Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Feature: Book of the Week

We have a great selection of needlepoint-related books at Rittenhouse Needlepoint. I have no trouble saying this because I am an aficionado of needlepoint books and I've made it a point to have a good selection in the store. We actually considered renting a space for Rittenhouse Needlepoint that was below a bookstore and the guy who was going to rent the place to us said that he would not want us to sell books at all. At the time, I was willing to consider his request because I thought the space was a good one and cheap too. Well, the space didn't turn out to be as cheap as I had hoped and then the space that we are in right now became available and well I am glad that the whole thing didn't work out because I enjoy selling needlepoint books and I would not have liked to be prevented from so doing.

In an effort to jump-start sales of needlepoint related books. I thought that I would introduce some of my favorites. First up is The Needlepoint Book by Jo Ippolito Christensen. This is widely considered to be "the bible" for needlepoint and with good reason. At 428 pages, the book is about four times larger than most needlepoint books. The book was copyrighted in 1976 but was "revised and expanded" by Yolanda Christensen (is this her "real" name or her daughter?) in 1999.

The largest portion of the book is devoted to individual stitches. Each stitch includes a diagram, photograph and sometimes a brief description/commentary. The stitches have been subdivided into the following categories: straight, cross, tied stitches, eye , leaf, line, diagonal, decorative and box stitches. At the beginning of each chapter there is a graph that summarizes the characteristics of the stitches within that chapter. This is a convenient way of imparting a lot of information without repetition.

The first one hundred plus pages of the book are devoted to providing a comprehensive introduction to the craft of needlepoint. These pages include information about canvas, threads, design, color and even finishing (though there are better books on finishing out there).

For the most part, the finished projects shown are not "my cup of tea" though they are skillfully executed. Still, they definitely tend toward the overdone side of things. The diagrams can also be somewhat confusing. She tries to impart a lot of information in a small amount of space and the shorthand she uses takes some getting used to (repeated visits to page 135 -- "How to Read the Diagrams" were necessary for me). Most of the photos are in black and white but they are relatively clear and easy to interpret.

Having said that, there is no better resource available for a person interested in needlepoint.


  1. I've had 2 versions of this book and it is a standard go-to for me. Books aside, I'm coming to Philly in May to visit my son, and your shop and the Cezanne exhibit are 1st and 2nd on my agenda. Looking forward to both! Jane Williams

  2. Before Cezanne! That's pretty good! Look forward to meeting you. Stephen

  3. I have this book and I had it spiral bound with the cover heavily laminated and the sections lightly laminated. I have done this to several books, just to save them. You can read about this on my blog April 1.

  4. Garnett McDonoughApril 10, 2009 at 9:17 AM

    I also love needlework books. I useed Amazon to purchase the books that I had missed when I was not working with my needle and acquired an instructive libray using suggestions from others and my needs.

    I have your first listing and will probably find in future listings works that I have not collected. I love to look at books and dream about what I "could" do, then get back to the reality of taking those stitches out a second time as they just don't look right.

    Happy Stitching and Reading,