Thoughts on Books: The Myth & Magic of Embroidery

The Myth and Magic of Embroidery by Helen M. Stevens

The Myth & Magic of Embroidery by Helen M. Stevens

“From ancient times, embroidery and other textile arts have been associated with myths and legends, fables and fairy tales, high drama and folklore, from Ancient Greece to modern Europe. This book explores the use of embroidery in such rituals. The Myth and Magic of Embroidery contains embroidered pictures inspired by nature, including plant life, animals, landscapes and sacred places from many origins such as Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Old English. Each chapter contains an adaptation of a legend or fable with illustrations taken from the author’s own workbook. The book includes detailed working methods and new design techniques, such as the transformation of traditional ethnic stitches and the translation of designs from ceramics and architecture into motifs for embroidery, enabling the reader to create stunning embroidery pieces of their own.”

I got this book in grade 8 or 9 after completely falling in love with it at the local bookstore and staring at it, there, for a few months. It was the first time that I had seen such detailed embroidery and I was absolutely enthralled. I even did one of my “artist profiles” in art class about Helen M. Stevens.

The book has seven chapters:

  • Words and Music
  • Blithe Spirits
  • Earth, Wind and Water
  • Plantlore
  • Quests, Journeys and Battles
  • Animal Magic
  • Sacred Places

There are also two sections that show the basic techniques and a bibliography.

These chapters all contain myths, legends, folklore, and even history that link to embroidery, other needlecrafts, and the embroideries’ subjects.

It was also this book that first gave me the idea for a proper magic system based on embroidery — the magic system that’s present in The Ruon Chronicles (although it has grown and matured since then). The Myth and Magic of Embroidery, therefore, can be seen as one of the catalysts that got me writing (not to mention loving embroidery more).

About Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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