Last year in my review I proclaimed Caroline Vincent's later book, Sampler Workbook: Motifs and Patterns from 2011 to be "almost perfect" because it covered the designing of our own fabulous sampler creations so well. I thought it only left a couple things up to the imagination including the overall layout of a sampler and not quite enough suggested alphabets. But it was still excellent. This reviewed book is just a little more narrow in scope but it's even more clear in what it covers: if you want to stitch anything outdoorsy, you must utilize the methods herein.
Layers. It's all about layers.
There are 9 or 10 full samplers charted in this book ranging in stitch count from 60 x 60 squares to 140 x 200 stitches. The standard sized samplers are almost all bucolic in nature. While the idea of stitching the cows, sheep and sheaves of grain on the cover might not thrill you, once you peruse the book you might change your mind. You're not just stitching grass, you're stitching a 3-D meadow! You do this by laying a heavy base of dark green simple cross stitch. Then you overlay that with random long stitches of a lighter shade of green. Over this, you take a darker shade of floss and double up on the random straight stitches. Then another layer of a slightly different shade of lighter green straight stitches, then a 4th layer of a slightly darker shade of green straight stitches. Then you use white, yellow and blue floss and add random French knots from the middle horizontal line to the top horizontal line of this rectangular field. If you concentrate the French knots that are bigger and blue in the midline and smaller and lighter-colored at the top, it really looks amazingly like a grassy meadow of flowers with depth. Maybe a fluffy bunny will peek out (or a "hare" as our English author would say). Every single step is clearly graphed so the layers won't scare you. Floss is given in both DMC and Anchor "colours" and they look like there are many more colors than are there. Water is made real by a ground of blue cross stitches layered with 2 colors of blue slant stitches. The sheep on the cover are simply alternating vertical rows of cross stitch with then a fill-in vertical row of straight stitches, French knots and roll stitches (easier than bullions!!).
By layering lazy daisies and satin stitches of 2 colors, you can make a life-like swan or large stocks of corn.
I know a book is good if I pick it up w/o necessarily being interested in the subject matter and then feel like meandering to my stash and start stitching what I've discovered inside. This is one of those inspiring books.