Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Book Review: A-Z of Embroidery Stitches 2

In my previous post, My Michigan Find, I talked about my discovery of the Australian "A-Z" series of embroidery instruction books.  I immediately investigated how I could get my hands on other titles in the series.  I decided to focus on the out-of-print titles first.  The current titles can be purchased at the Country Bumpkin online store, though shipping to the US would probably double the price of each book.

I try to use caution when buying books or supplies from an unfamiliar website, because I've been burned on this in the past. When I ordered an item from the one online store I've found that carries the Jewish embroidery patterns my great-aunt used to use, they never sent a confirmation e-mail.  I asked them about my order, and they called back saying they were sending it to me in a couple of days.  Then they cancelled my order and credit card charges with no explanation, even after I sent them a second e-mail asking for one.  At least I wasn't charged for something I never received, but I am still annoyed.

For the books, the first online store I turned to was Purl Soho, a craft store that sells supplies for knitting, sewing, and needlework.  They have a storefront in New York City, where Rebecca Ringquist often teaches embroidery workshops.  They also run an online store with a distribution center in Los Angeles.

Feeling sufficiently confident in their trustworthiness, I first ordered "A-Z of Whitework."  Whitework describes any embroidery technique that traditionally uses white thread on white fabric.  My order went through, but the next day I received an e-mail saying that the online inventory had not been updated and they were out of that title.  I asked for a different title that was in stock, and got "A-Z of Embroidery Stitches 2" instead.  Thankfully, they handled the matter swiftly, so I would be willing to buy supplies from them again.
It says it is the 17th book in the series, but with so many out-of-print and reprinted titles I don't think numbers mean much.
The book begins with a description of necessary supplies.  While all embroidery books include this information, "A-Z" goes into details that I have not seen elsewhere, such as the properties of threads with s-twists vs. z-twists.  They also have a helpful, full-size picture of different types of embroidery needles of different sizes.
A handy guide to needles
From there, they list the stitches in A-Z order by name.  Each stitch includes full-color photographs of each step, and many of them include photographs of the stitch used in a final product.  As the sequel to the first A-Z of Embroidery Stitches book, the stitches here go beyond the basics.  They include variations on basic stitches, edgings, beadwork, and even ways to incorporate metal wire and rings.  I would have never thought of these variations on my own and thought the selection was very inspiring.
Using Double Pekinese Stitch to make a frame.

Embroidery--now with friendship bracelets!
The book also includes some stitches that are more appropriate to canvas work, like needlepoint.  The commitment to the "A-Z" format means that these stitches are mixed in with the stitches for surface embroidery.  I do not do canvas work.  While there is nothing to stop me from incorporating most of these stitches in surface embroidery, I prefer the format that other embroidery stitch guides use of separating the canvas work stitches in a separate section.

That is pretty much the only qualm I have with this book.  With thorough instructions and a variety of stitches to choose from, I know that I will be using this book to help me embellish future projects.


  1. I've never done any embroidery, and admire all those that do! (Cross stitch is my only needlework.) I look forward to seeing what you embellish using this book!

  2. Thanks! I look forward to showing pictures of my work. I do want to catch up on the Frosted Pumpkin samplers once I am done with my State Fair project.

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