Melitastitches4fun's Blog


Books in My Library – Light ‘n Lacy, Stimulating Stitches, Needlepoint Stitches, and Borderlines by Jean Hilton

The books by Jean Hilton are presented in order of publication.

Jean experiments with stitches in Needlepoint Stitches (1988) right from the start with the same size Jessica but by shifting just the 1-2 stitch, she creates a small medium and large opening. Mind blowing and that’s just page 2! She explores the Amadeus stitch patterns, Jessicas, Walneto, Elongated Smyrnas, Rhodes, Sprats Heads, Waffles, and a bunch of miscellaneous ones (Bowtie, Mistake stitch, Mistake pinwheel, Helen’s Lace, Hesitation stitch, Hungarian Hearts, wrapped coils, cross and tuck, double tied, Ashland stitch, offset Scotch, tied Mosaic variation, a huge star and superimposed waffle, diagonal weaving, short Mosaic, and spatula). Her wrapped sheaf fit well in my Lady Sybil design. It’ll look better when I stitch it correctly too. I stitched it last night incorrectly, just ripped it out, and will get it correct tonight! That’s why I was writing this post – to find that error.

After using Stimulating Stitches (1992) for years, I just saw the Table of Contents divides the stitches into “motifs where all stitches go over previous ones” and “motifs where the stitches slide under” in all uppercase letters. In just three years, Jean “discovered” variations of stitches discussed in Needlepoint Stitches and revisits Jessicas, wrapped sheaf, Amadeus, and Waffles. Jean gets into crescents, exotic crescents, Fleur-De-Lis crescents, Sprats Heads, Plaited Rays, and Double Fans. I was able to learn how to make them fit the space I had in my Lady Sybil design.

In Borderlines (1994), Jean teaches you how turn a corner. There are borders within borders, narrow borders, dividing borders, straight borders, curving borders, heart borders, diagonal borders, and miscellaneous borders. Her imagination and ability to create these combinations is astounding. And, she describes how she developed them. There is a pattern of squares with 9 empty canvas threads and another with octagons and squares both of which looks like they would be fun to play with. One of her special corner treatments worked out perfectly for my Lady Sybil design although I nested 3 Jessicas. Speaking of Lady Sybil, that piece had something wrong with it and I ripped out a section and is now waiting for me to decide what to try next.

Jean Hilton’s Light ‘n Lacy is a booklet of 30 “Delicate Designs”, name tag designs, and an alphabet consisting of what else other than Smyrnas and Jessicas. This is from 1995 and I only recognize 2 of the 44 contributing stitchers. Reading this Introduction as with her other books is like having Jean sitting nearby talking right to you. These are not complicated designs using cross stitches, Smyrnas, crescents, eyelets, and Rhodes stitches. I got this more to see how she developed designs.



Books by ANG Chapters

There are two spiral bound booklets created by ANG chapters that I am aware of. It’s quite an undertaking involving many people and kudos to both groups.

A Background Stitch Reference Book by the Golden Gate Canvas Workers Chapter is the older of the two booklets and as far as I know is out of print and no longer available. Stitches are placed into 7 sections including straight, slanted, cross, eyelet, woven/tied, specialty, and exposed canvas techniques. They do not cite where stitch patterns were sourced nor is there a bibliography. Some are described as “special stitch variations and patterns developed by some chapter members” but many can be found in other books such as Pavillion, Criss Cross Hungarian, and others. However, be sure to read the added comments. For the Criss Cross Hungarian, “When using a colored canvas, an interesting contrast develops by not using the Cross stitches.” I’ve used beads before but never thought about not adding anything. There are 2 Trame with Blackwork patterns that look very interesting. When I think of backgrounds, I usually gravitate towards non-directional and small uncomplicated patterns so they don’t distract. But, I can see trying a few of these larger patterns especially worked in the same colored threads which would add texture and interest.

The Lone Star Chapter released the Grab -n- Go Stitches at the ANG Seminar in 2019 and it is available through Houston Needlepoint stores which are listed at lonestarang.com. Members shared their favorite stitches which are also placed into 7 sections including “Stitches that Read Straight”, “Stitches that Read Diagonal”, “Stitches that Read Oblique”, Leaf stitches, Laid Fillings, Blackwork, Darning patterns, and Lagniappe (which means bonus or extra). Patterns are not named or numbered. There are many composite stitches with interesting patterns I’ve not seen before. The 92-page booklet is 5″ x 8.5″ but most pages have 6 patterns on each side. So, there are around 500 patterns including the Lagniappe diagrams. So, it is one jam-packed booklet and only $30.

A stitch book would be a great fund raiser for a chapter but a lot of work!



