COUNTED THREAD EMBROIDERY BOOKS

I: Counted Cross Stitch

Sajou: Passion des Alphabets Anciens (2011, 133 pages, hardcover) $56.00

cartonnage.jpg - 10098 BytesCartonnage Brodé by Sophie Delaborde and Sylvie Castellano is a book of counted cross stitch box designs. The boxes in this book are charming, and include many boxes with a stitching theme (a thread storage box, a ribbon box, a lace box, a button box, a project box, and many more). The graphs are usable by anyone who can do counted cross stitch. The box construction techniques may require that you can read French or find someone to help you with the translation - or a willingness to figure out the construction on your own.

Cartonnage Brodé (2004, 95 pages, hardcover) $33.00

miniscules.jpg - 7234 BytesMinuscules & Majuscules by Valérie Lejeune is a small books by this French author. This one contains 29 alphabets, each in two versions: a set of capital letters and a set of small letters, that can be used in conjunction with one another. It is not strictly correct to call them upper and lower case alphabets. All of the capital letters of course are upper case alphabets. In some alphabets the small letters are in lower case, while other alphabets have both large and small letters in upper case. Although this may sound strange, in practice it works quite nicely. Each alphabet has been given a name and the name is spelled out using the capital (majuscules) and small (miniscules) letters of that alphabet, so that you can see what the effect will be of using them together. As with her other books, Ms. Lejeune has taken the utmost care to make this book easy to use. She has listed a stitch count in height for all capital letters. Because the small letters vary in height, she lists a stitch count in height for only the shortest of these letters (such as a, e, m) while the taller letters (such as h, l, j) will vary in height. Alphabets are primarily graphed in a single color, but a few are graphed in two colors. As with all her other books, the source material for this book all dates to before 1930. Another gem from this French author - what can a stitcher do but feel a wonderful connection with an author who begins her book with the quote "Pas un jour sans un point" or roughly translated by me, "Not a day without stitching."

Minuscules & Majuscules (2003, 63 pages, paperback) $17.00

repertoiremotifs.jpg - 6590 BytesRépertoire des Motifs by Valérie Lejeune is another offering from this French author. Following on her two incredible books of alphabets (Le Livre des Lettres d'Ici et d'Ailleurs and Le Livre des Lettres) this book contains over 1200 symbols to be done in counted cross stitch (of course they would also work for counted needlepoint and other techniques that make use of a grid). Designs in the book are either one or two colors (the color choices are left up to you) and all of them come from sources dating prior to 1930. It is hard to imagine what she has left out of this book. An abundance of animals, flowers and plants, decorative motifs, crosses, crowns, musical instruments, cherubs, playing card motifs, household items, and much, much more are clearly charted. Best of all, for designs that do not face you "straight" on, she gives both a left-facing and right-facing version of the same motif. This book would be an excellent resource for those who wish to design their own samplers, but there are a myriad of other uses for the motifs in this book.

Repértoire des Motifs (2002, 224 pages, softcover) $44.00

LesBellesLettresdAlexandrenew.jpg - 8970 BytesLes Belles Lettres d'Alexandre by Véronique Maillard continues in the vein of her previous "Sajou" and "Rouyer" books. As stated in her introduction, Alexandre & Co. was one of the three great French embroidery houses of the 19th Century (Sajou and Rouyer were the others).

Not just another cross stitch alphabet book (although it does contain a large number of decorative alphabets), this book also includes a number of graphs for allover patterns, borders and interesting motifs. Designs in this book appear to me to be classic, timeless and charming. The author intersperses graphs taken from the 19th century originals with many photographs of modern stitched models taken from the old designs, with an emphasis on practical uses - the designs are used on box tops designed to store many different items.

