Feature Plant for September: Crocus

I have to admit that I am a newcomer to the world of crocuses, know very little about them, except that they are one of the first flowers to herald the Spring, and tend to get a bit confused about all the different types, so I thought a bit of research and consequently a feature post might be in order!

The first surprising fact, which I discovered in my research was that these tiny little bulbs belong to the Iris family Iridaceae (see photo above); there are 90 species (though recent chromosome tests have increased the number of species to almost 200) and only 30 species are in cultivation; there are many crocus species, which also bloom in Autumn and Winter; and crocus enthusiasts are known as ‘croconuts’!!! I suspect that after this wonderful season, I could well become one!BlogCrocus20%DSCN3491Their name derives from the Greek word ‘Krokos’, meaning ‘saffron’, referring to the long history of the cultivation of Crocus sativum over 2000 years for the production of the spice saffron for a yellow dye, food colourant, culinary spice and medicinal purposes. The large lilac Autumn flowers have darker veins on the petals, yellow stamens and three vivid red stigma, the source of the saffron.

It is the most expensive spice in the world, 1 Kg of saffron requiring the handpicking of over 85 000 flowers between dawn and 10am and costing $35 000 per Kg! Mind you, both those figures (number of flowers required and cost) vary widely, depending on which article you read! All I know is that in both cases, it’s a lot!!! I found an interesting link about saffron growing in Australia at: https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/man-with-the-golden-thumb-20080812-gdsq4i.html.

BlogCrocus25%IMG_5485Crocuses (or Croci) are native to Central and Southern Europe; North Africa and the Middle East; the Aegean islands and Central Asia to China. They grow from corms and have narrow mid-green grass-like leaves with a central silver grey stripe and white, lavender, lilac, purple and yellow cup-shaped six-petalled flowers, which have a short stem, long tube, three stamens and one style and only open in the sun or bright light, remaining closed in rainy weather or at night.BlogCrocus25%IMG_5604The corms should be planted 3 to 4 cm deep in sandy well-drained soils in a sunny position. They look lovely in drifts or clumps and naturalise well in lawns, though the grass should not be cut for 6 weeks after flowering to ensure blooming the following year.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 17.07.54There are a number of different species, many of which can be seen on : https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Crocus. Another excellent link is: https://gardendrum.com/2014/02/27/crocus-for-autumn-winter-and-spring/.

The name of EA Bowles kept cropping up in my research into crocus, both in relation to his breeding of them and in the naming of new cultivars and if you would like to know more about his endeavours, especially in relation to crocuses, it is well worth reading: https://thedahliapapers.com/tag/crocus-e-a-bowles/.

BlogCrocus25%IMG_5492The cultivated crocus species can be divided into two main groups according to their flowering season.

Spring

Crocus sieberi  Cretan Crocus. Small flowers start blooming in late Winter as the snow melts. It naturalises easily. Cultivars include Bowles White; Firefly (lilac); Tricolor (white to pale lilac with dark lilac edge and gold centres); and Violet Queen.  The species name ‘sieberi’ honours Franz Wilhelm Sieber (1789-1844), a natural history collector and traveller from Prague.

Crocus chrysanthus Snow Crocus. Native to Yugoslavia, Romania, Greece and Southern Turkey, it flowers in bare earth or the snow on stony or grassy slopes at 1000 to 2000 metres altitude in early Spring. It has smaller, but more profuse flowers than the Dutch crocus and unusual color blends, many hybrids having bicoloured petals and striking yellow centres. The species name ‘chrysanthus’ means ‘golden flowers’. Hybrid cultivars include Cream Beauty; Dorothy; EA Bowles; Goldilocks and Gipsy Girl.

Crocus tommasinianus Early Crocus. Blooms from late Winter to early Spring with pale lavender to red purple blooms with a silvery reverse. They flower profusely after the leaves have fully developed and spontaneously self-propagate, so are very good at naturalising in lawns. The species hails from the woods and shady hillsides of Southern Hungary, Yugoslavia and Northern Bulgaria is named after Muzio Giuseppe Spirito de Tommasini (1794-1879),  an Italian botanist and expert on Dalmatian flora from Trieste. They can be distinguished from C. vernus by its combination of narrow leaves, purple flowers and white tube.

Crocus vernus Dutch Crocus. Very popular and well-known, these tough crocus have the largest flowers of all, so they are sometimes known as Giant Crocus. Originally from the mountains of Europe from the Pyrenees east to Poland and Russia and south to Sicily and Yugoslavia, they flower from early Spring. They will tolerate light shade, like under deciduous trees, in temperate areas. ‘Vernus’ means ‘of the Spring’. BlogCrocus20%DSCN3483I have planted five varieties:

Jeanne d’Arc: Pure white (photo above);

Mammoth: Golden yellow;

Pickwick 1925: Striped white and purple (photo below);

Remembrance: Violet-purple; and

Grand Maître: Purple and blooms slightly later in Spring.

There are also yellow and bronze varieties.BlogCrocus25%IMG_5648My first attempt at growing Dutch crocuses in 2016 yielded a single purple flower, about which I was very excited as its appearance was a total surprise! I had planted ten corms (4 Mammoth and 6 Remembrance) the previous Autumn (mid-April) in the lawn under the deciduous trees, but had not been aware of the emergence of the leaves, when suddenly there was this bright purple flower in July!

I searched in vain for any further flowers that season, as well as the following year, so I was delighted when again a further bud snuck in under the radar, as well as a second grouping of crocus leaves. They are definitely reproducing. Imagine my horror to discover the new bloom nipped in the bud literally by a voracious Satin Bowerbird male and there were no more Remembrance blooms this season!

BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 17.07.59Luckily, at the end of April this year, I also planted 5 Jeanne d’Arc; 5 Pickwick; and 10 Grand Maître (photo below) corms in the cutting garden in well-noted spots. The foliage of most of them had surfaced by mid-August and they bloomed spectacularly in the first two weeks of September.BlogCrocus25%IMG_5605Two good places to source species crocus in Australia are Lambley’s Nursery at: https://lambley.com.au/garden-notes/winter-crocus and https://lambley.com.au/search/content/crocus(6 pages)

And Bryan H Tonkin : https://www.tonkinsbulbs.com.au/crocus.html, while Tesselaars has a good range of Snow Crocus (https://www.tesselaar.net.au/product/4010-snow-crocus-collection) and Dutch Crocus (https://www.tesselaar.net.au/naturalising-bulbs/dutch-crocus).

BlogCrocus20%DSCN3480Autumn Crocus

There are still quite a large number of Crocus (at least 30 species and subspecies) which flower in Autumn, the most famous of which is Crocus sativum, the Saffron Crocus, the species name ‘sativum’ meaning ‘cultivated’.

Please note that there are two other genera, Colchicum and Zephyranthes, which are also called Autumn Crocus.

Colchicums

Colchicums, a distant relative of crocus and also a corm, can be differentiated from crocus by the number of styles and stamens. Colchicums have large strappy leaves without a stripe and pink, lilac or white six-petalled flowers (Colchicum luteum from Turkey is the only yellow one) with three styles and six stamens, compared to crocus flowers with their one style and three stamens.

Colchicum flowers also emerge from the soil before the leaves appear, thus their alternative name Naked Ladies, while in Spring-blooming crocus species, leaves shoot first or simultaneously with the flowers. Autumn flowering crocus bloom in full leaf. An exception is Crocus speciosus, whose flowers are produced before the leaves.

Most colchicum species bloom in Autumn (eg lilac-pink Meadow Saffron, Colchicum autumnale, and Colchicum speciosum with its lilac-pink flower with a white throat or its pure white cultivar Album), but a few emerge in Spring (Colchicum szovitsii; Colchicum falcifolium; Colchicum kesselringii; Colchicum hungaricum; and Colchicum luteum).

Members of the Liliaceae family with 45 species from Eastern Europe to North Africa and east to China, most of the colchicums found in Australia hail from Turkey and Greece. According to ancient writers, colchicums were particularly abundant around Colchis, the Black Sea region of Georgia, Caucasus, hence its name. Photographs of the different species can be found on: https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Colchicum.

They like similar conditions to crocus- well-drained soil in full sun or part shade and cool to cold climates with frosty Winters. They can also be bought from Bryan H Tonkin (https://www.tonkinsbulbs.com.au/colchicum.html) and Lambleys Nursery (https://lambley.com.au/search/content/colchicum).

All species and parts of the plant are toxic and the sap can irritate the skin and eyes, so take care handling them! Having said that, it is also the source of the cancer treatment drug colchicine, a mutagen which affects cell division and is also used by plant breeders to produce new cultivars.

Zephyranthus

Zephyranthes, a New World genus from the Amaryllidaceae (Hippeastrum) family, is also called Rain or Storm Lilies as summer and autumn showers trigger flowering.BlogCrocus20%IMG_0160 The genus name derives from two Greek words: ‘zephyros’ meaning ‘west wind’ and ‘anthos’ meaning ‘flower’, since it is a native of the Western Hemisphere (the Americas) and includes 70 species, some of which can be seen in: https://gardendrum.com/2013/01/13/storm-lilies/.

BlogCrocus20%IMG_0600They prefer cool frost-free and subtropical gardens. Having said that, we grow Zephyranthus candida in the shade of the Pepperina tree, where it retains its foliage all year round. In fact, we sourced our bulbs from my sister’s Tenterfield garden, where she gets heavy frosts and temperatures of ten degrees below zero!BlogCrocus20%IMG_0161Zephyranthes candida hails from Uruguay and Argentina. It has bright green glossy needle-like leaves and shining white crocus-like flowers with gold stamens.BlogCrocus5018-03-11 18.20.46Sternbergia

To further complicate the issue, the genus Sternbergia, is also called Autumn Crocus, as well as Autumn Daffodil, and there are eight species, distributed from Italy to Iran. The genus is named in honour of Count Kaspar M von Sternberg (1761-1838), an Austrian clergyman, botanist and palaeontologist and founder of the Bohemian National Museum in Prague.

Most bloom in Autumn, the fine narrow leaves emerging with or just after the flowers, though there are some species which bloom in Spring (Sternbergia fischeriana; Sternbergia colchiciflora; and Sternbergia candida). For more information about and photos of the different species, see: https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Sternbergia.

Sternbergia lutea is the most well-known one, its species ‘lutea’ name meaning ‘yellow’. It has a similar appearance to colchicums, except its bright canary-yellow flower colour. There is only one flower per bulb and they prefer frost-free gardens and a hot dry Summer.

I certainly know so much more about crocus now and am keen to experiment with a few other crocus varieties  like Crocus sativus and some of the Snow Crocus cultivars in the cutting garden or rockery and perhaps to try naturalising the apparently foolproof and fecund Crocus tommasinianus in the lawn ! I would also love to try growing Sternbergia lutea in a pot in a frost-free position up by the house.BlogCrocus50%IMG_5601

Winter Gardens to Visit: Part Two: Native Gardens

We are so lucky here in Australia that much of our native flora, as well as South African natives, bloom in the Winter. Here are two wonderful native gardens we visited last June!

The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan

Narellan Rd Mt Annan 2567

Spring/Autumn and Winter: 8am to 5pm; Summer 8am to 7pm every day of the year

Visitor Centre 9am to 4pm daily except Christmas Day

Free entrance

https://www.australianbotanicgarden.com.au/

I had wanted to visit this botanic garden for a long time, so it was wonderful to finally achieve this goal! Right on the doorstep of Sydney, this 416 hectare (1028 acres) garden is a wonderful asset to the city with its wide open spaces; over 4000 species of Australian native flora; and themed gardens, as well as the lakeside lawns, picnic areas and 20 km (12 miles) of walking tracks and mountain bike trails.

It is the largest botanic garden in Australia and is one of the three gardens of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, which also includes the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mt Tomah. See: https://australianbg.gardenexplorer.org/ for a map of the different areas.BlogWinterGardens2518-06-07 09.23.05We were so impressed with this garden! It is so well planned and so interesting! We started out at the Visitor Centre, where I loved the paths inset with leaves (photo above), then crossed to the 4.5 ha Connections Garden, a fabulous showpiece with great colour (the pink Kangaroo Paw is Anigozanthos Bush Pearl)BlogWinterGardens2518-06-07 10.17.49and a fascinating journey through the evolution of  Australia’s native flora from the Triassic conifers cycads and ferns 250 Million years ago…

Clockwise from top left: The cycad with the tall stem is Cycas megacarpa; Wollemi Pine, Wollemia nobilis; Lepidozamia peroffskyana and Cycas platyphylla;

to the Cretaceous angiosperms 129 Million years ago and Gondwanan rainforests 40 Million years ago;BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2208BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2088BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2144 and the drying out of the continent over the last 70 000 years. Here are some of the plants in bloom: Snow Wood, Pararchidendron pruinosum; Golden Wattle, Acacia pycnantha; Scribbly Gum, Eucalyptus haemastoma; and Hakea cristata;

I loved the fig forest;BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2135 the banksia collection  (from the the tall Acorn or Orange Banksia, Banksia prionotes, to the prostrate Creeping Banksia, Banksia repens;BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2115BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2118 and the amazing stonework. The first photo is Banksia integrifolia Roller Coaster falling over a dry stone wall in the Grevillea section of the Banksia Garden, while I loved the patterns in the rough sandstone slab in the Connections Garden in the second photo.  BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2280BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2128 The pond and waterfall was a beautiful and refreshing centre piece,BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2068BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2083 as well as a great learning facility.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2176BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2170 And we loved the colourful entrance garden, showing the unlimited potential of Australian native wildflowers, particularly in Winter!

 

Clockwise from top left: Bush Gem, Anigozanthos Bush Tenacity; pink Gomphrena canescens with Golden Everlasting and blue Scaveola; Banksia spinulosa and gold and red Strawflowers.

We then drove round the one-way route to the different themed areas, each complete with picnic tables, lawns and ablution blocks. We loved the analemmatic Sundial of Human Involvement set within a planting of Araucarias (Kauri; Bunya Bunya; Hoop and Norfolk Island Pines).BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2220BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2215 The 360 degree view from the top of the hill was magnificent, if not a little distressing seeing the encroachment of Sydney and the main highway teaming with traffic! The first photo looks east over the Princes Highway to Campbelltown, while the second photo looks north over the garden to Narellan and then Penrith.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2222BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2213The Big Idea Garden had some wonderful suggestions to help reduce, reuse and recycle valuable resources into your garden from developing waterwise gardens (water tanks, drip irrigation and planting waterwise plants) to mulching and composting, correct pruning, turf care and fertilising. Some of the plants included Banksia spinulosa spinulosa Birthday Candles and Sturts Desert Pea, Swainsona formosa.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2231BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2232The Wattle Garden features many of the 950 species of Acacia, many just coming into bloom- such a variety in plant size; leaf shape and flower colour and shape!BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2256 Their peak flowering season however is in August! Here are some of the more unusual species: the prostrate Acacia saligna Springtime Cascade; Leafless Rock Wattle, Acacia aphylla; and Acacia cognata Fettuccine;BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2268BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2270BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2248I love Banksias and other Proteaceae (including Grevilleas, Waratahs and Hakeas), so could easily spend more time in this area. Here are two photos from the Grevillea section: Grevillea pilosa and Diels Grevillea, Grevillea dielsiana; BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2278BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2289But alas, time was still limited and we had to make it up to our accommodation in the Blue Mountains before the school pickup traffic, so we look forward to future visits to explore all those areas we missed – the Callitris Grove; the Kurrajong Arboretum; the Western Garden; the Ironbark woodland; and the Eucalypt Arboreta, as well as the Australian Plant Bank (https://www.australianbotanicgarden.com.au/Science-Conservation/Australian-PlantBank).

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mt Tomah

Bells Line of Road Via Bilpin 2758

Open daily except Christmas Day

Monday – Friday: Gardens 9.00 am to 5.30 pm ; Visitor Centre 9am to 4.30pm

Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: Gardens and Visitor Centre 9.30 am to 5.30 pm

Free Entrance

https://www.bluemountainsbotanicgarden.com.au/

https://www.bluemountainsbotanicgarden.com.au/MtTomah/media/Tomah/Visit/PDFs/BMBG-Visitors-Guide-Map-pdf.PDF

I have discussed this wonderful botanic garden before in my post on Botanic Gardens. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/01/07/favourite-late-20th-century-botanic-gardens/.

BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-11BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-37BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-85BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-81In fact, we call in every time we visit the Blue Mountains and there is always something new to see and discover, like our beautiful native banksias, waratahs and Xanthorrhea or the giant Puya from the Chilean Andes in full bloom.BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-33BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2095BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-83BlogWinterGardens5017-11-09 12.56.04 This time, it was the South African native flora: the Proteaceae family, as well as gerberas of warm and cool colour ranges, aloes, geraniums and gazanias, all of which were in full bloom and which totally captivated us! BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-105BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-110BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-64BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-96BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-70The cyclamen under the trees in the Pergola Garden were a visual treat!BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-101BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-100There was even one of my favourite Sasanqua camellias, Star-above-Star Camellia, a fitting way to finish this double post of Winter Gardens!BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-125BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-128

 

Winter Gardens to Visit: Part One: Camellia Gardens

Well, Spring has officially sprung and the long hard Winter is over, even though I accept that we have it much easier than some other areas inland or at lower latitudes and higher altitudes! The frosts are pretty persistent though, especially this last Winter!!

To celebrate the demise of Winter, I have written two posts about a few gardens worth visiting next Winter! Last June, we headed north to see my mum in Queensland, so we wanted to visit a few bucket-list gardens along the way, particularly those who shone in Winter!

Here in Australia, they include camellia gardens and those devoted to Australian and South African natives. While July is probably the peak time to view camellias, it is also school holiday time with accommodation in short supply and lots of holidaymakers, so we decided to travel in June and take our chances and we were not disappointed! This week, I am featuring two very special camellia gardens, while next week, we will visit two native gardens.

Camellia Gardens

EG Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens

104 President Avenue Caringbah South NSW 2229

Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm; Weekends and Public holidays 9.30am to 5 pm.

Closed on Good Friday; Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Free entrance

http://www.sutherlandshire.nsw.gov.au/Outdoors/Parks-and-Playgrounds/Parks/Camellia-Gardens-Caringbah-South

Named after Professor Eben Gowrie Waterhouse (1881-1977), an international camellia expert and linguist, who was the first President of the International Camellia Society in 1962, this 2 hectare camellia garden was opened in July 1970. It was a Bicentenary project of the Sutherland Shire Council to commemorate the landing of Captain James Cook at Kurnell in 1770.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN1981It was established on the site of the old Matson Pleasure Grounds, a recreational complex, which was developed by Frederick Francis Matson in 1902 on the shores of Ewey (now Yowie) Bay and hosted many picnics, dances and boating events until its closure in World War One.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2022We parked on President Avenue and entered from the top of the gardens, but they can also be accessed via a lower gate and parking area off Kareena Rd. It was a wet day, but fortunately we were able to wander round the garden between showers, even enjoying some welcome Winter sunshine, before retreating to the tea house with the next downpour! The Devonshire tea and scones were an added bonus!BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN1966Outside the tea room is a fountain dedicated to Captain Cook’s wife Elizabeth (1742-1835), who is often in the shadows, so it was great to learn a little about her life. She certainly was a stayer! I was amazed to read that she really only spent 4 years of her married life of 17 years with Cook and that she outlasted him by 56 years, dying at the age of 93 on 13 May 1835. She also outlasted all her six children, including two of which died in infancy, with her last surviving son dying in 1794.

She would have seen so many changes in her lifetime from the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites at Culloden in 1746; the Seven Years War between Britain and France from 1756 to 1763; the Boston Tea Party 1773 and the American War of Independence 1775 to 1783; the storming of the Bastille in Paris and the French Revolution in July 1789; the Battle of Trafalgar 1805 and the Battle of Waterloo 1815; and the reigns of Mad King George (George 111) and his sons George IV 1820 and William IV 1830. It was also the age of slavery and its eventual abolition; the start of the Industrial Revolution (1760 to 1820) and the development of the first railway between Stockton and Darlington in 1825; and the start of Australia’s colonial history with the first fleet of convicts arriving in May 1787.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2026But back to the camellias! There are over 600 camellias in the garden with over 450 individual species and cultivars, which can also be seen in the digital catalogue on the Camellias Australia website, as well as in a register kept at Sutherland Library. See: http://camelliasaustralia.com.au/gardens/e-g-waterhouse-national-camellia-gardens/.

Many of the camellias are quite old and rare, forming a Camellia Ark of 75 endangered cultivars and species. For more about this project, see: http://camelliasaustralia.com.au/gardens/camellia-ark/. It is a fabulous initiative!

In March 2014, the gardens were awarded the International Camellia Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society and they are only one of forty such gardens in the world and the only one in New South Wales. See: https://internationalcamellia.org/about-this-programme.

While we were a little early for the full spectacular display, we still saw a number of them in flower. The camellia season starts in Autumn with the blooming of Camellia sasanqua (Autumn to early Winter), followed by Camellia japonica varieties from late Autumn to Winter and Camellia reticulata from midwinter to September/ October.

They are in turn followed by Spring annuals, then roses during the Summer months. Paths meander through the garden, leading to lush lawns, a creek and two duck ponds. It really is a lovely small garden and is popular with picnickers and wedding parties.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN1990BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN1986If you love camellias and your appetite still needs satisfying, then a visit to the old home of the great man himself is essential!

Eryldene Historic Home and Garden

17 McIntosh Street Gordon NSW 2072

Ph (02) 9498 2271

Open every second weekend from April to September from 10am to 4pm.

Adults $12; Children (6 to 16 years) $5; Family (2 adults and 2 children) $30; Concession (Seniors and students) $10; Eryldene and National Trust members Free.

https://www.eryldene.org.au/

This is the camellia lovers’ mecca! We adored this garden for its camellias naturally, but also its history, architecture and oriental aesthetics. Built for Gowrie and Janet Waterhouse in 1914 in collaboration with neo-colonial architect William Hardy Wilson, ‘Eryldene’ was named after Janet Waterhouse’s family home in Kilmarnock, Scotland. It is a beautiful house and guided tours are conducted on the hour, but again because of the rain, we explored the garden first up!BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-134The one-acre garden is a series of garden rooms, which contain a number of delightful architectural features including a temple, built from six recycled ionic columns, and flanked by two specimens of the camellia, La Pace Rubra, both planted back in 1914 ;BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-136 an outdoor study, the professor’s retreat from the hectic bedlam of four boisterous sons;BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-181 a walled fountain;BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-176 a Georgian-style pigeon house with a gilded tympanum;BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-175 a Moon Gate and tennis court;BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-188BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-196 an oriental Tea House with gold-tipped vermilion flagpoles for blue and red dragon flags;BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-182BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-200 a meditation garden with a sculptured rock pool and a Georgian-style timber screen.BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-225There are also many beautiful large old camellias, as well as Japanese maples, azaleas and rhododendrons, datura and windflowers.

During our visit, I discovered that apparently, camellias had fallen out of favour at the end of the 19th Century. Nevertheless, Professor Waterhouse still planted six camellias in 1914, four of which still survive today: two specimens of La Pace Rubra at the entrance to the Temple and a Contessa Collini and Iris either side of the front gate. By the time of his death in 1977, aged 97, he had collected 700 camellias, many growing in tubs.BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-203In between exploring the garden and the old house, we enjoyed a cuppa in the one of the two loggias, originally the boys’ bedrooms. Mrs Waterhouse was a strong believer in the health benefits of bracing cold fresh air!BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-144BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-231Eryledene is listed on the National Estate and the NSW Heritage Register and it is worth reading the following website for more detail about the property: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5045350.

It is now managed by the Eryldene Trust and maintained by the Friends of Eryldene, many of whom belong to NSW Branch of the Australian Camellia Research Society (http://www.camelliasnsw.org/), as well as Camellias Australia (http://camelliasaustralia.com.au/).

