Joyful stitching; Transform fabric with improvisational embroidery.

Wasilowski, Laura
I will be reviewing two books for this newsletter. They have little in common except that they both make me smile! The first one utilises felted wool (the author suggests sourcing wool garments from op shops and describes the process of felting it) and silk, bright threads and basic surface stitches to create bright, enchanting free-form embroideries which are quite different from anything I remember seeing. They are so vibrant. I love them.  

Wasilowski, Laura Joyful stitching; Transform fabric with improvisational embroidery. Lafayette, CA, C & T Publishing, 2018 ISBN: 978 1 6174 55674 64 pages  

The introduction explains the author’s definition of free embroidery which she obviously delights in. A few pages are devoted to materials and tools used, threads and transferring designs onto wool and silk. That is followed with a dictionary of stitches used in the projects. Like everything in this lovely book, the photos of how to make stitches, are bright and colourful. Then come instructions for six charming, deceptively simple projects. This is art. No useful objects here although they all could, with a little imagination, be incorporated into bags, zipped purses, book covers, cushions. After project instructions are suggestions for further stitching. The book finishes with full size templates and a (very) potted biography of the author. 

Chalmers, Jamie The Mr X Stitch guide to cross stitch. Tunbridge Wells, Search Press, 2017 ISBN: 978 1 78221 424 3 142 pages
Quirky. Fun. A bit out there. These words encapsulate Jamie’s cross stitch ethos. Interspersed between charts for several projects, some of which will appeal to boys in particular and younger stitchers in general, there are sections on tools (gizmos), materials and colour. Do you know there is glow in the dark thread available, made by Kreinik? Jamie sees cross stitch as far more than a hobby – as therapy, as generating peace of mind, as art, as creativism. There are useful tips for setting up stitching for when you travel. Pearls of wisdom precede each set of projects. Although Jamie has a wonderful sense of humour, both in his writing and in his patterns, there are also some projects which give more than a nod to traditional cross stitch. Whitby Abbey at sunset is glorious. Each set of projects ends with one by what, or who, Jamie calls ‘outliers’, otherwise known as a guest contributor. The chapter, ‘Thinking outside the hoop’ suggests innovative surfaces for cross stitch. His premise is ‘if it’s got holes in it…’ Jamie’s colour palette is varied – sometimes quite sombre, sometimes very colourful. I particularly like his squirrel design and his cross stitch colour wheel.
I enjoyed both of these books. They both present embroidery which is fun to do, in an inviting, fun way. Mr. X Stitch is a stitching celebrity in the U.K. Laura Wasilowski is perhaps less well known but both authors are passionate about the very different, delightful work which they create.