Embroidery Book Collections

26th November 2021

By Nancy Williams

I was standing in front of my bookshelf, stuffed with embroidery and craft books, considering a topic to write about. As my eye scanned the spines, I felt that wonderful, familiar burst of inspiration. 

I always get that feeling whenever I open up one of the many books I’ve collected over the years because inside I know there will be possibilities, ideas, projects and endless enjoyment…

It made me consider the connection between needlework and books and noted with interest some of the reader recommended titles mentioned in this very newsletter in recent weeks. The connection between handcrafts and reading is a natural one. Both require concentration and contemplation. Both bring a sense of peace, and both can transport you away from the stress and worry of life, allowing you to rest in that sublime feeling of ‘flow’.

I suspect that many of us are book collectors with multiple embroidery books on our shelves ranging across a vast number of topics. Some might be antique, passed down from previous generations. Others might be so new the pages are still pristine and the spine untouched. But all of them are treasured.

The instinct to collect things is very human, and the specific art of book collecting has been practiced since long before Gutenburg invented his press. The love of books is known as bibliophilia, and those people who love reading, admiring and collecting books are bibliophiles. You don’t need to only collect rare antiques or highly sought after first editions to be regarded as a book collector. You can simply collect books you love, or books by a specific author or, in our case, books about a particular topic.

There are several kinds of collector. There are the people who collect simply for the sake of possessing. These people will hunt high and low for a specific volume and then when they have secured it, they will keep it safely locked away in a cabinet or high on a shelf, and only take it down to carefully admire it. 

Then there are people who collect for the sake of use and study. The thrill of the chase is just as great, but when this type of collector discovers their prize, the pleasure comes from what they gain out of the book. The book is used for what it was intended rather than just as an object to look at.

A sneak peek at one of several bookshelves I have…

Whether you have a large collection or a modest one, how it is stored and displayed is also something which varies from collector to collector. Many people will have full bookshelves like mine. Others will have books in piles or in boxes. Some may stack all their books together, creating a delicious mix of everything from embroidery pattern books to crime fiction. Others might keep their books neatly separated or in alphabetical order or ordered by subject or technique.

What you collect, how you collect and what you do with it is all very much a matter of personal preference. The most important thing is that if you do collect books, they give you joy.

Many of us wear the title of bibliophile with pride, and never get tired of looking through our collections, perhaps occasionally stealing a precious moment to take a book down from the shelf and spend a few minutes leafing through it, admiring the pictures, getting caught by a sentence or two, or wondering about a new project, technique or stitch that appears within it.

How about you… do any of you enjoy collecting books? Do you have an extensive embroidery book collection? Have you found innovative ways to catalogue or display them? Or are there any books in your collection that hold special importance to you? 

The Inspirations Team and I would love to hear about your passion for books via email at news@inspirationsstudios.com. We have yet to find a word that describes a specific collector of needlework books, but perhaps if there are any Latin scholars out there, you might be able to come up with one?

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