Tuesday 6 November 2012

Book Review: Knot, Thread, Stitch

The subtitle of Knot Thread Stitch by Lisa Solomon is "Exploring creativity through embroidery and mixed media" and it's exploring creativity which this book really focuses on.

The book's approach to embroidery is experimental and artistic, and though it includes a series of projects you can make at home (with templates provided, almost all of which require enlarging) the emphasis is firmly on sparking your creativity and using the projects in the book as springboards to make something unique and personal.

Lisa writes, "I don't know about you but I rarely make projects I see in craft books exactly the way authors suggest them. Mostly I use my craft books" ... "as inspiration" and the reader is very much encouraged to do the same, with lots of suggestions throughout the book on how to make the projects your own.

Knot Thread Stitch is divided into three sections - Let's Start (a guide to fabric, threads, tools and techniques), Make Stuff, and then Find Inspiration which includes the templates, a guide to some embroidery stitches plus some inspirational pieces designed by contemporary artists using embroidery in their work:

The Make Stuff section includes 17 stitching projects, many of which include an "artist version" where an artist takes the basic technique or material that Lisa has used and creates their own project based around it. For example, embroidering on a pillowcase or creating a design involving silhouettes. Some of the designs are 100% embroidery based, and others involve using embroidered elements with other materials & techniques.

I really liked the idea of doing an embroidery based on a child's drawing...

... and the list of things to think about when creating a portrait of someone was very inspiring (not just thinking about what they look like, but what they're like as a person and what they enjoy doing and how you can represent these things).

I also really liked the stencilled and embroidered t-shirts:

Some of the projects are very personal to Lisa, e.g. the sampler based on the design she created for her wedding stationery (and the detail about how the colours for the wedding were taken from her 1950s wedding dress).

I really like how personal Knot Thread Stitch feels overall - Lisa shares her inspiration for all the projects, what she thought, why she decided to do this or that, how she developed and changed the idea. It's really interesting to read about someone else's creative process, but I think it also helps make the process feel very transparent and accessible. You can do this too, you can find your own inspiration, it's okay for you to make changes, etc.

Many of the artists involved in the book hadn't done embroidery before, so the tales of how they got to grips with their projects are also really interesting and add to the feeling of "I can do this too!" which I think the book inspires.

The only downside to the artist projects is that it has resulted in some slightly weird labelling, where Lisa's projects are all labelled "part one" even when there is no artist version for that project (i.e. no part two!) which is a tad confusing at times (I am easily confused by such things!)

This isn't a book to buy if you want fancy embroidery patterns, or a detailed guide to embroidery techniques and I think if you expected either you'd be disappointed. But if you've not done much embroidery before, or are interested in experimenting with how you use it, and in sparking your creativity then I think this would be a great addition to your bookshelf.

Knot Thread Stitch is published by Quarry Books. RRP £15.99. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

[Disclaimer: Quarry Books sent me a free review copy of this book, and the Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links]


Jessica said...

This sounds like a fantastic book - thanks for the great review, I'll be adding this to my Christmas wishlist for sure!

Bugs and Fishes said...

Glad you found it useful, Jessica! It's a really interesting book :)