Book Review – Embroidered Kitchen Garden

Aoki, Kazuko
Embroidered Kitchen Garden; Vegetable, herb & flower motifs to stitch & savor.
Salem, Zakka Workshop, 2019
ISBN: 978 1 940552 40 8
96 pages

A few years ago, I reviewed another book by this author, which I found so charming that I bought a copy for myself. I worked a design from it, which one of my lovely daughters-in- law snaffled almost as soon as I finished it. So how does this book measure up?

There is a brief introduction explaining that the sight and smell of vegetables in a carton was what inspired Kazuko to produce a book of embroidered vegetables. Immediately, one is launched into pages of them, all beautifully photographed. At the head of each page are two or three lines about the vegetable illustrated, along with the page number where you will find the relevant templates. I like this. It means you don’t have to flounder around trying to find them by hunting in the index or page flipping. Each vegetable is accompanied with its particular flower, leaf or leaves – sometimes wrought with long and short stitch, sometimes worked with a backstitched outline. Some also have a cross section of the fruit or vegetable. Some have a little garden critter to embroider as well. There is a double page spread of edible flowers and another illustrating her favourite garden tools. There is a charming selection of kitchen garden visitors – no, not grandchildren, but a couple of birds, a mole, butterflies, a spider and other creatures. I found the herb section really appealing. The sage leaves look so realistic.

After the illustrated embroideries come a few pages of stitch dictionary, which is adequate. Most of the stitches used are ones most of us will already be familiar with. Then comes the business end of the book, following the same format as the earlier one: the templates. At the head of each of these pages, is the page number where you can find the pictures of the worked embroidery and a list of the DMC threads you will need. The templates themselves don’t have to be enlarged and are simply and clearly drawn. Each project has a line towards each element, with the colour it’s embroidered with and the stitch used.

There is a brief conclusion, preceded by two pages which gives the common name of all the plants, its scientific name and country of origin. The common name of each also accompanies the embroidered version.

While there is much to delight in this book, it hasn’t charmed me as much as the earlier one. I feel the long and short stitch has not been executed all that well either. However, it is a sweet book and there are motifs which would be lovely if you make cards – mainly the motifs which are not vegetables but each to their own!

The copy I reviewed comes from Auckland Libraries. Locally, the best price I could find at the time I wrote this was $36.25 and Book Depository has it for $29.00NZ.
Erica Marsden