A few days ago, I mentioned that I love old needlework books, and that I’ve been reading through a few lately. This is a self-inflicted program of study, of sorts. There are things I want to know, and I suspect I will find out these things in old books.
This particular collection of old books that I’m currently reading through came about shortly after reviewing Early 20th Century Embroidery Techniques, by Gail Marsh. If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly & enthusiastically recommend it! Even if the style of embroidery isn’t “you,” there’s a lot to learn in those pages, about the work (the real work!) of keeping embroidery alive. It’s really a good book, and an interesting social commentary.
After I reviewed Early 20th Century Embroidery Techniques, I got a lovely e-mail from Bobbi Chase, who was in the process of going through her needlework library. Well, she happened to have several of the titles that Gail Marsh used as sources – and she had duplicates of some! And being the kind and lovely person she is, she offered me the duplicates.
And you know, when she contacted me about these books, I jumped up and down with glee! Not only am I obsessed with old needlework books, but I am particularly keen to read books from this era.
Do you know why? Because these people have something to say! They aren’t just teaching a technique. They aren’t just offering step-by-step photos of someone else stitching. They do teach technique, they do offer instruction. Some of the books are more technique-oriented than others in the lot. But they offer more than just technique.
They are actually saying something about needlework: about its importance in our cultural heritage, about its importance today, about the necessity of preserving needlework, about the ways in which it can be passed down to future generations. And much more. They say much more.
These are some of the folks that were involved in the great revival of the needle arts during the Arts & Crafts movement. They belonged to the Needlework Thinktank of the age. And reading their own words, I hope to learn something from them.
Thanks so much, Bobbi, for sending me the books! I will put them to good use, I promise!
Most of these books are available online, if you’d like to read them, too. And most of the sites where I found them offer them in epub format, so if you have an electronic reader, you can download them for free for your reader. Here’s the list:
Embroidery, or the Craft of the Needle – by W. G. Paulson Townsend
The New Lace Embroidery (Punto Tagliato) by L.A. Tebbs
Educational Needlecraft by Margaret Swanson and Ann Macbeth
An Embroidery Book by Anne Knox Arthur
The only one I didn’t find online is Needlecraft for Older Girls by Margaret Swanson. If you happen to come across it available online, will you let me know?
I hope you enjoy these, too!
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