All Stitched Up! | Issue 138

18th May 2018

Hi There,
We have a little confession to make… spring is our favourite season.

Whilst each of the four seasons have an element of necessity and beauty about them, there’s just something about spring!

Especially those first few days of sunshine and warmer weather that remind us winter really won’t go on forever and we feel beckoned toward the energy and promise that spring affords.

The trouble is, sometimes the seasons dally.

So, whilst in the Southern Hemisphere, we’re relishing the seemingly never ending sunshine and warmer weather somewhat uncharacteristic of this time of year, we know many of you in the Northern Hemisphere are hastening the end of a very long winter!

The benefit of being a stitcher, however, is that whatever weather the seasons may send our way, we have the exquisite ability to fashion whatever season we savour with our needles and threads.
So, whether you’re looking to further delay the onset of winter or usher in the arrival of spring, this issue of All Stitched Up! offers a little springtime energy and promise for us all!

World of Needlework
Rediscovering embroidered book bindings
Written by Nancy Williams.

Long before the advent of the printing press, at a time when books were a valuable and rare commodity, there was a tradition of honouring the text by binding it with a beautiful, hand-embroidered cover. Although the practice is rare today, we can all appreciate the skill involved in these tiny works of art.

Psalms (1633) from London, measuring 4 x 3 inches and bound in embroidered white satin, featured in Cyril Davenport’s English Embroidered Book-bindings (1899)
The tradition of embroidering book covers grew during a period when only ecclesiastical organisations or the very wealthy possessed books. It reached a zenith in the 16th and 17th Centuries in England, but examples of exquisitely and minutely embroidered books date back to as early as the 13th Century.

Primarily used to adorn religious texts, embroidered book covers were worked in silks and fine metal threads on velvet, canvas or even linen and depicted religious scenes, flowers, coats-of-arms and monograms.
During the Victorian period, a fascination for book collecting, dubbed ‘bibliomania’, took hold of middle class society. Jessica Roberson from the University of California identified this pursuit as primarily masculine whereas embroidery, historically, fell within the feminine sphere.

This placed embroidered books in a curious position between the two worlds. Nevertheless, a survey of embroidered book covers was published, titled English Embroidered Book Bindings by Cyril Davenport (1899), both to compile a record of historic pieces and to gently encourage women to try their hand at emulating these works of art in their own domestic sphere.

“The workers of our old embroidered books were people of great skill and large experience… they worked on definite principles. If I allude briefly to some of these I may perhaps give intending workwomen a hint or two as to some minor points which may assist their work…” (Cyril Davenport, 1899)
Davenport describes, among others, two embroidered books worked by Princess Elizabeth, later to become Queen Elizabeth I. He emphasises the unique stitching completed by the young Princess who was a mere 11 years old at the time, undoubtedly to underline the rarity and artistic status of these books.

Embroidered cover to Princess Elizabeth’s copy of The Miroir or Glasse of the Synneful Soul, featured in Cyril Davenport’s English Embroidered Book-bindings (1899)
Nonetheless, many of the embroidered books which are still in existence were worked by professionals, usually the Broderers' Guild of London. Designs frequently came from pattern books using stock imagery associated with specific book categories.

In England, the practice of embroidering book covers may have persisted due to the love that Queen Elizabeth I had for needlework. However, examples of embroidered books became rare in Britain after the Civil War.
There was something of a revival during the period of the Arts & Crafts movement in the late 19th Century, but the commodification and ubiquity of the printed book, as well as the practice of storing them standing together on a bookshelf, rendered the tradition both impractical and unnecessary.

Perhaps, in the 21st Century, the physical book is once again becoming something to be valued as many of us read on digital devices.
Indeed, publishers are recognising that in order to sell physical books, they need to make an effort to ensure the object itself is as desirable as the content. Penguin’s commissioning of Jillian Tamaki to produce embroidered book cover designs for a number of classic works of literature may be seen as evidence of that.

Cover of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett & Emma by Jane Austen, both designed by Jillian Tamaki | Published by Penguin Books
Sadly, in this period of mass production, the individual, hand-stitched book cover is uncommon. But maybe, as we all grapple with ways of slowing down our lives, it might see a revival among needleworkers such as ourselves, with or without Cyril Davenport’s assistance.
Needlework News
Jo-Beautiful Cards
Jo Butcher creates the most beautiful English garden inspired needlework designs, the imagery of which you can now enjoy in a range of greeting cards that we have dubbed ‘Jo-Beautiful’ because they are oh so-beautiful!

The greeting cards are sold individually, and each has a gorgeous image of a Jo Butcher original design on the front and is blank on the inside, making them suitable for every occasion.

With a range of 9 different designs now available on our website in limited quantities, these oh so-beautiful ‘Jo-Beautiful’ cards are sure to be oh so-popular!

Jo Butcher | Greeting Cards

Jo-Beautiful Pre-Printed Fabric
Here is another oh so-beautiful ‘Jo-Beautiful’ product for you. Anyone familiar with Jo’s work will know that at times she incorporates hand painted backgrounds into her designs. If you love the idea of working with a painted image to embellish, but aren’t one for painting, you can now purchase Jo Butcher pre-printed calico fabric.

