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/naïve-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