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This week’s pick: Complete Guide to Needlework (Reader’s Digest) by Reader’s Digest.
Source: MC’s mother’s collection.*
Publication date: Eighth printing (1984) of 1979 edition.
Status: Out of print but available at reasonable prices online.
Condition: Very Good.
Crafts: Applique, Crochet, Embroidery, Knitting, Lacework, Macrame, Needlepoint, Patchwork, Quilting, and Rug-making.
You know a book is a classic when you find it in the collections of two amazing women. I came across this book in my grandmother’s collection after she died, and I took it home with me when we cleaned up her apartment. Two years later, when I moved in with MC, I found another copy in the books he kept to the side after his mother died. (I ended up giving my grandmother’s copy to one of my best friends.)
This book is a great resource because it includes information on so many different needlecrafts, but also because it goes beyond the basics in a way that most contemporary books don’t. There is definitely an assumption that the readers of this book will need these crafts to make garments and home decor items for their families, and as a result, the writers attempt to share the skills needed for designing and finishing great custom items.
From the section on shaping crochet necklines.
From the section on shaping knitting necklines.
The book starts off with a section on embroidery, a craft I love the look of but lack the patience for actually doing.
There are quite a few great embroidery samplers shown, followed by detailed illustrations for making loads of stitches.
I haven’t spent much time looking through the next two sections, Needlepoint and Applique.
The Patchwork section has a lot of beautiful and inspiring pictures, but I’ve mostly avoided it. (As a fairly lazy quilter, I’m partial to newer books with detailed strip piecing instructions.)
Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern.
The Quilting chapter mostly focuses on hand quilting, but there are some tips for machine quilters, too.
The Knitting chapter is one of my favorites. Some of the highlights include tips for getting neat selvages…
illustrated and written instructions for different types of double increases and decreases…
and the above-mentioned tips for neckline shaping.
There are also some great patterns, like this one for a classic Aran sweater…
and this one for a lovely evening set.
And, naturally, I love the crochet section, too. Like the knitting chapter, it includes a stitch guide…
and sections on quite a few specialized techniques including woven crochet…
and broomstick lace.
And also like the knitting section, there is plenty of information about shaping crochet garments.
After the crochet section, I tend to lose interest since I don’t do any lacework, macrame, or rug-making. But I do like that there are sections on all of these crafts, because you never know when I might pick one of them up!