Top positive review
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Instructions better, designs not as good as her previous book
on September 11, 2006
After receiving Trish Burr's previous book, Redoute's Finest Flowers in Embroidery (see my review there), I hurried to purchase this one as well. I'm feeling a curious mix of satisfaction and disappointment with this one.
The instruction section on long-and-short stitch has been greatly expanded. I must say that the inclusion of much of the instructional text word-for-word from her previous book jarred a bit--especially the diagrams where pixellated computer graphics had not been cleaned up. (These things do slip through, but to have them slip through twice points to slipshod editing.) On the bright side, there is much, much more detail on exactly how the long-and-short stitch is executed, how to deal with different shapes, stitch directions, and so on. In that respect, this book far exceeds the original (which I'll call "RFF" henceforth).
The sampler in this book was unappealing, as were the first three "simple" projects. The sampler is four "flower-ish" shapes, not remotely identifiable as any real flower. If I'm going to take the time and trouble to embroider using a single strand of floss at a time, I want the result to be something good-looking, even if it's a tiny something! The stylized "simple" projects also didn't interest me at all--to be frank, they look and feel "dumbed down," and not at all true to the spirit of the book. There was a page showing a number of embroidered leaves of different shapes, and I decided to tackle one of those as my starter project instead. I thought the finished product was much lovelier than the samplers.
The flowers in this book were not drawn from a single source like RFF, and it shows in a certain unevenness of style. In my review of RFF, I wrote that the cover is a good example of what you get inside. Not so much so with this one--the flame lily and magnolia shown on the cover (along with a protea, not shown) are by far the most detailed and impressive. Some of the other projects were nice enough pictures, but were somehow missing that "botanical print" look that was so captivating in RFF.
Also, and I'm hugely disappointed with this!, they changed the format of the projects, omitting the diagram dedicated to color placement. Instead, you have to cross-reference between the coded list of floss colors and the written description. Nearly every project is prefixed with the brusque admonition that "it will be necessary to inspect the photo closely to reproduce the color changes" (freely misquoted from memory, but that's the gist). But subtle color shifts in floss are quite difficult to distinguish--that's why threadpainting can look so realistic, and that's why I thought RFF (which showed placement by a colored-pencil diagram, with exaggerated differences between the colors) was so great. Alas, they've thrown that good idea out.
Although I'm disappointed in these changes for the worse, I am still glad I purchased the book. The extremely detailed coverage of the logistics of long-and-short stitch alone made it worth the price. Several of the projects are stunning, and it's interesting to see how Ms. Burr's technique has changed over time (less padding, for one). So... 5 stars for instruction, 3.5 for projects. But if I were only buying one of her books, I'd buy Redoute's Finest Flowers in Embroidery rather than this one.