Friday, November 20, 2009

Reading in My Sleep: Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework, 1982

I remember being quite the disaster in the needle-type Home Ec classes when I was in school: I couldn't figure out a simple embroidery sampler, I pretty much failed a unit on crocheting, and I still have an irrational fear of getting stabbed by the needles in a sewing machine.

So, yeah, imagine my wonder and my absolute overweening (and, needless to say, misplaced) pride in myself when I discovered that there were a few types of sewing that I could actually DO: things like do counted cross-stitch, mend seams in a cotton t-shirt, sew buttons on skirts. I think I can safely blame the cross-stitch part on my mom, who went through an absolute mania for the craft when she was pregnant with my younger sister. And when I say mania I meant she was stitching gigantic designs fit for framing on walls.

Having gained some small measure of confidence in plying a needle thanks to completing my own cross-stitch projects, I find myself more willing now to learn all these crafts. So far, I think I want to tackle crochet again. I want to make a scarf and perhaps a pair of fingerless gloves or two.

So it's a good thing that I spotted this book in a store a year or so ago:

Maybe you've seen one or two of those yourself: an all-purpose guide to needle-craft. Knitting, applique, quilting, rug making, macrame, lace, and of course the essential embroidery stitches.

This is the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework, edited by Virginia Colton. First published in 1979, the edition I have was printed in the same year that I was born, 1982. Yes, this book is as old as I am. And the amazing thing is, I wish I was that well-preserved: the pages remain crisp and clear, the pictures look great, there are no missing bits or pages or even a stray trail of chewed whatever.

I literally read myself to sleep with this book on those nights when there's so much on my mind. I may not be working the stitches or knots myself, but something about the book leads my mind into the same peaceful pace and patterns, so it's great for relaxing reading.

(I wonder if I'll feel the same, though, once I go and tackle a project or two. Like I said: rank beginner ahoy. I'm thinking of myself as having no knowledge at all - at least, not until I actually begin - and then FINISH a project.)

(Yep, this is what I'm going to do next after the whirlwind that is NaNoWriMo. Weekly update post on that one later.)

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