Sunday, 3 November 2013

Book Review: Hoop-La! By Kirsty Neale

There is a real trend amongst embroiderers to display their finished works using the very hoops they were stitched in. Kirsty Neale's new book Hoop-La! is a celebration of the embroidery hoop as a framing device and the circular format in general. It is packed full with 100 projects over just 128 pages which makes for cover to cover colourful pages, resplendent with full bleed images of the projects, maximising the space whilst making room for the clear, simple instructions.

Here is just a small selection of projects in the book. Kirsty has created colourful characters in her distinctive style, explored interesting embroidery techniques such as Crewel and Redwork and even invented practical uses for the hoops such as the Spring Mobile and the noughts and crosses travel game. The colour palettes used throughout are considered and beautiful in their own right. Kirsty has a great eye for colour.

One thing which really sets the hoops apart from other designs I have seen is the use of decorative techniques on the hoops themselves, from a simple wood stained or painted edge, to washi tape covered and even crocheted edgings (my particular favourite!), these techniques are all clearly detailed and photographed in the front of the book so that you could choose one in a mix and match approach to decorate your chosen hoop design.

I can't get over how many creatively imagined ideas there are in this book. I particularly love the pizza hoop, the christmas reindeer head and the aptly named 'Manbroidery' section. There is something for everyone in this book. 

The range of techniques and ability levels is wide too. For someone such as myself who is less comfortable using a sewing machine there are many hand stitched embroidery hoops to try. There are even hoops for papercrafters, stencilers and screen printers as well as some more basic ideas for displaying vintage items or fabric patterns, using low or no sew techniques. All projects are beautifully finished, no matter the level of skill required to make them and full instructions and techniques are covered at the back of the book for the more complicated projects.

This wise old owl peeps shyly out from behind the front cover flap - Kirsty Neale original.
I love this book and am glad it is part of my craft library. I think it would be a marvellous source of inspiration for any crafter, regardless of their specialism but particularly anyone who wants to get into embroidery and hoop based projects. This book can be bought in paperback from Stitchcraftcreate with a free hoop, or from amazon. If you prefer a digital copy it is available as PDF and ebook too, although I love to flick through paper pages when it comes to a craft book.

If any of you have posted reviews on this book, or have a copy and wish to add your comments I would love to hear them. Kirsty put together this fabulous little video with some previews of projects:

Her blog, ginger and george is a great one to keep in your bookmarks as it is often updated with cute designs and new ideas to try. Oh, and I just went there to copy the link and found there is a big blog tour on a the moment with reviews from far loftier places than my little corner of the web! Emma Lamb, Wild Olive, blueberry park plus nine others! Some have been posted but there are more to come in November. Details can be found here. By the time you have read all of these reviews you will know you need this book on your shelf!



  1. Anna! I've only just spotted this. Thanks so much for the lovely review - it's very much appreciated. You're a doll (and a super talented one at that). xx

    1. Aww shucks! Thanks Kirsty, Glad you enjoyed reading the review. I know I enjoyed reading your book! :-D