Book Review:
Stitch-opedia by Helen Winthorpe Kendrick

Sharon Boggon © 2010

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Title:  Stitch-opedia: The Only Embroidery Reference You'll Ever Need
Author:  Helen Winthorpe Kendrick
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin, May 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-61159-0, ISBN10: 0-312-61159-5,
8-3/4 x 8-3/4 inches, 256 pages, Includes over 500 color illustrations throughout,

Stitch-opedia by Helen Winthorpe Kendrick is a 224 page book that provides general information across all types of embroidery.

Since the book displays the subtitle, “the only embroidery reference you will ever need,” I opened it with more than a critical eye. Embroidery is a rich, complex and deep subject, and even after a life time of reading and research I still manage to delight in it. My love of embroidery has always managed to stay fresh because there is always something interesting to learn. In other words, in my opinion, it would be very difficult to live up to this subtitle. So I was more than a little critical of the claim.

That said, the book does introduce different types of embroidery such as Stumpwork (12 pages of the book) Blackwork (12 pages of the book) Canvas work (22 pages) Crewel work (12 pages ) Freestyle embroidery (18 pages) Hardanger (12 pages) and Pulled Work (12 pages). These sections include an introduction to each type of embroidery and the stitches associated with each style. As you can see, reducing a entire tradition in stitching to 12 pages is problematic: possibly it is not “the only embroidery reference you will ever need”. What is provided however, is a good introduction written with a modern approach and illustrated with a contemporary eye.

More than half the book holds projects that are in these embroidery styles. Most of the projects look to be well illustrated, small and quick to work, meaning they are ideal for anyone wanting to try a technique.

Throughout the book stitch instructions are drawn, but the diagrams are clear, and the associated text describes the stitching process well.

All aspects of the process of producing an embroidered piece are covered. After covering materials and equipment required to start embroidery, a few basic techniques are covered. These include important basics such as finding the centre of fabric, starting and ending threads. There is a small but useful section on design and a section on mounting, framing and finishing.

The book is spiral bound, which means it opens and stays flat; a very good selling point for any book that is likely to be balanced, often precariously on the edge of chairs, coffee tables, laps, etc. as you try to work a stitch from the directions.

I am sure younger stitchers will be attracted to this book, as I sense it is pitched at that demographic. However, I am sure most embroiderers will find something to attract their attention in the book.

I think it would make a nice gift for someone in their 20’s or 30’s, who was just starting to build a library; it is a concise introductory reference to many embroidery styles. However, anyone who is an experienced stitcher would perhaps find other books on which to spend their money.

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