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Embroidery Books on my Bookshelf

Admittedly I do have many more books on my bookshelf that relate to my embroidery practice. However if I were to list them all I'd be here til next month writing about them! Here is a selection of the embroidery books that I have found most useful over the past number of years, and expect to find useful into the future also.

The Embroidery Stitch Bible

by Betty Barnden

If you only have one embroidery book on your bookshelf, it should be this one. It has a great amount of information to get you started, covering both materials (needles, threads, fabrics, hoops, etc.) and techniques (transferring designs, reading charts, threading needles, etc.) Then we get into the stitches. They're split into different categories depending on how the stitch is traditionally used, so it's very easy to find and compare similar stitches. There's detailed diagrams and instructions for each stitch, along with notes on how to use them and their variations. There's also a chapter on 'finishing touches' showing what to do to finish and display your embroidery. I highly recommend this book for all levels of stitchers, I'm constantly going back to it for new ideas!

'Crewel Twists' and 'Crewel Intentions'

by Hazel Blomkamp

Another 2 books I would highly recommend for all levels. Hazel has an incredible talent for updating the traditional style of Jacobean Crewelwork. Though the designs are still easily recognisable as Jacobean, new materials such as cotton thread and beads, and stitches from other techniques are used to breathe new life into

Both books give general tips on techniques, materials and tools. But the main body of the book is taken up with a number of projects to work through. Although I have not completed any of these projects myself, they seem to have highly detailed step-by-step instructions. The designs for these projects are also provided, though need to be copied at different sizes. The only place where these books fall short is in details of finishing your work. Although the author has shared some ideas on finishing and displaying these projects, no instructions are given for how to achieve this.

It is the glossary of stitches I have found most useful however. Along with diagrams and instructions, the photographs of these stitches applied to the projects are really what sparks ideas with me. These books have even inspired full designs - such as my Needleweaving Kit. Overall I would recommend both of these books, whether you intend to complete the projects or not.

A Little Book Of Craftivism

by Sarah Corbett

This little book gives readers an insight into how to use craft as a form of activism. Attending protests and joining activist groups isn't for everyone. So expressing your activism through craft projects can be a great alternative. It also allows you to really think about the issue at hand and how you're presenting that to your audience. The book gives plenty of tips on this. From how to phrase your slogans, to where to display your work.

This book also gives you an idea of what to make as part of your craftivism. Whether its bunting displayed as part of a larger movement, or stitching in public to invite questions about what you're making and why.

Beginner's Guide to Silk Ribbon Embroidery

by Ann Cox

A beautiful little book from Ann Cox - does exactly what it says on the tin! Some info on the materials used in Ribbon Embroidery before moving on the the different stitches used in this technique. The instructions for the stitches are quite clear (and illustrated) but what I particularly like about this book is that it gives examples of how these stitches are used to create different flowers. There are of course some projects included, as well as instructions for mounting and framing your work.

The only thing I will say though, is that if you're not into florals then Ribbon Embroidery really isn't for you!

Beginner's Guide to Mountmellick Embroidery

by Pat Trott

Another specific technique and again very much about the florals! A very similar layout to the previous book mentioned. Although Mountmellick is a white on white technique, many of the instructions are shown with coloured thread so they're nice a clear. This book even goes beyond the embroidery element of Mountmellick work and demonstrates a knitted fringe also.

However I must admit, I haven't yet tried half the stitches in this book. But I am very excited to try them out and possibly include them in a future Mountmellick kit! Watch this space...

Bayeux Stitch

by Tanya Bentham

This one is brand spanking new! Only on my shelf a matter of weeks. I even pre-ordered it because I was so excited to learn about Medieval Embroidery (if you know me, you know I love historical textiles) and Tanya has not disappointed. As with many of the other books mentioned, there is info on materials, stitches, and projects. Though with this book you have the added element of comparing yourself to Medieval embroiderers. I found the section on Medieval Colours particularly interesting.

I also appreciated the 'troubleshooting' notes on some of the stitches. The instructions for the projects are quite detailed, and the historical context for each design is very much appreciated. After reading I am very much looking forward to trying out some Medieval Embroidery for myself - I just haven't quite found the subject matter for it yet. Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments!

I hope you have found this list helpful! Please note I have not been asked for these write ups by any of the authors mentioned - I simply wanted to share my own opinions in the hope that it will help you wade through the multitude of books out there.

Do you find these books helpful in your own practice? Or are there any others that you recommend? I'd love to find some more to fill up my bookshelf!

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Can't wait to see how the Mountmellick and Bayeux books influence your designs in future 😍

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