Melitastitches4fun's Blog

Books in My Library – Father B’s 21st Century Book of Stitches and Sharon G’s Simply Essential Needlepoint Stitch Explanations (SENSE)

These two books are grouped together simply because the author’s name is identified in the title.

Father B’s 21st Century Book of Stitches is by The Reverend Robert E Blackburn, Jr. I have the Sixth Edition from 2000. He passed away in 2000 but I didn’t know that and thought I was meeting him at a class held by Orna Willis at her studio. It turned out to be a different Father B! An excellent stitcher, a fellow Duquesne alumni, and we still keep in touch. What are the odds of two Father B stitchers?

Back to the book. There are 353 stitches some of which Father B created himself. So, many are unique to this book and interesting. He had a needlepoint shop in the basement of his church with threads, canvases, and books. He published articles Needle Pointers, Needlepoint Today (I don’t know that one), and Needlepoint Now. He also designed – many published through Rainbow Gallery and some can still be found online at eBay or Etsy (google Father B needlepoint designs).

The organization of the book is a bit odd. There are chapters but the headings are difficult to find (all uppercase letters as are the stitch names in the same font size). They are as follows: The Outline Stitches-pg 1, The Gobelin Stitches-pg 12, The Slanted Gobelin-pg 47, The Brick Stitches-pg 88, The Hungarian Stitches-pg 115, The Scotch Stitches-pg 135, The Cross Stitches-pg 150, The Star Stitches-pg 203, The Eyelet Stitches-pg 208, Miscellaneous Stitches-pg 239 including what he calls Filler Stitches-pg 268 (mostly open background stitches), The Border Stitches-pg 300, Oriental Diaper Patterns-pg 331, and Miscellaneous Stitches II-pg 344.

Within each chapter, stitches are usually listed alphabetically and the Index at the end has all stitches listed alphabetically. But so many are names that I do not recognize that I have to go through them. I am hoping that by identifying the type of stitches in each chapter that will make it easier to find a stitch type. He talks about each stitch sometimes suggesting a thread type or how many colors to use. Most stitch paths are not numbered but he often discusses how to work the stitch.

I have not seen the new Father B book by Suzanne Howren but Janet Perry reviews it ( and it sounds good.

Sharon G’s Simply Essential Needlepoint Stitch Explanations  (SENSE) was published in 2010 and was intended to be the first in a series but I have not seen more. It is interesting that the organization is totally different from many stitch books. “SENSE” has 3 sections: Stitches with very low texture and minimal pattern, Stitches with medium texture and no diagonal flow, and Stitches with a well-defined diagonal flow.

Sharon G was a painter of needlepoint canvases and probably enjoyed and encouraged the use of lighter coverage so the artist’s paint could shine through. That’s actually one of the reasons why I haven’t done a lot of painted canvases. Why spend that much money for a beautiful canvas just to cover it completely with thread!?! So, I was happy that I had the opportunity to take a class with Sharon G for her canvas, 5 Vases with Curly Bamboo. She suggested some wonderful stitches and threads. I’m also happy that Linda and Beth stitched up the canvas a couple of years ago using other stitch guides. It was great to have the comradery of others stitching the same piece and see the variety of stitches in the 3 approaches. It was the subject of an article in Needle Pointers (Jan/Feb 2021) and all 3 were included during our virtual online exhibit ( This piece now has center stage in my living room.

Sharon G also has a small paragraph discussing the stitch. I do like non-directional background stitches and just learned that the T-Stitch was named after Tish Holland who was one of two original partners in Sundance Designs. Did you know that T stitch which is worked on the vertical or horizontal intersections will change the texture due to the weave? One will be heavier and one lighter. The vertical intersections are higher and will be a heavier texture and horizontal stitches lie lower and will be slightly less texture.

Both books are small 5.5″ x 8.5″ but Sharon’s only has 68 stitches. I created my own index when I read through the book once before by writing down what stitches were recommended for different types of areas. She has stitches for backgrounds, buildings, Christmas, clothes, faces, feathers, fish, fur, grass, moon, quilt, roof, sky, snow, street, sun, upholstery, and a wall.

8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Love your book reviews, so much so that I want to buy every one. However, my shelf space is limited, and I rarely have to find my own stitches for a project (relying on stitch guides for most projects). Thank you for your reviews. I like the fact that I can access your other book reviews by clicking on Books In My Library tag. Kudos!

Comment by brendasneedlepointstudioblog

Yeah, I am like a kid in a candy store with books. I want everything! But, sadly, space is limited. Glad the Tag works Brenda.

Comment by melitastitches4fun

My favorite background stitch comes from Father B’s. I don’t follow his stitch numbering and get a great texture/pattern with light coverage. I love this book and sold it in Scarlet Thread.

Comment by Remedial Stitcher

Which stitch? And, what is Scarlet Thread?

Comment by melitastitches4fun

It’s The Background Stitch, on page 270. I have the same edition that you have. Instead of working it on the diagonal, I work it in columns, making sure the thread wraps properly. I used this in something either in Needle Pointers or for PANG. If you’d like a diagram of my method, I’d be happy to send you the diagram, which I know I have on my laptop somewhere.

Comment by Remedial Stitcher

Scarlet Thread was the needlework supplies shop I owned as a brick-and-mortar shop from roughly 2005 or 2006 till halfway through 2009. It was then reincarnated in 2010 or 2011 online and closed for good in 2013 maybe.

Comment by Remedial Stitcher

Sure. I would love to see it. Oh. Learned something new about you being a store owner! Very cool.

Comment by melitastitches4fun

Okay, I’ll find it and email it to you. If I can figure out whether it was in Needle Pointers and what issue, I’ll also give you that info.

Comment by Remedial Stitcher

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: