In the summer of 2013, I had my first exposure to embroidery, through the blogs and social media of the likes of Susan B. Anderson and Jillian Moreno (of Knitty), among others. I was intrigued so I went digging and I found the samplers of Rebecca Ringquist of Dropcloth Samplers. And I'm so glad I did. This week, her new embroidery book has been released and what a wonderful book it is.
I find embroidery to be the perfect counterpoint, or balance, to knitting. For me knitting is about precision and math, because as a part-time technical editor and designer I can't help but think about the structure of the knitting and pattern as the enjoyment of the knitting. By contrast, embroidery is totally freeform, yes the pre-printed samplers do give you guidelines, so much more of the design work is up to the stitcher. I find this freedom enjoyable and totally terrifying. While I know, intellectually, there are no wrong answers in embroidery, I can't help but think that I'm doing it wrong all the time.
Thankfully, Rebecca Rinquist's Embroidery Workshops reminds me that there are some proper ways to make stitches, but other than that you can follow the mantra of the book "A Bend-The-Rules Primer" and just make your art. And that the embroidery police aren't going to come and take away your work because you decided to try something strange and new.
Also, that I need to throw caution to the wind, because some of what has been holding me back on the samplers I already have, is a bit of analysis paralysis. I can spend a lifetime working out the right colors to use on a sampler, when really, all the samplers I've done so far are just fine, wait, no they are kind of awesome.
But back to the book, it is broken down into 6 sections: Get Ready, Stitch, Trace, Draw, Layer and Finish. Get Read, Stitch, Trace and Finish beautiful job showing the tools, stitches and techniques you need to get stitching and displaying your work, while Draw and Layer highlight the beautiful embroidery work of Rebecca and gives you projects and inspiration to go beyond the sampler.
So whether you are a totally new to embroidery, or have lots of experience, the book is suitable. For those of us who lack inspiration, her projects all have ideas on how to start.
My favorite part of the book is that it is filled with Rebecca's lovely little illustrations.
They are so adorable and approachable, and makes the book feel like it's a gift from a friend who just wants you to get out and make art. The binding, a hardcover without a slipcover, is beautiful and the endpapers are printed in electric orange.
And, there is a stitchable sampler right there in the book! I will be leaving my safe and sound for now, because my pile of unstitched samplers is a bit large, much to my embarrassment. But thankfully samplers pack up a whole lot smaller than a yarns stash does.
As a subscriber to the Dropcloth Stitch of the Month and Colorburst Samplers, and someone who owns nearly all of Rebecca's samplers that have been available since I first found her shop, I have a whole bunch of stitching to do, but this book serves as both inspiration and guide to help me make my way through them.
I think what I might do is try to commit to doing at least one sampler a month, because it helps me turn off my knitting brain and engage with a completely different skill set. I already have a head start on April's, but mostly because I think I started it last summer.
So keep your eyes on my instagram feed, that is where I usually post my latest projects and finished designs.