Stafford Whiteaker: Spiritual Stitcher

June 8, 2010

Gosh, I went off on a tangent this morning! What started as a simple book review led me to a spiritual retreat. Let me explain that leap! I was first drawn to Stafford Whiteaker’s, English Garden Embroidery, because of the front cover. It sets the tone for the book…very Victorian which is so not my style. When I really read the book I decided it was actually quite nice: the designs of flowers, fruits and animals were pretty; Whiteaker’s history of the English garden informative; and he wrote a decent history of needlework with an emphasis on Berlin work. I was a little put off by the stuffiness of his writing style especially when he noted that his aim was “to create a pattern book for the literate needlewoman.”

Curiosity got the better of me so I decided to find out exactly who Stafford Whiteaker is; especially since I had never heard of him previously. As it turns out Mr. Whiteaker has written several other needlework books; one similar to the others. The real surprise came when I found out that he has also authored Europe’s bestselling book on spiritual retreats and other spirituality themed books. In a June 2008 interview in Britain’s Saga magazine, Whiteaker noted that he decided to write the retreat guide after he “finished writing a book on embroidery.” In the same article, Whiteaker offers his advice to people post-retreat. His suggestion is “to slow down and begin to make things…which is a form of meditation and letting go.” Granted the example he used was making bread but I think it could also apply to needlework. Interesting to think about.


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