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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How to Judge a Book by Its Cover


Amazon Books

Did you go through life being told not to judge books by their covers? This expression, of course, has a metaphorical meaning in the human relations field: it’s not the outside that matters – it’s what’s inside that counts. And I’m all for that! This lesson is reinforced daily when teaching youth, that’s for sure.

But when it comes to needlework books, I often judge them by their covers. Tsk, tsk! And I’ve been seduced by book covers before, only to regret my choice when I’ve found the content a bit lacking.

Here are a few upcoming books in the needlework field, and though they aren’t published yet, I’ve pre-ordered them. I base my decision to pre-order needlework books on a few factors that I’ll discuss below, and there are two reasons why I pre-order books, rather than waiting to order when they’ve already hit the stores: 1. they get here faster – usually before their release, which gives me a head-start on reading them so I can review them for you; 2. Pre-orders are always guaranteed the lowest price: if the price goes lower before the book is shipped, you get the lower price, but if it goes higher, you don’t pay more than the pre-order price. This point has served me well in the past, so I figure it’s a no-risk situation.

Goldwork Techniques, Projects, and Pure Inspiration by Hazel Everett

First up is Goldwork: Techniques, Projects & Pure Inspiration by Hazel Everett. Can one have too many goldwork books? Perhaps. I do have a few that I find useless. But this one intrigues me!

Goldwork Techniques, Projects, and Pure Inspiration by Hazel Everett

Judging this book by the cover, I see a couple things I like right off the bat: I like the loose floral design, I like the use of color, I like the subtle but interesting uses of the metal threads.

Yes, the cover caught my eye on this one! But I didn’t jump into pre-ordering it right away. First, I visited the publisher, Search Press, and then I visited Amazon to read the descriptions of the contents of the book. It’s always a good idea to read the description of the book before pre-ordering, especially when there aren’t any reviews out yet.

Though I’m not familiar with the author, Hazel Everett, I am familiar with needlework books published by Search Press. I haven’t come across any lemons yet, so considering the cover, the description, the information about the author, and the fact that the book is published by Search Press, I figure this is bound to be a worthwhile book.

Stumpwork Essential Stitch Guide from the Royal School of Needlework

The Stumpwork Essential Stitch Guide by Kate Sinton is another Stitch Guide from the Royal School of Needlework. These stitch guides are great little books. I’ve already reviewed the Crewelwork Essential Stitch Guide and the Blackwork Essential Stitch Guide here on Needle ‘n Thread. Both books are excellent.

Stumpwork Essential Stitch Guide from the Royal School of Needlework

I didn’t judge this book only by its cover, even though the stumpwork bee in the corner photo is pretty darned cute. Knowing the quality of the two previous stitch guides from the RSN, it was an easy decision to get my order in on the stumpwork book as well. The stitch guides are a good value – less than $15 through Amazon, and well worth the price. The Stumpwork Essential Stitch Guide is due out at the beginning of August.

Needle Painting Embroidery: Fresh Ideas for Beginners by Trish Burr

Another book coming out is Trish Burr’s Needle Painting Embroidery: Fresh Ideas for Beginners. I’m already super familiar with Trish’s gorgeous and instructive books, so there was no hesitation in pre-ordering this one! It’s available for pre-order through Amazon, too, for less than $14.

But if I were not familiar with Trish’s books, the cover would still sell me on this one! The birds – oh, the birds!! I love needle painted birds, and Trish has several that are real stunners. Her flowers are exquisite, too, and those little violas on the cover are so perfectly Spring. Granted, the book apparently won’t arrive until October, but that’s as good a time as any to start planning spring stitching!

Silk Shading Essential Stitch Guide from the Royal School of Needlework

The last book on my list this year (so far!) is the Silk Shading Essential Stitch Guide by Sarah Homfray, another book in the same series as the Stumpwork book above.

Silk Shading Essential Stitch Guide from the Royal School of Needlework

Though already acquainted with the series and knowing the quality of these books, the cover did indeed catch me on this one, too. Once upon a time, I wrote a brief blurb about Young Yang Chung’s book, Painting with a Needle. Are you familiar with it? I love the cover on it – and I still love meandering through the book, reading little sections of it, and lingering over the photos. There is something about underwater scenes that enchant me (I live in Kansas, where beautiful water is scarce!), and Young Yang Chung’s fish scenes are incredible. The underwater scene on this Silk Shading essential stitch guide mesmerized me, in just the same way.

I always look forward to books. I have to say, they’re my one weakness.

Ok, ok. They’re my one weakness… among many other weaknesses!

Besides using books as learning tools and references, they provide stitching inspiration and an enjoyable way to spend leisure-time. So far, these are my four must-have books for 2011. We’ll see if anything else pops up on the radar any time soon. Have you heard of any good needlework books set for publication this year? Let me know if you have!


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(24) Comments

  1. Oh, you’re an evil woman with this newsletter. I’ve already pre-ordered the RSN book on stumpwork. Now I have three more to pre-order.

