I love it when Yvette Stanton publishes another embroidery embroidery book in her ever-growing library of fine needlework instructional and projects books!
Though “whitework” often comes to mind when I think of Yvette stitching away down there in Australia, she actually does work with color, too, and her newest book is a very clear indication of that.
Smøyg: Pattern Darning from Norway explores a world of vivid color in geometric designs, worked traditionally in Norwegian costume but perfectly applicable to contemporary embroidery projects as well.
This is a project and instructional book, so in it, you will learn the history and techniques of Smøyg while working through a multitude of accessible and colorful needlework projects.
Let’s take a look at the book up close, so that you can see what Smøyg is all about!
Yvette’s books are all self-published so that she retains full creative and editorial control over them, but this book – outside of Australia and New Zealand – is published as a joint venture with Search Press.
The book is 104 pages, covering the history of Smoyg, its characteristics and uses, and focusing on 13 projects with clearly diagrammed stitch instructions and step-by-step methods for creating and finishing the projects.
The projects are a combination of traditional and contemporary – traditional in the designs and execution of the embroidery, but contemporary in their finished use. They vary in complexity, from small, accessible, and relatively quick projects to more complex finishes for clothing and household use.
The Table of Contents demonstrates, right off the bat, that the book covers a lot!
The history and cultural background of Smøyg makes fun and fascinating reading, if you like learning about regional embroidery, how it develops, how it’s used, and so forth.
I always love the history part of any specific technique book, and Yvette’s are always enjoyable to read, well-researched, and well-illustrated.
The patterns and colors of Smøyg are captivating!
The stitching technique is predominantly pattern darning – that is, running stitch worked over the grid of linen in specific geometric patterns by following a chart. So it is a counted technique, but one that shares characteristics of surface embroidery.
You’ll find satin stitch and other techniques mixed in here and there, but overall, it’s the simple running stitch worked in different configurations that makes up the striking patterns of Smøyg.
As always, the book is packed with historical and cultural information on the uses for the technique, with loads of photos to illustrate!
I love the colors and patterns! This particular example demonstrates how color changes the look and feel of the same pattern – which is a good lesson for any kind of embroidery.
While the beginning of the book is packed with very readable background information, don’t forget that it’s an instructional and project book, too!
So there’s a thorough explanation of materials commonly used for Smøyg…
…followed by the projects section.
Here’s where it gets really fun!
Yvette always includes a nice array of projects that range in complexity, so that the beginner can work through them, learning and progressing along the way – or the experienced embroiderer can jump right in to something a little more advanced.
Each project includes finishing instructions for whatever the thing is – in the photo above, there’s a pretty little drawstring jewelry bag (which would also make a nice sachet bag, I think…)
I absolutely LOVE this needle book / pin keep! This is the project I want to make from this book!
I like everything about it, from the pattern to the contemporary color selection. It’s lovely!
Every project has a complete materials list, along with instructions for creating and finishing and all the charts necessary for stitching.
For sampler lovers, the band sampler – long and narrow, colorful, and full of fun patterns – is fantastic!
Other projects include very small items, like pattern-darned jewelry pendants, to bookmarks, to larger items like a linen blouse with a gorgeous Smøyg collar.
After the projects, you’ll find a thorough techniques section…
…where all the techniques, stitches, tips and hints necessary for successfully completing the projects are clearly laid out in easy to read charts and diagrams.
Finally, there is a removable patterns packet in the back of the book, for construction and finishing of the projects.
In a Nutshell
Yvette’s books are always excellent. They’re intelligently and thoroughly written, beautifully illustrated, full of clear and easy-to-grasp instruction and wonderful finished projects.
Smøyg: Pattern Darning from Norway is no exception!
I think the book will appeal to surface and counted embroiderers alike. There’s something so mesmerizing and satisfying about working darning patterns with the simple running stitch, and producing things that are striking and complex! And what stitch could possibly be more accessible than the humble running stitch?
The book will certainly also appeal to needleworkers who have a specific interest in costuming, in regional embroidery, in embroidery history, and in Norwegian and Scandinavian techniques.
It’s definitely worth adding to your bookshelf!
Where to Find It
In the US, Smoyg is available right now through Amazon for under $20, and you’ll find it right here in the top spot on my Amazon Recommendations page.
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