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The history of embroidery spans centuries and continents; the earliest “needle decorations” can be traced to 3000 B.C. in Egypt. Since then, each culture has contributed its unique combination of fiber, fabrics and design, creating the myriad of embroidery techniques we know today.
The Chinese, for example, perfected beautifully detailed silk-thread embroidery. Scandinavians mastered even-weave fabrics and such counted techniques as Hardanger. In India, people worked with elaborate gold and metal embroideries. Italians crafted delicate laces and cut-work. Northern tribesmen of Africa embroidered braid and metal threads; western tribes appliqued.
Central and South Americans stitched brightly colored florals and designs in reverse applique. The Russian and Slavic peoples produced bold, primary-colored cross-stitch motifs. Native Americans executed intricate bead work, and American pioneers, from necessity, created their unique application of quilting, which became known as patchwork.
The variety and depth of embroidery supplies on the American market today is unparalleled. You can create your own design, selecting the fabric and threads from open stock, and coordinating stitches, or you can purchase a kit. A kit usually includes all the necessary fabric, threads, design and stitch information for completing one specific project.
Embroidery applications are equally varied, from traditional bell-pulls and pillows to contemporary wearable art, to Christmas tree decorations and canning jar covers. It’s a creative, relaxing and fun pastime, and no matter what your taste, there is a form of embroidery you’ll enjoy.