Simply stitched: …

Higuchi, Yumiko

 Boulder, Colorado, Roost Books, 2016 ISBN: 978 1 940552 22 4 80 pages 

 Have you noticed that many books I have recently reviewed have long subtitles? This one has a particularly lengthy one, which is why I chose not to include it above. So here it is… ‘beautiful embroidery motifs and projects with wool and cotton’. I think the whole title is an apt description of this book, which has been translated from Japanese. 

 In a brief introduction, the author tells how she began experimenting with wool on her large-scale designs. Apart from covering ground more quickly, she loved the texture and volume which wool gives. She then tried adding details to her embroidery designs using stranded cottons and was delighted with the results. This resulting book is very much about using wool and floss designs in a variety of lovely projects. 

The first section has coloured photos of each project with a close up of the motif(s) used on the facing page. The colour palette used is distinctive. Wool tends to come in rather gentler colours than floss and this is reflected in the motifs, which I think are charming. None of them looks difficult to work although I haven’t the time to try them. Some of the projects have a single motif, some, a single motif repeated some quite a variety. 

A project I particularly like is a bag with three floral designs enhanced with a variety of leaves. None of the designs is crowded and none look as though they would take long to work, reflecting the ‘simply stitched’ of the title. 

 A page is devoted to a description of materials used. Another describes tools (which includes, intriguingly, cellophane), another covers techniques. Although this seems brief, remember, these are simple motifs. They don’t need complicated materials, tools or techniques. At the end of the book is another single page with stitch instructions. There are only seven stitches used, all basic. 

The rest of the book is devoted to instructions for each of fifteen projects as well as some motifs which can be used on whatever your imagination desires. Most of the projects are stitched on linen, some on pre-made knitted garments. Although it is difficult to assess the clarity of instructions just from reading them, they look easy to follow. Templates are clear and don’t have to be enlarged on a photocopier. 

 I really like this book. The projects and designs are simple and quite distinctive. I think it would be a great gift for people setting out on their embroidery journey or those who have been enjoying doing needlework for years. 

Since writing this review, another book by Yumiko Higuchi has been published. Called ‘Simply stitched with appliqué’, it is equally charming. I highly recommend it.

Erica Marsden