book review // the embroidered garden
Friends, you are in for a treat today. And if you order the gem of a book that I'm going to give you a glimpse at, you'll be in for a treat as soon as it's delivered to you.
The Embroidered Garden, by Kazuko Aoki and published by Roost Books, is simply stunning. In fact, would it be weird to say that it's prettier than any actual flower garden that I've ever grown? It's the truth. I kinda want to go and sit and stitch in this embroidered garden.
I think that what impresses me the most is that the stitches used for these designs are pretty simple. They are almost entirely basics that you learn early on in your embroidery experience. The author just uses them really well, and shows you how to do the same.
Looking through the pages feels a lot like looking through an embroidered nature journal, and I'm pretty sure that's the objective. The stitching is reminiscent of sketches or watercolors, but there are also other details that bring that image to mind. See those little "tape" strips? They are made with organza fabric. I love them. And many of the embroideries include stamped or perfectly stitched labels, much like you would label something in a notebook.
The subtitle of this book is "stitching through the seasons of a flower garden", and that idea is best represented through the seasonal wreaths. There is a circle of flowers and foliage for each of the four seasons, and oh! How lovely they are!
They would be beautiful as a grouping, or perhaps as wall art that you change out seasonally. Winter is shown above.
While the embroidery truly is a work of art that you'll want hanging on your walls, there are also plenty of smaller projects to make. This jam-making set is a favorite of mine (it has jam jar covers, a little bag, and a hot pad.) Additionally, you'll find pillows, a sewing set, sachets, a coin purse, cards, and more.
The instructions are presented in a classic Japanese craft book fashion: notes and diagrams at the end of the book. I will admit that this leads to a fair amount of flipping back and forth, but for some reason I enjoy that. It adds activity to the process of looking through the book!
The general instructions for creating the embroidery and projects are also beautifully done. There's a combination of photos and diagrams, which is helpful. The section on extra techniques is one of my favorite elements in here. The information is gold, and I don't want to give away too much, because it's a big part of the value of this book.
And remember when I said that The Embroidered Garden feels like a nature journal? Kazuko Aoki tells a little about her process for creating the embroidery designs. She talks about her garden, spending time looking at and gathering flowers, sketching them, and then stitching them. Her work really is like a journal!
I honestly believe that even if you never stitch a thing from this book, you'd still be happy to have it. Because looking through it is like taking a walk in a garden and that's happy in itself.
Beyond that, I'm so inspired by the techniques the author employs to achieve many of the looks in here. She layers stitches, uses a beautiful mix of stitches for tiny text, and adds in some incredible texture. I can't wait to try these in my own stitching experiments!
Find The Embroidered Garden on Amazon, Roost Books (where you'll also find a free project from the book!), or through your local book seller.