Saturday, 3 May 2014

New old books

I’ve got two new ones on my shelf of embroidery books. The first is Encyclopedia of Embroidery Stitches, Including Crewel by Marion Nichols. Dover Books first published it in 1974 and nothing seems to have been changed in the latest print run. 

All the stitches in the book are surface embroidery stitches and other than the cover, it’s in black and white with hand-drawn pics. It’s a wealth of stitch knowledge and there are quite a lot of stitches in there that are completely new to me – beetle stitch, German knotted buttonhole and the like – as well as some new names for stitches I do know, for instance pistil stitch with a single wrap instead of a double for the knot is called long-tack knot or Italian knot stitch.

But the thing that initially drew me to this book is the way Marion has split the stitches up into groups or families, and then put them in order so that if you were working your way through the book, you’d learn the easiest/simplest stitch in each group first and then expand on that knowledge to learn the rest. She’s also classified the stitches in each family as isolated, line, grouped and so on. If you’re a stitch geek like me who likes to understand the construction and configuration of stitches, this is a great resource as it allows you to use stitches more effectively when designing embroideries.

The other new old book on my bookshelf is one I found in a second-hand store and bought simply because it was by the same author as one I already own, Barbara Snook. Her book Embroidery Stitches, first published by BT Batsford in 1963, is another great stitch resource. 

The Creative Art of Embroidery, my new addition, has a how-to section of surface stitches, but also has chapters on things like lettering and monograms, using beads and sequins, and designs to make. First published in 1972, the book is very much of that era. But it’s filled with pictures and photographs and I often find that although the overall embroidery style is dated, the small details in some of the projects often spark an idea or work well incorporated into a more modern design. 

So two new reads in need of a quiet afternoon and a cup of tea.

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