The last couple of weeks, I've been working steadily at my book project and it's really coming along, so I thought I would share some sneak peeks in this post. When I researched books on folk embroidery to see what was out there, I was surprised to find out that there isn't really a comprehensive book on folk embroidery that shows all of the amazing things you can create using these historic designs. There are books of charted designs, but many of them are old, there's a high number of chart errors, and they rarely provide repeats or corners which makes them hard to use without charting software. And, as far as how to turn your folk embroidery into something useful and beautiful for your home, I kept coming up empty. All of which convinced me that this was information that needed to get out into the stitching world.
One of the things I really wanted to show was all the different ways you can use folk embroidery designs, so I began by dividing the design types into six general categories. Now, not everything fits perfectly into each category, but it's at least a starting point. My categories are Allover designs, Centered Border designs, Perimeter Border designs, Double-Ended Border designs, Single Motif designs, and Small Border designs.
Next, I wanted to give stitchers some creative inspiration for the various ways you can use each of these design categories, so I developed sketches for various household items--cushion covers (see below), table mats, table runners, etc (thank you Kristen for making these look great!). With an understanding of the design categories and sketches of the various layouts, you can make anything you can think of! For example, you can turn a Perimeter Border design into a cushion, or use a bunch of little Small Borders. Or, you can stitch an Allover design as either the complete cushion front, or add some mitered borders for interest (and less stitching).
After the chapters that talk about the design categories and layouts, comes my chapter of Finishing instructions, which is what I'm in the middle of writing and photographing right now. The light in my basement workshop is too dim for really good photos, so I've set up a mini sewing area in my dining room, which is working beautifully as you can see here. I invested in a new camera a few months ago and I'm so glad I did as the clarity of the images is much better (look at that needle glow!). Photographing finishing techniques is a really slow but fascinating process: I perform the step mentioned in the instruction, take a photo, double-check that the text is clear, do the next step, take a photo, double-check, and so on. I'm analyzing each step of a finishing technique on a whole new level and I think it's giving me an even better idea of how to explain and teach finishing (and for everyone who is going to ask, did I stitch this and do my backs look this good? the answer is emphatically no!--Maria stitched this and I still can't figure out how she gets her backs to look so tidy but I'm super grateful to use her sample for the photos!).
On the days that I just can't face the nitty-gritty of writing and photographing finishing instructions (because my friends, you have to be in an especially obsessive frame of mind for that!), I've been working on adding all of the repeat boxes to the charts. Along with the design categories and layout sketches, there are worksheets for creating your own embroideries and I want it to be easy to figure out your motif repeat of any given design, so I've been adding little boxes around the repeat like this (look close--it's the black box around a section of each border):
This past week I also got all of the projects that we'll be sample stitching finalized and the kits prepped. A couple of stitchers are helping me with the sample stitching and we've got three designs already done (thank you Maria and Cindy!) with 11 more to go (there will be a total of 14 projects in the book that are fully charted and then the Design Library has an additional 200 charts). I just finished a single motif for a cushion cover that's inspired by folk costume from the island of Chios (did you know that is were mastic comes from? They have these amazing shops in Greece that sell mastiha products and I can't wait to go stock up on goodies when I'm there in Sept). I'm currently stitching a sample inspired by allover designs from the island of Naxos for the mitered cushion cover project and I am in LOVE with the floss combo of 3857 dark rosewood and 355 terra cotta. It really evokes Tyrian purple (which, despite the name, is not the same color we call purple today, but more of a deep brownish-burgundy like seen in this textile fragment here).
Next up is figuring out the direction I want to take for publishing. I've been researching both traditional publishing along with self publishing and there are pros and cons for each: traditional publishing only pays very small royalties (typically about 8%) but has a larger audience whereas self publishing gives the author complete control over the book and the possibility of larger royalties but with a much smaller audience (Oprah--are you listening? How about you have me on the show to talk about the wonders of folk embroidery?!).
So, I've got a bit more to do until I'm ready to release this into the world, but I've made enough progress that I'm really starting to feel excited about sharing this project with the great wide world. I'll continue to post updates as things progress, so stay tuned!