Hand-stitched landscapes & flowers; 10 charming embroidery projects with templates.

Witten, Katrina
 Tunbridge Wells, Search Press, 2019 ISBN: 978 1 78221 451 9 144 pages  Anyone familiar with Rowandean embroidery kits, may recognise Katrina Witten’s name and the distinctive, light, airy style of the ten projects which feature in this book. In case you’ve not bumped into this designer, here is a link to her website as a teaser for the book…  https://www.rowandean.com/  After the introduction, which outlines the author’s passion to get people to give embroidery a go, comes an outlay suggesting which fabrics to use; this includes organza, which is a distinguishing feature of Katrina’s designs. Next are possible thread choices, which I notice, includes knitting yarn – a bit unusual – mohair yarns, metallic and lame along with more usual threads. Equipment needs follow. There is really nothing out of the ordinary here. A range of suggested embellishments comes next and as we know, where embellishments are concerned, you are only limited by your imagination, although you will need a range of beads.  Where to find inspiration and how to convert that into working designs features Katrina’s trademark method of layering organza and includes a stitch guide for the limited number of easy stitches used. Each stitch is illustrated with ‘how to’ photos and a small panel of needlework, showing colourful, textured ways in which each stitch may be integrated into an embroidery sample. The next, quite extensive chapter, explains the various techniques used, some you will be familiar with, some which, I suspect will be new. Have you ever melted organza motifs, using a needle heated in a tea light? Me neither, but it intrigues me. This chapter reveals just how vital texture is in Katrina’s charming landscapes and how to achieve it.  Next come the projects – eight which the author claims are easy, plus two rather more challenging ones. They are truly delightful. On pages 60 – 61, there is a double page spread of photos so you can see them all at a glance and choose which one to start with, although that may take some time. My personal favourite is sunflowers. Or possibly oriental poppies. Or maybe hydrangea. Or woodland with bluebells? You see the dilemma? Each project comes with a materials list, including threads and yarns used. There is also a (brief) list of stitches used. Each project has numbered instructions accompanied with many coloured photos to assist reproduction of each delightful embroidery. The results, under Katrina’s guidance are utterly charming little pieces of art. Full sized templates you may need are at the back of the book, which finishes with a competent index.  Oh, I wish I had the time to work one of these pieces but I just have to be realistic and accept that it won’t be this year, but I do love the way this book takes traditional and not so traditional materials and threads to produce delightful airy flowers and landscapes. To get some idea of the style of needlework, I strongly suggest browsing Rowandean’s website.  

Erica Marsden