When I bought it I didn't realize that it is basically a project book. It has all the instructions for the sampler that is shown on the cover. The project is beautiful, but I really have no intention of making it.
But even if I don't want to make the project, I've been thinking of lots of ways to use the individual components in other projects. Right now I am mainly interested in the ribbon techniques, although some of the stumpwork ideas are appealing as well. Look at these cute hydrangeas:
As I said in my review of Inspirations 73 last month, I have been seeing more and more of this kind of turned edge stumpwork, which I really like.
For the ribbon embroidery, van Niekerk provides excellent diagrams of all the stitches used in the book and advice on what needles to use, as well as all the information needed to transfer the design and prepare your fabric. To my mind, what distinguishes van Niekirk's work, in this book and others, from other ribbon embroidery books is the naturalistic effect she achieves with the ribbons. There is nothing stiff or formal about her flowers! I am used to always thinking about keeping stitches even, with a consistent length and tension. This style of embroidery requires you to break out of the box somewhat, which is a good exercise for me!
You can see how every stitch on these blue delphiniums is different:
The deep rose coloured hollyhocks are done in a combination of cast-on stitch and bullion knots in a gorgeous hand dyed raw silk thread. I love the extra dimension that the variety of materials and stitches gives in the project. I am sure I would learn a lot if I did the whole sampler!
You can buy all the materials for this project and others, including complete kits, at van Niekerk's website - www.dicraft.co.za. I admit that I used to be afraid of what the postage cost from South Africa would be! But I recently bought some of her ribbons from the site, and the postage was quite reasonable. I think the key is to keep the weight down, and fortunately, the ribbons are very light!
(Update May 2012: Unfortunately it looks like my order got lost somewhere along the way. After six weeks I received a full refund, but it was still disappointing. If I try again I will look into using EMS rather than regular mail.)
Van Niekerk's new book, Roses, will be available soon. It is definitely on my wish list! I am even contemplating buying the whole kit, I think it is really something special.
So, although I was a little slow to warm to this book, it is now another one I definitely recommend. If you have never bought a book on ribbon embroidery, this may not be for you, although it certainly has all the information you need to complete the project. If you are looking to expand your ribbon embroidery horizons, however, this is a great way to go!
Allie Aller's Crazy Quilting