(Sorry. I usually try to avoid really awful titles that contain puns. This one typed itself when I went into the other room.)
I picked up a copy of The New Crewel at the library last week. The New York Public Library doesn't generally have a strong selection of craft-type books in its lending selection, but somehow I managed to get myself on the list for this book just before it was put into circulation (much later than the actual publication date, mind you) and only waited a week or two for it to arrive. What a charming collection of contemporary designs! It's great to see a pastime like this come back into vogue. I'm finding inspiration in the simplicity and the spareness of the compositions and the shapes used in the designs.
When I finish my sock (ooh, I'm sooooo close! I can hardly stand to put it down long enough to write this!), I hope to do a little embroidery again in the evenings. I've been working on more baby gifts, and I've started experimenting with satin stitch initials on one drawstring bag for a baby who doesn't use his full name. But I have some tea towels that are waiting for embellishment.
Actually, some of the tea towels will be transformed, via embroidery, into large cloth napkins (er, "serviettes" to some of you not in the States) for casual dining, which is about as fancy as we get at our house lately. The others will be embroidered to become, yes, tea towels! Tremendously exciting, I know.
And I learned a couple of things from the book: first, I did not invent the idea of outlining in chain stitch before beginning to satin stitch a shape. Erica Wilson did it in her famous book, which I've been meaning to get for myself. And second, it really does help to use an embroidery hoop. I dislike hoops passionately, but as you can see from the disdressed banner above, a hoop can prevent you from pulling your stitches too tightly across your work and distorting the shape and the fabric. Someday I'll need to either fix that banner or make a new one. I'm voting for a new one.