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The Embroidered Garden: Stitching through the Seasons of a Flower Garden

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Whimsical, beautiful embroidery motifs created by an avid gardener—stitch roses, bees, or whole garden scenes.

Kazuko Aoki has a unique talent for translating the beauty of the garden with needle and thread. By offering forty motifs, Aoki invites us to explore her gardens through embroidery. The forty motifs explore the roses and wildflowers that appear season to season, as well as the bees and butterflies that enjoy their nectar. The designs here are exquisite, detailed, and artfullly rendered. Beyond the motifs themselves, Aoki also presents projects that feature the embroidery: brooches, notebook covers, pin cushions, and pouches. For those new to embroidery, detailed how-to illustrations are included.

96 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 2015

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Kazuko Aoki

54 books20 followers

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5 stars
48 (44%)
4 stars
37 (34%)
3 stars
17 (15%)
2 stars
4 (3%)
1 star
1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
1,173 reviews5 followers
August 23, 2015
Totally lovely and cute! I must say I have had pure delightful and calming experience when reading and reviewing this book!
Authoress Kazuko Aoki is obviously in love with her (or any) garden and is more than able to transform her love of garden and beauty within into lovely stitching and crafting projects with garden theme. The tone is warm and charming, she doesn´t put any pressure onto her readers, just invites you into her calm world. Enter please, you will be more than happy to do so!

What I love is that she starts with putting her reader into a mood with simply presenting her love of garden flowers and designs from spring til winter/Christmas themes, ending with gardening life in embroidery. Then she introduces the patterns, techniques and schemes. I got totally motivated to take my needle and start creating!
I do think that authoress considers her readers being an intelligent people, because she doesn´t go into much details about difficulty of needlework in her projects. You simply see and start with what you consider being appropriate for you. This might confuse some beginners. But don´t get scared, this is not about the accuracy, but about the joy and beauty. It just feels SO natural! Enjoy :)

I would like to thank the netgalley.com for allowing me to review the book. The opinion expressed is solely my own.
Profile Image for Andrea McDowell.
569 reviews314 followers
May 31, 2021
Lovely, simple projects with clear descriptions.

I made a modified version of the spring floral wreath (to replace those not native to Ontario, where I live, with those that are), described in a blog post here. Colours, stitch descriptions, patterns, instructions were all clear and easy to follow.

Profile Image for Sam (Hissing Potatoes).
546 reviews18 followers
August 10, 2021
2.5 stars. The designs are absolutely gorgeous. But the book is not for beginners as the description claims. I'm pretty sure NASA templates aren't as busy as the patterns in this book. And for some reason the font used in the patterns is SUPER TINY. If I had to guess, I'd say the sizes used are 8 and 6, if not smaller, requiring significant strain just to read them.
Profile Image for Jo.
17 reviews
September 8, 2015
NOTE: See Post Script at the end of this review… written after I received a hard copy of the book.

While I truly wish I would have had a hard copy of this book to review, I was pleased with the images and presentation of it on the Kindle.

Aoki begins her book in her garden, the inspiration for her beautiful embroidered flower work throughout the book presented season by season. She compares her needlework to actual gardening

In addition to being stunned by the number of projects in this book, I expected to see only traditional embroidery projects . . . pillow cases, wall hangings/pictures, etc. I was unexpectedly surprised with the dramatic variety of work created by Aoki. Here is a partial list of what is available in Aoki’s book:

Spring Flowers: red campion, buttercups, daisies, forget-me-nots, mimosa, scilla, and lily of the valley
Spring Wreath (image below)

Garden Diary: This is a diary that Aoki has kept since she first began working her own garden, where she keeps memos to herself about what works/doesn’t work, etc.

Tiny Daisies: a small wooden spool wrapped in embroidered ribbon – with tiny daisies, of course
Colors of spring: Aoki has created her own thread line – made of linen and in a “slight matte quality” that “highlights the texture of the stitches” (Loc 36).

Miniature Garden Sketch: This is a beautiful combination of at least five different flowers in a ‘clump’ of grass and with a single bee with its movements embroidered throughout a lovely twirling effect.
Jam-Making Set: Easily made from stash material, Aoki’s version is made from a red plaid
Butterflies All Around and the Butterfly Brooch: I’m not exactly sure what these are, as I don not have the instructions in this Kindle version . . . but they are embroidered butterflies . . . and they are beautiful!

Summer Flowers: aegopodium, globe amaranth, blue salvia, pentas, sunflowers, bluebells, and nicotiana
Summer Wreath: lippie, aegopodium, salvia, clematis, globe amaranth, petunias, zinnias, roses, and pentas
Herb Sampler.

Lavender Sachet: This is a lovely, little pillow with a purple striped, inner lining filled with lavender.
Gardening Set: This set includes canvas bags for plant ties, twine, embroidered gloves, pruner holder, etc.
Summer Garden: This has to be my favorite. It looks so real! It is situated next to a building with one, blue-paned window. You will want to buy the book just to see this one!\
Autumn Flowers: Japanese aster, meadow sage, tickseed, roses, myrtle, rudbeckia, and mushrooms
Autumn Wreath: an olive branch and rose hips stalks
Pocket Board: This is a delight. It looks to be about 18” tall and 15” wide; includes three ribbons on the right to hold envelopes, and two pockets – one embroidered with a European Robin and the other with a Blackbird. Aoki also included two smaller pockets on the Board.
Bird Coin Purse: The coin purse also features the European Robin and has instructions for making the purse longer to change the purpose of the purse from just a purse to a card keeper or a compact digital camera.
Sewing Set: This is so delightful and worth a good look. It includes a lovely pincushion.
Gallery Exhibit: Her gallery exhibit includes an embroidered, miniature dress form that is so lovely!
Winter Flowers: fatsia, Christmas rose, narcissus, snowdrops, sarcococca, and viola
Winter Wreath: ivy, fatsia, flannel flowers, conifers, and sarcococca
Throw Pillows: These pillows are embroidered with three different types of frogs, yours for the picking. She also includes other types of pillows, some made from ticking, and some from solid color material.
Christmas Ornaments: Aoki includes a Christmas stocking, of course, along with ornaments made from wool felt.
Eagerly Awaiting Spring: This includes fake bulbs in little pots . . . perfect for pin cushions.
Dreaming of Roses: Aoki’s roses are perfect for framing.
Card Making: These cards look like a page taken out of her journal . . . with stamps, bits of postal cancellations, and other miscellaneous.
In addition to her seasonal projects, Aoki includes the following items:

