Monday, 8 July 2013

Quiet stitching...

Following last week’s craft anxiety, this week I’m settling down to some embroidery.

I find embroidery incredibly calming. Perhaps it’s the attention to fine detail that necessitates a calm, quiet atmosphere. Perhaps it’s the rhythm of stitching, or the soft textures of the linen I tend to use...and my latest little project features such natural shades of floss...whatever it is, I just find myself happily more relaxed and taking everything in my stride. The recent sunshine doesn’t hurt, either!
 
This is the teeny make I finished yesterday afternoon, sitting in the garden while Bunny and Little Flower frolicked about in the paddling pool. I used a vintage linen tea towel to make the little heart. One strand of floss for the stitching: two colours of brown for the bark, one lovely shade of green for the leaves. That’s it! And because it is so dinky, it was a very speedy project.


It is a key fob, from my latest – and already beloved – craft book: The Hand-Stitched Home by Caroline Zoob.


I bought this book last week after umm-ing and ahhh-ing about it for a bit, and I am so glad I have it. It is one of those books that has a definite mood to it – I opened the cover and I swear a hush came over my home as I turned page after page of elegant embroidery and linen loveliness. Beautiful photographs.
The book is divided into six chapters, including ‘Making pictures’ for small embroideries in interesting frames, and ‘The soft stuff’ for cushions, blankets and the like.

 


There are a lot of useful, practical projects here, but all of them have such delicate, beautiful stitching that everything seems a bit more special. Which is interesting, because honestly, the projects all seem very manageable, and some, like the heart key fob, are in the easy category. Back stitch, stem stitch...a bit of sewing, but the projects, when made with subtle colours and interesting textures, seem much more graceful and chic. Perfect for gifts!

 
Just look at those bookends! Are they not gorgeous? I want to make these for my mother-in-law, who loves sheep and all things woolly. And I already thought of other designs using the same bookend template – fairies for a child’s room, ribbon embroidery initials...ooo I’m digressing...
The Hand-Stitched Home would be an ideal addition to an embroiderer’s library. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for a complete beginner to embroidery - it assumes some stitch and sewing experience and knowledge. The guide at the back of the book is not as comprehensive as a beginner’s reference book, or more funky/na├»ve-design books such as Aneela Hoey’s Little Stitches or Aimee Ray’s Doodle Stitching. That being said, the stitch guide is a good reminder for those who have done a bit of embroidery, and I absolutely love Caroline Zoob’s description of the knot stitch:

“I confess I cannot make sense out of all those pictures of French knots. So I had to invent my own sort of knot.”
Is this fantastic or what!? She continues to explain her easy-peasy technique that looks just as wonderful as the French knot, a stitch that often makes me want to tear my hair out!

Caroline Zoob encourages the reader to look around and be inspired by natural surroundings. She offers good advice on choosing materials, floss colours and tools. Her gentle, casual attitude towards the stitching means that the projects are far more accessible and enjoyable to create than the finished look suggests.
This book also would make a beautiful gift for someone who enjoys embroidery. I plan to make a few more hearts then move on to the very appealing napkin rings and placemats. Must avoid more craft anxiety, after all!

Happy crafting!
Chrissie x

23 comments:

  1. Chrissie your hearts are adorable - I love trees and a heart with a tree on - what more could I ask for - just perfect x

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    1. I have a real thing for trees too, which is why I chose this as my first project! Thank you for your kind comment, cx

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  2. your hearts are beautiful - it is a gorgeous book isn't it!

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    1. It is! You'll have to let me know what you make from it...cx

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  3. Your hearts are so pretty. I can't figure out French knots at all. I usually come up with something on my own.

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    1. Good to know there's another renegade knot stitcher out there! ;-) cx

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  4. Hello Chrissie.
    Your book looks fab! Your little heart key fob is so cute such neat stitching :) x

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    1. Thank you! I had to use one of those super-geeky magnifiers on a necklace for the tree trunk, but I'm glad I did... Cx

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  5. I just love your little heart, it s so delicate and pretty. That book looks really gorgeous too.
    M x

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  6. The little heart is just adorable.
    S xx

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  7. How wonderful Chrissie - such a sweet little heart, simple is often best and as you say, a lovely gift idea!
    This is one of those books that I can take a glimpse at and know I really must have it, so thank you so much for the lovely write-up on it, you describe it so well!
    I'm so glad you are relaxing and enjoying these activities - take good care of yourself!
    Joy xo

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    1. Thank you Joy! Let me know if you get the book, we can admire each other's projects! Cx

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  8. What an adorable little project so pretty. The book looks fabby might have to put it on my birthday list ... enjoy the sunshine ~ Sarah x

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  9. Hello and I am so late to getting to this post, grrr. I have opened it at least three times, but finally I get a moment without children to read it and what a pleasure it has been, as always one must add. I have looked at this book so many times on Amazon and wondered and wondered whether I could justify it. The write up you have done is wonderful and you have again inspired me lovely lady, so I think it is time it goes on the wish list. I do however have a slight problem in that I am a beginner at embroidery, so as you have mentioned a few books what is your opinion in getting the most suitable book? I love the little key holder and desperately need a few around the house, just gorgeous and the bookends will make a wonderful gift, something else to add to the list. Now, I linked in your craft anxiety on my latest blog post, I really hope you don't mind. Please let me know if you do, so I remember not to do this again. Hope you are enjoying this glorious weather and get to spend many happy hours crafting outside xoxo

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    1. Hannapat, you are a gem! Thank you, as always, for your kind comments that make me smile. Of course I don't mind if you link up to me - I'm very flattered! As for embroidery books, I just started embroidery about a year-and-a-half ago, and my first book was 'Doodle Stitching'. It's sooo unfussy and approachable, it made learning really fun. The designs were simple, the stitch explanations straightforward. 'Little Stitches' has come out since, and again, I just love the simple designs, but this one has more sewing involved. It also has iron-on transfers, a bonus! Check out both and see which suits - then you might get the bug and want a proper stitch reference book, more serious studies, etc. Keep me posted and we can do some stitch-a-longs! Cxxx

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    2. Now you are talking!! Off to check them out, thanks me dear xoxo

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  10. Ooh, I love all-things-Caroline-Zoob, am going to have to add this book to my wishlist! Your key fob is so lovely. Thanks for popping in to say hello on my blog, and so glad to have discovered your fab blog too - looking forward to following your WIPs :-)
    xx

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  11. I loooove this key fob - absolutely beautiful xx

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  12. Lovely post, Chrissie......I love Caroline Zoob's embroidery and the new book is very calm and beautiful. Your little embroidered heart is so sweet. Doing hand sewing (or crochet) is so peaceful I find. Wishing you a calm and happy week.
    Helen x

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  13. Your key fob is beautiful. I love Caroline Zoob's work, it's so unique. I've thought of trying embroidery but have so much other crafty stuff one the go that I daren't! xx

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    1. Give it a go sometime! I like it for my 'in between' time, when I'm finishing a big crochet project and need a break from my ongoing experiments with learning to sew...I just love how low-key it is, travels lightly...I'll keep posting my little stitches and get us all going! :-) cx

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  14. Gosh, it's so perfectly tiny....you must have amazing eyesight, or did you get the fairies in to help?! It's beautiful, well done! :) x

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    1. Thank you! The linen weave helps a lot - you can easily see where to put even the tiniest of stitches, but a magnifier comes in handy...the rest is achieved with a sprinkling of fairy dust...cxxx

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