They are such a friendly and informative group and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon with them. They also recommended a future visit to another local camellia garden, Lisgar Gardens (http://www.hornsby.nsw.gov.au/lifestyle/sports-and-recreation/parks-and-playgrounds/lisgar-gardens). Maybe next time!BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-141Next week, we will be visiting two wonderful inspiring native gardens, the Australian Botanic Garden at Mt Annan and the Blue Mountains Garden at Mt Tomah.

Oldhouseintheshires

 

Books on Hand Embroidery Part Four: Hand Embroidery Patterns

Now for a selection of embroidery pattern books! While originality and creativity are the ultimate aims, if you are new to hand embroidery or just want a quick pattern for a gift, then it is great to have a few embroidery pattern books available and you can always vary the materials, threads, colour schemes and projects. Having said that, I often find projects of my own designs are easier, as there is total control over the whole process. When you are following a pattern, it is easy to lose your confidence and feel that it has to be exactly perfect to get the required result, resulting in a more stressful experience!!!

Beginner Embroidery Pattern Books

First up are two terrific books, which I used at the start of my embroidery journey:

Decorative Embroidery: Forty Projects and Designs For the Home by Mary Nordern 1997  and

Embroidery With Wool : 40 Decorative Designs For the Contemporary Home by Mary Nordern 1998.

I loved both these books and could make all of their designs and projects! Both books follow a similar format with patterns categorised into different subject headings, followed by techniques and stitches in the back.

In Decorative Embroidery, 15 elementary stitches are used in a range of different projects including : Laundry Bags; Curtains and Tie Backs; Chair Back Covers; Bed Linen, Blankets and Pillow Cases; Cushion Covers; Basket Cloths, Shelving Cloths and Tray Cloths; Tea Towels and Hand Towels; Table cloths and Serviettes; Tea Cosies; Buttons; Beaded Jug Cloths; and Cutlery Rolls.

The separate sections are:

Posies and Sprigs: Posies, Garlands; Scattered Leaves; Summer Sprigs Wildflower Sprays; and Abstract Stylised Flowers;

Nature’s Harvest: Cockerels; Wheat Sheaves; Strawberries and Cherries; Lemons; Carrots and Pea Pods;

Geometrics and Initials: Crosses; Swirls; Hearts; Snowflakes; and Initials and Monograms; and

Home and Hearth: Kitchen (Kettles, Jugs, Mugs and Irons); Curlicue Chairs; Bathtime (Brushes; Perfume Bottles; Hand Mirrors; Water Jug and Bowl); and Afternoon Tea (Tea Cup and Saucer).

Each project details materials and threads; stitches used and techniques to work the pattern and make up the project. The photo below is for a cushion cover based on her design for Contemporary Circles in her second book Embroidery With Wool.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1840The final section at the back of the book includes notes on:

Fabrics and Threads;

Needles; Frames and Additional Equipment (Scissors; Tracing Paper; Dressmaker’s Carbon; Water-Soluble Marking Pen; Transfer Paper and Light Source);

Transferring Patterns;

Starting and Finishing Work;

Washing Embroidery; and

Stitches, with excellent diagrams of each stitch (Back Stitch; Blanket Stitch; Chain Stitch;  Chevron Stitch; Couching Stitch; Fern Stitch; Fly Stitch ; French Knot Stitch; Lazy Daisy Stitch; Long and Short Stitch; Running Stitch; Satin Stitch; and Padded Satin Stitch; Stem Stitch; and Straight Stitch); and a

DMC/ Anchor Conversion Chart.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-41Embroidery With Wool uses crewel wool  (DMC or Appleton), 18 decorative stitches and 20 embroidery designs with 20 variations to decorate hats, gloves and slippers; pyjama cases; drawstring  and shopping bags; bed linen and throw rugs; curtains and tiebacks; shelf borders; cushion covers and lampshades; hot water bottle covers; table cloths and table runners; buttons; gardener’s aprons; and hat bands and shoe bags.

Like her previous book, the designs are divided into four chapters:

Repeating Curls: Paisley Curls (photo below); Coral Lines; Crescent Moons; Reflecting Swirls; and Sea Waves;

Petals and Tendrils: Jacobean Blooms; Indian Sprigs; Autumn Leaves; Trailing Flowers; and Wispy Tendrils;

Graphic Lines: Spirals and Pin Wheels; Noughts and Crosses; Contemporary Circles; Stars and Stripes; and Mystic Symbols; and

Frippery: Hats; Slippers; Gloves; Handbags; Pyjamas; and Socks.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1896The section on Techniques and Stitches is identical to her previous book, with the addition of sections titled :

Drawing Guidelines;

Making Up Cushions;

Piping;

Lampshades: Making a Pattern or Covering Existing Lampshades;

Extra stitches (Algerian Eye; Cable Chain Stitch; Double Cross Stitch; Eyelet Buttonhole Stitch; Guilloche Stitch; Laced Running Stitch; and Pekinese Stitch); and a

DMC/Appleton Conversion Chart for Crewel and Tapestry Wools.BlogEmbBooks3018-07-13 07.56.04Heirloom Embroidery : Inspired Designer Projects With Beautiful Stitching Techniques by Jan Constantine 2008

Another great book, which is particularly good for beginner embroiderers, with seven basic stitches and more than 25 projects, including blankets and throw rugs; cushions; laundry and drawstring bags; table runners and napkins; aprons; shopping and beach bags; lavender sachets and hearts; tea cosies; scarves; pictures; and Christmas stockings and decorations.

Like the previous books, the designs are also sorted into chapters of separate themes:

Hearts;

Country Garden: Apples; Daisies; Strawberries; Cottage Garden Border

Seaside: Lighthouse; Yachts; Anchors ; Fish and Shells;

Botanicals and Bugs: Lavender; Lilies; Roses; Bees;  and Dragonflies; and

Celebrations: Snowflakes; Stars and Stripes; Berry Wreath; and Reindeer and Dove.

I particularly loved the Cottage Border Tea Cosy; the Stem Rose Cushion Pad; the Woollen Snowflake Hearts and the Christmas Dove Cushion.

Each project has design templates, illustrated stitch diagrams and notes on materials and equipment; stitches used; preparation and cutting out; tracing the design; working the embroidery; and making up and finishing the project. Even though each design details specific projects, obviously they can also be worked on different projects throughout the book.

In the back is a Stitch Glossary with excellent diagrams for seven basic embroidery stitches with variations (Blanket Stitch and Buttonhole Stitch; Straight Stitch and Running Stitch; Stem Stitch; Cross Stitch; French Knots and Bullion Knots; Basic/ Irregular/ and Padded Satin Stitch; Chain Stitch and Zigzag Chain Stitch), as well as general sewing stitches ( Slip Stitch, Loop Stitch and Overcast Stitch) and notes on Tools and Materials (Needles, Threads, Hoops and Frames, and Sewing Kits); Resizing designs; Cutting out; Transferring designs; Embroidering designs; Washing and pressing the finished embroidery; Using bonding web; Making up; Making bias strips for piping; and Pressing the finished item.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-48Colourful Stitchery: 65 Hot Embroidery Projects to Personalize Your Home by Kristin Nicholas 2005

Kristin LOVES colour , which she explores in both knitting (discussed in: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/06/26/books-for-winter-knitting-part-two/) and embroidery. In her introductory chapter, she discusses :

Different Fabrics and Threads;

Tools (Pins and needles; scissors; hoops; rulers; masking tape; fabric glue; tracing paper; water-soluble markers; pencils and chalks; sewing machine and light source);

Centreing Patterns and Transferring Designs;

Beginnings and Endings;

Mastering Stitches;

Finding Inspiration; and

Working with Colour.

She covers a range of projects in the following chapters from pillows, aprons and tea towels, tea and coffee cosies, egg cosies, pot holders, table cloths and napkins, pillow cases, curtains, blankets and throws, teddy bears, hot water bottle covers, scissor cases, espadrilles, and boxes and cards. Each project specifies the fabric, threads, notions and stitches used in a coloured box  and includes notes on cutting and preparation; stitching the design and making up and finishing the project, with templates in the back.

While a bit basic for me, it is an excellent book for beginners, as the designs are all very simple, bold and colourful.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-42Stitch With Love: 11 Simple Stitches and Over 20 Easy-To-Throw Projects by Mandy Shaw 2011

This is also an excellent book for beginners, but all the designs are limited to and executed in red or white on cream, ecru (raw or unbleached) or red linens, cottons, wool and felts, which looks so effective. Like the books by Mary Nordern, I love the designs in this book and could easily embroider any one of the twenty projects, which range from cushions and blankets to wrist pin cushions and bracelets, sewing and gardening tidies,  bags, aprons, book covers and shelf bunting, crib and Christmas decorations and wreaths and luggage and gift tags!BlogFeltBooks2015-05-06 17.03.49I also really like the practical and logical presentation of this book, which starts with  Fabrics, Buttons and Braids; and Needles and Threads; to Transferring the Motifs; Making the Projects; and Working the Stitches, with detailed diagrams of 10 basic embroidery stitches (Running Stitch and Whipped Running Stitch; Back Stitch; Stem Stitch; Chain Stitch; Lazy Daisy; Blanket Stitch; Herringbone Stitch; French Knots; Cross Stitch; and Satin Stitch) for both right-handers and left-handers.

The designs are then grouped into themes: Hearts and Buttons; Sewing Paraphernalia; Cooking themes; Bunnies and Daisies; Garden themes;  Travel designs and Christmas.

In the back are notes on techniques, including using a sewing machines; working with fusible webbing; edging with ric-rac braid; custom-made binding; bias binding; covered buttons; and design motifs.BlogEmbBooks3018-07-13 07.55.56Intermediate Embroiderers

Secret Garden Embroidery: 15 Projects for your Stitching Pleasure presented by What Delilah Did 2015

What Delilah Did (http://whatdelilahdid.bigcartel.com/product/secret-garden-embroidery) is the brain child of designer Sophie Simpson. This book is a whimsical collection of 15 botanically-inspired needlework projects based on counted stitch techniques including straight stitch, back stitch, cross stitch, herringbone stitch, Smyrna stitch, daisy stitch and French Knots.

These stitches are described in the first chapter, along with materials (counted thread fabrics: linen, evenweave cotton, Aida and waste canvas; and felt); threads (stranded cotton; tapestry wool; and metallic braids); needles; hoops and frames and other equipment (scissors, rotary cutters and shears; measuring tapes; pins; tailor’s chalk and water-erasable pens; tracing paper; and haemostats and point turners); and the basics of counted embroidery: reading counted embroidery charts; starting to stitch; preparing the thread and starting and finishing a thread.

Themes include buds and blossoms; birds, bees, bugs and butterflies; and rabbits and vegetable gardens) and I love the quirky tales about Miss Miranda Merriweather at the beginning of each chapter. Design templates are found in the back of the book, while the counted charts have their own special envelope. There is even a handwritten recipe for Miranda Merriweather’s Rose Petal Jam!

The designs are used to decorate 15 different projects from bracelets, lockets and jewellery rolls to purses, clutch bags and sash belts; sachets, pin cushions, cushions and bunting; spectacle cases and book bands; and triptychs, pictures and magnets.

I am very tempted to try making the cute bug magnets; the butterfly cross stitch hoop pictures; and the honey bee pin cushion.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-51Little Stitches: 100 + Sweet Embroidery Designs. 12 Projects by Aneela Hoey 2012

Very appropriately titled, it is indeed a sweet little book with lots of cute everyday designs for toys and balloons; houses and streetscapes; boats and cars; leaves and flowers; animals (snails, birds, mice, dogs, cats, squirrels and foxes); children and leisure activities (scooters and bicycles, swings, hobby horses, hoops, kites and rowing); fish bowls and snow globes; and sewing, knitting and washing lines.

Projects include: Pin cushions, needle cases, jar cozies and zip pouches; two cushion covers, baby quilts and Christmas Stockings; Coasters, hoop pictures, tissue box covers and hot water bottle covers.

