Nancy Spies, Arelate Studio, $30, ISBN 0-971860-0-3
There is a tremendous richness in medieval art which has been waiting for a book like this. “Wyverns” takes medieval creatures (imaginary and real), people, letters and patterns and charts them for all kinds of needleworkers. The book contains hundreds of easy-to-see charts, done in black, white and gray. Some of the design are very small; like the badger adapted from a Norman 11th Century embroidery, which is only 19 stitches high. Others, like the Castle from a 15th Century book found in France, are quite large, 89 stitches across.
The patterns are classified according to type. Each section begins with a quote about needlework from an historic source. The charts are nicely spaced on the pages, with quotes and pictures of stitched examples interspersed. Under each chart is the overall stitch count and information about the source of the design.
Spies has found inspiration from sources from museums in the Untied States, Europe and the Middle East. They come from books, tapestries, lace and fabrics. The earliest designs in the book are from the 11th Century, while the latest are from the 16th. But all are united in the joyous delight common to much of medieval art.
What I love about the designs is how much charm and character can be put into a small design. A chart of an owl shows him caught wide-eyed, probably blinking at the sunlight. A dragon is holding her baby in her mouth. For people who like patterns and more abstract designs, the last chapter of the book is packed with charted Celtic knots, dramatic black and white designs, and complex Tudor patterns.
The book is packed with charts and provides no instructions for colors or for stitching the designs. This means that not matter what medium you prefer, these charts can be used for needlepoint, beadwork, cross stitch, knitting, or any other form of embroidery which uses charts.
Four pages of color charts in the middle of the book show how many of the designs have been rendered in cross stitch. Additional black and white photos in the book also show stitched results.
Spies is noted for her authoritative research on medieval tablet weaving. While this book is not scholarly, it is a wonderful resource of designs for embroiderers of all kinds to adapt to their own work.
About Janet M Perry
Janet Perry is the Internet's leading authority on needlepoint. She designs, teaches and writes, getting raves from her fans for her innovative techniques, extensive knowledge and generous teaching style. A leading writer of stitch guides, she blogs here and lives on an island in the northeast corner of the SF Bay with her family
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