  2. Now if only amazon would catch up with the rest of the world and make their international postage reasonable.

  3. Ooh, that goldwork book looks very pretty. Must check it out.

    Covers are so important and fab covers can really seduce people looking at it. A good cover makes me want to learn more about a book, while a bad cover can make me think the book probably isn’t interesting — even thought it might’ve turned out to be: right now I’m reading a book on bead embroidery that I wouldn’t have looked at twice as the cover is so-so, but bought as I read parts of it on Google Books before seeing the cover. I’ve also experience the opposite: a good cover has made me buy a book only to discover that no other project in it was even half as good as the fab piece on the cover… That’s the good thing about all the previews available now. Reviews are good, but nothing beats being able to flick through a book — virtually online or in a brick-and-mortar book shop (if they have the obscure books I want) — before deciding to purchase it to avoid wasting money or being disappointed when the book arrives.

    As I’ve just lately decided I want to learn about embroidery (ribbon, brazilian, stumpwork — all those I’d never heard of when I did needlework and free embroidery as a kid), I should be looking for good newbie books, but I tend to end up just being attracted by pretty covers when searching on Amazon. One day I’ll end up buying a book for advanced embroiderers just because the covers where pretty — instead of buying the good basic books I need if I ever want to learn…

  4. Thanks for taking the time to check these out, Mary. And now I must say – ARRRRRGGGHHHH! So much for trying to reduce the length of the “want” list 🙂 .

  5. Ah, thank you! I was kind of having a hard morning, and I just keep in mind that you’ll have something wonderful on your blog. And you did! You can never go wrong with books, and I’m elated to find a new goldwork book, even though it’s six months away. I want all of them, and have not picked up Painting with a Needle yet but will do it now.

  6. Thank you for the valuable book review. The books are all lovely and my pocketbook will be lighter after a trip over to Amazon!

  7. Thanks Mary for the tip never thought to order books before they were published. Love the look of the Needle Painting Embroidery especially as its for beginners, have to look into that.

    Thanks for your inspiration


  8. Dear Mary,
    Di van Niekerk is also bringing out a new book called “Roses”. As the name says, it is mainly about silk ribbon roses in different sizes and different methods of assembling them. Together with the roses there are stumpwork and embroidery too. The whole concept is making a sampler incorporating all the different techniques. The book will be available in June. You can have a preview on her website: http://www.dicraft.co.za
    All I can say about the books you have mentioned, I want them too!!
    Thanks for keeping us up to date with all these new releases.
    Love, Elza, Cape Town

  9. Wow, that goldwork looks so nice… I’m usually not attracted to goldwork, but this looks like crewel with gold added. Nice!! And looks like stumpwork with gold would be pretty too.

  10. G’day Mary,
    That little goldwork bee is a darling too.
    It’s not unusual for me to front up to an op-shop counter with a pile of embroidery/craft magazines and, if i’m lucky, a book or two. “Oh, your going to be busy” they say, thinking i’ll be making heaps of items. “Yes, looking through embroidery magazines and books is my hobby”. “????????” they reply.
    Thank you Mary. Cheers, Kath.

  11. I am a confirmed and dedicated bibliophile, so this is of immense benefit, thank you.

    Metanoia, I don’t know where you live, but I am in Australia and thoroughly teed off with the cost of postage from the US. For books I now go to http://www.bookdepository.co.uk, where prices are a little higher than Amazon’s but there is no postage. Good luck.

  12. Mary, on the cover of the book “Silk Shading” there are some circles by the fish’s mouth and tail; I believe that type of embroidery is called Sashiko. Have you done Sashiko? I bought a Sashiko preprinted cloth,but…the instructions, I guess, are in Japanese. Interesting, don’t you think?

    1. Hi, Marva – I like those circles – they caught my eye, too. They give the impression of big bubbles, without actually being big bubbles…. No, I haven’t done any Sashiko, but I’ve browsed through a few books on the subject. It’s such a tidy technique!

  13. I’ve been keeping Trish’s new book on my amazon cart … however that is changing in a couple of minutes… ;-).
    That Goldwork book looks amazing!!! To be honest… I’ve always admired goldwork but never felt enticed to give it a try, well, that is until now.
    I really like the cover and googling found out that Mrs. (Ms.) Everett graduated from the RSN and have been teaching for a while. Love the simple yet stunning effect of her technique.
    I’m keeping an eye on the other books from the RSN… may get them from crafterschoice.com.
    Oh… and Kath comment “crack me up”!!!! I kind of fit in that category for now, I hope until my little one starts school.

  14. Oh Mary what have we done? I went to Amazon and ordered 3 of the 4 books you reviewed. At sometime I will probably want the Goldwork Book also but haven’t had the nerve to try that yet as I am a new embroiderier and I worry about the cost of Goldwork although everytime you do it I am amazed at the results.

  15. Oh Mary, these books look beautiful – and so tempting. I can’t help but wonder though, do you have a separate warehouse for all your books ?

  16. Hi Mary, you tempted me to order the Hazel Everett book and I am so glad you did! It arrived today and it is *gorgeous*. The kind of book that makes you laugh with joy as you go through it. I think it’s the best goldwork book I’ve ever had.

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