Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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A Day in the Studio & a Bookish Dilemma


Amazon Books

Today, I’m spending the day in the studio (which is a fancy word for my remodeled garage). There, I’ll be playing with the trestles for slate frames used in hand embroidery that I told you about yesterday, organizing some supplies, taking photos, and maybe, if all goes well, filming some stitches. And one other thing that needs desperate attention…

… and the difficulty is… how do I catalog a whole library of needlework books? I’ve been trying to do this for a while, but making little progress. Well, it’s just daunting, that’s all. I love my books. I just don’t like the idea of having to go through every single one, noting down ISBN numbers, or titles, or what have you! It’s time, you know – time I could be stitching! Or anything, besides shuffling around stacks of books.

The strange thing is, if you gave me a cabinet of embroidery threads that needed to be organized by colors or types of threads, I would be in heaven and love doing it. Combine that with the fact that I’m seriously a book nut – I love books, I love reading – why is it that the thought of organizing and cataloging books is such a major turn-off?

Well, I cannot figure it out. But, as with most things, attitude is 95% of the battle, so I suppose I should just set my mind straight and get to it!!

But on that note, you may wish to know that Wooly Thread has announced that they’ve got a source for two very good A-Z books: A-Z of Thread Painting and A-Z of Embroidered Flowers for less than half price! That’s a very good deal! Both are excellent books. I like them for different reasons. If I wanted to learn thread painting, though, I’d go for the thread painting book, specifically. It’s really good!

If you’re interested in adding those two books to your library, then do check out the announcement on the Wooly Thread blog. You can contact Jan at Wooly Thread via e-mail and let her know you want them. They offer great service and shipping is reasonable, so don’t pass up this opportunity to pick up two really good books at a really good price!


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(9) Comments

  1. That’s what databases are for. You build one with a field for everything you might need (author surname, firstname, ISBN, book title, and even topic tags so you can do good searches…). Easy-peasy only data-entry takes forever. You work in a school. Can’t you give the database design to the IT teacher as a “real” project to motivate the kids? You might even get some of them to do the data entry in return for free embroidery lessons….. You know, 5 books=one lesson. They’ll be done in no time!

  2. Hi, Ruth –

    I have a database set up. It’s the data entry thing and just the organization of the books that’s turning me off at the moment. Actually, they make great software for book organization – just stick in the ISBN, and all the info is there. They even have them with wands, so you can scan the ISBN! But I don’t really want to invest in that. In fact, what it boils down to is that I don’t want to go through bookshelves right now!

    OH – I’m such a WHINER!!!

    Instead, I’m working on the trestles, setting up the slate frame, and hopefully filming. Now that my lunch break is over, I better get to work!!



  3. Mary, if you don’t want to catalog your needlework books, then just don’t! As long as you don’t have too much trouble finding the information you want, there is no reason that you have to catalog everything. Stop feeling guilty about it, is my advice! Perhaps eventually you will run into someone else who would enjoy devoting some time to helping you catalog your books, and who will trade that service for needlework lessons or something else.

  4. My husband and I also have a lot of books. Add in DVDs, cds and blu-ray disks, and there’s a lot to catalog, so he bought a bar-code scanner. I laughed at him and his “geeky toys”, but it does make cataloging a large number of media items go very quickly.

  5. A few years ago I was contemplating writing my own software application to catalog all of my media (books, cds, dvds/vhs). I wasn’t looking forward to the data entry part at all–blech! I also didn’t really want to use my spare time to write software (I’d rather stitch). So, I started looking around for an application (preferably free, of course) that would do all of things I wanted. I didn’t find a free app, but I did find something that has definitely served my needs. It’s called Readerware and basically you scan (or enter) the barcode on the back of your book (ISBN code) into the software and Readerware does the look-up and fills in the database. It’s pretty painless. You even get a thumbnail of the book in your database if one’s available (or you can add one yourself).

    I’ve entered all of my media into the database and I look up things all of the time to see if I have something. (Readerware also catalogs cds and dvds.)

    You also don’t have to have some fancy barcode reader. I bought the version with a cuecat barcode scanner which just works great for me.

    The software is available for a 30 day free trial. One criticism that I’ve read about the software is that the display is not very slick. It is something like a spreadsheet with sortable columns, but you can search and include whichever columns you like in the display. I find it quite adequate for my needs.

    For the geeks out there: I have the client/server edition and run the server on linux with a bunch of xp clients and it is very cool. Also, the data is stored in a SQL-based database so there should be ways of extracting the data for other purposes (I want to put the data out on my home web server at some point) and you can also create formatted data reports in various formats (HTML, Excel, etc.) which I’ve found to be very handy.

    I thought it was expensive when I bought it, but it has saved me so much time and effort that I am delighted that I spent the money.

    If you’re interested here’s the URL:


  6. Have you checked out Librarything (http://www.librarything.com)? To streamline entry, you can buy a cuecat barcode scanner for $15 from the site and scan the books. I’m using it to finally get a handle on what I have, what to donate, sell, etc. I enter books in batches and am not finished, but I really enjoy seeing my book count go up!

  7. Alphabetically is the easiest fastest way to sort. Most titles of instructional manuals use in the title name whatever is the main subject, such as Needlework Designs, Needlepoint Charts, or Ribbon Embroidery, etc. Mostly, the first word is the leader. Save your valuable time for stitching, not sorting, Mary!

  8. My way is the easiest “lazy lady” way, IMHO. I had cubbies built along one wall of my studio. I put my decorative painting books in by author, a cubby for a;s, b’s, etc. I did one section for Christmas but still alphabetically and one for special designers whose patterns I use most often. It still requires going through a stack of books but NOT as many as just haphazardly on a shelf.


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