I do enjoy the notion of a fresh start for a new year. An illusion, of course, as I never really ‘finish’ a year off in terms of having completed all projects and having nothing to carry over into the next! I do have some minor rituals to mark the passage of time. I tidy and clean my workroom and make an attempt to reduce the amount of clutter. I start a new desk journal to capture this year’s to-do lists, jottings, plans etc. I once again determine to work more effectively – to get things done, rather than find them unfinished in a box at the end of the year. Have you done anything to mark the transition to 2018?
A couple of posts ago, I when I reviewed my favourite stitch books, I said I would tell you about technique books that I have found valuable. The first is one I have written about before: The Anchor Manual of Needlework, a volume that sparked my love of embroidery.
More recently I have learned a great deal from Gail Marsh’s Early 20th Century Embroidery Techniques. This is a wonderfully illustrated, thoroughly researched and delightfully written exploration of the embroiderers who developed traditional skills and designs and influenced the course of embroidery for the rest of the century. The Gawthorpe collection provided the source material and much of it has not been seen in print before. Fascinating.
An Australian author, Effie Mitrofanis, has a fresh approach to traditional techniques such as Casalguidi work. Her work is firmly rooted in needle skills but allied to a more contemporary and lively appreciation of the potential of colour in previously neutral and monochrome schemes. Her 2009 book, Threadwork, presents a lively combination of beautifully worked stitches and cords and beading with an exuberance of colour.
I am also enjoying the ongoing series of technique manuals from the Royal School of Needlework. If you want to know the ‘right’ way to do something then these are the books for you. Stitches and methods are well illustrated with photographs of the workings and there are lovely examples of contemporary interpretations of such traditions as crewel work, canvas work, blackwork, whitework and more.