I have blogged about this site before but since it is a good few years ago I think many of my newer readers will appreciate me drawing attention to this site. The Encyclopedia of Needlework by Thérèse de Dillmont (1846-1890) is published online as a web site.
The book hold 16 chapters that range across many areas of needlework. For anyone looking for pulled and drawn stitches there is a chapter on Single Cut Openwork and a chapter on Whitework which is useful. Under Miscellaneous fancy work there are some interesting techniques along side some canvas work stitches.
I have been spending my late afternoons with a beautiful new book by Barbara B.Suess titled Temari Techniques: A visual Guide to Making Japanese Embroidered Thread Balls. The subtitle is the key here as the “visual guide” actually speaks volumes. For those of us who place an emphasis on the visual the book meets our needs very well. Throughout the book we are given loads of eye candy, as the photography is very beautiful.
For a book like this to serve its purpose having clear diagrams is crucial. The colour diagrams explain the technique well making them easy to follow.
The 200 page book commences with a brief history of the craft before discussing materials and making the core of the Temari Ball. Next follows 3 chapters which deliver clear instructions about creating guidelines, simple wrapping techniques and stitching techniques.
Obviously readers will understand when I say it was the stitching techniques that had me fascinated. I knew you could do a lot with herringbone (Kiku) but using it in the round on these little balls of fun has taken it to a whole other level.
Throughout the book runs two features I liked very much. The first is a series of little tips and tricks that are features in a block in the margins of some pages. I am a tips addict. Often these little snippets that an experienced practitioner shares can really change how you do things. Also running in the margins is a series under the title of “Refine your skills” which share deign and technical points to think about as you are working. Some of the advice that appears in these blocks is so good it had me flicking through the book, to find them and read just those pieces.
About 20 years ago when I first encountered kumihimo braiding I ran around trying to find our more information about the craft, find supplies and source equipment. At that time it was very difficult and I had more or less given up, when I discovered a cheap easy way to explore the technique using a disk of card rather than having to buy expensive equipment. Although I had limited information it made the world of difference and it meant I went on to explore the technique more. The point of my story is that I would have missed out on many enjoyable hours if I had not discovered that solution.
Temari Techniques by Barbara B.Suess is a bit like the discovery of that cardboard disk, as the book is an enabler. Information is clearly presented and the imagery is inspirational. It is one of those rare books that offer instructions to a beginner as well as more experienced practitioners. Even if you have been making temari for a few years, I am sure you will find more than enough exploring different stitch techniques and weave designs to satisfy a thirst for further knowledge.
I spent a very indulgent weekend drooling over the pages of Yvette Stanton’s new book, Portuguese Whitework: Bullion Embroidery from Guimarães. I am sure hand embroidery enthusiasts will love this beautiful whitework technique. I have always been attracted to the the mix of drawn thread embroidery and surface embroidery but this book had me really itching to stitch which is a sign of a good book!
Portuguese Whitework: Bullion Embroidery from Guimarães includes full size patterns, detailed project directions and step by step stitch instructions in its 104 colour pages. Materials and supplies required for this type of embroidery, tasks like turning corners, securing threads, starting new threads, etc are all covered well. Guimarães embroidery is introduced, set in context, and has an interesting historical overview of the technique which illustrated with beautiful examples of embroidery. Each project has a difficulty rating. At the end of the book there is a small section of finishing techniques too.
The instructions are diagrams and text which are presented in a clear, well illustrated manner. I know many people do not like diagrams, but this is because for years the publishing industry has tried to save space by condensing the information. This meanness does not apear here. There is no assumed knowledge, or steps omitted. Everything is clearly explained. The acid test for me is how well an author explains the dreaded bullion knot, as many stitchers really fear this stitch. Not only does Yvette Stanton explain how to work them clearly, she also trouble shoots problems like lumpy bullions and tapered bullions. I cant stress enough how well explained everything is.
Projects in the book meet a range of skill levels and time commitments meaning there is something of interest for everyone. The embroidery projects themselves range from smaller items that could be worked in a weekend, to large complex projects that require more time. No matter your needlework skill, or how much time you have to explore a different style of embroidery you will find projects of interest.
This You Tube Video made by Yvette Stanton will whet your appetite…
What are my favourite projects in Portuguese Whitework: Bullion Embroidery from Guimarães?
I find this biscornu very appealing.
My favourite is this sampler. I would love to work this. Or at least incorporate some of the motifs on my band sampler. I might just go on my needleworkers bucket list.
How adaptable is this style of embroidery to 21st century?
I always look at traditional embroidery techniques and see how they may be adapted to today. The typical motifs of this style of stitchery are very adaptable to today. I think the projects in this book are very modern but some people may not think so. However one of the design principles of this technique is that it sets up a contrast between the control and flatness of drawn work and the texture and shape of surface embroidery. If you look at the surface embroidery motifs they could be applied to all sort of situations.
Ok you have to step away from traditional Guimarães embroidery and of course it would no longer be Guimarães embroidery, but inspired by the technique. I can see this type of embroidery being very attractive if you use variegated or space dyed threads. The colour shifts would be very attractive.
Some traditionalists would not like this idea, but think about how some of these motifs could easily be used as patterns in crazy quilting, or adapted and used on projects made on other everyday fabrics such as twill or denim (such as bags etc)
There are some new gems to be found in the Antique Pattern Library. If you have not encountered this site before they collect, scan and provide for use out of copy right books, and provide them free online. However you must have an up to date copy of Acrobat reader to read any of their files. If you have any troubles opening any of their files read their FAQ page
I discovered an old book published in Italian by D.M.C.. Motivi per Ricami in their collection. It contains stitch diagrams and some lovely designs such as these. Of course it is not in English but you can figure out what is what quite easily as the book consists mainly of patterns.
The designs are illustrated in colour stitchery and as a line pattern. I have selected some pages to act a teaser and encourage you to download the pdf file.
The Antique Pattern Library provides these files free for personal use and reference and provides a great public service.
On the Antique pattern Library book list, this book is down the list a little and described as “Dillmont, Th. de, ed., D.M.C. Motivi per Ricami (Va Serie). Mulhouse, France, Dollfus-Mieg & Cie, [first pub. c.1900, approx 35 pgs]. Scanned by Dindi Gelfi, re edited by Judith Adele 2008.”
As you scan down the page you will notice lots of other DMC publications too! its a bit of a gold mine here … make a cuppa and enjoy!