The image featured on the fabric depicts an English meadow against a pale blue sky, all ready for you to choose a design, create your own. This canvas is also perfect to re-create Jo’s ‘Woodland’ project from the book ‘A Passion for Needlework’ which uses the same background print.

Jo Butcher | Pre-Printed Fabric

Featured Project
Spring Delights by Ana Mallah
Spring ushers in a welcome respite from the dark cold days of winter, but most importantly for us stitchers, it ushers in a burst of fresh needlework inspiration in the form of spring blooms. The colours, the shapes, the textures, everything so bright and vibrant - there is so much going on one can hardly contain one’s needle!

In her project ‘Spring Delights’ from Inspirations #98 Ana Mallah couldn’t contain her needle either and got so carried away with the delights of spring she created two ‘oh so pretty’ pouches – The Hollyhock and The Rose.

Sometimes when admiring a piece of needlework, you can look at it and think ‘wow, there is something just really stunning about that design’ yet you can’t quite work out what makes it so special. Spring Delights is like that, where overall the two projects are quite simple in their appearance, yet there is a depth and complexity to the designs that really draws you in.

Part of the magic is Ana’s elements of inventiveness. For example, when you see a stitched hollyhock flower you’d normally expect to find blanket stitch pinwheels or even some bullion knots. In this instance, Ana surprises us all by couching over a piece of cord to create perfectly smooth, stitched circles without any breaks or joins.

Couching over cord is not something you commonly see in surface embroidery, yet the end result of laying several of these circles together in diminishing sizes with carefully blended colours and finished off with a bead in the centre, creates really contemporary looking hollyhock flowers.
Then there is the rose pouch… we’ve all seen dozens of stitched roses before, but again Ana brings elements of inventiveness to add some wow factor into the mix.
Overdyed variegated threads for the pale rose, a delicate circle of beads crowned with a golden pearl in the centre of each flower and the use of very fine Coats Ophir gold metallic sewing thread in the veins and outline of the petals themselves, are cleverly combined to create these glorious radiant roses.

The overall aesthetic and finish of the pouches also enjoys some special touches. The hollyhock pouch is finished with discreet machine stitched seams and a boxed base, giving it clean modern lines in keeping with the contemporary design of the hollyhock flowers. The rose pouch in comparison features a more organic finish with hand stitched decorative seams all around that complement the blanket-stitched scallops at the base of the roses.

While each project is unique, they are unmistakably a matching pair thanks to the natural linen ground fabric, pink stripped fabrics and the same beaded tassel zip pulls they both share.

Stitch one or stitch both, these pouches are so pretty and so practical that regardless of the time of year, it’s always the right time to enjoy some Spring Delights.

Did you know…

The use of sewing machine thread in hand embroidery is a good option when adding fine detail to a design, especially metallic thread highlights.

Polyester machine threads are designed to operate repetitively at high speeds, so they are very robust yet extremely fine and give a clean crisp finish, even after many hours of being worked by hand.
Make Your Own Spring Delights

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Spring Delights by Ana Mallah are two pretty, zippered pouches featuring hollyhocks and roses.

Inspirations Issue 98

Spring Delights

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kits for Spring Delights include everything you need to re-create these pretty pouches: Fabrics (unprinted), interfacing (hollyhock pouch), stabiliser (hollyhock pouch), zip, crochet cotton (hollyhock pouch), embroidery threads, beading thread, beads and needles.

Spring Delights | Hollyhock Pouch

Spring Delights | Rose Pouch

Looking for More Ana Mallah or Pouches?
Season's Greetings

Season’s Greetings by Ana Mallah from Inspirations #96 is four enchanting Christmas decorations.

Season’s Greetings

Inspirations Issue 96

Season’s Greetings | Snowflake

Season’s Greetings | Poinsettia

Season’s Greetings | Christmas Tree


Aurora by Christine Burton from Inspirations #97 features timeless crewel designs on a handy, zipped pouch.


Inspirations Issue 97


Sweet Secret

Sweet Secret by Margaret Light from Inspirations #73 is a sweet and practical purse adorned with vibrant red pelargoniums.

Inspirations Issue 73

Sweet Secret

Have Your Say

As mentioned in our welcome, we know many of you in the Northern Hemisphere are hastening the arrival of spring as it will signal the end of what has been a very long winter! To this end, we recently heard from two of our ‘Northerners’ who were contemplating such a change in the season…
Jette Sauerberg | Denmark
In All Stitched Up! #131 (HERE) we anticipated that ‘for those living in the northern hemisphere, hopefully by now spring has sprung and you’re enjoying the sights and scents of flowers in bloom.’ It turns out we were a little premature!

We heard from Jette after she received this issue of the newsletter who wished we ‘were right, but the truth is that yesterday, on Maundy Thursday, it was snowing the whole day. Take a look at the picture below from my garden.’

