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Book Review - The Needlepoint Book

It has finally arrived; the latest edition of what is widely considered to be the needlepoint "bible", The Needlepoint Book (3rd ed.) by Jo Ippolito Christensen.

I have not read this book cover-to-cover, and I probably never will. That's because it's not that sort of book. Think of The Needlepoint Book as an encyclopedia; a reference manual that you go to when you need information about something. Having said that, there are some chapters that you will want to read in full, and I'll mention these in a bit.

This edition is a hardcover which pushes the price up (the MSRP is $60 and we are selling it for $49.50.). However, I think the hardcover is well worth it because this book will be thumbed through for years. My 2nd edition fell apart a long time ago and is cobbled together with three varieties of duct tape. The 3rd edition is a well-bound book that opens flat for easy reading and should stick around for awhile. Also, with purchase of the book, you can download an iPhone or Android app. I haven't tried this, yet, but it could be useful, (especially for the Stitches section) to have this reference on a small device by your stitching chair.

What I Like About This Edition:

  • It's updated layout and new photos are accessible and easy to read. There are lots of color photographs of stitched projects, and I always find these helpful for getting stitch ideas.
  • There's a section on fibers and this includes many of the latest ones. It doesn't go into great detail or cover everything, but I suspect this is because of the fibers available on the market change so much from year to year, so if too much real estate was devoted to them, the book would date in a hurry.
  • I would buy the book for Chapter 7: Choosing Stitches, alone. This is the hardest thing to do when confronted with a new needlepoint canvas, and it is also the question we get asked more than any other - "What stitch would look good here?". Chapter 7 gives you some good groundwork and theories from which to approach this. It's a goldmine, right there.
  • There are more stitches in this edition and the illustrations are better. Also, the tools and materials section has been updated, so you can see what's current in the way of gadgets.
  • If you are into openwork, and I suspect the author of this book is into it in a big way, then there is a chapter devoted to it, and a lot of the illustrations have openwork stitches in them. Open stitches have become very popular, and they can be tricky to get your head around (I haven't), so Chapter 23 is a good hand-hold for dipping your toe into the open stitches arena.
  • There is a new chapter on ribbon stitches, also a popular area in recent years, with many new ribbon threads on the market. Chapter 22 nicely outlines stitches that are unique to ribbon stitching. This is a very relevant and well-timed addition to the book.
  • Lots of summaries, tables, and charts are included which is an effective way of presenting a lot of information.

What I Didn't Like About This Edition:

Not much, I have to say. I would like more color photos, but then it would be a $90 book, so I get why it is what it is. I think my biggest complaint would be the supporting notes to the stitches. These were thin in the second edition, and although they have been expanded upon in this 3rd edition, to my mind, more notes about each stitch: where to place them, things to watch out for etc, would have been useful. However, this edition is still an improvement in this area and I am probably just being "needy".

The Needlepoint Book (3rd ed.) by Jo Ippolito Christensen will teach you how to stitch the simplest of canvases, beautifully, if you are a beginner, and it will take your level of expertise at least one notch higher if you already have a wealth of needlepoint knowledge. This is truly a soup-to-nuts book that is well-executed and an essential stitcher's library addition. If only there was more time in a day...

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