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  • Publisher: Search Press
  • Edition: BB Hardback
  • Publication: 12 October 2021
  • ISBN 13/EAN: 9781782218609
  • Stock: 50+
  • Size: 228x250 mm
  • Illustrations: 450
  • Pages: 144
  • RRP: £19.99
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Needlepainted Plants and Pollinators


An insect lover’s guide to silk shading embroidery by Victoria Matthewson

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Book Description

Exquisitely detailed and worked in silk floss thread with tiny size 12 needles, Victoria Matthewson's embroideries are a masterclass in thread painting, and shine with vibrant colour and life. 

Many people think of bees as being the only pollinators but, in fact, a wide variety of insects help with the pollination of plants, including butterflies, moths, wasps and beetles all of which make wonderful subjects for embroidery. Starting with key stitches and techniques, this inspiring and practical book contains nine step-by-step embroidery projects. Choose from nine key plant and pollinator combinations including the dogrose and greenbottle fly, ox-eye daisy and hoverfly, and fennel and seven-spot ladybird. Each stunning project contains fascinating entomological insights about each pollinator and its plant, verified by the experts at the charity Buglife. With a foreword written by TV naturalist Iolo Williams, and a comprehensive design and stitch guide, this gorgeous and informative book will inspire you to observe and capture the beauty of these vital ecosystems.

The book will suit people with some previous embroidery knowledge, or ambitious beginners. 

Table of Contents

Contents 5, Introduction 6, Foreword 8, All about pollinators 10, Materials and tools 12, Techniques 20, Stitch gallery 26, Small stitched elements 34, Inspiration 38, Choosing colours 40, Order of work 42

The Projects 44
Dogrose and greenbottle fly 46, Lords and Ladies and owl midge 56, Ox-eye daisy and hoverfly 64, Fennel and seven-spot ladybird 72, Meadow buttercup and thick-legged flower beetle 80, Bramble and gatekeeper butterfly 88, Common knapweed and six-spot burnet moth 96, Blackthorn and buff-tailed bumblebee 106, Gooseberry and common wasp 114

Templates 122

About the Author

About Victoria Matthewson

Victoria Matthewson is a hand embroidery artist specializing in needlepainting, also known as silk shading or long and short stitch embroidery. Combining her love of nature and craft she has developed a distinctive style of embroidery, creating realistic artwork inspired by British flora and fauna, with a special focus on insects. 

Working in silk floss thread (as it creates a depth of colour and shine that brings each piece to life) and using the smallest size 12 embroidery needles and a magnifying lamp, each piece can take between weeks and months to complete. 

She is proud to have built a reputation as one of the top silk shading artists in the UK: in March 2018 she won Needlecrafter of the Year at the National Needlecraft Awards in collaboration with DMC thread for her embroidered ladybird. She is a member of The Society for Embroidered Work and has also created two recent projects for Stitch magazine.

Her website is www.victoriamatthewson.com


Embroidery Artist

I was ecstatic when Needlepainted Plants and Pollinators was finally published.

The first section of the book goes into Victorias inspiration, why insects? She talks about the importance of pollinators and how to encourage them into your garden. I love that! She then goes on to talk about the materials she uses, from backing fabric to ground fabric, needles, pins, scissors, etc.

Victoria also explains why to use a stand, use stretcher bars or hoops and how to mount up properly. Theres a section showing the correct way to mount a piece, once finished, and perfect its presentation.

In my favourite section of the book Victoria talks about how to find inspiration, working from a photo, choosing a design, and then planning the design. She mentions stitch direction, shading guidelines, order of stitching, light direction, and discusses colour. All very important steps.

Victoria explains how she chooses threads and both she and I have a serious love of DeVere Yarns silk threads.

Then theres a section showing the basics of long and short stitch. How to work directional long and short and information about parking your threads properly. Again, super important. She goes into a bit more detail on other stitches, including threading a needle, a waste knots, finishing threads, split, satin, French knots, seed, and lazy daisy stitches. A section that talks about shading a berry or spherical shape, and shading leaves properly.

Then there is a tonne of projects. My personal favourite is either the Dog Rose and Greenbottle Fly, the Fennel and Seven-Spot Ladybird, or the Blackthorn and Buff-Tailed Bumblebee. I love stitching bees, and Victorias are beyond perfect!

The last part of the book is almost like a portfolio of her past works, with beautiful descriptions of each piece. I love that the templates for working each of the many projects are included.

I cant recommend this book enough. Its gorgeous, and so well written. Whether youre starting out in your stitching career, or youre a professional, I guarantee theres something in this book for you. Its a work of art.

Book Threads

This is a beautifully printed book with some lovely photographs of insects. 

Why insects? As Victoria Matthewson says - "Our insect pollinators are in trouble. At the time of writing more than 40% are in decline."

