I love needlework and embroidery books that are simple and clear, have step-by-step illustrated instructions, and contain reasonable projects for beginners and beyond. Beginner’s Guide to Silk Shading is just such a book.
Written by Clare Hanham, graduate of the Royal School of Needlework, and published by Search Press, this is an excellent book for the beginner who wants to get into silk shading techniques (also called “needle painting,” among other things).
The book is just out this year – in fact, it was delayed in printing and wasn’t due until December, but I pre-ordered my copy through Amazon this summer and it arrived last week.
It’s not a huge or extensive book, but within its pages, you will find everything you need to know about shading with long and short stitch. The author also includes several simple patterns for the beginner and takes you through them step-by-step, showing you what they should look like as they progress.
She includes also the useful information for starting an embroidery project: what tools to use, determining colors and such for your project (and where to put them), transfering your pattern, setting up your hoop (or ring frame, as she calls it), types of fabric (including how to mount finer fabrics on cotton backing). Then she takes you from start to finish through several projects, which include a couple types of flowers (tulip, dog rose, and some little stylized blossom-thing), leafy vines, and butterflies. All of them are geared towards the beginner, and the results for the projects are simply stunning. They’re nice!
I especially like her treatment of the long-and-short stitch. She tells the reader right off the bat that, to achieve a natural look, you have to be relaxed while you’re stitching, and a bit free in the placement of your stitches. She doesn’t go with the “exact” alternating long-and-short stitch lengths, but rather varies the lengths of all the stitches without being rigid in keeping all the long stitches the same length and all the short stitches the same length. She even tells you that, when working with one strand of floss, it doesn’t really matter if you split the stitch when you come up through it! If your previous row is worked closely together, then it will look fine whether you split the stitch or not. I have to admit, I like her approach because it’s exactly how I do it! It’s always nice to be assured from a professional that the way you’re doing it is quite ok!
The book’s a reasonable price through Amazon (less than $11.00), so if you’re interested in developing your shading techniques, check it out!