Last year I was sitting on my friend Ingrid’s couch as she was going through her late mother Barbaro’s books. Barbaro was from Sweden and had quite an eclectic and beautiful collection of tomes covering all sorts of topics from poetry to history to biography. As I do not speak Swedish all I could do was admire the leather bound copies of literature and flip through to the illustrations. (The Swedes have an amazing history in illustration that oddly, other than Astrix and Obelisk, hasn’t blossomed into a strong presence in the comics industry, yet.)
Then I saw this simple little book lying on top of a pile of tiny leaflets and novellas.
I picked it up and flipped through it’s wonderfully thorough diagrams and photos and was engrossed as I would be in any good work of fiction!
I had started embroidery projects as a small child. I remember basic embroidery was one of the first things my mother taught me after crochet. I still have a pillow case cover I worked on when I was five years old!
I never really mastered it as I didn’t find any use for it at the time. I was such a practical child! If it was purely ornamental I wasn’t all that fascinated. That holds true today, I suppose. Also, I don’t recall being exposed to all the possibilities of embroidery. After all, it was the era of machine embroidery and I remember my mother taking a small foray into applique with her sewing machine in the 80’s but that didn’t last.
But this book I discovered on Ingrid’s dining room table was like a full course in embroidery. It covered the basics to the insane! Any possible embellishment you might want to add is covered in here.
Life is busy and I kept meaning to crack it open and start a project. Over the months I flipped through it over and over, fascinated by the techniques and the craftwork displayed in it’s pages.
Finally, I had something that needed a bit of something! A shirt! I had made this purple, flowy shirt a few weeks earlier, intending to wear it to Daphne’s christening but the neck was all messed up and I was focused more on her gown than what I would wear. I put it aside until another event came up, a wedding. Our good friends, Robin and Step, were having a casual carnival themed wedding and everyone was encouraged to dress comfortably and creatively. I already had the shirt. It was fitted to me and my odd little form, the neckline issues were fixed, but it was far too plain for this particular event.
So, out came Sömmar och Stygn!
I picked out a nice branch pattern (no. 27) and did my best recreate what I saw on page 10 and 11 of my fabulous guide to stitchery.
After very few re-dos I ended up with this!
But it still needed a little something more. So back to the book!
Some basics, a border! Number 6 is in order!
Starting the base stitch…
…and filling it in. Also, finished up the swirls on the bottom and added some stars!
Stars, page 16, illustration 56 a & b.
Still, needs a bit more…
Ha ha! Leafy pod things care of page 8 and 9. (Number 17, if you please.)
I wanted to add a lot more, and I might do, but it was getting late and the wedding was the next day so off to bed I went.
The next day I put on my new purple top and went to an awesome wedding where there was much love flowing everywhere, some of it going to my lovely shirt!
I will be adding more, I think, but for now I think it’s grand!
The happiest bride and groom in the world! And yes, that’s the shirtless best man in the background with the wreath of leaves and sarong! It was the awesomest wedding I’ve been to in a long time.
It was a wonderful day and I was proud of my handywork when compliments came my way. Nothing better than someone complimenting something you’re wearing and being able to say, “Why, thank you! I made it myself!”
And thank you , Barbaro, for collecting such beautiful books and Ingrid for sharing them with me and teaching me a little prettyness on something practical can be a lovely thing. Crafts were meant to pass on from on to another and I hope these skills will pass into the internet and out into the world.
I’ll be sure to post more from this amazing book!