It divides embroidery stitches into outline and filling stitches and discusses variations (number of floss strands and combining stitches); alternative embroidery patterns for each project; and quilt making and binding techniques.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-47Embroidery Pour Le Jardinier: 100 French Designs For the Gardener by Sylvie Blondeau 2010/2013

This small paperback is even better with some wonderful line designs for everything garden-related: Trees and flowers; cats and dogs; houses, sheds, streets and cars; outdoor furniture, watering cans, scarecrows, garden tools and wheel barrows; strawberries and cherries; tomatoes and pumpkins; dog kennels and bird houses; birds and owls, squirrels and hedgehogs; insects and fish; pot plants and fruit baskets; and dog walking and cooking.

Each double page design segment is illustrated with a colour photograph of the design, followed by a line drawing specifying stitches and DMC threads and photographs of suggested projects. These include: Tote bags and purses; cushion covers; badges, bracelets and hat bands; jam jar covers, thermos carriers, place mats and coasters; notebooks, boxes and gift tags; and even, bindle sticks.

In the back is a Collection of Stitches (outline/ filling/ borders and edgings); instructions for making all the projects and a recipe for Red Fruit Jam with a Tea Infusion!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-46Scandinavian Stitches: 21 Playful Projects with Seasonal Flair by Kajsa Wikman 2010

Another delightful book with some lovely projects from quilts and quilted baskets and bowls to wall hangings, pillows, pin cushions, coasters, scarves, pouches, ornaments, dolls and gardening angels.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-52 Techniques include quilting, appliqué and machine and hand embroidery. I love the quirky designs, especially the Gardening Angels, Fairy Angel Dolls and Tomte Stuffy  and the Merry Mouse Zippered Pouch, which I made for my youngest daughter.BlogCreativity140%Reszddec 2010 074

More Advanced Embroidery Patterns

Firstly, two very beautiful books by Japanese embroiderers, followed by four very stylish French books! Sashiko is a beautiful traditional form of Japanese embroidery, as can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fc6fA2Gdzvg. I would love to do more, but unfortunately, do not own any books on this topic, though there are many You Tube tutorials online!  I do however own the following books:

Artfully Embroidered: Motifs and Patterns For Bags and More by Naoko Shimoda 2012

Naoko uses embroidery and appliqué techniques and raffia, ribbon, beads and sequins to create 25 different designs fror use on handbags, totes, clutches, wallets and coin purses; handkerchiefs and brooches; and clothing and linen. I particularly loved her black on white Japanese Garden Bag, as seen on the front cover of the book. Absolutely stunning! Her coin purses, handkerchiefs and Ribbon Flower Evening Bag are also very pretty and appealing!

Each design is showcased on double page spreads in the front of the book, followed by General Notes on: Tools and Embroidery Supplies; Interfacing; Appliqué; Using soluble canvas; Embroidery with raffia, ribbons and beads; and of course, the embroidery stitches themselves, before addressing the patterns in detail: their materials and tools; cutting instructions; embroidery techniques; construction steps and finishing the project. Patterns are included in an envelope in the back.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-55

120 Original Embroidery Designs by Yoko Saito 2013

This is a lovely book, which uses patches of embroidery and simple outline stitches in 120 different patterns to make 20 different projects, including wall hangings, bags and pouches, coin purses and pencil cases, baskets and keepsake boxes, and even book covers. Using patches is a great idea, as they can be embroidered in limited time and space and also allows for a huge degree of flexibility and versatility in their application. For example, I used her nine dog and cat patches without all the quilting on a patchwork cushion rather than her designated wall hanging!BlogEmbBooks2015-09-01 08.56.44 - CopyHer patterns are organised into different sections titled: Animals and Living Creatures; Daily Necessities; Trees; Appliqué and Embroidery; Piecing and Embroidery; Numbers From 0 to 9; The Alphabet; Borders and Repeatable Patterns; and Buildings and Trees. There are ant farms and fishing boats; honeybees and jives; Scandinavian flowers and vases; houses and churches; planes and bicycles; tennis racquets, shoes, bags and Nantucket baskets; trees and flowers; and geometric shapes and lines.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-54

Projects are displayed throughout the book, with their patterns at the back (Materials; finished measurements; instructions and tips; and lots of diagrams and template patterns), along with notes on embroidering patterns; using embroidery floss and basic embroidery stitches. I love her muted colour range and will definitely be using more of her designs on future projects!

And while on the subject of Japanese embroiderers, while I don’t own any of her books, it is well worth checking out the exquisite work of Yumiko Huguchi at: http://yumikohiguchi.com/.

The next four books, while written by different authors, are all a similar size and shape, all belonging to the Made In France range of books produced by Murdoch Books. I am very tempted by the title of the other embroidery book: Sweet Treats in Cross-stitch by Tinou Le Joly Senoville and there is also a knitting and a patchwork book in the range. I am discussing them in order of publication date.

Linen and Thread: Creating Homewares Embellished with Embroidery and Ribbon by Monique Lyonnet 2007/2009

The use of cross-stitch and counted thread techniques and a very limited thread colour palette of red, white and blue, with the occasional black, on cream/ ivory, ecru (natural), red, slate blue and grey even weave linen, in common with the other books in the series, produces a very stylish, elegant, understated, organic and timeless look to the projects, which include: Cushions, bolsters and  footstools; Throw rugs and baby blankets; Bed linen and pillow cases; Pocket Tidies and nappy stackers; Table cloths, runners, place mats and napkins; Aprons and tea towels; Shelf edging; Linen pots and surprise bags; Advent calendars and notepads; Bracelets; Reversible pockets; Toiletry and laundry bags; and even phone pockets.

Each project includes a colour photo of the project, a sidebar detailing dimensions, materials, embroidery threads and stitches used; Instructions and cross-stitch charts.

Designs include: Written messages; numbers; abstract patterns; feathers; birds (swans and seagulls); and simple stylised trees.

In the back is a glossary of haberdashery terms; a few diagrams on mitred-corner hems; and a few tips between friends.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-57

Made in France: Cross Stitch and Embroidery in Red, White and Blue by Agn è s Delage-Calvet, Anne Sohier-Fournel, Muriel Brunet and Françoise Ritz  2009

I loved the cross-stitch and embroidery designs in this book, again executed in red, white and blue threads on white and cream, ecru and natural, and navy blue and red cotton and linen fabrics. There is perhaps a little more instruction on basic embroidery techniques than the last book, with introductory notes on getting started and centreing designs; transferring motifs; and a limited stitch library: cross-stitch; stem stitch; back stitch; straight stitch; French knots and detached chain stitch.

The majority of the book and all the projects are divided into three main sections based on colour: Red; White and Blue, though obviously the designs in each section could be embroidered in different colours and on different projects from the other sections.

Projects include: Cushions and lampshades; Bed linen, towels, throw rugs and pillow cases; Bags; Aprons and tea towels; Table cloths, runners and napkins; Clothing from vests and shoes to scarves, dresses, smocks and jackets; Pictures and samplers; and handkerchiefs, jam jar covers, markers, book covers and Christmas decorations.

There is a wealth of design ideas from flowers, fruits, animals (insects, snails, birds, fish, shells, marine life, tortoises, mice, sheep and cats), feathers, bows, stars, hearts and snowflakes to fairies and angels; Matryoshka dolls, toys and childhood games; figures and leisure activities; silhouettes; the built environment (houses, windmills and lighthouses); teapots and teacups; sewing tools; nautical and seasonal themes; and Christmas, Easter and Good Luck symbols. So many wonderful designs to choose and a great resource for embroiderers!BlogEmbBooks3018-07-13 07.55.49

Cross-Stitch and Embroidery For Babies, Toddlers and Children by Isabelle Leloup 2010/2011

This book contains some lovely designs for children’s clothing and rooms and uses a bit more colour, with the inclusion of pinks, greens and aquas. There are cot canopies, cot bumpers and curtains; bed linen; basket cloths and change mats; sleeping bags and; bags and purses; cushions; and book covers, samplers and pictures and a wide variety of clothing from bibs, bathrobes and slippers to  vests and tops; pyjamas; jumpsuits and  dresses. Designs are classical, traditional and timeless include: Hearts, fruit, leaves and flowers; trees and grasses; feathers, birds and angel wings; suns, moons and stars; hot air balloons and rockets; and chooks, sheep, butterflies and fish.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-59

Cross- Stitch Samplers: Elegant and Timeless Needlecraft Designs in Red and Blue by Marjorie Massey 2012

My final book in this range and perhaps my favourite in the series, even though it focuses solely on cross-stitched samplers with no other projects in mind! Designs include a variety of alphabets and abstract motifs; flowers and roses; fruit; snails, insects and birds (including a magnificent French cockerel); cats, sheep, donkeys, foxes, rabbits and  deer; houses and human figures; and  wreaths, garlands and bows. The monochrome designs look so effective in just red or blue, though some include different shades of blue.

BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-56

I loved cross-stitching my heart with two doves!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-61 This book is also an ideal lead in to my final section:

Other Cross-Stitch Patterns.

Storybook Favourites in Cross-Stitch by Gillian Souter 1995

Another great book for embroiderers with kids in their lives! The introduction includes notes on types of fabrics (evenweave linen and Aida); estimating fabric size; preparing the fabric; embroidery threads; needles and thread holders; reading charts; basic techniques (cross-stitch, back stitch and half-stitch); useful tips; and teaching cross-stitch to children.

In the Nursery, Peter Rabbit and other Beatrix Potter favourites adorn birth samplers, pincushions and lidded boxes; Blinky Bill features on cards and framed pictures; and Babar and his family are embroidered on toys, growth charts and bath wraps.

Toddlers enjoy bibs, towels, art folders, satchels and book bags, decorated with Spot, while Miffy, Pussy Nell and Snuffy decorate napkin rings, gift sacks, pyjamas and finger puppets and Stephen Cartwright’s Duck is stitched onto wash bags and cloth books. My youngest daughter loved Paddington Bear, who features on skivvies, place mats, shopping bags and aprons, while her older sister loved Rupert, who features in the next section: Growing Up.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1843I started making a Rupert Christmas stocking, though unfortunately, never finished it, though perhaps it is waiting for her child! It is also used for a patch, a pillowcase and a photo frame, while Peter Pan’s projects include a pyjama case and an album cover and Angelina, the ballerina, dances her way across ballet shoe bags, pictures, doorplates and cards.

I loved the Apple Tree Farm Alphabet sampler. Roll on, grandkids!!! I strongly suspect that I will be using this book extensively!!!BlogEmbBooks3018-07-13 07.55.36

The next two books are old favourites from the Danish Handcraft Guild (https://www.danish-handcraft-guild-uk.com/) and written by Gerda Bengtsson (1900-1995),  an internationally famous Danish embroiderer:

Flower Designs in Cross-Stitch by Gerda Bengtsson and Elsie Thordur-Hansen 1973

Birds, flowers, trees, garlands and wreaths are cross-stitched in Danish Flower Threads on small mats, runners, table cloths, tray cloths, cushions and wall hangings, made of coarse or fine open weave linen.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1881 The right-hand page has a colour plate of the design with a black-and-white cross-stitch chart on the left-hand page.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-45

I love all the designs in this book, particularly the seasonal birds (photo below), Spring bulbs and rose wreaths!BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1845Cross-Stitch Patterns in Color by Gerda Bengtsson  1974

This book follows a similar presentation and features more beautiful rose patterns; seasonal countryside and town scenes; and house plants in pots in window frames, which can be used to decorate doilies, table cloths, bell pulls, pillows and wall pictures.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-44

I have also used a number of pattern sheets over the years, like this wonderful pig cushion in the photo below:

BlogEmbBooks2518-06-04 12.28.29

which was stitched from the Never Eat More design in Oink, a Jeanette Crews pattern booklet by Mary Ellen Yanich,BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1860 but was particularly drawn to patterns by The Prairie Schooler (http://www.prairieschooler.com/), which started in 1984, but has unfortunately now closed. Their old patterns can be seen at: http://www.prairieschooler.com/inventory.htm and https://www.thesilverneedle.com/prairieschooler.html.

BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1855

Some of their patterns, which I own and have worked include:

Book No. 10 A Prairie Christmas  Jen’s camel needle case;

Book No. 32 Christmas Ark Yet to do;

Book No. 35 A Prairie Garden;

Book No. 49 Garden Verses Yet to do;

Book No. 54 Garden Beasties Snail, frog etc;BlogEmbBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-71Book No. 61 Garden Alphabet Yet to Do;

Book No. 63 Christmas Samplers Donkey, camel and cow;

The Prairie Schooler: Book No. 75: A Prairie Garden II; Flowers;BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-69

Book No. 94 Barnyard Christmas Yet to Do; and

Prairie Fairies from 1994 (Blackbird); 1995 (Swallow); 1996 (Snail) and 1997 (Hare).BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1864And finally, for those of you who would like to design your own cross-stitch, there is this last book:

Design Your Own Cross-Stitch To Complement Your Home by Shirley Watts 1997

Really, it’s very easy!  It’s all about playing with pattern. Grab that grid paper and your coloured pencils and off you go!! However, if you need some inspiration or ideas for projects, then this book should help!

Two of her first projects (a bell pull and a book cover), which are both very appealing and attractive, use simple geometric flower motifs in a range of four shades of the same colour, the selection made easier by the use of manufacturers shade cards. Shirley uses six-stranded DMC and single-stranded Danish Flower Threads on 14-count and 18-count Aida and 28-count Jobelan.

She is also inspired by Turkish kilims; folk art motifs; foliage and fruit; sea creatures and single-colour themes like blue and white Dutch windmills.  Shirley gives lots of practical advice on cross-stitch design and choice and preparation of of fabrics, as well as instructions for over 20 projects from trinket boxes, pendants, luggage tags and key rings to tablecloths, bath mats, guest towels, aprons, desk sets, framed pictures, footstools and mobiles.BlogEmbBooks25%DSCN1835And finally, do not forget that wonderful tool, the computer, for converting your favourite photos and images to cross-stitch patterns. There are numerous sites, including: https://www.pixel-stitch.net/;  http://www.myphotostitch.com/; http://www.picturecraftwork.com/en; and https://www.stitchfiddle.com/en.

Applique, patchwork and quilting often go hand in and with embroidery, so next month, I am introducing you to some of my favourite books in these areas! In the meantime, Happy Stitching!BlogCreativity2 30%Reszd2015-10-13 15.31.01

 

Books on Hand Embroidery Part Three: Traditional and Contemporary Embroidery

Embroidery has been practised by traditional peoples from all over the world for thousands of years to decorate their clothing and homeware. I find its enormous variation, its history, its use of symbolism and its close ties to culture endlessly fascinating and hence, own a number of books on the subject. One of my earliest reference books was:

Embroidery: Traditional Designs, Techniques and Patterns From All Over the World by Mary Gostelow 1977

Mary Gostelow (1959-) is a great authority on the subject and I was really interested to read about her background on: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1979/07/08/mary-gostelow-a-model-embroideress/37013fe4-8415-4730-af40-03a6ce3d8002/?utm_term=.8645b401ae26.

I loved the description in the article of embroidery as ‘the magic carpet that has flown Gostelow around the world and then some’. She has certainly had an interesting life pursuing her interest in embroidery and has written a large number of books on embroidery. See: https://biblio.com.au/mary-gostelow/author/72018 for a list.

She has shared her knowledge in this interesting book with individual chapters on thirteen different regions of the world, with subheadings for individual countries within those regions: Latin America; North America; Scandinavia; Western Europe; Eastern Europe and the Balkans; The Soviet Union; Eastern Mediterranean; Sub-Saharan Africa; North Africa; Western Asia; India; China; and East and South-East Asia. I think the only area missing, apart from Antarctica, is Australia !!!

In each chapter, she describes the religious, geographical and cultural factors that have shaped their embroidery. She discusses the characteristics of local designs, styles and techniques; traditional uses of fabric, yarn and dyes; and universal themes like the tree-of-life, which are interpreted in different ways by the different cultures. The text is supported by beautiful photographs, drawings, charts and diagrams, as well as adaptations of traditional designs for projects with full instructions. It is a very comprehensive book and even though it is now over forty years old, it is still worth owning!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-26Ethnic Embroidery: An Introduction With Special Reference to the Embroidery of China, India, Palestine and Yugoslavia by Margaret Ohms 1989

A slightly more specialised book with a narrower focus on these four areas famed for their embroidery. After defining embroidery and discussing the characteristics of ethnic embroidery, she looks at the embroidery styles and techniques of each area before discussing universal motifs, which appear in all areas: the rose or rosette; the carnation; the Tree of Life; cypress trees; peacocks; and pomegranates.

The rest of the book has a practical emphasis with chapters on stitches and techniques, including: Graphs and line drawings; borders; counted work; spot motifs and embroidered bags. For anyone interested in ethnic embroidery, especially that of China, India, Palestine and Yugoslavia, this book is fascinating.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-28

World Embroidery: 25 Original Projects From Traditional Designs by Caroline Crabtree 1993

Another book on ethnic embroidery, which has a very practical approach. Caroline  presents a variety of projects based on original designs, patterns and motifs with a brief history of cultural influences and detailed patterns and instructions for eight different areas: Australia; North America; Central and South America; West Africa; North Africa and the Middle East; Central Asia; India and Bangladesh; and Thailand.

Projects include: Clothing, bags, curtains, cushions, rugs, footstools, pictures, bed and table linen and box lids.

She explores a large number of different techniques, including cross stitch, appliqué, needlepoint, mirrorwork and surface embroidery. It is an excellent book for showcasing the wide range of different embroidery styles, as well as introducing the reader to more obscure terms like ‘namdha’, ‘bandhani’ and ‘kantha’. You will have to read the book to find out what they are!!!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-27

Embroidered Textiles: A World Guide to Traditional Patterns by Sheila Paine 1990/ 2008

The ultimate reference guide to traditional embroidery!

Sheila Paine (1930-) is another embroidery expert, who has led an amazing life through her research. See: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/4191764/A-life-richly-woven-with-discovery-and-design.html.

She is a world expert on ethnic textiles and tribal societies, especially the lives of tribal women, and has written a number of books on embroidery. See: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/155813.Sheila_Paine.

I love this book! It is so comprehensive and has wonderful photographs! It is divided into four sections titled:

Guide to Identification: Embroidery origins can be identified by regional characteristics: the items embroidered, their cut and fabric; and their decorative materials, stitching, motifs and styles. Sheila examines the embroidery of the Far East (China, Korea, Japan, Indo-China and Oceania); the Indian sub-continent (India and Pakistan); Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Kirghizstan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan); the Middle East (Iran, Gulf States, Yemen, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Turkey); West, Central and East Africa (Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Liberia, Chad, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and South Africa); North Africa (Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco); South East Europe (Greece and Greek Islands, Cyprus, the Balkans and  Albania); Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Caucasus); the Baltic States (Poland, Lithuania and Latvia); Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland,Denmark and Iceland); Central Europe (Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic); Western Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, The Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal); North America (Native American tribes); Central America (Mexico, Guatemala and Panama); and finally, South America (Bolivia and Peru).

The Decorative Power of Cult: Universal designs and motifs and their differing depiction in different cultures. They include: the Great Goddess and her acolytes and associated symbols; Other symbols of fertility; the Tree of Life; the Tree of Knowledge; the Hunt, including notes on horned and antlered animals and shamanism; Birds; and the Sun.

Religion and Its Patterns: Embroideries from cultures practising Taoism, Buddhism; Hinduism, Islam, Zoroastrianism and Christianity.

The Magical Source of Protection: Discusses the use of embroidery to protect against evil spirits and includes headwear, breastplates and stomachers, shoulders and sleeves, and the sexual region, as well as edgings, seams, pockets, the neck and the hem. Protective patterns include the triangle, zigzag and rhomb; circles and their derivations, numbers and  the hand and fish and are particularly powerful when repeated or positioned strategically or by adding additional protective materials like tassels, beads, sequins, coins, mirrors and shells. Colour symbolism and the power of red is discussed, as well as key times, when ritual and embroidery play a major part: birth, marriage, burial, funerals, mourning, headhunting, festivities and holy places.

In the back is a dictionary of stitches, a glossary of terms, a bibliography for further reading and a list of museums and embroidery collections, as well as notes on collecting embroidery. This is a fabulous book and essential for serious students of embroidery history and ethnology.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-31Embroidery From Palestine by Shelagh Weir 2006

A much smaller and more specific book, focusing on the beautiful embroidery, appliqué and patchwork practised by rural Arab women in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Its origins and influences, cultural context, main types of ornamentation, materials used, different styles and techniques from Galilee, Southern Palestine and Bethlehem, and changes over time are discussed before a detailed appraisal with full colour photographs (general and detailed closeups) of twenty embroidered items, including coats, dresses, jackets and veils. Palestinian embroidery is just so beautiful!BlogEmbBooks3018-07-12 16.57.58Embroidery of the Greek Islands and Epirus Region: Harpies, Mermaids and Tulips by Sumru Belger Krody 2006

Written by the Associate Curator of the Eastern Hemisphere Collection of The Textile Museum to accompany a major exhibition (with the same name in March 2006) of embroidered textiles of the Aegean and Ionian islands and the Epirus region of Greece from the early 17th century to the early 19th century. See: https://museum.gwu.edu/harpies-mermaids-and-tulips-embroidery-greek-islands-and-epirus-region.

The Textile Museum, Washington DC, is a specialised museum focusing on traditional embroidery and was founded by George Hewitt Myer in 1925. This amazing collection contains more than 20 000 textiles and related objects, representing 5000 years and 5 continents, including the cultures of the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Indigenous America. It is well worth visiting its website at: https://museum.gwu.edu/textile-museum.

This book catalogues and describes the huge diversity of embroidery from this relatively small area and the uses, distinguishing characteristics and method of production of embroidery styles in each area, as well as examining its political, economic, social/ cultural and foreign influences (Greece, Venice and the Ottoman world).

The book is divided into the different areas: Crete, Cyclades and Northern Dodecanese, Rhodes and the Southern Dodecanese, Skyros  and the Northern Sporades, Epirus, the Ionian islands, and Argyrokastron (Southern Albania) and Chios. Chapters are divided into sections: Function and Form; Method and Motif; and History and Influence.

This is a very comprehensive and beautiful book with fabulous full colour photographs of seventy items produced for the bridal trousseau and used in domestic life: Traditional dresses, skirts, blouses, bedspreads, valances, pillow cases and bed tent curtain panels, complete with detailed close-ups of embroidery stitches and techniques.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-29Bright Flowers: Textiles and Ceramics of Central Asia by Christine Sumner and Guy Petherbridge 2004

Another catalogue, which accompanied a fabulous international loan exhibition of the same name of colourful urban embroideries and glazed ceramics from the state museum collections of Central Asia, which we attended at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney in 2004. See: https://maas.museum/event/bright-flowers-textiles-and-ceramics-of-central-asia/ and https://www.smh.com.au/news/Review/Bright-Flowers-Textiles-and-Ceramics-of-Central-Asia/2005/02/03/1107409979750.html.

This beautiful book introduces the reader to the Silk Road countries of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, its different peoples and cultures, influences and history, its ancient craft traditions, the role of embroidery and daily lives of women, the symbols and materials used, and the different style and techniques of embroidery and their changes over time.

There are many fabulous colourful photographs of brightly embroidered or ikat-dyed clothing in bold designs (boots, hats, coats, dresses, robes, headdresses and veils), elaborate tribal jewellery and stunning bed linen, prayer mats, mirror bags, fans, horse blankets  and embroidered wall hangings named suzanis after the Farsi word for needle. The latter are chainstitched  with a tambour in handspun, natural dyed silk thread on background handwoven cotton in symbolic designs including the fertility symbols of pomegranates, flowers and moons and jagged points to protect the owner from evil. They are absolutely gorgeous!