Books in My Library – Canvas Applique, Diaper Patterns, and Potpoutti of Pattern Encore by Ann Strite-Kurz

Ruby Razzle Dazzle captured my attention and introduced me to Ann Strite-Kurz’s designs. It is a collection of a variety of techniques which looks exceedingly complicated but lovely! I did get the booklet of instructions recently and will get to it. But, it is not a needlepoint book.

The first book in my collection of books by Ann is Diaper Patterns. I needed it in order to create a diaper pattern for Step 3 of the EGA Master Craftsman program. Ann’s inscription to me reads, “Welcome to my world of Diaper Patterns”. What a comprehensive booklet with 131 pages and a CD with about 500 images! The diversity of the outstanding examples are due to many contributors who provided finished pieces and stitch samples. Many of the people I have had a pleasure to meet over the years or take classes from. It’s such fun to read about a piece that I admire even if I haven’t stitched it. Linda from ANG Main Line Stitchers completed Dorothy Lesher’s The Snowbird beautifully and Ann describes and diagrams (with Dorothy’s permission) one of the white and blue patterns which is a diapered variation of the Old Florentine stitch. Ann explains that the white pattern on her dress could be a diaper pattern if the short outline stitches were executed in a contrasting color. With the images Ann provides, this provides hours of entertainment and education. Ann describes a diaper pattern succinctly as “visual diagonals in both directions” and then goes on to describe differences between groundings, stripes, and diapers. Ann describes 8 basic diaper pattern networks which I incorporated into my EGA Master Craftsman piece. I had to use at least 4 patterns and used them all. Or, I thought I had until I sent the image to Ann. Apparently, the center pattern is actually overlapping circles rather than ogees. However, keep your eyes open for a Stitch Refinement Zoom lecture by Ann that she’s working on. My pastel design may be used to illustrate how to use intensity to keep the colors separated.

The Canvas Applique booklet provides step-by-step instructions for mounting regular and irregular shapes of canvas to canvas, reverse applique, kid and ultrasuede applique, gauze applique, stone and mirror settings, and Cretan pockets. There are also a good number of illustrations using her stitched pieces. I have my two small irregular-shaped stitched pieces ready to remove from the bars to mount to my canvas for Step 5 of the EGA Master Craftsman program. I am worried about the mounting process. However, I should take the plunge and start! For those with knowledge of the process, that was an intended pun. For those unfamiliar, you pull all the canvas threads out up to the stitched portion and then weave some to the back of the small piece but most canvas threads get plunged through to the back of the main canvas and woven to the back of the main canvas. My main issue is that the appliques I designed are larger than the minimum one inch square and that is going to be a lot of canvas threads to weave or plunge and weave. But, I’ve read the mounting process several times now and have got to bite the bullet and do it!

The third book I have is Potpourri of Pattern Encore which is a collection of previously unpublished patterns for canvas and counted thread use (129 pages). The Introduction and Techniques chapter includes basics and lots of color photos of various pieces to be discussed in the subsequent chapters with more details about background patterns, border patterns, laid fillings, composite patterns, and diaper patterns. The last chapter analyzes a dozen different stitched color combinations of the same design. Fascinating. Another good book to take a deep dive into.



Books in My Library – Stitches For Effect and Stitches To Go by Suzanne Howren and Beth Robertson

Except for The Needlepoint Book which was discussed previously, I’ve probably mentioned these books by Suzanne Howren and Beth Robertson more than others.

Stitches For Effect has 4 indexes including a thread index (some are probably not available now), a stitch index (in alphabetical order), an effect index (such as trees, roads, sky, etc), and a general index. Can’t say I ever used the thread index but I skimmed through it to write this review looking at just threads I use most. Occasionally, an equivalent weight to a pearl cotton is stated and that can be very helpful to save time practice stitching with a thread. I discovered that if you use 6 plies of stranded cotton, then you could use 3 strands of Floche (2:1 ratio). I have not tried combining Kreinik #8 Braid with 3 strands of a coordinating stranded cotton for a subtle shimmering effect which sounds like a good idea (stranded silk would probably work too). I will have to look more carefully next time I use Impressions because it is a 50/50 woll/silk blend and the two fibers reflect light differently creating depth. There are conversion charts to indicate a suggested number of strands/plys for use on canvases/fabric of different sizes including: 13/14, 18, 22/24, and 28. The diagrams are next to a paragraph discussing what ground, threads, and effects are good for that stitch diagram. Very interesting to read and they are excellent diagrams.

I never bought More Stitches for Effect and Even More Stitches for Effect although getting the indexes would probably be useful. Do you have and like either of these books? I’d be curious to know.

The second one of theirs I did get was Stitches To Go which contains every stitch in the three books I mentioned above. Although it doesn’t have any of the indexes, it is always by my side!



