Mystical Stitches is one of those books that reminds me why I work in publishing, and at Storey in particular: To be a lifelong learner.

It truly takes a village to bring a book to life. From the acquiring editor to the author, designers, photographers, copy editors, and proofreaders, there are many (many!) hands that come together.

I saw in my mind how I wanted Mystical Stitches to look from the very moment Liz Bevilacqua, the acquiring editor, presented the book proposal. And I am so grateful that Christi Johnson, the author, joined me in that vision.

I wanted the treasury of symbols pages to have a textural, cohesive, in-real-life, look.

Mystical Stitches Sample Pages

Embroidery © Christi Johnson

Christi sketched all of the symbol designs on paper and provided draft text to accompany them. I laid out the Treasury of Symbols pages using that preliminary text and art.

Christi transferred my layouts to cloth and stitched the designs in place. Mars Vilaubi, our photographer, blocked the embroidered cloth spreads onto corkboard and photographed them, and lastly, I imposed the final type.

Mystical Stitches SketchMystical Stitches Embroidery

There are so many other happy outcomes as well. For the location photography, we hired Brad Ogbonna, a highly accomplished artist and wonderful person. (He took the photo of Barack Obama that was the basis for Kehinde Wiley’s official presidential portrait!)

Photo by Brad Ogbonna

Photo © Brad Ogbonna

For the illustrations, we hired Nina Chakrabarti of My Wonderful World of Fashion fame. And, Storey’s talented illustration editor, Ilona Sherratt, made hundreds of illustrations for the stitch key. And hundreds more for the stitch patterns.

Illustration by Nina Chakrabarti

Illustration © Nina Chakrabarti

Christi exceeded expectations at every turn. The cover was also embroidered all as one piece—her idea. When I asked her to stitch borders for the Stitch Methods section openers, she broke out with these astonishing, labor-intensive compositions that were perfect. She took great care with absolutely everything and was gracious and energetic every single minute.

Mystical Stitches is one of those books that reminds me why I work in publishing, and at Storey in particular: To be a lifelong learner. Never having embroidered before, I’ve made a couple of Amulet Adornment Necklaces with different designs and I stitched the Ouroboros of Transformation project onto a wool blanket from my great grandparents to hide a rust stain. And if the design’s “flame of transformation swiftly engulfs the ways of the past, burning them off in order to bring about a new potential,” well, that would be good too.

Alethea Morrison

Alethea Morrison is the author of Homegrown Honey Bees. She lived in San Francisco with her husband, photographer Mars Vilaubi, before stepping into the wild yonder of rural Massachusetts… See Bio

Articles of Interest

Mystical Stitches

by Christi Johnson and Alexandra Jacopetti Hart

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