Tracy Franklin’s new book Crewelwork is gorgeous. The book itself is a work of art and the images and ideas inside are inspirational. With a cover of textured, light gray card bound in black, the glossy gold and white dotted pages separating each chapter of the book and the breathtaking photography, this is a book to be savored slowly, over and over.
There are 5 chapters ; Stitches, Designs, Design Features, Designed and Embroidered and Earlier Crewelwork. Very little of what you will see is “traditional” crewelwork. All of it is stunning and, for me, a wealth of designs and textures I could not have imagined.
This book is not for beginners. The stitch illustrations (which is how they are labeled in the book) are clear, but there is no accompanying text to explain further.
At the end of the stitch illustrations, there are pages of examples of how to use each individual stitch in a myriad of ways – ways I never considered! French knots stitched so they look sand on the beach and bullion knots stitched in a modern plaid or checkerboard pattern. These photos are taken so that you can see very clearly the detail and, with study, understand how Tracy has worked these ancient stitches so they look fresh and modern.
Chapter 2 is very brief and includes designs by Tracy Franklin and Nicola Jarvis.
Chapter 3, Design features, is my favorite. Here Tracy has experimented with the traditional design features of crewel work and interpreted them in creative, innovative ways. She has stitched multiple examples of leaves, stems and hillocks using the stitch patterns from Chapter 1. This is the part of the book that I will study again and again.
Chapter 4 includes work by Jane Drummond, Susan Vij, Sarah Stevens, Caroline Goodrick, Margaret Wright, Jill Moore, Emi Nimura, Shelly Cox and Tracy Franklin. Theses embroiderers have designed and produced crewel work using traditional shapes but non-traditional color combinations and stitches. Again, I want to sit and study these images for hours – they are food for my stitching soul.
The last chapter is full of photographs of collections of crewel work owned by Owen Davis and the Royal School of Needlework. These photos allow us to see, in great detail. the stitching on each piece of crewelwork.
This book is not a “how to” book; it doesn’t contain loads of patterns for you to copy and reproduce. This book is an art book. It’s meant to be studied, providing inspiration and stretching your imagination. It’s a breath of fresh air in the embroidery book world.
To order this beautiful book, you will need to contact Tracy directly. It’s so new it isn’t listed on her web site or available from distributors yet. Her web site can be found here. It’s a treasure!