As I mentioned in my last last blog post, I love my collection of embroidery books. Many feature lovely designs which are a great source of inspiration. These books usually also feature a techniques section, which explain the stitches used and materials required. There are also published stitch guides, which provide detailed instructions on how to do particular types of stitches. I will talk you through my favourite stitch guides in a future post!
Besides these sources of information, there are many hints and tips about embroidery which you only really pick up during an embroidery-workshop. These tips are usually from a tutor’s own experience. They are very useful and can usually save you time, prevent mistakes and increase your enjoyment of embroidery. During a workshop you are usually too busy trying to get the stitches right, to take time to write these hints and tips down, which unfortunately often means you have forgotten them once you have got home.
Alison Cole is one of those tutors who often gives hints and tips ‘off the cuff’ in classes, as she calls it in her introduction to her Embroiderer’s Little Book of Hints & Tips. Her students asked for a book containing all of this useful information and the publication of her ‘little book’ means that everyone can take advantage of her knowledge even if you have not had the chance of taking one of her classes (yet).
The publication is a small (21 cm by 16 cm) book with a soft cover and is spiral bound, which makes it easy to use (it opens flat) and take with you in your workbag.
The book is divided into six large sections. In addition, there are three smaller sections at the end of the book on going to classes, framing and taking photo’s of your needlecraft. At the very back of the book she has provided actual size photos of needles for matching up and a few blank pages for your own notes.
The first large section is entitled ‘going shopping’ and covers the essential materials for embroidery and tips on which brand or type is best to use. She not only discusses threads, hoops, needles and fabrics but also pencils and sticky tape, as these are just as an essential part of an embroidery workbag. Her recommendation for a workbag got me seriously hooked on Yazzii bags!.
The second part provides hints and tips about getting started. Alison discusses everything from the best methods to transfer a design to using the correct type of needle and from the best length of thread to (waste)knots.
The third, fourth and fifth parts provide general, gold work and stumpwork stitch hints respectively. I found the tips about managing metal threads (e.g. corners & angles) and working with wire for stumpwork (e.g. shaping & getting tangled) the most useful.
The sixth part provides suggestions on how to deal with those unfortunate occasions which all occur for too often, such as knotted threads and marks on the fabric.
Even though I have only covered a very small part of the hints and tips covered in this book, I do hope I have given you enough information to realise that you need this book! I have never picked up as many techniques and as much information from any other embroidery-book. It has really helped me in perfecting my embroidery and giving me more confidence to try different techniques and aided me in the event of an impending disaster. Especially if you are a complete beginner or still learning new embroidery techniques you will find this book extremely useful.
If I have convinced you that you do need this book, you can order it from Alison’s own website.