26th February 2021
Helen M. Stevens has been designing beautiful embroidery projects for decades. Her silk embroidery designs are so well known and loved that she rarely needs introduction as her magnificent projects virtually speak for themselves.
At Inspirations, we are always proud to showcase her work, and as one of our most popular regular contributors, we know you enjoy and appreciate her designs as well.
Helen’s latest piece, Aetna’s Bouquet, features in Inspirations issue #109 and characterises her style beautifully.
However, you might be asking yourself who Aetna is and why this study of English Fenland flowers carries the name. Although you’re undoubtedly aware of Helen’s skill as a designer, what you may not have realised is that she is also a talented writer of fiction as well.
Over the course of her long career, Helen has researched the 10th Century in Britain extensively as it informed a great deal of her work and ignited her passion.
In 2019, Helen collated all her incredible knowledge, built over her years of research, and wrote a historical novel entitled The Saxon Twins: The Needle and The Sword. In this novel, she weaves together fact and fiction in a sweeping story following the lives of twins Wulf and Aetna.
Aetna is left orphaned with her brother and in the care of their maternal uncle, the Ealdorman of Essex. The two children soon become entangled in court intrigues, conspiracies and power struggles as the new nation of England is slowly brought into being.
While Wulf fights with a sword, Aetna’s weapon of choice is her needle which she wields in surprising and effective ways. With sweeping descriptions and richly drawn characters, the story shows that strength and power come in many forms and brute force does not always win out.
The flowers featured in Aetna’s Bouquet are blooms which would have been found on the English Fens at the time Aetna and her contemporaries existed.
Mignonette, Solomon’s seal, purple thistle and milk parsley are gathered together with an exquisite bow and are hovered over by a majestic swallowtail butterfly.
All of the elements of this incredible design are worked in shimmering silk. By employing an array of stitches resulting in a riot of different colours and textures, Aetna’s Bouquet represents Helen M. Stevens’s skill at its finest.
If you haven’t already, we highly recommend you track down a copy of Helen’s book. Allow yourself to be carried away into her fantastic world, filled with fascinating and thrilling characters and endless plot twists and turns. It will provide the perfect context for stitching Aetna’s Bouquet.
What better way to develop the perfect connection with your stitches than to immerse yourself into the world of the woman who gives her name to the project? And if you weren’t completely floored by Helen’s talent before, you certainly will be now.
Make Your Own Aetna’s Bouquet
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Aetna’s Bouquet by Helen M. Stevens is a charming silk embroidery celebrating wildflowers from the fenlands of England.
Inspirations Issue 109
Aetna’s Bouquet – i109 Digital
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Aetna’s Bouquet includes everything* you need to re-create this charming scene: Fabric (unprinted), seed pearls, embroidery threads and needles.
*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the magazine/digital pattern.