Book Review – Hoopla by Leanne Prain

Leanne Prain - Hoopla - The Art Of Unexpected Embroidery


Leanne Prain is the co-author of Yarn Bombing, and Hoopla – the art of unexpected embroidery is her latest book. In a nutshell, it’s terrific.

Leanne Prain - Hoopla - The Art Of Unexpected Embroidery


At 400 pages this is a book that will not only fill you with ideas and inspiration but will also improve your bicep strength. It is a veritable who’s who of contemporary stitchery, featuring interviews and projects with many familiar names including Rosa Martyn, Betsy Greer, Jenny Hart, Eliot BK, Ellen Schinderman, Liz Kueneke, Johnny Murder, Penny Nickels… I could go on.

Hoopla - the Art of Unexpected Embroidery by Leanne Prain

The book has ten chapters covering all manner of subjects, from tools and materials to freeform work and so much more. There’s a section called Stitching Resources that features an interview with some wiseacre called Mr X Stitch, but don’t let that put you off!

Hoopla - the Art of Unexpected Embroidery by Leanne Prain

The book is filled with great projects for you to try, covering most of your essential stitch types. There are plenty of quirky designs and clever ideas to keep you busy. What is great is that Leanne has interviewed many of the project creators, so you can get to know them and then enjoy their work.

See Also

Hoopla - the Art of Unexpected Embroidery by Leanne Prain

Hoopla  is a great book. Packed with great stuff, big pictures and brilliant ideas. Published by Arsenal Pulp Press, it’s a must have for stitchy fans – why not get your copy via our Amazon links?

Hoopla - the Art of Unexpected Embroidery by Leanne Prain


View Comments (25)
  • I woke up one day and had the intense desire to stitch an embroidery for my best friend who was going through a hard time with her husband. It said “Whenever you feel sad, stop being sad and start being awesome”. I finished it and just had to give it to her that day. Later that night she found out he was cheating on her.

  • My hubby loves Pink Floyd. I wanted to do something special for him, so I took the cover of The Dark Side of the Moon and via PCStitch I made a cushion. Stitched on hand dyed Aida with live colours. He loved it, he said it was the best gift he´s ever had with! And I felt so proud…

  • my mother had this huge mantel piece she was cross stitching, it was a work in progress (that had been in progress for more than ten years) and I really needed some fabric to stitch a gift for my then boyfriend, now husband… so I cut a piece of the mantel piece, alas, days later my mother decided to re-take the project she had abandoned for a decade and found the missing piece, after a good and well deserved lecture, she ended up finishing the project as a table runner, and all was good again

  • My good friend Lourdes demanded from me a sunshine necklace so I stitched one out of shimmery golden faux-leather. I love getting commissions, it really pushes me to figure out how to make something new, and she LOVED the sunshine. 🙂

  • An artist friend of mine likes to draw up funny ideas for robots and send them to me (via snail mail!) in decorated envelopes. I took one of his robot ideas – the LoveBot 3000 – and stitched it on a nice hankie for him. He loved it.

  • I’m going to stitch snowflakes on a scarf as belated Christmas projects, which will be my first stitch project (and therefore favorite).

  • I participated in an American indie film workshop with a director from Israel. The scene for which we were setting up was a dorm room, and the director approved of the placement of one of the beds by saying it was “a fun spot.” The rest of us native speakers laughed, but she didn’t fully get the innuendo. I stitched a small bed and the words “fun spot” on a piece for her and though she needed more clarification as to why we thought it was funny, she loved it.

  • Once I made an embroidery of a jackalope for my uncle. He sent me a card sometime later that said “Thank you for the lovely garage sale item!” I think he was joking.

  • Though I’m not sure this counts, one of my favorite things I stitched was for my wife- I digitized a line-stitched version of a picture we had taken at our local botanical garden and put a funky heart-shaped frame around it to make a little rough-cut wall hanging. I made a tiny mistake during the machine’s run and had to run it again, but I kept the original and now I have one in my office and she has one at home. Hers is in a drawer because she’s afraid to ruin it. 😉 You can see it here:

  • For Xmas this year, I cross stitched a “Home Sweet Home” sampler using a Princess Peach castle and SMB font for a close friend and his wife who have just moved back to the UK from Japan. I chose colours to match the scheme they’ve chosen for their new home and they couldn’t wait to hang it up!

  • My most recent heart-melting moment of stitchery was when I made a felt-applique t-shirt of hammers for my cousin’s son. He put it on Christmas Eve night as pajamas, and proceeded to tell his mom the next morning, ignoring the glory of the Christmas tree and presents, “Mama, did you see my favorite shirt? It’s got hammers on it. Wanna see my favorite hammer? This one, this one, and this one.” (There’s three hammers on the shirt.) *sigh*

  • I think the only thing I’ve stitched for someone so far is a card! I’m lacking enough confidence in my stitching skills to regularly give them away, though I’ve knitted a fair few gifts. I also give away free line-art (typically for use as embroidery patterns, though I love to see what else people come up with) to the community on my blog, if that counts. I drew a yeti pattern recently that I think is quite cute.

  • My dad stained one of his favorite shirts while painting. I embroidered bunch of flowers over the stain and he wears it all the time now.

  • I have also only given someone a card, I made a Mother’s Day card for my mum last year. I’ve only just got back into cross stitch since doing it (not very well) as a child. This year I plan to make some wedding gifts for friends, I’m goin to stitch portraits of both couples.

  • My favorite story about an item I’ve stitched for someone, is about my friend Claire. Claire is a bit high strung. I stitched a tea towel for her that says: “It’s So Involved Being Me.” I hoped she would find this funny, as I did, and not get offended. She loved it! 🙂

  • I made a sock monster for my boyfriend when he was doing motorbike racing and it travelled the length and breadth of England in a leaky van with dodgy heating and a broken stereo.

  • I’m relatively new to embroidery, so I don’t have many stories yet. A recent project I did for someone else was a feather embroidery which was sent in to Juds Hill of Spirit Cloth for her “whispering feathers” project, which will benefit children in need. It was neat that she was willing to incorporate my piece, even though I’m a beginner. I’m stitching like crazy now! Thanks for hosting this swap. The book looks fantastic.

  • For my girlfriend Lauren on her wedding day I stitched a pair of crotchless panties. I used an old pair of her black cotton underpants. I cut a slit in the crotch and finished it off with a blanket stitch. I then stitched a couple of honey bees with the quote “SHOW ME THE HONEY!”.

  • I’m relatively new to embroidering, so I don’t have many testimonies yet. A latest venture I did for someone else was a feather embroidering which was sent in to Juds Mountain of Soul Towel for her “whispering feathers” venture, which will advantage kids in need. It was nice that she was willing to integrate my item, even though I’m a starter. I’m stitches like insane now.Though I’m not sure this number, one of my preferred elements I padded was for my wife- I scanned a line-stitched edition of images we had taken at our regional organic lawn and put a trendy heart-shaped shape around it to create a little rough-cut walls clinging.

Scroll To Top