Crafts · Nook

The Poetic Use of Thread


Zakka Embroidery: Simple One and Two-Color Embroidery Motifs and Small Crafts

Author: Yumiko Higuchi
Published: Oct. 25th, 2016 | Roost Books
Length: 191 pages

Buy: Amazon

Forgive me if I am prone to the dramatic in this post, but I want everyone to know how entrancing, inspiring, addictive, and LOVELY the newly published Zakka Embroidery book is. The last time I attempted embroidery was in grade school (I won’t tell you how many years ago that was) with one of those youth Klutz brand books. Embroidery is relatively simple and I was satisfied with my results, but I never picked it up again. Why? Because when you go to a craft store and look at the patterns available to purchase they look, well, stale. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.  I want creations with my own hands to look a bit modern and like a work of art, something Pinterest-worthy. Teddy-bears and chickens don’t quite do it for me.

Enter artist Yumiko Higuchi.

According to her book’s description her motifs blend Japanese and Scandinavian styles. Both of these styles leverage simplicity to create an arrangement that highlights subtleties of shape and striking pairings of color. Every detail matters.

With this artistic sensitivity, Higuchi’s designs are like poetry, taking everyday sights like flowers, radishes, or evergreens and lifting the veil to the magic of them so that they take on personality, with something of a fairy-tale quality.

IMG_9908.JPGIMG_9911.JPGPractically, this simplicity and artistry makes these patterns completely un-intimidating for someone new to embroidery (most of the patterns use a repetition of one or two stitches, and all of them use only one or two colors). They are easy to make look good and quick to accomplish.

This is my favorite kind of project! Something I can turn into a one hour, 5 hour, or 10 hour craft depending on my mood. These designs use small images that build on each other so that you can embroider, say, one tree on a kiss lock necklace, or, a whole grove of different tree styles on a tie. Most of the designs are about an inch or two in size, though, if you wanted to, you could enlarge the transfer patterns.

IMG_9905.JPGIMG_9913.JPGIt’s completely fair game to embroider one of these designs on just about anything; but, incase you want added inspiration, each design is paired with a short craft project to show it off. Simple sewing skills are required, but if this is not a problem for you, you will have a hard time choosing which project to start first. I finally settled on the book cover, but there are adorable bibs and bitty shoes for baby showers, Christmas decorations, tea towels and aprons for the household, coin purses…basically, a book of great gift ideas if you have the self control to not make them all for yourself (unlike me).


The one area I think could be improved would be the instructions. There are a few nice tips on making embroidery look professional, and the sewing project instructions are clear enough, but I had to supplement learning the embroidery stitches themselves with Youtube videos, and just did my own thing with figuring out how to transfer the patterns onto the fabric. As I usually use videos to learn anyways, this did not impede the usefulness of the book in my opinion. I did appreciate how the patterns include the DMC number for the exact thread color that was used in the pictures, and the number of threads used in each part of the design. This way you can replicate the pictures exactly if you so choose.

My one last plug for learning embroidery (because I’m already addicted!) is that it is so unthinkably cheap! A skein of embroidery floss is under a dollar at the craft store and I don’t even use one whole skein for each project.


As the cozy winter months of indoor crafts (ideally by a fireplace, with a cup of cocoa in hand) are upon us, it’s just the season to take up a new, Pinterest-worthy exploration, such as embroidery. If you give it a go, I’d love to see pictures of what you create! Feel free to post in the comments below.

Review copy courtesy of Roost Books


2 thoughts on “The Poetic Use of Thread

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