There is also a large section on ceramics, the flowers of the kiln – its history, glazing styles, potters and wonderful pots dating from the 9th century. It is certainly a very interesting book!

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Books about Contemporary Embroidery Artists

There are some amazingly talented contemporary embroiderers and the following books showcase their inspiring work .

Annemieke Mein (1944-)

I am starting with a book about an Australian artist, Annemieke Mein (1944-), whose work I have loved for a very long time and which we have seen exhibited in the Gippsland Art Gallery in her hometown of  Sale, Victoria.

The Art of Annemieke Mein: Wildlife Artist in Textiles by Annemieke Mein 1992

A keen environmentalist and lover of nature, Annemieke embroiders beautiful artwork based on her local flora and fauna: Coastal banksia, eucalypts, wattles and pittosporum and birds (white-faced heron, gulls, silvereyes, fantails, blue wrens and fledglings in nests), frogs, reptiles (Eastern water dragon), marine creatures (sea urchins, barnacles, mussels and kelp) and a wide variety of insects (dragonflies, grasshoppers, lacewings, beetles, wasps, mayflies, sawflies, butterflies and moths, and caterpillars and cocoons).

Her work is naturalistic, three-dimensional and highly textural and she uses fabric painting and dyeing; appliqué, quilting and trapunto; pleating, moulding and sculpting, felting, spinning and weaving; plying, stiffening and wiring; and machine and hand embroidery in limitless combinations on silk, wool, fur, cotton and synthetics to create her distinctive sculptures, wall hangings and wearable art.

These works are showcased in the book, along with notes about the flora and fauna depicted, her thoughts on its design, the techniques and materials used, the development of the piece from initial sketch and fabric swatches to the completed artwork and the history of the piece.

I love the way she often mimics natural history illustrations with the inclusion of pencil sketches and outlines in the background; her setting of the creature in its natural environment and the liveliness of the composition and sense of movement; and the 3-D nature of the work, as well as all her different textures, which make you want to touch her work, and her muted natural colour palette. She is an incredibly talented artist, who also produces bas-relief bronze sculptures as well!

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You can see more of her work on her website at: http://www.annemiekemein.net.au/contents.htm. In particular, check out her slideshow on: http://www.annemiekemein.net.au/Video.htm. Click on the purple highlighted link for Superb Blue Wrens.

Jane Hall    http://clothofnature.com/

Jane is the British equivalent of Annemieke Mein, both in her natural subject matter (British flora and fauna) and the three-dimensionality of her work.

The Art and Embroidery of Jane Hall: Reflections of Nature 2007

This is a beautiful and very inspiring book. Jane loves to work with silk in its natural undyed state, then mixes and merges dyes, which she paints onto the fabric in a loose painterly style, often crumpling the fabric as she works.

In her first chapter, she discusses the materials she uses: the fabrics, needles and threads, wires , frames, found objects like beach combings, semi-precious stones, seeds, dried flowers, lichens, insects and feathers, which she keeps in old printers’ trays; and artistic tools used in fieldwork (camera, sketching pencils and sketchpad) and her studio (drawing boards, water colour pencils). She also discusses her main subjects: Butterflies; Insects (Dragonflies, Lacewings, Bumble Bees, Ladybirds and Spiders); Flowers and Leaves; and Figures and Fish, with brief notes on their depiction and construction.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-34

However, the majority of the book is devoted to a detailed discussion of her artworks: their inspiration and conception and their articulation and development, with closeup photographs of particular techniques or points of interest in the particular work. These artworks include:

Cloth of Bark: Bark, Lichen, Nests and Moths;

Snowdrop Illumination: Snowdrops, Borders; Lacewings, Beetles and Butterflies;

Clematis Reflection: Bine and Butterflies;

Sea Pink: Background; Flowers; and  Frame;

Falling Leaves: Leaves and Butterflies;

Sunshine: Butterflies and Background;

Leaf Fall: Leaves and Fish;

Hope: Angel; Feathers; Lacewings; and Background;

Asrai: Mermaid and Background;

Autumn Reflection: Umbels and Leaves; Background;  and Butterflies;

Through the Seasons: Umbels and Leaves; Foliage; Beetles; Moths; Lacewings; Cranefly and Cobwebs;

Daisies: Daisies; Butterflies; and Daisy Chain;

Winter Reflections: Background; Frame; and Angel;

Dragonfly Dance: Stream, Dragonfly; Forget-me-nots; and Moths;

Sunlight: Aconites and Butterflies;

Day Spring: Anemones; Stitchwort; Red Campion; Herb Robert; Speedwell and Butterflies.

Her work is so detailed and exquisite and is a celebration of nature and a wonderful source of inspiration, rather than a detailed instruction guide.

Helen M  Stevens (1956-)     http://www.helenmstevens.info/

Helen is another very well-known British embroiderer, who has written many books and does beautiful work, though it is more two-dimensional and in this respect, more traditional than the previous two contemporary embroiderers.

The Embroiderer’s Countryside 1992

This book, and consequently her artwork, is divided into the different aspects of the countryside: Spring Hedgerow; the Woodland Floor; Summer Meadows; the River Bank; Autumn Leaves; The Vanishing Heath; and Winter Evenings. In each section, she discusses their main features, with colour plates of her artworks and notes to illustrate her rendering of each feature.

She imparts her knowledge generously in a chatty conversational style and gives the reader plenty of food for thought. The appendix covers the practicalities: Lighting; Frames and Hoops; Materials and Threads; Transferring Designs; and Mounting and Framing the Finished Work.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-36

Her love of the British countryside and all its inhabitants is obvious in her lovely depictions of trees and flowers; churches and houses; birds and insects and very cute field mice, hedgehogs, squirrels, rabbits and weasels. I particularly liked the dramatic contrast of the bright silk and metallic threads against a black plain background.

Helen M Steven’s World of Embroidery 2002/2007

This next book is presented in a similar format, but with a larger scope with chapters titled: Sea Fever; Europa; The Sands of Time; New Worlds; City Lights; The High Country; and Xanadu. Like the previous book, inspiration comes from Nature, but also  travel, history, literature and mythology, and the imagination. It has allowed her to explore all her passions and show the limitless font of inspiration for embroiderers and artists.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-35Again, the appendices include:

Basic Techniques: Shadow Lining and Voiding; Featherwork; Embroidery Stitches; Floating Embroidery; Etching; Dotting and Dashing; Miniaturizing; and

The Practicalities: Identical to the previous book, but with extra notes on Twisting Floss Silk; Using Blending Filaments; and Working Large Canvases.

Ellen Anne Eddy  http://ellenanneeddy.blogspot.com.au/

Ellen hails from the United States and also loves her natural world, but she uses the sewing machine to produce her embroidered artworks. Her style is quite bold and modern and very colourful.

Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy  1997/2005

While the previous artists used their artwork to illustrate particular techniques or points of interest, Ellen presents her artworks straight up at the beginning of the book, followed by technical information on:

Materials: Cottons; Sheers; Stabilizers and Battings;

Threads: Embroidery threads; Metallic threads; Thick threads; Novelty Yarns; and Utility Threads;

Tools: Sewing Machines; Maintenance; Needles; Darning Feet; and Basting Guns;

Designing in Colour: Colour Theory; and Hand-Dyeing Fabric;

Background Fabric: Pieced Backgrounds; Thread Effects; Stippling; Outlines and Contrast; and Shading Appliqués;

Drawing and Design: Design Plan; and Copyright Laws;

Machine Embroidery: Threads; Stitches; Controlling Distortion; Embroidered Appliqués; Three-Dimensional Appliqués and Machine-made Lace;

Making Sheer Magic: Cutaway Appliqué; Fused Appliqué; and Encased Edges;

Applying Embroidered Appliqués;

Stitching in Free-Motion: Contour Drawing; Stippling; and Signatures;

Embellishing the Quilt Top: Stitched Details; and Machine Beading;

Building the Perfect Quilt Sandwich and Quilting with Free-Motion Techniques; and Rehabilitating Troubled Quilts: Steaming; Blocking; Getting Even; Fixing Wavy Quilts; Gathering into the Binding; Rebacking; and Adding Rod Pockets.

There is so much information in this book and I like its organized presentation. It is a terrific book, especially if like me, you are new to machine embroidery!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-37

In my final post on embroidery books next week, I am featuring some terrific pattern books, which I have used many times in my hand embroidery journey!

Books on Hand Embroidery Part Two: Stitch Dictionaries and Specialised Guides

Every  embroiderer needs one or two books, specifically on embroidery stitches, though most of them also discuss materials and other techniques. Here are some suggestions:

Stitches For Embroidery by Heather Joynes 1991

Stitch samplers are a great way to practice technique and the colourful sampler at the beginning of this book showcases the twenty embroidery stitches taught. Here is a photo of one of my children’s beginner samplers.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1897 The use of these stitches and their differing visual effects, according to application and the use of different threads, is then illustrated in portraying lines; different textures (including the depiction of feathers and  resin); the filling of shapes and a variety of subject matter from leaves and foliage; stems, trunks and branches; flowers, trees, sky and clouds, water and architecture. The photo below shows a variety of effects using the same stitch (seed or running stitch), but with different thread combinations and colours.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1883 Stitch combinations and patterns are also discussed in detail, along with hints about getting it all together in a finished design. The photo below also shows the variations in the same pattern, which can be produced with the application of different combinations of thread colour. BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1887 An excellent book for beginner embroiderers.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-12

A-Z of Embroidery Stitches Country Bumpkin Publications 1997

A comprehensive guide to over 66 stitches and their variations, as well as a number of different embroidery techniques including wool and ribbon embroidery, cutwork, shadow work, Bokhara and Roumanian couching , making eyelets, faggotting, laidwork, and needle weaving. There are lots of hints throughout the book on transferring designs; materials and needles; threading needles; threads and hoops; finishing and framing; thread painting and even, left-handed stitching. I liked this book for its presentation, each stitch with its own page of photographed step-by-step diagrams, variations and suggestions for use.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-16Readers’ Digest Complete Guide to Embroidery Stitches: Photographs, Diagrams and Instructions For Over 260 Stitches by Jennifer Campbell and Ann-Marie Bakewell 2006

An even more comprehensive coverage in a neat simple compact format. The book is divided into five sections:

Starting To Embroider: the Basics:  Fabrics, threads, needles and hoops and frames; Blocking; Using designs and charts; and basic stitching techniques (fabric preparation, threading a needle, beginning and ending a thread and working comfortably);

Embroidery on Fabric: Surface embroidery (crewel work, cutwork, shadow work, candlewick, metallic threads, quilting and appliqué; raised work and creating a design);  Counted thread work (cross stitch, Assisi work, Blackwork,  drawn thread work, pulled fabric work, and Hardanger embroidery); Beadwork and all the basic embroidery stitches, divided into line, chain, crossed, blanket, feather, isolated, couching, satin, woven, woven filling, insertion, drawn-thread and pulled stitches;

Smocking: Techniques and stitches;

Embroidery on Canvas: Materials, techniques (Florentine work or Bargello, Berlin woolwork,  and Long stitch); and all the basic canvas stitches, again divided into categories: Diagonal stitches, Cross stitches, Star stitches, Straight stitches, Fan stitches, Square stitches, Braid and Knot stitches and Loop stitches; and

Finished Embroidery: Caring (Cleaning, ironing and storing) and display (mounting, framing, lining and hanging).BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1898All stitches are well explained with annotated diagrams and coloured photographs. An excellent dictionary of embroidery stitches for both the beginner and more advanced embroiderer. It is so much fun playing with all the different stitches and colours!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-14

And for the more serious embroidery student:

Encyclopaedia of Embroidery Stitches Including Crewel by Marion Nichols 1974

There are ten basic families of stitches in this book: Straight, Back, Chain, Buttonhole or Blanket, Fly or Feather, Cross, Knots, Composite, Couched or Laid, and Woven. The stitches in each family are further divided into six categories of progressive difficulty, starting with the basic stitch and developing increasingly sophisticated variations. These stages are as follows: Isolated (Basic stitch), Line, Angled, Stacked, Grouped and Combined.

