The jacket is exquisite, the inside illustrations just as grand, the text authoritative and remarkable comprehensive. Mary Gostelow has compiled an exceedingly valuable treasury: part history, part guide to current practice. Most chapters concentrate on a single technique (bargello, cutwork, ornamental darning) but others cover fundamental aspects of textile work, such as choosing equipment or designing. In addition to expectable background details on the more popular embroideries, there are informative sections on less practiced ones (whitework, blackwork, drawn- and pulled-thread) and some rarely included ones: Hardanger and Hedebo, for example. Gostelow does not ignore the niceties (mitreing a corner), and her samples are culled from all over the world. There's an intricate, delicate, maze-like appliquâ€š mat, done by hill tribes in Northern Thailand; a 19th-century panel worked in metal thread and straw; and a partly painted, machine-embroidered cushion cover that demonstrates the dramatic potential of mixing techniques. As a single-volume introduction, it is unbeatable.