Going back to my pile of needlework loot I picked up on my recent road trip, here’s a beautiful book by Gay Eaton called Wessex Stitchery. Now, if you’re a counted thread embroidery fan, you’re gonna love this book! And even if you’re not, you’re still gonna love it, because of the variety of stitches and applications in the book. (Well, ok… I think you’ll like it, anyway!)
Wessex Stitchery is a book devoted to the study of the motifs and arrangements of stitches (on even-weave fabric) that reflect a style of embroidery made popular, apparently, during the Victorian age by a British lady – a fact I found sort of disappointing, as I thought it was a more “historical” approach to embroidery, with roots stretching way back to Medieval England or beyond. I quickly overcame my disappointment (or surprise, rather) when I realized that just about any embroidery technique has more “historical” roots than we give credit for, because, after all, that’s pretty much what we do – we generally build on what came before.
The book illustrates the anatomy of groups of stitches that make up beautiful patterns (especially filling patterns).
The variety of combinations and the use of many colors make Wessex stitchery a really fascinating technique, one definitely suitable for on-going development and discovery.
The book includes explanations, patterns, instruction, and diagrams all clearly focused on teaching this style of embroidery to beginners and beyond.
The filling patterns are not relegated to counted embroidery on even-weave fabric, of course. If you like canvas work (needlepoint), I suspect you’ll find plenty of inspiration here!
Wessex stitchery, methinks, would be particularly suited to make band samplers. You certainly wouldn’t get bored with working the same types of stitches over and over again with this kind of embroidery!
I like the idea of using this type of stitchery for background. Who says it has to be in colored threads, for example? What about a background on a goldwork pattern, worked in gold threads? If you’re not working on even-weave, I suspect you could tack on some waste canvas or netting and work up a beautiful background fill pattern.
Besides covering a wide variety of stitch combinations and motifs, the book also contains projects, including needle keeps, pin cushions, and the like, along with ideas for samplers.
This is worthwhile book for any stitching enthusiast to have on the shelf. It’s especially worthwhile for counted thread enthusiasts who want to expand their repertoire of counted thread stitches or who want to add some variety and texture to their work. Surface embroiderers will find the book fascinating for the variety of filling ideas and the combinations of stitches. In short, I think anyone interested in working with needle & thread will like this book!
Strangely enough, the book is becoming a wee bit difficult to come by, though you can still find it through Lacis and some used book sources online. I bought mine at Lacis, where it was available for $25. It’s still listed on their website, so just search their catalog with the term “Wessex Stitchery” and it should pop right up.
I don’t advise acquiring it through Amazon in the US right now. One copy is available, used, for a mere $387.90 (a couple weeks ago, it was on there for $175). Sheeeeesh!
Still, I believe the book is out of print, so if you want it, now’s the time to get it, while Lacis is still carrying it….
PS (added a bit later!) You can also buy it for $25 through Hedgehog Handworks.