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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspired and comprehensive embroidery book, August 13, 2010
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This review is from: Embroidery Companion: Classic Designs for Modern Living (Paperback)
This is a book that will appeal to seasoned embroiderers and new ones alike, but I should state that my embroidery experience is limited to the counted cross-stitch I did twenty years ago as a teenager and some very minimal "needlepoint" as a child. So this is a review from an "advanced beginner." :) The book begins with an introduction to embroidery in general-- and then divides into three sections: Decorative Embroidery projects, Counted Cross Stitch projects, and Crewel projects. Each section contains information on the types of needles, tools and materials required, a history of the type of needlework, and, of course, about 10 inspired and delightful projects, for a total of 30. Each project has two ratings for ease, one for the embroidery itself, and one for the finishing (the sewing or other preparations needed to make the work complete). The finishing is also described and drawn in helpful detail and assumes only minimal sewing skills on the part of the reader. Quite a few of the projects do require a bit of sewing for completion, but for the most part, the sewing required is simple-- and of course, local embroidery shops can usually recommend someone to do the finishing for you if you can't sew. I should add that at the end, there is also a helpful list of resources in case you don't have a wonderful needlework shop nearby, and a well-written section on how to do the various stitches, which is crucial if you're fairly clueless like myself.

The projects range from the very simple to the very complex, but most are in the realm of "easy" to "medium"-- this would be an ideal book for a new embroiderer, but also an inspiring one for someone experienced in needlework, because the projects are amazing. I was relieved to find that she gives details like what size of needles she prefers, since I wouldn't know where to start. The projects are both modern and old-fashioned at the same time-- they look up-to-date, but they have a pretty, old-fashioned sensibility. And they're things that are actually useful and beautiful, not just a bunch of motifs that the embroiderer has to find a use for. There are, of course, cross-stitch samplers and decorative pillows, but you'll also find a tablecloth, a kerchief, hot-water-bottle holders, curtains, an apron, a tote bag, a photo-album cover, pillowcases-- you get the idea. These are things that can be used in everyday life. The photography is gorgeous, the tone is friendly, comforting, and easy to read, and (like her blog) very warm and personal-- you come away feeling like you wish you lived down the street from Alicia and glad that she's sharing her expertise and enthusiasm with you. :) Obviously I can't say enough nice things about this book-- anyone who reads "Posie Gets Cozy" or who enjoyed Stitched in Time, or who just wants some good embroidery projects to do, will love this one. It's pretty, practical, helpful, and inspiring.
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