May 8, 2007

Book Review: "Here By Wyverns: Hundreds of Patterns Graphed from Medieval Sources" by Nancy Spies

Title: Here Be Wyverns: Hundreds of Patterns Graphed from Medieval Sources
While this book is aimed at people interested in historical patterns, it would also be enjoyed by anyone with a love for fantasy, animals or border designs. All the patterns in the book have been converted to cross stitch graphs. The graphs are in black and white and very easy to read.

The book itself is divided into several chapters:
  • Imaginary Creatures - dragons, basilisks, harpy, drollery, pheonix, wyvern etc
  • Animals - bunnies, badger, hedgehog, bear, butterfly, snail, fox, lion, bull etc
  • Water Creatures - fish, seahorse, mermaid, merman etc
  • Architecture - castles, towers, tent, cathederal etc
  • Birds - peacock, generic birds, eagle, goose, owl, pelican etc
  • People - man on horse, marching men, guard, saints, knights, groups, musicians etc
  • Lettering - Gothic Textura Quadrata, futhark, Irish Half Unical etc
  • Overall Designs - geometric patterns, florals, trees, birds, hearts, stars etc
  • Borders - divided into several sub chapters by period (6th-11thC, 12thC, 13th-14thC, 15th-16thC) repeating geometric, animals, hearts etc
  • Odds and Ends - large single patterns, block motifs, keys, knots, boats, celestial etc
The book gives a good range of difficulty in the patterns, there are very simple borders that could be completed quickly by a beginner to much more complicated pictorial and border designs that would challenge the more experienced cross stitcher. Also, many of the patterns, particularly the borders, could also be used for tablet weaving, knitting, patchwork, beading or needlepoint.

The book is 192 pages long, with four pages of colour plates showing some of the designs stitched up (something from just about each category is represented in this section). The book is spiral bound.

While there is no complete acknowledgements section to find where each pattern was sourced from, the original type of source (stained glass, embroidery, goldwork, carving), date and rough location is given so that most can be related to the original piece with a bit of research.

Also, think about visiting the website (click on cover above) there are several pages from the book to look at.

Why I Bought the Book

I am always interested in books that have patterns based on historical work. I liked this one cause it had some simple little motifs that I could use for quick projects and also more indepth patterns, such as the borders that I could use as a basis for decorating cloths (in my case, I would convert the designs back to free form embroidery, which in most cases is more appropriate for clothing).

  • "Here by Wyverns: Hundreds of Patterns Graphed from Medieval Sources" by Nancy Spies
  • Softcover: 192 pages including 4 colour plates
  • Publisher: Arelate Studio (2002)
  • ISBN: 0-9718960-0-3

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