The Stitch Bible: a comprehensive guide to 225 embroidery stitches and techniques.

Haxell, Kate and Becky Hogg

 Newton Abbot, David & Charles, 2012  ISBN: 13 978 1 4463 0166 1 

I find people’s stitch journeys can be interesting. Kate outlines hers in the introduction to this book, including her discovery of the Royal School of Needlework and how being a student there has increased and shaped her enjoyment of  many things stitchy. She has written approachable books on a variety of hand crafts. When planning this book, she approached one of her RSN tutors, Becky Hogg, to help. Becky did the embroidery featured in the book and Kate sewed them into the featured projects. 

So has this collaboration worked? 

I like the layout and design of this book. It is divided into eight chapters; freestyle, Hardanger, blackwork, crewelwork, goldwork, pulled thread, canvaswork and drawn thread.  These are preceded by a comprehensive section, Getting started, which covers materials and equipment needed as well as a few very basic stitches. Each chapter has two projects – one using easier stitches, the other more (but not too) challenging. I have a feeling I have seen someone at guild with the Bird Book Bag featured in the blackwork chapter.  

There are lovely coloured photos of the completed projects in each section and clear diagrams to illustrate how to execute each of the featured stitches. The diagrams are accompanied with helpful, carefully worded notes.

After giving a book a good review recently, I was disconcerted to find I really struggled to do the stitches. I gave up. Lesson learned. This time I resurrected my two doodle cloths – one for counted work, the other for everything else. I chose two stitches which I am unfamiliar with, from two sections, to see how well this stitch dictionary works. It delivered well! The only thing I would have liked was an illustration of each stitch when it had been completed in a sample. Otherwise, I found the dictionary clear with instructions easy to follow, even managing to do a (wee) line of Spanish knotted feather stitch which had thus far beaten me.

The author wrote this dictionary because she could not find an up to date one. She obviously missed the wonderful Country Bumpkin books. My personal ‘go to’ stitch dictionary will still be Margie Bauer’s ‘The Embroiderer’s Handbook’, (resurrected as one of the A-Z Country Bumpkin series and maybe about to be resurrected again by Search Press) but this one will be a close second.

P.S. Watch out. Don’t be mislead by ‘new’ titles by Search Press. They seem to be re publishing the Country Bumpkin A-Z series under their imprint. My advice – check before you buy.

Erica Marsden