There may be a temptation for some people to say "not another alphabet book" because of the number of (mostly French) alphabet books currently available. But how can you have too much of a good thing? Personally I would be stockpiling all these wonderful alphabets against the possibility of an alphabet shortage in the future! Among its offerings, Les Belles Lettres d'Alexandre offers an incredible large and very ornate alphabet (approximately 100 stitches high) that is beautiful - a single stitched initial would make a wonderful gift for anyone.

Most designs in this book are stitched in a single color (or in some cases two colors) of your choice; some of the floral and decorative designs are done in multiple colors and for these graphs DMC floss colors are given. The models shown in the photographs have been stitched in silk threads from Au Ver a Soie and the silk colors used are listed. Although the book is French, there is very little text so if you don't understand French, it is not much of a problem.

Les Belles Lettres d'Alexandre (2011 reprint of 2006 book, 159 pages, hardcover) $49.00

LettresAnciennesEntrelaceesnew.jpg - 8118 BytesLettres Anciennes Entrelacées by Véronique Maillard is a book of graphed monogram designs. While most alphabet combinations appear in this book (for example, an A juxtaposed on a B, on a C, on a D...) the letters "I" and "W" appear to be lacking because they were lacking in the historical originals that this book draws from. This is a lovely book.

Lettres Anciennes Entrelacées (2010 reprint of 2003 book, new cover, 127 pages, hardcover) out of print and out of stock

Rouyer.jpg - 6951 BytesRouyer: Ses Plus Beaux Motifs et Alphabet Anciens (Rouyer's Most Beautiful Motifs and Old Alphabets) by Véronique Maillard is a book of graphs that are taken from old designs by the French firm Rouyer, founded by Alexandre Rouyer in the 19th century. Similar to the designs in her earlier book Sajou (see below), these designs in some cases come from a slightly earlier time. This book contains a varied assortment of designs taken from the old Rouyer publications. Designs include alphabets; small scenic designs; small fruit, floral and animal designs; repeating allover patterns; borders; as well as some small samplers and phrases. All of the designs in this book have the charm of a bygone era. Most designs are monochromatic, allowing you to stitch them in the color of your choice (or to put a more modern twist to them, to be stitched in an overdyed thread). A few designs with more complex colors are coded to be stitched in DMC floss.

Rouyer: Ses Plus Beaux Motifs et Alphabet Anciens (2005, 159 pages, hardcover) $45.00

Sajounew.jpg - 5232 BytesSajou: Passion des Alphabets Anciens by Véronique Maillard is another French alphabet book. "Sajou" was the name of a French needlework designer, Jacques Simon Sajou, as well as the name of his business that sold these designs. Designs in this book are reproductions from publications by this French design house. They are predominantly charted designs of old alphabets, with a few other design motifs and repeating patterns, as well as a very limited selection of needlepoint or canvas designs. This book will be of interest to those who like alphabets, samplers and old-fashioned motifs.

Sajou: Passion des Alphabets Anciennes (2010 reprint of 2004 edition, 159 pages, hardcover) $52.00

AlphabetsAnciens.jpg - 9726 BytesAlphabets Anciens by Véronique Maillard

Alphabets Anciens by Véronique Maillard (2011, 133 pages, hardcover) $56.00

deforges.jpg - 8640 BytesLa Collection de Point de Croix de Regine de Forges by Regine de Forges is another one of those wonderful French cross stitch books. Although the text is French, the majority of this book consists of graphed designs, including several alphabets, Berlin-type needlepoint charts, and other vintage charts from the 19th and early 20th century. No thread or color choices are suggested for many of the designs in this hardcover book so you will need to make your own thread selections (this should not be terribly difficult). Designs that are more complex do have suggested colors listed at the end of the book

La Collection de Point de Croix de Regine de Forges (2006, 189 pages, hardcover) $45.00

ProperStitch.jpg - 10720 BytesProper Stitch by Darlene O'Steen is the long-awaited reprint of this sampler book. Originally published in 1994, this edition is revised and expanded. It contains six chapters of counted thread stitch techniques, organized by type (variations of cross stitch, straight stitches, satin stitches, buttonhole stitches, looped stitches and drawn thread stitches). It concludes with four charted samplers. The book is profusely illustrated with large stitch diagrams and directions which clearly explain the techniques. It is wirebound to lay flat inside a hard cover.