A sampler chart and a summary of the progression of stitches is included at the beginning of each family chapter, followed by individual pages for each stitch and its variations, with  illustrations and step-by-step instructions and notes on rhythm, uses and helpful remarks. A very logical and comprehensive guide!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-18

The Stitches of Creative Embroidery by Jacqueline Enthoven 1987 Revised and Enlarged Edition 1996

A mix between an embroidery guide and a dictionary of stitches, I quite liked the more personal chatty style of this book with its all lovely stitch samplers, historical photographs and gallery of applications. Jacqueline divides her stitches into five groupings: Flat, Looped, Chained, Knotted and Couching and Laid Work. She also has notes on finishing and using embroidery samplers; creating borders; working with geometric designs; working on plain and printed fabrics; embroidering flower shapes; joining and edgings; and suggestions for the use of embroidery on clothes, wall hangings and space dividers, and table cloths and runners and cushions.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-17

More Specialised Embroidery Guides

Mark Making in Textile Art by Helen Parrott

The basic premise behind this book is that embroidery is basically mark making or drawing with a needle and thread instead of a pencil. It covers the journey from inspiration and ideas to marks on paper and in stitch and finally, the completed artwork.

The first few chapters focus on marks- their characteristics (shape and direction, scale,  location and placement, colour, texture and form, origin and purpose, relationship to time, number and variability, and repetition and density); and observation, recording (sketching and photography), collection and storage.

Next, mark making on a range of different papers with pens, pencils and crayons; using resists; monoprinting with finger patterns, textured surfaces and blocks; and framing and presenting works. Below is a photo of my unconventional stitch sampler portraying Blanket and Chain stitches, including Detached Chain and Lazy Daisy stitches.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1889Stitch marks follow with notes on needle and thread selection, hand-stitched marks (running stitch, including radiant and spiral stitch patterns; loop stitch; knots and ties including reef knots and French knots); machine-stitched marks (free-machined marks,single marks, massed stitch marks, all-over stitch marks, continuous lines, dots webs and tufts, layered stitch marks, and working with single or mixed and contrasting colours). My creativity really went wild with my next piece of experimentation!BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1893The final chapters cover sources of inspiration, using a sketchbook, choosing a focus, materials and equipment, threads and fabrics, sampling, building a reference collection,  and finishing work; strategies for living a creative life, including  time and work spaces, health and safety, motivation and breaks, membership of groups and resolving creator’s block; and lists of resources ( materials and equipment), suppliers, organisations and inspiring places to visit in the United Kingdom. BlogFeltBooks2515-06-16 14.41.37

With lots of practical exercises, this book is all about experimentation and exploration and developing your own creative voice and potential. The cushion above is another form of stitch sampler in both the vase and the different flowers!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-19Embroidered Purses: Design and Techniques by Linda Tudor 2004

Embroidery has been a perfect medium to decorate bags and purses for millennia. In fact, as far back as 2400 BC, Assyrians carried medicine in special bags called ‘naruqqu’, one of the facts I learned from reading this interesting book. It starts with an examination of the history of purses, as well as different purses from around the world. Did you know that 17th century sweet purses contained perfumed powders to counteract bad odours and were hung from the belt and secreted in the folds of the skirt, while Chinese men and women also wore incense purses around the neck or waist, no doubt for a similar reason.

The next chapter discusses the role of the purse as a container and the process of purse design- its shape, sources of inspiration, equipment, material, pattern making, colour, decoration and finishing. I loved Emily Jo Gibb’s horse-chestnut purse, Conker, found in the Victoria and Albert Museum. (https://www.emilyjogibbs.co.uk/archive/ and https://www.textileartist.org/emily-jo-gibbs-interview-immediacy-of-textiles/). She too is a member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists and teaches regularly at West Dean College, United Kingdom.  Quite inspiring, as I have always wanted to design a purse based on the seedpods of Native Frangipani!

The book goes on to examine different types of purses: simple two-sided purses, folded purses, reverse-appliqued silk clutch purses, gusseted purses, drawstring purses and box purses, including patterns and variations and a gallery of photographs.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-20

Finishing techniques, including making bias strips, rouleaux and borders; bound edges; using bondaweb and cutting bonded fabrics; English and Seminole patchwork; lace making; canvaswork; cords, handles and tassels; embellishments with embroidery stitches and beads; and fastenings are all discussed. Finally, there is a list of purse collections around the world, including The Victoria and Albert Museum, UK  (www.vam.ac.uk) and the Museum of Bags and Purses, Tassen, The Netherlands: https://tassenmuseum.nl/en/collection-exhibitions/collection/.

The Art of the Handbag: Crazy Beautiful Bags by Clare Anthony 2013 is a similar book, which I would love to read one day!

Embroidered Garden Flowers 1991 and Embroidery From the Garden 1997 by Diana Lampe

Perfect for craftspeople with a shared love of the garden AND embroidery! Diana Lampe has written six books, however I only own the first and the third. See: http://dianalampe.com.au/ for a list of her embroidery books. She is one of Australia’s most successful non-fiction writers having sold more than 120, 000 copies of her books worldwide. She is also a passionate food writer with some delicious recipes on her website as well! But back to my two books!

Both books follow a similar format and can stand alone on their own merit and be used separately. After initial chapters on materials and equipment, design and proportion, finishing and framing and sewing notes, Diana describes various designs and projects, accompanied by colour photographs and keyed diagrams.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-21Her first book Embroidered Garden Flowers 1991  contains designs for a Traditional Cottage Garden, a Spring Garden, a Spring Garland, embroidered initials, flower samplers and some gift suggestions (lavender sachets, towels, coat hangers, Spring baskets, pin cushions,brooches, jumpers, cushions and handkerchiefs), while Embroidery From the Garden 1997 focuses on South African flowers with designs for a Strelitzia Garden, a Protea Garden, a Garland of South African Flowers, another flower sampler and more projects (table linen, brooch, coat hanger, spectacle case, cushion, pincushion, needle case and mirror).BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-22A large section of her books is devoted to a Flower Glossary, detailing threads, number of strands and stitches and method, with explanatory diagrams on each page. Not only plants are featured. There are also embroidery instructions for gardener’s friends (pussy cat, butterfly, spider and web) and pests (snail), as well as built features in the garden like flagstones, pergolas and terracotta pots.

The flower glossary is followed by a Stitch Glossary, with instructions and diagrams for each type of embroidery stitch. The appendix includes a list of flowers in each garden design, as well as the DMC threads used; and detailed notes on framing.

Finally, three books on 3-D embroidery!

Stumpwork Embroidery: A Collection of Fruits, Flowers and Insects for Contemporary Raised Embroidery by Jane Nicholas 1995

Stumpwork is a style of heavily padded and raised embroidery, practiced from 1650 to 1700 in England, where it was called known raised or embossed work, but now given new life and exposure by Jane Nicholas. She certainly does beautiful work and has made an extensive study of the subject in response to the dearth of comprehensive instruction at the time .

In this definitive guide, she discusses:

Materials and Equipment: Fabric, threads (cotton, silk, synthetic and metallic), needles, hoops and frames, beads and sequins, wire and miscellaneous treasures;

General Instructions: Raised applied fabric or needlepoint shapes; padded needle lace or embroidered shapes; raised detached fabric, needle lace or wire shapes; methods for working leaves and stems; attaching wire to the main background; padding with felt; using paper-backed fusible web; transferring designs to fabric (tracing paper and pencil, carbon paper, basting); and finishing techniques (framing and mounting inside a box lid, in a paperweight, or on a brooch); and

Individual Elements: Making acorns;different types of flowers, leaves, vegetables and fruit/berries; insects: bees, butterflies, crickets, dragonflies, ladybirds, hoverflies and spiders; hedgehogs, owls and snails;

With ideas and detailed instructions for embroidering different designs for a variety of projects from brooches to pictures and mirror frames, as well as a Stitch Glossary of all the embroidery stitches used in the back of the book.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-23

Embroidered Flora and Fauna: Three-Dimensional Textural Embroidery by Lesley Turpin-Dleport and Nikki Delport-Wepener 2008

This lovely book develops 3-D embroidery even further with the depiction of flora and fauna. I really like their style, which I feel is more informal than the previous book. It’s a wonderful book for texture, using lots of different types of threads (stranded cotton, perle cotton, soft or tapestry cotton, flower thread, tapestry wool, crewel wool, crazy wools, yarn, chenille, boucle, round rayon cord, flat knitted rayon ribbon, space-dyed and variegated threads, quilting threads, silk, viscose, linen and metallic) and ribbons (silk, organza, rayon and satin) and techniques (Trapunto, Casal Guidi and corded quilting from the Italian Renaissance; goldwork and stumpwork from the Elizabethan Era; Jacobean crewel work; Victorian ribbon work and tucks and pleats; tassels, fringing and ribbon roses from the 1920s and contemporary hand and machine embroidery, ribbon work and smocking).

Tools and materials are listed in The Sewing Basket, followed by a large section on basic techniques, including photo transfers, fabric preparation, scale and shading, working with textured threads, appliqué, wire work, stumpwork, trapunto quilting, ribbon work, beading, machine stitching and working with felt, net and metallic threads.

There are also some beautiful embroidery designs for application to:

Kitchen and Dining Room: Tablecloths and tray cloths, serviettes and place mats, tea towels and aprons, oven mitts and pot holders, tea cosy and mesh food cover;

Bedroom: Sheet sets and pillow cases, quilts and duvet covers, hangers and tissue box covers;

Bathroom: Bath sheets and towels, laundry and cosmetic bags;

Living Areas: Lampshades and curtains, cushions and throws, pictures and picture frames, and embroidered boxes,book covers,  flower arrangements and fire screens; and

Clothing: Pyjamas, beach gear, jeans and children’s clothes.

They are divided into 12 colour groupings: Oyster, yellow, salmon, pink, red, burgundy, brown, lilac and lavender, blue, indigo, and grey, black and white. Materials, instructions and colour photographs are provided for each embroidery design, with a stitch glossary and design patterns in the back of the book. I particularly loved the Gerberas, the Light Sussex Rooster and the Barred Owlets! It is a really beautiful book!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-24

Three-Dimensional Embroidery: Methods of Construction For the Third Dimension by Janet Edmonds 2005

In this original and specialised book, Janet explores a wide range of construction methods, including coiling with wrapped cords, building with flat pieces, fabric manipulation with tucks and gathers and using heat-reactive or dissolvable fabric to create 3-D forms, including boxes, bags and advanced geometric shapes and freeform embroidery pieces.

After initial chapters on the design brief, research, mulling time, the design process and a wide variety of materials, tools and equipment, different construction methods are discussed, including practice exercises and projects:

Constructing with Flat Pieces: Geometrics; squares and rectangles; gift boxes; triangles; cylinders; and strips and slices and freeform.

Continuous Lengths: Coiling with wrapped cores; and freeform building;

Manipulated Methods:

Fabrics: Gathering, tucks and pleats, darts, stuffed shapes; heated acrylic felt or Tyvek; and knitting and weaving;

Paper and Wire techniques;

Beads;

Soft: Stuffed fabric tubes; and wrapped or rolled fabric;

Hard: Tyvek; clay; plastics; wood; wire; and commercial beads;

Finishing Techniques: Edges and rims; wire armature; wood or card base; wire support; feet; and lids.

Like the first book in this post, it has an experimental bias and is all about exploring new boundaries!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-25

Next week, I will be featuring books about some wonderfully creative and talented contemporary embroiderers, as well as informative books about ethnic embroidery around the world.