In the first part of the book, Victoria Matthewson takes us through the usual paraphernalia of equipment - setting up, design, colour etc. But miss this at your peril, for it is full of excellent tips. These include how to design taking into consideration the direction of the light. How to use light and shade to give a three-dimensional effect and "needle parking!" (Keeping the needle threaded when not in use and anchored in the edge of the work, out of the way)

Then there are the projects! Every one is complete with a full set of instructions with explicit photographs and drawings. They are arranged to represent the main groups of pollinators. Each insect depicted is shown alongside the plant that it is attracted to. The projects have a template to facilitate the transfer of the design. 

This book might be a little difficult for the novice to understand without guidance but I would recommend it for an embroiderer with some experience of needlepainting.

Stitch Magazine

Victoria does so much than deliver a stunning guide to painting with thread. She gives her stitched subjects context. She makes seemingly little creatures important. She encourages readers to take a moment, to reflect on the insect or plant, and to consider the incredible role they play in our fragile eco-system. This raised awareness can only make for a richer, more connected embroidery experience.

Mary Corbet's Needle 'n' Thread

This is one of the books Ive been Absolutely Dying to get to, to let you know about! Now that the release date is getting very close, Im really excited to write a review of it.

The book is Needlepainted Plants and Pollinators: An Insect Lovers Guide to Silk Shading Embroidery by Victoria Matthewson. It is a lovely book from Search Press, and it falls into a very interesting category. Its pretty much a nature journal in thread, combined with instruction and projects.

I knew it was going to be good. I follow Victorias Instagram feed and really enjoy seeing her work. So, yep. I was excited to get an advanced copy and see the book in person! Unlike many needlework books, Needlepainted Plants and Pollinators is a hardbound book, which gives it a coffee table book feel and for good reason. Whether interested in embroidery or not, this is the type of book that anyone can pick up and connect to. After all, we all live on a beautiful planet filled with growing things and curious creatures. Whether we see them is another question but we know they are there.

Opening the pages of the book is rather magical theres almost a Wow! on every page. I love little touches like this, by the way. This is just a lone embroidered bee in the corner of the end sheet when you first open the book. The inside cover page hints at the delights to come. This is the type of book that is very difficult not to photograph page by page, to show you all of it. But if I did that, you wouldnt have that joy of surprise when your own copy arrives. So I will curtail my inclinations!

The book is broken down into two parts: the first half which is background information and the second half which is filled with projects. In the first part of the book, we learn about the author, a bit about nature study, the basics of getting started with embroidering from natural subjects, a bit about materials and threads, and the rudiments of needlepainting. My favorite section in the first part of the book is probably the discussion on inspiration. This is where we learn that not everything that we see in nature may translate easily into an embroidery design. She discusses how to choose the right type of subject for needlepainting, and her advice is excellent. If you have toyed with the idea of needlepainting your favorite aspects of the natural world from your own drawings or photos, but you didnt know where to start, youll appreciate the information here.

Of course, theres thread talk. I love thread talk. The needlepainting instruction walks through different exercises in stitching various types of shapes and elements found in nature leaves, berries, petals, and the like so that we understand how needlepainting is meant to flow when working a natural subject.  

Oh, I almost forgot! Youll find great information and instruction not only on preparing your project to stitch, but also on how to finish it for display in different ways. I do appreciate good finishing instructions in an embroidery book!

Then there are the projects. There are nine. They range from plants to pollinators, as the title promises. Youll find a some really fabulous close-ups of the embroidery in this book, too, as you go through it. I like close-ups. They give us a good idea of stitch direction, order of stitching, and so forth. With each project, theres a design template (in the back of the book), a materials list, and instructions on stitching it. We get to see the step-by-step development of the parts of the projects, too, which is very helpful. Its hard to pick a favorite project in the book, but I think this one might be it for me. I like the way this is photographed here, too. And I love that solid center of French knot glory!  Of course theres a ladybug!

In a Nutshell

Well, whats not to like? If you love the idea of needlepainting natural subjects in realistic ways, I think youll really love this book. Theres much to learn from it, and its a good guide in observation and in building nature journaling skills with needle and thread.

If you are just fascinated by beautiful embroidery, if you like to browse through embroidery books for inspiration even if you dont intend to stitch these particular subjects its a lovely book and its got good instruction in it that applies to needlepainting in general, that can be applied to stylized embroidery designs as well. If you like nature journaling, photography, and the like, its a different approach that will add variety and beauty to your library. Theres nothing I dont like about this book. All my little pleasure molecules in my brain start buzzing when I open it. It makes me happy.

The Stitchers Journal, Issue No. 11

It has been said that if insects were to disappear overnight, the world's eco-system would collapse. Like them or not, the world needs bugs. In particular, the pollinators, on which depends every third mouthful of food we eat. it was learning about the delicate web of inter-dependence that weaves between insect and plant that prompted Victoria Matthewson's new book, Needlepainted Plants and Pollinators. Showcasing her exquisite needlepainting, it also informs us about the importance of pollinating insects, and encourages us to take a closer look at them. 

[...] With a foreword written by TV naturalist Iolo Williams, and a comprehensive stitch guide, this gorgeous and informative hardback book will inspire people with some previous experience of embroidery, as well as ambitious beginners. 


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