Proper Stitch (2006, 168 pages, hardcover) $44.95

II: Schwalm Embroidery Books

schwalmembroidery.jpg - 7250 BytesSchwalm Embroidery: Techniques and Designs by Christine Bishop is an English-language book on this lovely technique (see also our two German language Schwalm books by Thekla Gombert). This is a lovely book which includes a very brief history of Schwalm embroidery and explanation of its design motifs and symbolism. The bulk of the book consists of specific projects and techniques. Schwalm is a lovely form of drawn-thread embroidery traditionally done in white on white (samples in this book are done on colored linen so that visually the needlework shows up better on the contrasting fabric). It combines both counted and non-counted techniques. Samples in the book are stitched on readily available cross stitch linens; however, please keep in mind that we stock a more traditional linen fabric that is often used in Germany for Schwalm embroidery. Samples are stitched in coton à broder (which is a thread that is not readily available in the U.S.). We would like to suggest that people also consider trying linen thread for this type of embroidery.

Schwalm Embroidery (2008 reprint of 1999 book, 112 pages, softcover) $17.95

III: Blackwork
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Art of English Blackwork by Jane Zimmerman is a self-published book with a minimal amount of historical information and stitching techniques. The vast majority of the book consists of blackwork design elements.

Art of English Blackwork (1996, 187 pages, wirebound paperback) $37.95

beginnersblackwork.jpg - 10879 BytesBeginner's Guide to Blackwork by Lesley Wilkins is a nice, basic introduction to this very old form of needlework. This book contains enough basic instructions and design motifs (including individual motifs, borders and filling patterns) for you to create your own designs. It is not too overwhelming and the style of blackwork depicted is the very traditional style, rather than a modern interpretation.

Beginner's Guide to Blackwork (2002, 64 pages, softcover) $17.95

IV: Other Counted Thread Techniques
collectionstitches.jpg - 5792 BytesA Collection of Beautiful Stitches by Emie Bishop is a lovely new book of counted thread stitches by the owner of the company "Cross 'n Patch." Better known as a designer of lovely samplers which combine hardanger, counted cross stitch and other counted thread techniques, she describes this book as "a reference book of richly textured needlework stitches." Printed in wirebound format so that the book will lie flat while you use it, it contains literally dozens of counted thread stitches, including hardanger techniques, pulled thread, surface stitches, drawn thread stitches and more. While you will find many common stitches in here there are also some unusual stitches and unusual variations of common stitches. (Please note this is strictly a stitch and technique book; not a project book.) I highly recommend this book.

A Collection of Beautiful Stitches (2002, 66 pages, wirebound paperback) $22.00

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Casalguidi Style Linen Embroidery by Effie Mitrofanis is an Australian publication (where would we be without those Australians!) on a traditional form of Italian needlework. It is difficult to describe, but most recognizable if you have ever seen it. Done on linen, it combines pulled thread stitches with some very raised stitches, including buttonhole stitches, and a stitch known as "padded raised stem band." Very little has been written on this technique so this book is very welcome. This book includes 26 projects, both traditional and non-traditional (hence the name Casalguidi Style).
Casalguidi Style Linen Embroidery (1996, 128 pages, softcover) $30.00

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Ruskin Lace & Linen Work by Elizabeth Prickett is a reprint of a book originally published in 1985. Ruskin lace is a form of drawn thread embroidery which incorporates a lot of needleweaving and buttonhole lace techniques. This reprint has been made into a wirebound edition so that it will lay flat while you use the book - a very useful feature.

Ruskin Lace & Linen Work (1997, 119 pages, wirebound paperback) $29.95

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