Software Review: Digital Nostalgia in Red
 

The Redwork Revival is a remarkable phenomenon that has spawned dozens of new books of patterns for this traditional style of needlework. Designs can range from the simplicity of just a few lines to relatively complicated patterns, but the style overall is generally primitive, or at least unsophisticated. Typically the pictures rendered in redwork are nostalgic, reminding us of an earlier, and perhaps simpler, time.

Redwork's simplicity doesn't mean it can't be treated digitally, however, and Martingale's new Redwork CD, edited by Nancy Martin (Redwork and Beyond: 201 Redwork Designs on CD-ROM, That Patchwork Place, 2000, $19.95) is a great way to have a versatile collection of designs that can be adapted for your use.

Like Redwork itself, the program is pretty simple. Installation from the CD takes just a few seconds and the program interface with the user is straightforward. A window forms in the middle of the screen (it can't be maximized or minimized, though it can be sent to background if you pull up another program) with a list of categories on the left and images of the available patterns in the selected category on the right.

The categories include such traditional subjects as children's toys, animals, flowers, tea sets, cowboys, and no fewer than three sections featuring Sunbonnet Sue. There are also two alphabets included in the program, one illustrated and the other suitable for monograms. Christmas is represented with a generous selection of both religious and secular images. There are fifteen pattern groups and 201 designs in all.

By pointing and clicking on one of the patterns, a box is brought up with a larger rendition of the pattern and a selection of images sizes for the printout. Sizes range from as small as 2 inches to about 9 inches, though most of the images run from about 3 to 8 inches. Printouts are crisp and clear, with lines thick and dark enough for easy tracing or transfer.

The accompanying packaging (a large format tri-fold booklet) contains basic instructions on transferring the designs and a beginning embroidery lesson. Fabric selection is treated for quilt squares and dishtowels, another traditional use of redwork. The bookley also contains hard copy of all of the available designs so you can look at them when not at your computer.

The CD contains software for both Windows (95 and above, including NT and 2000) and Macintosh (Mac OS 7.5.3 or later). On either platform it requires a minimum of 12 MB RAM and a CD-ROM drive.

At $19.95 this program is very reasonably priced and is really handy if you're a redwork fan, or think you might like to be. It is available at a discount in the Planet Patchwork store at http://planetpatchwork.com/storefront.htm

A sample screen from the
Redwork and Beyond CD.