Local Heart, Global Soul

April 25, 2010

Embroidered Flowers For Elizabeth, a very crafty book Review…

Filed under: Craft — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yesterday I received the book in the post that I won in a random draw of new forum members of the Australian stitching company and publisher, Country Bumpkin.

My winning book is called “Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth” and  is signed by the author Susan O’Connor.

The “Elizabeth” of the title is the English Queen Elizabeth I, and the book depicts flowers in the theme and style that can be found in Elizabethan embroidery.

The Elizabethan era is characterized as a time that enjoyed efficient, stable government largely due to the reforms put in place by Henry’s VII and VIII, and together with successful overseas expansion this era enjoyed an increase of wealth comparative to the era preceding it.

Poetry and music flourished, and whilst leisure time was still rather limited for the masses, festive days were a chance for those who had established some wealth to show off their finery.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Elizabethan and Tudor portraits by notable painters such as Hans Holbein the Younger, Anthony van Dyck and Nicolas Hilliard show richly decorated garments embellished with embroideries, Blackwork, jewelery, fine laces, silver and gold threads, and featuring floral themes as well as insects, birds and fruits.

In the book there is a concise, albeit short historical background, (naturally these are not great volumes of historical information available on embroidery existing at this time in history) and at the beginning of the book (photograph on Page 8, and pictures in the photo at right) showing Margaret Layton’s linen jacket, embroidered with silk circa 1610, an exceptionally beautiful  and very rare surviving specimen of Elizabethan clothing that is an amazing inspiration for any stitcher in itself…

This book continues the A-Z style of instructional diagrams, complete with clear and concise photographs that illustrate each stage of the stitch so that even a beginner could master the technique displayed.

Certainly some stitching experience would be an advantage, so that tension and evenness of the stitching could be maximized in the final stitched result, but I am also sure that with the aid of the photographic sequences, that any determined beginner could also achieve a very acceptable result.

One nice feature of this book is that Susan gives instructions to complete an embroidered blanket, where each of the elements in the book can be put harmoniously together to form a single project…

…but that if the entire project is too big for what the stitcher requires, then each of the parts can easily be used to make a separate, smaller project, ideal for decorating household items, clothes or as a framed piece.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When I saw the colour code for the yarn used, I had a small panic because I knew that Paternayan Wool Yarn would be next to impossible to find here in The Netherlands, but that’s been thought of too and Page 73 of the book features a tread conversion chart not only Paternayan Wool to DMC stranded cotton, but also to Au Ver à Soie, Soie d’Alger , a beautiful French Silk thread.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One small improvement that I can see and might suggest could be that for instance on Page20-21 where the stitching directions for the Poppy are given, it might have been nice to have the poppy bud stitching directions also in the step-by-step photograph instructional diagrams instead of solely in written text.

For people like me who have a good knowledge of basic embroidery stitches but who have not ever put the stitches together to make a flower like this, and with no possibility of a local class or someone to show me in person, the maxim of “ a picture tells a thousand words” would indeed be helpful as I take my first tentative steps alone into this kind of stitching.

Don’t get me wrong, there are step by step photographic directions for the petals of the Poppy on Page 22, but the bud is more complicated (or appears so, with regards to the positioning of the satin stitch) and there are no step by steps for that. Seeing the entire Poppy project depicted from beginning to end would give beginners like me in this work a little (OK, a lot) more confidence.

Wonderfully detailed photographs both aid and inspire the stitcher…

Thank you Country Bumpkin for a beautiful book… now all I have to do is try and decide where to start…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

All in all, this is a wonderful book, if there were additional step by step photographs showing how the all the flowers were built up in their layers were available for every component of the project, then for me at least,  it would be a perfect book.

My rating for this book would be 8/10 as I read it though… and possibly more, but I’ll have to stitch something out of it first to really test how well a beginner can follow the instructions as they are set out.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Watch this space for a future stitching updates on this post.

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth // Author: Susan O’Connor // ISBN 978-0-9805753-4-7

Published in Australia  by Inspirations Books // Country Bumpkin Publications, Australia.


  1. WOW! The level of skill detailed in that book is indeed, amazing! I’ve done some embroidery and crewel work, and know I could get lost in reproducing the acorns and floral motifs. I hope to one day get back to the stiching I used to do. It really relaxed me and kept my hands busy after a long day. I swear, tv is stealing skills like this from me!

    Comment by milkayphoto — April 26, 2010 @ 2:56 am | Reply

  2. I know, isn’t it BEAUTIFUL? I usually stitch when the TV is on, I can multi-task at it quite well LOL, my biggest problem is finding time to watch TV… but yes, it’s so relaxing to sit and stitch. Try and get back to your stitching, you won’t regret it!

    Comment by Kiwidutch — May 3, 2010 @ 6:34 pm | Reply

  3. What a wonderful book! You’ve written an extremely comprehensive review. This is definitely on my wish list!

    Comment by Elizabeth — May 3, 2010 @ 9:31 pm | Reply

  4. Hi! Yes please, put me in the hat for this one. I’ve entered so many giveaways for it (and others) I’ve lost count!!=)

    Comment by Elizabeth — May 4, 2010 @ 12:14 am | Reply

  5. You are a wonderful writer! I loved your review of this fantastic book. Do I dare enter into your generous draw to win a copy?

    Well I am going to be very bold and do just that. The book is just too beautiful to pass up a chance to possibly own a copy!

    Linda A

    Comment by Linda A — May 5, 2010 @ 4:54 am | Reply

  6. Hi, I have been looking at this book for a while now, who would not want it? I don’t normaly win anything, but lets go for it, yes please, enter me too. Lovely review, you have sold it to me, even if I don’t win, I just have to get it myself!

    Comment by Radka (tower93) — May 5, 2010 @ 11:46 am | Reply

  7. This one has been on my wish list since I first saw it previewed on Country Bumpkin’s website. It really looks lovely! I’d love to be entered into your drawing for it if you don’t mind mailing it to the U.S. Thanks for your generousity!


    Comment by Celeste — May 6, 2010 @ 3:12 pm | Reply

    • For a fellow stitcher, I’ll to mail to anywhere in the world that has a postal service LOL. As with all the entries, Good Luck everyone !

      Comment by kiwidutch — May 6, 2010 @ 5:41 pm | Reply

  8. What a useful review of a beautiful book. Thanks for all the insights.

    Comment by dianne — May 7, 2010 @ 4:50 am | Reply

  9. Gosh – what a lovely looking book!! I LOVE that acorn – what a cute little design!! I’d definitely love to enter this giveaway; this looks like such a decadent and amazing book, what a treat it would be to have in ones collection!

    Good Luck to all invloved, and thank you to both Kiwidutch for paying for the postage, and to Countrybumpkin for allowing kiwi to do another giveaway on her blog with this second book!!

    Comment by zara_bear — May 10, 2010 @ 4:14 am | Reply

  10. Celeste Stein Multi Little Floral…

    […] here is a concise, albeit short historical background, (naturally these are not […]…

    Trackback by Tight Blog — September 9, 2010 @ 8:16 am | Reply

  11. For period colored wools you might try EPic in Portland, Oregon

    Comment by Carina Lawson-Williams — November 23, 2015 @ 8:51 am | Reply

    • Carina,
      Many Thanks for the information, it helps so much to “network” local information so that other hand-workers who need these wool’s can learn where to find them. Welcome too, to my blog 🙂

      Comment by kiwidutch — November 23, 2015 @ 9:15 am | Reply

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