Gardening Life with Embroidery: Embroidered Silhouette, Finding Inspiration for Embroidery in the Garden, From Gardening to Embroidery
Embroidery Life with Gardening: Embroidered Silhouette, Kazuko’s Stitch Lessons, Basic Techniques, Extra Techniques, Lessons on Finer Points, Stitch Catalog. Here Aoki talks about how she makes her own sketches before she begins to embroidery.
How to Make: Instructions for the projects
Resources: This includes materials needed, a glossary, list of thread colors used for every project
About the Author
Alongside all of the projects Aoki includes, she shares helpful hints for working with embroidery. It is easy to see that Aoki is not new to this craft. Other books that Aoki has published include An Illustrated Guide to Garden Flowers, Seasons of Embroidery, and Cross-stitch A to Z, and many others, but I believe that this is the first book published in English by Aoki.

Aoki’s work on fabric looks alive. Her Spring Wreath (Loc 29) in her book looks as if you could pick up the wreath and place it on your head… yet all the while it is sewn into the linen, held tightly by the stitches, and not loose.

In the beginning of her book, Aoki states, “My feelings about the garden itself are different every year” (Loc 16). Just as each of us will take Aoki’s work and make it our own, making it unique to our own talent and/or perspective, it will all be beautiful. I hope that you will pick up a copy of Aoki’s book and see where your fingers take you.

Post Script:

Now that I have this lovely book in my hands, I would like to say two things:

The book is smaller than I imagined by a bit – but enough to make the instructions a tad difficult to work with. While Kazuko has done a beautiful job of making the instructions an integral part of the beauty of the book, it would be more helpful – especially to those of us who wear bifocals – to make the instructions stand out better. It strains my eyes to read the instructions, which is not a great thing.
I find it very frustrating that I cannot seem to get my hands on Kazuko’s linen embroidery thread. It seems it is only available for sale within Japan – and because it is linen – and because it is matte – it seems that it would make a big difference in the outcome of the embroidery. While Kazuko recommends DMC for several of her projects, I would like to have the option of being able to use Kazuko’s own thread. This, also, is very frustrating.

Profile Image for Eve.
45 reviews
June 4, 2018
A gorgeous book that makes for a dreamy read. The projects are fresh and modern, as well as clearly illustrated. This book isn't geared towards novice embroiderers, although a determined beginner could certainly make a go of some of them. As with all craft books, I wish it were spiral bound so I could easily see the pages as I work. I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for NoBeatenPath.
245 reviews8 followers
July 8, 2020
There are some very pretty pictures in this book, and some nice craft ideas. But I didn't find it was a particularly helpful book - there was a lot of filler, and even the author advertising her own products, which I find a bit off putting.

If you are looking for inspiration, this is probably a good book. But just not for me.
Profile Image for Annette Bowman.
128 reviews11 followers
January 22, 2018
This is not meant to be just read. It is a lovely book about how-to embroider flowers and garden scenes. I want to complete a project based on the material in this book.
Profile Image for Kirsten.
9 reviews
January 18, 2021
Loads of sweet motifs and inspiration as well as pointers on technique.
Profile Image for Helyn.
140 reviews36 followers
May 20, 2021
This book is absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, I don't have time to work on a big embroidery project right now so it wasn't much practical use, but it's a beautiful book with lots of great ideas.
358 reviews3 followers
May 31, 2015
I read this book for NetGalley.

This is a lovely book on embroidery. The author, who is Japanese, follows the seasons in her garden, for inspirations for her enchanting embroidery.

The instructions are detailed, along with charts. Knitting is my main hobby, and surprisingly I found a lot of useful ideas from this book since I plan to do more embroidered knitting.

The photography is excellent, from Ms. Aoki's home and gardens to the actual embroidered items. A very useful coffee table type book for any crafter.

The translator did an superb of rendering Ms. Aoki's knowledgeable and warm voice. This is a very readable book.
205 reviews6 followers
July 31, 2015
The author draws inspiration for her exquisite embroidery designs from her flower and herb gardens throughout the seasons. She has even produced a fine linen thread that she uses to stitch her brilliant and realistic flowers. A beginner to embroidery, I'm inspired--and a touch envious. Read as an ebook from NetGalley, I will probably buy the print book for my personal craft book collection.
Profile Image for Amie Wilson.
167 reviews7 followers
July 26, 2017
Lovely pictures of both real flowers and the embroidered versions with details to follow later in the book on how to go about embroidering them. The author breaks the techniques down and includes the best stitches to use for achieving certain affects, what areas to start with first when embroidering, and even discusses needle size relative to floss/thread thickness. I have been embroidering for a long time but am mostly self taught so, although I am not a beginner, I really picked up a lot of tips from this book. I also just really enjoyed the lovely photographs of different embroidered flowers.
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

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