If you love embroidery and needlework books as much as I do, you’ll understand why I have to share this book find with you! This isn’t a Needlework Book Review Proper, because… well, there’s not a lot to actually review in this case (it’s mostly patterns), and because it’s not a book you’ll be able to find readily.
If you do find a copy of it, though, and if you’re keen on folk embroidery, you might grab it while you can! I have had this on my “search” list for a while, and a couple months ago, I finally found a copy.
The books is called Embroidery from Udvarhelyi. Udvarhelyi was part of Transylvania, which is a region in Romania. At one time, the area was under Hungarian rule, and with the mixing of populations, we often see very similar styles in folk embroidery develop, take root, and spread to different regions. The embroidery style – in pattern, stitches, and color choices – is very much like the Hungarian folk embroidery that we see worked in red thread.
The book was published in Bucharest, Romania, in 1977, and, depending on where you find it, it is described as a book of “Hungarian embroidery patterns” or a book of “Romanian embroidery patterns.” In any case, the style of embroidery is the same.
The book itself is not really a book-book, as we think of a book.
Rather, it’s a folio that holds a collection of pages – 57 fold out patterns, plus a booklet of history and instruction.
The history and instructional booklet is written in Hungarian, and there are a few color photos in the booklet.
There’s also a section of instruction, including diagrams for the various stitches used in this type of regional embroidery.
Though the diagrams might seem somewhat rough by today’s standards, they are, in fact, very clear as far as instruction goes, and they even end with a diagram of the stitch on the back of the fabric, which is not too common in today’s stitch dictionaries.
All the stitches are well known and used the world over in embroidery – chain stitch, open chain stitch, buttonhole stitch, stem stitch, various types of filling stitches from satin stitch to lattice fillings. So there aren’t really any unusual, complex, or regionally unique stitches here. The stitches used in this style of needlework are mastered quickly, they work up quickly, and they cover quickly, with a bold effect.
The rest of the pages in the folio fold out into tremendously bold folk embroidery patterns, and lots of ‘em!
Unlike line drawings that we see today in pattern books, these drawings are worked in a way that makes it clear what stitches are supposed to be used to embroider the design. For example, in the above blue and red drawing, the lines of the pattern look like lines of chain stitch.
Sometimes, the lines are smooth, straight lines, rather than chain stitch loops. Are these meant for a different stitch? It’s not really clear. Maybe any stitch? Maybe the open chain stitch, worked close into solid lines?
And then there are these patterns, which I tend to think of as “blobby patterns.” The fact that the areas are meant to be filled (rather than simply outlined) is quite clear.
With the pattern above, we can see that many different stitches are expected to be used in the execution of the design: chain stitch, herringbone stitch, satin stitch, lattice work fillings.
This design, too, marks out the various stitch types with the drawing itself. It’s a much more delicately drawn design than the previous one, but the idea is the same: slanted stem stitch, buttonhole stitch, lattice fillings, satin stitch – they’re all there, denoted in the pattern itself.
One of my favorite patterns in the book – the lines are clear and sharp on this one, with all the stitches clearly and carefully drawn out!
I was so happy with this book find! I bought it for my Christmas present, and it arrived the day before Christmas – perfect timing!
If you’re keen on this style of folk embroidery from Hungary or Romania, you might keep an eye out for this title. It apparently sells for $100+ through used book sources online, but I was able to find it for significantly less. It’s now a happy member of my stitching library, and I intend to use it as a source of inspiration for future projects.
And that concludes my embroidery book purchases for 2012! There are some new books coming out in 2013 that I’m really excited about, but we’ll have to wait until next year to look at them!