At Mr X Stitch we love to review textile art and embroidery books for you. There are so many great books to discover, packed with needlework inspiration and textile techniques, so we dive into each book to find out what’s good, what’s bad and let you know why you should pick it up. Here’s what we think in a nutshell.
I’ve been doing cross stitch for about 20 odd years. A few years ago I saw a little blackwork kit in a shop and it really intrigued me, so I found patterns online and gave it a go, and now I’m an addict. If you’ve read my Craft Rocks columns you will know I love geometric shapes. I think that’s what appeals to me, it’s all about nice clean lines. And how I wish I had found this book when I was starting off.
Who Is This Book Aimed At?
As the name suggests, this book is aimed at people beginning blackwork. It not only gets you started off, but helps you move forward to designing your own patterns too.
About The Artist
As the book cover explains, Lesley got into blackwork at an early age after seeing some blackwork on a school trip. Her passion for the craft is so big that she not only loves to design and sew, she is also an expert in the history of the art of blackwork.
The book has the usual high standard of content we have come to expect from Search Press. I know when I buy one of their books to learn a new skill I won’t be disappointed. It begins with some insight into the history of blackwork, including a mention of what appears to be blackwork in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. From there it introduces the new stitcher to materials and equipment you will need on your new journey, explains designs and how to use charts and gives you enough information to design your own projects if you dare. There is even a great section discussing how to mount your work which is really useful.
Great photos. Really sharp pictures of finished designs which I find is not always the case with books which feature photos of stitched projects. The section on how to mount your work has a great series of explanatory pictures and text, as does the section which shows you the equipment you will need, and how to stitch. One of those books where the photos explain so much you foolishly feel like you don’t actually need to read the words beside them.
What Makes The Book Special?
I found this book like going to a brilliant course with a teacher you really admire. You know, one of the ones you forever send photos of your projects to because they were so encouraging when they taught you a great new skill? I love the fact that Lesley talks you through the basics, the how tos, and gives you tips like how to look for pattern inspiration in all walks of life. I am forever looking at windows, crazy paving and manhole covers and thinking how geometric and lovely they would be stitched. Now I feel I can follow that idea through. Lesley is very generous with her knowledge.
Anything Wrong With The Book?
Hmm. This is a difficult question on this book as it does what you want it to do from cover to cover. I guess I would have liked to see more of Lesley’s finished projects – but then that’s a whole new book!
If you have ever thought of taking up blackwork , this is the book for you. And don’t be afraid to give it a try, even if you really hate the outlining bit of all of your cross stitch projects. There’s much more joy to blackwork than when you outline cross stitch pictures. And it doesn’t have to be done in black thread either. There are some fabulous colourful patterns around. I find it really therapeutic to do, sometimes a new area with a tricky pattern in it can be hard to get your head round, but when you do you feel on top of the world!