Books in My Library – The Needlepoint Book, Second and Third Edition

I’ve probably mentioned this book more than most others. Everyone has there “Go To” books. This is always within reach.

The Second Edition remains my preferred edition mainly because it is lighter to hold and most importantly I have added notes next to the diagrams that I want to keep. Part 1 covers basic information, procedures, and stitching techniques. She offers suggestions for left-handed stitchers since most diagrams are written for right-handed stitchers (turn the diagram upside down). Part 2 covers design and color. These topics are books in and of themselves but Jo covers key points clearly. Part 3 covers putting everything together such as my favorite tip (on page 108 – Mixing Stitches) to stitch diagonal stitches before straight stitches when they share holes. Part 4 offers stitch diagrams and stitched samples (all in black and white). The stitches are divided into chapters: straight, diagonal, box, cross, tied, eye, leaf, line, decorative, and open. At the beginning of each chapter, a grid is presented to show characteristics of each stitch such as would it be good for a background stitch, accent stitch, shading, would it snag or not, does it have texture, does it create a weak, medium, or strong pattern, and more.

The Third Edition does have the same great information including how to mix stitches on page 148 and four new chapters, and 225 new illustrations including 62 new stitches. Since some images are not as good as in the Second Edition, 75 of the stitches were restitched and rephotographed to replace the less-than desirable photos. The main difference is more information covering color and design issues under the chapter title Interpreting the Painted Canvas although much of it really applies to those principles in general not just for painted canvases. Parts 1 – 3 covered 132 pages in the Second Edition and now covers 202 pages of information. Part 4 reorganized a few diagrams, added new ones, and offers the same great charts at the beginning of each chapter.



Books in My Library – A Needlepoint Christmas with Ruth Dilts and Sandra Arthur

Books are always appreciated! And, I’m sure I’ll enjoy these.

In May 2012, I donated quite a few books in an effort to make room available for what turns out to be more books (https://melitastitches4fun.com/2012/05/20/books-no-longer-in-my-library/). I still have (probably) more books than I need or use. Then in August 2012, I started a post of “Books I Am Keeping” but never completed that draft. That was almost 10 years ago! Well, I think I’d like to resurrect that idea and discuss books I do own. So, this is my first post to begin a series of book reviews.

Needlepoint 202 A Guide to 12 Different Techniques with Illustrations for Embellishment of the Painted Canvas by Ruth Dilts intrigued me because my ANG Main Line Stitchers chapter has been discussing how to stitch painted canvases. I’ve not read every page but I found the discussions of thread painting and tufted couching particularly interesting. The book (from 2007) provides stitch guides for 12 painted canvases of which I easily found 4 are still available (online google search) including: Baby Carriage by Cooper Oaks, Moose in the Birches (Oval) by Kathy Schenkel, Slavic Doll by Shelly Tribbey, and Grape House Gingerbread House by Susan Roberts. The stitch selections for all the canvases are still interesting to read. I liked the thread blending for the shading of the Water Maiden by Terry Medaris (Sundance Designs). That canvas doesn’t appear to be available but the shading on the painted canvas is seen quite often and is similar to that seen in Madonna #2 by Terry Medaris (Sundance Designs). There are 42 stitch diagrams in addition to the technique diagrams. And, Ruth discusses aspects of 32 threads used in the models. I didn’t know that the twist of Splendor is tighter than most silks making it easier to use and unlikely to snag on your fingers/hands (unless they are really rough). I haven’t read too many stitch guides for painted canvases but what I have read are presented in a table with columns for Area, Thread, and Stitches. Ruth writes conversationally rather than in a table format which I found made for more of an enjoyable read.

Shapes of Needlepoint Diamonds, Hearts, Octagons, and Stars – Series II completes my collection of Sandra Arthur’s series of 4 books covering all different shapes. I love that Sandy indexed them by shape and by thread count. However, they can be adjusted to fit the space you have available. The diagrams are large and easy to read. Google duodesignsinc and look for the tab for books and you’ll see details of each 100-page book and examples of the diagrams. Past Christmases brought the others in Sandy’s Shapes of Needlepoint. So, I might as well include them in this post as well. They are: Circles, Squares, Triangles, Rectangles – Series I; Corners, Hexagrams, Ovals, Parallelograms – Series III; and Diagonals, Horizontals, Verticals – Series IV.

While waiting for my husband to golf at Shipyard on Hilton Head last month, I pulled up a chair to the book table at Needlepoint Junction (basically just across the street in a mall) and found Tisket, Tasket, Lots and Lots of Baskets by Sandra Arthur. I have an idea about baskets that I’d like to pursue at some point. Sandy really captures the art of basketry. I hadn’t see this book on her website or in her Etsy shop. So, this was a must have!