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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Beginner’s Guides – The Needlework Books that Keep on Giving


Amazon Books

Are you a budding embroidery artist who has recently discovered that you like this whole Embroidery Thing, but you don’t know exactly what’s out there to help you learn?

Are you an intermediate embroiderer who yearns to branch out into new techniques?

Are you a seasoned embroiderer looking for new inspiration, ideas, and approaches to bring to your masterpieces?

No matter where you are in your embroidery journey, eventually you will face the need – or entertain the desire – to purchase a needlework book.

There are three collections of needlework books out there that are excellent additions to the well-rounded needlework library and that will help you in your embroidery pursuits, no matter what your skill level.

Today, I want to talk about one of those series, called Beginner’s Guides, and three reasons I think you need them on your bookshelf.

Beginner's Guides Needlework Books

I bet you have a favorite needlework book or two on your bookshelf, right?

My favorite needlework books are the books I turn to over and over again for instruction, for inspiration, or just for the sheer pleasure of flipping through the book.

Have you ever thought about the books you have in your needlework library and why you have them? In my recent workroom organizational frenzy, I’ve been thinking a lot about the why when it comes to books.

I’ve narrowed down the three reasons that justify the books in my needlework book collection:

1. Instructional Content

Some books we might have on our bookshelves solely for their instructional content.

While they might not provide all that much inspiration (they might not be great “lookers”), we know that, hidden in those well-worn pages, there are gems of wisdom and advice that have made us better stitches.

I have quite a few late 19th century / early 20th century books like this. They’re not a lot to look at, they take a bit of digging through, but they’ve got some darned good instruction in them.

2. The Promise of Success

Then there are those books that have a special place on the shelf because they promise us something.

They make something that we think is complex look easy and attainable. And they promise us success.

These books speak to us, saying, “You can do this. I will show you how.”

3. Inspiration

And then there are those books that we indulge in because there’s something about them visually that stimulates us.

They give us the pleasure and the wonder that come from looking at beautiful things.

These books inspire us to try great things. They push us higher in our pursuit of creating.

Where the Beginner’s Guides Fit In

The Beginner’s Guides series fit into all three of the categories above.

They are instructional. They promise success. And they inspire. And those are three good reasons to have them on your bookshelf!

If you want to read about some of the Beginner’s Guides in depth, here’s a list of four that I’ve reviewed here on Needle ‘n Thread:

1. Beginner’s Guide to Goldwork by Ruth Chamberline will be released in its newest edition very shortly. I love this book! And I’m so glad there’s a new addition coming out!

(Ok, a little shameless shilling there. I was very happy to write the forward to the new edition!)

2. Beginner’s Guide to Silk Shading by Clare Hanham

4. Beginner’s Guide to Mountmellick Embroidery by Pat Trott

5. Beginner’s Guide to Crewel Embroidery by Jane Rainbow

You’ll also find Beginner’s Guide to Silk Ribbon Embroidery by Ann Cox currently available, though I haven’t reviewed it yet. I reviewed her A-Z of Silk Ribbon Flowers here, if you want to get an idea of what her gorgeous books are like!

My Beginner’s Guide List

Not all of the Beginner’s Guides are strictly needlework books, but the ones I like still fit in with the textile enthusiast’s interests.

This is a list of Beginner’s Guides that I own and like.

I admit candidly that my bookshelves are heavily laden. And while I have lots of needlework books in all kinds of categories, I turn to these Beginner’s Guides frequently. And every time I do, I make new discoveries and learn new things.

I love ’em!

Needle ‘n Thread uses affiliate links from Amazon & Book Depository. This means I get a small kickback to help support Needle ‘n Thread when you go through my links.


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(10) Comments

  1. Hi Mary – thanks for this. I have had the Beginner’s Guide to Crewelwork for some time, and find it both useful and inspirational. One thing has frustrated me, though. Jane Rainbow, the author, used to produce kits of a number of the designs featured in the book, but these seem to have entirely disappeared from sale. Can you shed any light? I would love to have a go at one, but can’t find them anywhere.

    1. I haven’t been able to find them, either, Dinah. They may have been produced when the book was first released on the market, and perhaps Jane didn’t pursue making them anymore. I’m not sure!

    2. Hi Dinah and Mary. Viking Loom in the UK have recently started to sell some of Jane Rainbow’s design kits, which included the designs printed onto linen, a needle and instructions. As the original threads are no longer available alternative Appletons crewel threads are suggested and can be bought separately. See http://www.vikingloom.co.uk/acatalog/Crewel-work.html Hope this helps.

  2. Dear Mary

    Yes I have a few books that I turn to when I need instruction, inspiration and promise of success. These books are mainly A-Z beginner books which when I am starting a project and have forgotten how to do a technique I always turn back to these books because they are easy to follow with lots of photos and instructions on how-to embroider a particular technique. Equally I always turn to your site when I am researching a particular technique has you have so many references to different embroidery techniques especially your How-To videos which are essential in any embroidery project. Beginner books are essential in embroidery I really like them. Thanks for sharing with us this post on beginner embroidery books and for the links above.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  3. Something that I would encourage any new stitcher would be to visit NeedlenThread and stitch along with every video. When I got back into it embroidery, I was overwhelmed. I decided the best thing to do was to regroup by going through the videos and stitching with them. I gained confidence and felt better with my technique.

  4. Dear Mary,

    your videos are my go to place to learn new stitches or correct my mistakes. I use books to look at the “final” product or stitches in different settings, with different threads and fabrics. Using them both is time filled with pleasure!

  5. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for the intro to the beginner’s guides list of books, interesting enough I have all you list except the Bobbin lace and the silk painting and shading, so I know I am in with the best.
    A question off topic and that is how do I find a list of your posts in chronological order, on you previous site I could just click previous (or next) at the end of your post. Some days I just get too busy to read so this was an excellent tool and so easy to use.
    I hope you are keeping well and current health problems are sorting them selves out.

    Cheers Judy
    S E Queensland

    1. I also meant to say I also love the A-Z books and the RSN Essential Stitch Guides. They are in my must have list as well.
      Cheers Judy

  6. I totally agree with you, Mary, the beginner’s guides are fabulous references. I have some from your list but the one I don’t have and really want is Ruth Chamberlin’s if only for the to-die-and-go-heaven-for beautiful cover.

    The other ‘basic’ books I go to all the time are my set of A-Z books.

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