We were premature in our anticipation indeed as there is absolutely no evidence of spring having sprung in your photo Jette!
Mavis Brown | Canada
‘We are sooo tired of winter. Spring was supposed to come a month ago, but winter blasted us with an ice storm instead – I guess that means we have been having sprinter! So I stitched my chipmunk eating the crocuses to remind me of what I am missing. In my garden, the squirrels and chipmunks like to nip the flowers off my tulips and crocuses so I surround them with daffodils to discourage the thievery.’

Mavis, we love the fact that you took ‘sprinter’ into your own hands and stitched something to help spring, spring!

Whilst we may not be looking forward to the arrival of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, we do genuinely hope that spring has sprung further north and if not, there’s always the hope of bringing forth the season through what you create with needle and thread.

What Are You Stitching?
Just the notion of spring ushers in thoughts of new life and heavenly blooms in abundance, and this week’s What Are You Stitching? celebrates what’s been created with needle and thread that leads our thoughts toward spring each and every time we see them!
Caroline Hill
‘I made these for my friends in my Embroidery and Patchwork Group as Kris Kringle gifts last year. They are from Inspirations Issue #85 and were created by Lorna Bateman. Thank you for a glorious magazine which I have enjoyed making many, many items from over the years. Kind regards, Caroline.’

Caroline, what an incredibly thoughtful and generous Kris Kringle gift! The time and talent poured into each one makes them a gift to be treasured.
Julie Johnson | Australia
‘I have adapted the beautiful ‘The Bobbin Tree' bag design by Jenny McWhinney in Inspirations Issue #96. As I reduced the pattern to 60% of the original size, the suggested yarns would not have worked for this project, as I felt they would be too bulky. Therefore, I substituted them for what I had in my ever-expanding treasure trove with Robert Kaufman - Essex Linen/Cotton Blend, DMC Threads and Gumnut Yarns Perle Silk.’

‘The giant wooden bobbin was crafted by my talented husband using reclaimed Australian Hardwood.’
The bobbin measures 19cm (7 inches) high with a circumference of 33cm (13 inches). I am extremely happy with my unique item!’

A harvest of colourful bobbins is just the type of thing we imagine spring delivering and, Julie, what a fabulously creative way of reinterpreting Jenny’s original!
Pat Hill
‘This is my just finished, 3 yearlong project. It's nothing clever, just cross stitch with back stitch and French knots, but there were lots of blended colours in it. I still have to have it framed, and whilst I loved doing it, I am so relieved that it is finally finished!’

‘Your newsletters and magazines have filled my head with stitching that I want to attempt, but this project has been a huge barrier preventing my aspirations taking flight as I am the sort of person who has to finish one thing before I go onto another. Now I have to decide what to stitch next. I would love to do Strawberry Fayre but I am struggling to source the materials. I would like to do Forbidden Fruit possibly just using a blue and white colour scheme, but I'd have to change the strawberry to a sprig of daisies or something. I also love Capucines and could use some Stumpwork in it or… oh no, there's so much I want to do, better get started! Thank you for being so inspiring.’

Pat, what a spectacular way to keep spring alive no matter what the season – with a vase full of stitched flowers! Your commitment to such a large and intricate piece is well worth the result you’ve achieved.
Karen Friscia Zoback | USA
‘I did this piece for my grandmother, who will be 99 on 3rd June. She lived on a farm and had chickens and really loves this piece as she and Grandpa worked hard with many animals over the years. Happy Stitching.’

The sound of clucking hens and buzzing bees absolutely heralds the arrival of spring! Karen, you’ve chosen a lovely way to honour your grandparents’ time on the farm.

Do have some seasonal stitching you’re yet to share with us? Be it spring, summer, autumn or winter, we’d love to see it! Email us photos of what you’ve created with needle and thread along with a few details about your stitching journey to

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‘Spring: a lovely reminder of how beautiful change can truly be.’
~ ~
What's On
Contemporary Textiles Exhibition
Buda Historic Home and Garden
42 Hunter Street Castlemaine, Victoria
Stitch-at-Home Challenge
SNAD's Stitch-at-Home Challenge: View from My Window

San Francisco School of Needlework & Design
Suite 604/360 Post Street, San Francisco

The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries
Art Gallery of NSW | Upper Asian Gallery
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
Jan Taminiau | Reflections Exhibition
A major exhibition on the work of Jan Taminiau

Centraal Museum
Agnietenstraat 1, 3512 XA Utrecht, The Netherlands

9 TO 24 JUN
Affinity | Cross Currents
Zig Zag Gallery
50 Railway Road, Kalamunda WA
Glen Hall | 0419 931 676
16 TO 23 JUN
50th Anniversary Exhibition
The Embroiderers’ Guild of Queensland
149 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley QLD or 07 3252 8629
The Point of Stitch
The Embroiderer’s Guild NSW

Craft and Quilt Fair Sydney 2018
International Convention Centre, Sydney

Alice Springs Beanie Festival

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