Sunday, May 21, 2023

Master Stitches From the Squad Volume 1: A Review

Last month I was gifted a copy of Master Stitches from the Squad Volume 1, written by long time needlepoint teachers Suzanne Howren, Tony Minieri and Meredith Willett.  Since Volume Two in this series just came out in late April, I thought I'd do a review of the first book to help you decide if you want to invest in either the first or the second (or both).  The cover of this book is shown on the left side.

The book is spiral bound with plastic coated covers to help protect it from use.   There is a seven page Table of Contents to help you find the sort of stitch you want.  There is also a short index in the back to direct you to the main sections.  It'll help you find composite stitches, darning patterns, diagonal stitches, Jean Hilton stitches, etc. 

The book is mostly stitch diagrams (I counted 266, although some are variants of a stitch and others are mirror images, plus I didn't count the pin stitch, beading and blackwork diagrams.   The first section talks about using the various types of pin head stitches to start or end a thread and the second section covers beading and there are a few diagrams about blackwork patterns.  The authors are all very experienced teachers and I think the fact they included this basic information indicates that they often run into stitchers who need to know these things.  

I took a photograph of two pages in the book so you could get a feel for the diagrams.  Usually there are multiple diagrams on each page but some of the larger stitches are just one to a page.  All are in black and white and gray.  There are no stitched examples.  Some of the stitches you will have seen before but most are the creations of the three authors.  Most (but not all) diagrams have a portion of the diagram numbered so you can see the order in which a stitch is worked.  Not all the diagrams are easy to read or comprehend.  It is actually the perfect book to stitch a sampler from.  That's the only way you'll understand how a stitch works and how it will look when it comes to many of these complex stitches.

Ridgewood Needlepoint's Stephanie Dresher-Mandelbaum used Jaipur Stitch (included in my photo of the diagrams above) for a heart canvas.  You can see her stitched sample here in two articles about half way down the page.  Look for the pink heart photos.  Stephanie has also re-diagrammed Jaipur Stitch.

This is not a book for beginners but it repays careful study and test stitching.

I expect Volume 2 will be much the same.  

According to the back of Volume 1, the second volume covers Isolated Motifs, Knots, Laid Fillings, Line Stitches, Oblique Stitches, Open Patterns, Plaided Stitches such as Fern Stitches and Van Dyke Stitches, Pulled Work Patterns, Ray Stitches, Ribbon Stitches, Straight Stitches such as Brick Stitches and Hungarian Stitches, Tied Stitches, Trame, and Trellis Patterns.  

Many shops will have both volumes by now.  The first shop I found with both is Bedecked and Beadazzled.

Needlenook of LaJolla appears to have both volumes as well.  Your favorite shop may also have them in stock--check there first.

I highly recommend these to the advanced stitcher who is willing to spend time puzzling out some of the more complicated and exotic stitches it covers.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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