Stitches and techniques
Tatiana Popova is a Ukrainian embroiderer. She learnt to stitch at an early age, inspired by her mother and grandmother's embroidery, and for a time she pursued her passion for stitching by studying a huge variety of embroidery styles and techniques, both at school and in her own time. Tatiana studied Floristry Design at university, but soon after graduating she discovered the world of embroidery. She started her own business, Little Owl Smart Crafts Company, producing kits for silk ribbon and crewel embroidery. Tatiana participates in a number of craft shows all around the world, including the UK, USA and Japan, and annually teaches at the Bead & Button Show in the USA.
You can find out more about Tatiana and her work on her website, www.owl-crafts.com.
Last year I reviewed this author's first book The Seasons in Silk Ribbon Embroidery on this site. This was a book with the wow factor in spades, a rare treat for the more advanced embroiderer. A year on and here is another such book, this time showing what crewel embroidery is capable of when inspired by fairy tales.
The main project in this book is a larger piece entitled Tree of Happiness. Each section of this is also featured as a smaller design elsewhere in a different colorway, and each of these sections was inspired by a different fairy tale. Ms Popova is from the Ukraine, so the tales are more varied than they would be from an English speaking author. Andersen's The Wild Swans are featured as is the Wizard of Oz and Cinderella, but there are also Polish and Russian stories plus a ribbonwork owl, the inspiration behind the author's website name.
To learn the stitches start at the beginning where you will find some very clear and foolproof staged photographs. There are also many tips here, and a gallery of photographs showing the whole tree plus all the separate elements. Each of these is also shown paler with a numbered key showing which stitch goes where with a handy page reference. This is a large format book and there are plenty of good-sized photographs with close-ups so you get a good idea of what the work is supposed to look like. Each chapter covers a different element, and as well as the expected key and list of materials there is a brief description of the story plus a personal reminiscence about how the author was inspired to choose it. This makes for interesting reading, and also caused me to ponder on what gets my own creative juices flowing. The embroidery uses Appletons wools or DMC threads which include stranded cottons (including variegated) plus pearl cotton sizes 8 and 12.
The instructions are clear, but despite the author's claim that beginners can tackle the projects I imagine most newbie embroiderers would be better starting with simpler work. Turn to the back for the outlines and advice on transferring to fabric, including tips for working on patterned material. This is definitely one for that keeper shelf, and my favorite book of 2020 so far. I can't wait for book three!-- Rachel Hyde * myshelf.com *
This is a book filled with stunning crewel work embroidery. The designs are inspired by the fairy tales we all love and each design is accompanied with the story which brings each piece to life.
Tatiana Popova is a major craftswoman in her art, and what she does is beautiful. She not only demonstrates the techniques of crewel, she simplifies and breaks down each design into small achievable parts.
Diagrams, stitches and an array of colourful glossy photographs showcase the thread work and many of them have a 3D effect so it is easy to see each stage. These stages are divided into 'zones' which make it simple to understand.
A lot of useful information is included and there is a conversion guide for various threads. I highly recommend this book.-- Tracy Shephard * Amazon *
A beautiful book with excellent instructions and images. The images are good enough to aid your stitching. I love that you can do elements of the design or put it all together as one large design if you are more competent. A nice range of stitches covered as well with plenty of 'how to' instruction. A new author for me but one I will be looking at again.-- Claire Madder * Amazon *
Oh what a fabulous book. I'm new to crewel embroidery so have to keep referring to the stitch patterns early on in the book but it's all there! Exactly what I needed. The instructions are so well illustrated. I like the way the whole design is divided into 12 zones. I loved the storytelling behind each design. A truly inspiring book.-- Karen Callis * Amazon *
This is a colourful wow of a book with appeal for those who admire crewel work but would appreciate a modern approach: Tatiana Popova's colourful designs and fluid approach to materials tick those boxes. Favouring stranded cotton and cotton pearl thread over traditional crewel wool gives her designs a contemporary feel, along with multiple options for different colour palettes and a wider range of 90 stitches, all of which are explained in clear instructions (with helpful photos of stitches, rather than diagrams), detailed photography and pattern diagrams to copy. Popova has established her own aesthetic, with designs that are equally enticing to novices as well as established stitchers.* Embroidery *
A beautiful book! Tatiana tells folktales which link to each element of the design. These are stand alone designs which can be either embroidered individually or combined to make the gorgeous Tree of Life design seen on the cover.
Stitch instructions are provided in alphabetical order for all the stitches used and the photographs are stunning. This is a truly exquisite book, I own a LOT of embroidery books, but this is definitely one of my favourites.-- Rachel Clarke * Amazon *
While I'm only an occasional embroiderer, crewel is my favourite
technique by far and I have a few books on the subject.
This book has some great photography, with many large, vivid, detailed images so you can really see what you're supposed to be doing. The stitch instructions are particularly strong - I really like the way that the author uses different colours to show how the stitches build up.
This is a vibrant book with delicious photos and it's a worthwhile addition to any embroidery library - if I were thinking about buying a crewelwork kit, I'd definitely pull this out instead as the instructions are so good.-- Kate Rawlinson * Amazon *
On the whole I am enjoying this book, the pictures and stitch descriptions are excellent, the folk tales charming and the patterns challenging. I would recommend this book for intermediate level and above.-- Alison Finch * Amazon *
This is a truly beautiful book. The photography is fantastic making the embroidery look like jewels on the page. Tatiana's instructions and step by step photos are really clear and easy to follow. I can't wait to start my crewel Embroidery journey.-- Latona Sewell * Amazon *
Absolutely stunning book, lots of advice, beautiful pictures showing closeup work.-- Claire Allen * Customer Review *