Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Mary's Whimsical Stitches: A Review

Mary's Whimsical Stitch, by Mary Legallet

Recently I was gifted Mary Legallet's brand new book, Mary's Whimsical Stitches, Volume 1.   As you can see from the above photo, it's a rather small but heavy book, spiral bound, with a plastic cover and back for durability.  Inside it is 287 pages, with three of them a short introduction, plus two stitch indexes.  More on the indexes in a bit.

Each page has one stitch diagram, so you have a lot of stitches in this book.  It's fat!  It's probably 3/4 of an inch thick.  It's small enough to put in your suitcase or tote bag if you travel much but it is heavy.

Sneak Peak inside Mary's Whimsical Stitches

Here is a peek inside the book.   As you can see, the diagrams are in colors and are numbered to help you follow the path to create each stitch unit.  That's actually my biggest quibble with the book.  I'm not sure the diagrams (mostly in black, gray, goldenrod and teal blue) are always legible if you have eye problems.  However, Mary's made a real effort to make them clear and the colors are more restrained than in the original diagrams Mary created for her blog.

Many folks have seen Mary's weekly online stitch diagram series.  If you haven't, here's a link—

I know some folks are thinking why should they buy Mary's book when they can just look at her stitches online? The reason is that browsing her blog, although fun, isn't easy when you are looking for something specific.  The book has those indexes I mentioned.  They help you find a stitch for something quite easily.  The Stitches by Chapter Index lists all the stitches by chapter.  Since Mary organizes her stitches by Essential Stitches, Balanced Stitches, Border Stitches, Diagonal Stitches, Layered Stitches, Oblique Stitches, Small Stitches and Straight Stitches, if you are looking for stitches for a border, the index helps you locate anything that might work quickly.

The Decorative Stitch Index lists all the stitches in alphabetical order but it is in chart form.  The chart lists stitches by page number and by chapter,  but also by the sort of usage that Mary thinks the stitch is good for.  The usages are:  Animals (except for birds), Backgrounds, Beards, Birds, Clothing (Large), Clothing (Small), Floors, Flowers, Glass, Leaves, Roof, Sky, Snow, Tabletops, Trees, Walls and Water.  As you can see, that's most of what you will find on a painted canvas unless it's an abstract design.  So you can just flip to the back and look up Glass and find 38 different stitches that Mary uses for windows, drinks glasses, etc.  I think these indexes are really useful.

Another Peek, This Time at a Page with a Link

Another reason to buy the book instead of just browsing Mary's Instagram page or her blog is that there are a lot more stitches in the book than she's posted online.  However, probably half of the pages have a URL listed under the diagram.  These are stitches Mary has posted online. If you type the URL into a browser window, you'll see the diagram stitched.  Here's the URL for the diagram above.

This is invaluable for those who want to see a stitch sample in color.   Most books cannot provide this because it raises the price of printing to more than stitchers will pay, but Mary's found an ingenious way around it.  Typing the Tiny URL is a pain, but it does help you figure out if this is a look that will work for your canvas if you have trouble visualizing stitches from a diagram.

I do have another caveat for those who might be considering buying this book.  Mary likes open stitches.  If you object to canvases not being totally covered with thread, this book is not going to be as useful to you as to someone who likes having a bit of the original painted shading showing.  You can make most stitches more or less full coverage by adjusting the thickness of the thread but there is a limit as to how much coverage you can achieve with many of these stitches.

But if you like the idea of stitches organized by effect with clear diagrams that have a bit of color, and if you want to be able to look at colored photos of the stitches in action at least some of the time, this is a very useful book!  Mary doesn't sell directly but any shop can get a copy for you.  Just ask your favorite store for assistance.  If you don't have a favorite store, this is the first one that came up in a search for me.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright March 29, 2020 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.