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Saturday, 15 October 2011

Adventures of Needlework, Stitching with Passion by Emily Peacock and Jessica Aldred

Adventures in Needlework: Stitching with Passion

This is a book of bright and funky designs that shows how stitching has become seriously stylish. The unique projects bridge the gap between craft & interior design and progress in difficulty throughout. These UK authors have produced a stunning book that will appeal to both beginning and experienced stitchers. This is a book that brings embroidery bang up to date using traditional techniques alongside bold colours, graphics and striking contemporary ideas. The unique projects bridge the gap between craft and interior design, embracing the revival of the 'homemade'. Four main techniques (canvas work, applique, silk shading and goldwork) are covered, with three projects progressing in difficulty for each. All the tools, materials and stitching techniques needed are carefully explained, along with general instructions for making up cushions, bags and framing canvases. Complete beginners will be able to get started straight away, whilst more experienced stitchers will be inspired and challenged.

I am a great fan of Emily Peacock and have stitched two of her designs in cross stitch.  Emily Peacock does many of her designs in needlepoint, using wool and  canvas, however the designs can also be stitched in cross stitch giving a subtler and lighter finished piece.

The book's introduction gives a brief summary of the history of needlework and it was very interesting to learn about the use of needlework as a remedial treatment, and its use in prisons to rehabilitate prisoners. There is a great section on materials and equipment - what can be used, what different effects can be achieved with different materials, threads etc, what embellishments could be used. There are also equipment suggestions along with what should be in a basic workbasket kit before starting a project.

There are very comprehensive instructions on basic techniques used in the book and a stitch glossary. I found these sections very informative and easy to follow.

There are four main sections to the book: Canvaswork; Applique; Silk Shading; and Goldwork. Each section has a brief introduction, again including the history of the technique and a summary of the projects included in the section. 

In the canvaswork section I love the Lean on Me cushion and the passion design - and I think I will be stitching both these designs using cross stitch to go with my other two Emily Peacock projects. Emily's designs are very striking and distinct. Her use of colour is excellent and she gets great depth in her work - a good example of this is the piece with two acrobats, there is great shadow in the design, a great use of colour. Although all the pieces use wool and canvas, i will be stitching them with silks and on evenweave fabric. The charts are beautifully clear and use both colour and symbols to show the stitches. There are ideas on finishing the designs into cushion, pictures and even a purse. The projects are all shown in simple steps using both photographs and words to describe each one, making them easy to follow.

The Applique section has a wide variety of projects; a classic silhouette of the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, an applique modern rose design on a coat; and a modern picture. Again the projects all have great instructions in pictures and words filled with 'tricks' to ease the process.

Silk Shading is a stunning section, teaching the reader how to use silks in projects to achieve lifelike results. The first project is a simple apple however using the technique described it appears very lifelike. There is also a project with two two faces and finally a bird in flight which also looks fantastic. I think I will be looking at this section again and having a go at the technique. These projects are very different to Emily Peacock's designs and have a definite traditional appeal to them.

The final section is Goldwork and, I must admit, a technique I usually do not like with the heavily gold designs looking too overpowering for my taste. However, looking through this chapter I have changed my mind. The technique, although called Goldwork, in this section does not use only gold thread and gives a completely different look.  One of the projects is a winged Brooch and this is a project I would try.

The final section in the book concentrates on finishing techniques; mounting projects for framing, making cushions, wall hangings and purses. Great simple steps and easy to follow step instructions. 

One point that has been highlighted by many is that the design on the front cover is not included within the book, which is a shame but the design is typical Emily Peacock and gives a good idea of project styles within the book.

I would recommend this book to needlecraft's who want to try something different or who love Emily's style. It is a great book to learn about new techniques and also different ideas for finishing techniques.

Thank you to Emily Peacock for sending me a review copy of this book, I loved it!

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