I was searching for inexpensive hand embroidery books – something with basic stitch diagrams and a few patterns – that I could give away as prizes for the summer embroidery classes I taught to kids this year, and I found a little gem.
Unfortunately, the version I found is out of print! It’s the Anchor Book of Free-Style Embroidery Stitches.
This is a great little book, with clear step-by-step diagrams. It is not, perhaps, as “beautiful” as the Country Bumpkin publications (those are favorites of mine!), but still – I think it’s a neat little book.
First of all, it’s little – about 5.5″ x 6″. Second, the stitches are clearly diagrammed. They are simple diagrams, but easy to read. Third, each two-page spread shows the stitch diagrams and written instructions, plus a real embroidered sample showing the stitch in application. Fourth, the back of the book has 44 patterns for tracing which match the embroidered samples throughout the book. Overall, there are about 50 stitches demonstrated.
Now, the out-of-print problem: Anchor has a “new” Anchor Book of Freestyle Embroidery Stitches that you can pick up through Amazon or other booksellers. It runs around $12.00. I haven’t seen it, personally, but I imagine it demonstrates the same stitches, as it starts with Antwerp Edging and ends with Wheater Stitch, with the same number of stitches demonstrated in between. It seems the difference, though, may be in the number of patterns – according to the “new” book, it only offers 16 patterns! What happened there?
Good news on the out-of-print older one: it’s available used all over the place, for as little as $3.00. I was able to pick up four of them from different used booksellers around the country, and, even with shipping, paid no more than $6.00 each for them.
So if you’re looking for a good little book to teach yourself to embroider, or if you want it for a gift for someone else, you might look into this one.
Anchor has a whole series of these books, by the way. In the “old” series (like this one), they cover counted thread, canvas work, crewel work, hardanger, and ribbon embroidery. In the “new” series, they also have blackwork and pulled thread.