Blackwork for Beginners

Carol Leather

Open Carol’s book and you are greeted with a series of questions and answers which is unique to writing a book. We have a list of questions asking: what is blackwork, how it is worked, what thread, what patterns, is it wearable and the list goes on. As you read through the questions, many are answered to the quandaries you may have had yourself.


Mrs. Leather spends a lot of time spelling out what makes a good design and how simple mistakes can create a disaster. She explains how blackwork patterns affect the eye and how it is seen. What makes a good motif and what can be missing in the overall pattern is given in detail.  Shading and contrast is clarified using a lion motif. The reader will understand the concept very quickly and easily. How the eye sees blackwork Assisi was particularly interesting to me.


Anyone who has been stitching for a few years knows stitch patterns will not fit an area each and every time. The book teaches compensation which a lot of people would like to avoid. Great tip on pattern and outline stitching are given. I am sure many blackwork stitchers will benefit with this tip.


The first project gives us a list of materials and photos but Carol doesn’t just stop there. She “holds our hand” and explains step by step what to do, what to use and how to do it. You feel like you have a qualified teacher by your side, giving private lessons.


Lesson 2 teaches shading. Again, you are given good instructions to accomplish the job. Three methods to achieve the shading process are given. As Carol states, “Using all three techniques in one design is perhaps rare but this lesson gives you the chance to see how each is worked.”


Celtic diamond, two leaf borders, diamond flowerbed, sail boat and a lion are all projects included in “Blackwork for Beginners.” The projects are quick to work. Each of the projects is suitable for gifts for someone you love or a gift for yourself.


If you are a stitcher who would like to learn a new technique, I would recommend Carol Leather’s book, “Blackwork for Beginners.” The illustrations, pictures and explanations are clear and easy for anyone to understand.

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