First Time Embroidery and Cross-Stitch; the Absolute Beginner’s Guide

Book Review: First time embroidery and cross-stitch; the absolute beginner’s guide
Author Linda Wyszynski
Beverly, Massachusetts, Quarry Books, 2019
ISBN: 978 1 63159 797 8
128 pages

Touch typing is not a skill I have ever learned. The name of the author of this book was quite a challenge for me. It is correct – I have checked it many times! Her credentials are quite impressive too. On the cover of the book are the words ‘learn by doing…step by step basics + projects.’ Does the book live up to its goals? Is it a good guide for an absolute beginner? More importantly, perhaps, will it inspire an absolute beginner to give embroidery a go?

In the introduction, Linda encourages stitchers to try to keep stitches uniform but emphasises that even more important is being relaxed and having fun. Although she suggests fabrics and threads to use throughout, she also encourages the new stitcher to be adventurous and use what will give them pleasure. Linda then exhorts the reader to go shopping. Several pages are  devoted to ‘stitching equipment and supplies’ which new embroiderers may need. It seems a comprehensive and well thought out list. Under needles, for instance, the various types of needles are listed, along with a description and what each kind is best used for. Each needle type is accompanied with a photo and examples of the sizes available. Each equipment type is accompanied with a handy hint, e.g., under hoops and frames, the hint is to slip work into a pillowcase to keep it clean when not stitching. These hints appear throughout the book and are really useful and practical.

How does a new embroiderer know how to read charts, diagrams, patterns? Transferring patterns and stabilising fabric is also explained clearly. There are descriptions of threads and practical ideas for dealing with each type, including various ways to begin and end them when stitching. There is a knot technique new to me which I shall be trying. There are even hints on removing stitches. It’s great to see that included, as we all have to from time to time!

The next three sections are on creative (surface) embroidery, crewel work and cross-stitch. Each section has a stitch dictionary. Each stitch has a written method plus lovely, clear, close up photos. They look comprehensive but I am aware I have several years’ experience and it is really hard to ‘see’ them as a new stitcher would. I would love to have a tyro here to test them out on. After each dictionary, there are two projects for the beginning embroiderer to try out. I think more stitches could have been included in the crewel section but the basics are certainly well covered. I also think it a bit of a shame that more counted thread techniques were not discussed a bit but then, this is a book for beginners. I feel the projects would appeal to young people but there’s not a lot to encourage the male of the species, which is a shame.

I do think this would be a good book to encourage a young embroiderer, particularly someone who has had a go at it and is showing enthusiasm to learn more. The copy I reviewed comes from Auckland Public Libraries. Book Depository has it for $28.00.

Erica Marsden