master of light coverage stitching, and many of the blackwork and darning stitch patterns are perfect for this type of stitching.  However, you can easily basketweave an area, then put a darning or blackwork pattern on top if you are careful to use less thread than usual for the bottom layer and use a sharp needle for the top layer to easy the stitches through.  You can also fill in open stitch areas with brick stitch or tent stitches to create a denser look.   In other words, this book is useful for those who prefer full coverage if you exercise a little ingenuity when it comes to the more open stitches.

The only drawback I see for the book is that the travel size index is hard to read without my reading glasses and the numbers in the diagrams are pretty tiny, too.  If you have vision problems, the regular size of iStitches Vol. 5 is probably a better bet.  The diagrams are perfectly clear in the travel size, though.

This is a book I highly recommend and I know I'll use it as frequently as I use Ruth's other books quite a lot, especially the digital versions which I find very easy to flip through looking for ideas.

For more information, check Sheena's blog to read her take on iStitches 5.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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