Books on Embroidery Part One: General Guides

After years of experimenting with different arts and crafts, I have settled on embroidery as my favoured form of artistic expression, specifically hand embroidery. It is basically a form of drawing with thread and allows for much creative freedom in interpretation of subject matter, as well as a degree of three-dimensionality if desired.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1878 As can be expected, I own many wonderful books on the subject, which I have divided into four groups (and hence posts) from basic embroidery (this post) to more specialised how-to guides and stitch dictionaries (next week); beautiful volumes showcasing the work of other talented embroiderers, as well as those from the past and different cultures (third post on embroidery books); and a plethora of pattern books and designs (last post). Here is another simple example of drawing with thread:BlogEmbBooks2518-07-12 13.26.20 Please note that while some of these books may briefly mention machine embroidery, it is not really my thing, so there are very few books on this subject in this post.

How-To Guides For Hand Embroidery

The Essential Guide To Embroidery Murdoch Books 2002

Written by a number of contributors, this is a good basic introductory guide to the wide range of embroidery techniques and styles from counted techniques (cross stitch, blackwork and canvas work) and openwork (pulled and drawn work, Hardanger and cutwork) to surface stitchery (whitework, shadow work, silk shading, crewel work, free embroidery and machine embroidery) and embellishing the surface (stumpwork, ribbon embroidery, goldwork and beadwork). Here is a photo of my cool colour palette threads.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1868There is also a good introduction with information on needles; sewing machines; embroidery frames; tools; fabrics; threads; embellishments; basic techniques; working from charts and diagrams; making up; sources of inspiration; developing design ideas; exploring colour palettes; and painting fabrics. Below is a photo of more tools of the trade: Pins and needles, scissors, ruler and embroidery hoops of varying sizes.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1872 Each section on the different techniques includes its history, characteristics and different forms; stitches and techniques, including sources of inspiration and helpful hints; and projects based on the specific technique. This is an excellent book for beginners, as well as showing the wide diversity of embroidery styles and applications.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-3Anchor Complete Embroidery Course by Christine Marsh 1998

A very useful practical guide for beginners, starting with a discussion of materials and equipment (needles, fabrics, threads, frames and other equipment); preparing and transferring designs (soluble pen, transfer pencil, dressmaker’s carbon or tacking); working with patterns, charts, and embroidery hoops and frames; starting and finishing; and mounting work, before providing a teaching course of increasing complexity.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1874 Beginning with Just Five Stitches (backstitch, French knot, lazy-daisy stitch, satin stitch and blanket stitch), it progresses from chapters on stems and outlines, knots and dots, and chains and loops through to solid and open fillings, borders and bands; and mix and match (combining techniques, adapting designs and changing materials and colour schemes). This sampler shows the use of chain and running stitch.BlogEmbBooks2518-07-12 13.25.18

Each stitch is well-described with three clear and easy-to-understand  step-by-step diagrams and explanatory text and is complemented by attractive practice projects with creative options. This is an excellent book for the beginner embroiderer!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-4

While there are a huge number of embroidery books written by some very talented artists, these are a few that I have found particularly useful.

Winsome Douglass (1919-2016)

Winsome was a very talented artist and a wonderful teacher, who wrote three books on embroidery and toymaking in the late 1950s, which have all since been reprinted.

Discovering Embroidery  1956/ 2010

This is my embroidery bible ! Not only does she describe and teach all the stitches (basic, more complicated and filling stitches) well, but she has delightful designs and patterns for projects from pincushions, tea cosies, wall pockets, cushions, boxes and cloth trays to bags, belts, caps, and toys like my felt embroidered balls, shown in the photo below.BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-112 She has notes on colour schemes and design, designing with cut paper, appliqué and shadow work, needle weaving, quilting and smocking, and finishing (hems, edges, cords, tassels, fringes, handles, fastenings).

BlogEmbBooks2518-07-12 12.08.52

This book is so inspiring, as is her other book in my craft library: Toys for Your Delight 1957/ 1973. I would also love to buy her book: Decorative Stuffed Toys for the Needleworker 1984.

Barbara Snook (1913-1976)

Another favourite embroidery teacher, who wrote a large number of books on embroidery; soft toys and puppets; fancy dress costumes and masks; and children’s clothes and stitching in the 1960s and 1970s through to the 1980s. I own two of her books:

The Creative Art of Embroidery 1972

After an excellent introduction to the history; the different national styles of embroidery (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, Roumania and Yugoslavia); tools and equipment, especially threads and fabrics; and a library of basic free embroidery stitches, Barbara discusses lettering, alphabets and monograms; beads and sequins; and designs and finishing touches, as well as other techniques like cutwork, counted thread work, drawn thread work and machine embroidery. Throughout the book are designs and patterns for projects including Christmas decorations , tablecloths and mats, sheet and towel sets, aprons, pictures, bags, spectacle cases and children’s clothing.

BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-5

Learning to Sew 1962, 1985

Aimed at 9 to 12 year-olds, this is a terrific book for teaching children to sew. Part One covers the basic equipment, material and stitches, as well as making seams, hems and bias binding, while Part Two examines pattern and colour, sources of inspiration, and  the development of basic designs. The majority of the book is devoted to Part Three and the provision of working diagrams for a number of projects from aprons and bibs, table cloths and tray mats, tea cosies and oven cloths, towels and cushion covers to cases, pin cushions, bags, toys and children’s clothes. Text is minimal with the tuition provided by wonderful simple sketches and fun designs, which make it a very attractive book for the beginner embroiderer as well!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-6

Like Winsome, she also wrote books on soft toy making, which I would dearly love to own one day:  Bird Beasts and Insects 1974  and  Creative Soft Toys 1985.

Another excellent book for teaching children to embroider is :

Simple Embroidery by Marilyn Green 2003

This spiral-bound book, complete with threads, needles and an embroidery hoop, teaches 11 basic embroidery stitches: Straight stitch; couching stitch; whip stitch; cross stitch; satin stitch; stem stitch; back stitch; split stitch; chain stitch; lazy daisy stitch; and French knots. It provides instructions on materials and tools; getting started; and transferring designs, as well as including iron-on transfers and lots of inspiring ideas and examples of work using these stitches. It is colourful and fun and very child-centred!BlogEmbBooks25%DSCN1851Jan Messent (1936-)

Jan is a very talented embroidery artist and textile teacher and also writes historical romances under the pseudonym, Juliet Landon. I love her style and own three of her books, the others being listed on her website: https://www.janmessent.co.uk/janmessent.

The Embroiderer’s Workshop 1988

When this book was first published, it was not always possible to attend embroidery courses due to distance or time constraints, though today’s internet has come a long way in rectifying this problem. This useful book acts as an embroidery primer, as well as encouraging lots of experimentation through a series of practical exercises. It examines pattern, colour, drawing,  the development of design and themes in great detail, as well as discussing fabrics, stitches, and display and presentation.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-8

Embroidery and Animals 1982

This book features one of my favourite subject matters: animals and nature. Chapters look at the historical depiction of animals in embroidery; sources of design (nature, books, museums and natural history museums) and collecting materials; types of design (realistic or naturalistic, stylised or decorative, symbolic, abstract); pattern and colour; and ways of presenting a design, before focusing in on the animals (and their associations) themselves:

Fantastic beasts, heraldry and Christian symbolism;

Tiny creatures (butterflies and moths, bees and wasps, beetles, worms and snails);

Underwater life (microscopic organisms, sea anemones and sea urchins, jellyfish, starfish, shells and fish );

Amphibians and reptiles (frogs and toads; lizards, geckos and chameleons, snakes, crocodiles and turtles, tortoises and terrapins);

Birds (waterbirds, tall birds, domestic fowl, owls and parrots); and

Mammals (wild animals, domestic animals, ceremonial animals, African animals, circus animals).

Each chapter includes wonderful illustrations for design, cross stitch interpretations and examples of other artists’ work, as well as suggestions for  the development of themes and the use of the design in projects. A very inspiring book!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-9

I would also love to own her books titled: Design Sources For Symbolism; Design Sources for Pattern; and finally, Jan Messent’s World of Embroidery 1996.

Thanks to all the previous artists, embroidery is now considered to be a very valid contemporary art form. The next two books are written by contemporary embroidery artists and teachers to help embroidery students achieve their creative potential.

The Art of Embroidery by Julia Barton 1990

After a brief introduction to the history of embroidery, materials and equipment are examined in great detail: papers, pencils, conté and pastels, paints and brushes, fabric paints and dyes, fabrics, threads, needles, fabric markers and frames. Design sources (nature and museum studies) and approaches are examined next with discussions on landscapes, enlarging designs, textures and colour, followed by chapters on drawing and painting and transferring the design to fabric (fabric paints and markers; transfer paints and crayons; and design transfer methods (prick and pounce; and tacking through tissue).BlogEmbBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-67

Stitchery forms a major part of the book with exercises and projects based on linear, textural, and pattern stitches. Other techniques are also examined: Cut paper designs, quilting, appliqué, machine embroidery and the use of embroidery for jewellery and ornamentation. In the back is practical information on using a embroidery frame or hoop; damp-stretching; mounting and framing; and making a cushion cover.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-10

Jan Beaney (1938-) and Jean Littlejohn

A very creative, productive and influential partnership, known as Double Trouble (formed 1997)  (http://doubletrouble-ent.com/), both women are highly respected and internationally known textile artists and teachers, who have been members of the 62 Group of Textile Artists for many years (Jean since 1963).

See: http://www.62group.org.uk/artist/jan-beaney/  and http://www.62group.org.uk/artist/jean-littlejohn/.

Between them, they have produced  over 27 books and 7 DVDs. See a taster at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGY_FjMoQEM  (In Action) and https://vimeo.com/49293912 ( In Stitches).

It is also worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZdfqRXBkZY and visiting https://www.textileartist.org/jan-beaney-and-jean-littlejohn-interview/.

The Art of the Needle: Designing in Fabric and Thread by Jan Beaney 1988

A very comprehensive guide to developing a design from its initial inception (observation, drawing, repeat patterns and border designs, circular patterns, scale and proportion, designing within shapes or out of context, themes, texture and colour) through to its completion with chapters on fabric paints (silk paints and gutta, permanent fabric paints, masking techniques and  transfer fabric paints) and embroidery techniques (transferring design to fabric, applique, darning, machine embroidery, openwork on water-soluble fabrics, patchwork, quilting and making an embroidered panel) and stitches. It again is a very inspiring book with beautiful colourful photographs showing the huge potential of the medium.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-11

Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn have also written a book on Constance Howard, an embroiderer born in 1910, whose work I also love and who also taught and who wrote a number of books on embroidery (Conversations with Constance Howard 2000).

Another old book I would love to read is: Contemporary Embroidery Design by Joan Nicholson 1954/ 2011.  Joan was a leading figure in the revival of stitch crafts from the 1950s to the 1970s, inspiring many future embroiderers, including her daughter Nancy, a contemporary embroidery artist  and teacher with a strong online presence (https://nancynicholson.co.uk/), who has written her own book Modern Folk Embroidery 2016. I recently bought a tin decorated in Nancy’s distinctive style!BlogEmbBooks3018-07-12 12.08.59For more about the book, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEuMKlK1fXc   and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZxsJcvJOuQ.

And to see more of Nancy’s work, it is also well worth visiting: https://fishinkblog.com/2014/04/18/nancy-nicholson-embroidering-nature/.

The internet is a great source for embroidery tutorials and inspiration, including Pinterest, the websites of embroidery guilds, courses and other embroidery artists, as well as being able to access very old needlework books on sites like:  https://archive.org ;  http://openlibrary.org ; https://library.si.edu/ and http://www.gutenberg.org.

Some old books worth chasing up are:

Album de Broderies au Point de Croix by Therese de Dillmont 1890 (https://archive.org/details/albumdebroderies01dill or https://library.si.edu/digital-library/book/albumdebroderies02dill

An Embroidery Pattern Book by Mary E Waring 1917 (https://archive.org/details/embroiderypatter00wari or https://openlibrary.org/books/OL25215987M/An_embroidery_pattern_book) and

Art in Needlework: A Book about Embroidery by Lewis F. Day and

Mary Buckle 1900. Reprinted 2018 (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/28269)

Next week, I will be discussing a selection of stitch dictionaries, as well as some more specialised embroidery guides.