Books are Friends

I was cleaning up my computer this week end and came across the article I had written for one of the needlework magazines. It has never been published, so I decided to share it with anyone who reads my blog. Enjoy!

I cannot live without books.

Thomas Jefferson
3rd president of US (1743 – 1826)


I agree. I love all my books but I am especially fond of my needlework library. Over the years I have amassed many lovely books on needlework, and color & design. These books are like friends, some you know better than others but you like them all.  Like my real friends, I have treated my needlework library with care and respect but some of my books have gotten older and require some TLC (tender loving care) to insure they will be around for many years. I have one friend with coffee stains on her pages; she reminds me that coffee, computers, needlework and books are not always compatible. I know each book and have sometimes made personal notes on their pages…some are old dear friends others are acquaintances.


Let me tell you about one of my oldest book friends. She is A Pageant of Pattern for Needlework Canvas by Sherlee Lantz.  My mother gave me her and Jo Bucher’s book Creative Needlepoint as a Christmas gift in the mid 1970’s.  I remember asking her, “Why me?”  Her reply is still with me today;


“I got the Jo Bucher book by mistake from my book club and didn’t want to return it. And I got A Pageant of Pattern for Needlework Canvas at the bookstore on sale. You did this with Grandma when you were young and I thought it was something you might do again some day.”


I remember thinking, “Thanks Mother, but with three sons (all under 10 years of age at the time) I should live so long to have time to needlepoint.” The rest is history, over eight hundred books later these books are still two of my very best friends. I have made notes in their margins, flagged their pages, used and loved them; they have more sentimental value to me than monetary value.


My first needlepoint seminar I was asked to bring my favorite needlepoint stitch books, so off to seminar went A Pageant of Pattern for Needlework Canvas and Creative Needlepoint. I remember everyone else in the room had brought one book, a much lighter, black book. But by the time I left seminar, the black book and many other new friends were coming home with me. Over the years some of my needlework books I use regularly have become weathered and worn. They have begun to show their age. The binding separates from the pages, pages come loose, covers became torn or lost, and any number of ailments befalls some of my old friends. They are the foundation of my needlepoint library. The books I turn to instinctively were literally falling apart, but most of all, they are like my friends and some were in need of help, repair or replacement. I have a second copy of A Pageant of Pattern for Needlework Canvas given to me by a needlepoint friend. The pages are numbered the same, the pictures are identical; but something is missing.  I could give up the original but she is a special friend. She holds many significant memories for me and was a wonderful gift from my Mother. A Pageant of Pattern for Needlework Canvas originally sold for Fifteen dollars and ninety-five cents, in the 80-90’s it sold for about five-hundred dollars. Today on the internet you can purchase the book in a range from two dollars to two hundred and fifty dollars. If you wish to replace most books there is an ample supply, but some books can not be replaced and of course the sentimental value can never be replaced


At an ANG seminar in Detroit an idea was born. I remember most everyone who purchased a copy of A Stitch Book black-bk-comp( it as sold in a loose page format) took it to the printing shop in the hotel complex and had the book comb bound. This was a popular idea and when the book was re-issued in 2000, it was sold comb bound. One day last year, at the office supply store, the salesperson asked the person next to me if he wanted his materials comb-bound or spiral-bound. I looked at the spiral binding, open-comp1remembered the books in Detroit, and knew I had found away to give new life to my old worn friends. One by one I took them to the office supply store and had them spiral bound. The first book I rescued was the The Needlepoint Book by Christensen, Jo Ippolito. I had it spiral-bound with heavy lamination on the covers and light lamination to the section dividers. I liked it so well I also 3-bookshad The Open Canvas by Carolyn Ambuter done the same way.  97 Alphabets by B. Borssuck, Darning Patterns and Laid Fillings for Evenweave Fabrics by Jean Taggart; were just spiral bound to save them. 




Bargello by Elsa Williams had been a library edition hard back book but was in much need of repair. Her pages were falling out, the front and back plates had been removed and she was re-taped into her hard cover; bargello-compyet she still had her dust jacket. I took her to the store, had her dust jacket cut to fit, used the inside flaps of the dust jacket for the back cover of the book and had these laminated. She was spiral bound and Bargello is a new book, in much better condition than she had come to me.


The most recent book I have helped is my beloved A Pageant of Pattern for Needlework Canvas. She was a very pagent-compold and dear friend, but was in terrible shape. Her pages were loose, she had separated from her binding and her dust jacket was becoming tattered and torn but she was my first needlepoint book. I knew she had to be saved. I took her to the store and had her spiral bound with a laminated front and back cover. Today she is a new grand lady in my library.


These books also lay flat on my work surface and are easier to use when stitching, most will fold back on themselves. I have several self published books that are either comb or spiral bound so this was not an original idea. I do not believe in defacing or destroying a book just to make them more to my liking, but rather am trying to preserve them for my personal enjoyment. I know that these books will never have the value they possessed when new, but in truth how many books have retained their original value?  Not only have these books been given new life but in many cases saved from the trash and land fills. I have found a wonderful way to protect and preserve the friendship and knowledge some of these books have afforded me. And who knows, maybe the next generation will love them as much as I do.



A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.

Martin Tupper, English writer 1810-1889


7 thoughts on “Books are Friends

  1. It’s good to renew acquaintances with old friends–especially those books that are hard to find or out of print. When you have a precious copy, getting it spiraled-bound is probably the best investment you can make to preserve it for future stitchers or for peace of mind when flipping through the worn pages.

    Thanks for the suggestions. I think I’ll go through my library and do the same with several old friends.


  2. Hi Sue….do I know you? Thanks for visiting my blog…I do stitch, a lot…I use to design under another name…Kimberly Crum. Do be in touch with me, great blog you have here. Take care, Kimberly

    • I don’t think we have ever met but I know Colleen at The Needleworks and Carole Lake who lives in Austin and I are friends. Are you still designing needlepoint? I really do like the teapot design and would love to do it in needlepoint.

  3. Sue…I thought I was the only one who thought of my needlepoing books as friends. That is a lovely article. My library now resides up the street in a closet at my dad’s house, as I live in a motorhome, I regularly bring one home and then another until I have to take some back to make room for others. Happy stitching, Jan

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  6. (I stumbled upon this article via a link during an archive dive through Nuts about Needlepoint, FYI)

    Somebody else loves “A Pageant of Pattern”! I found a used copy in a local bookstore several years ago. I bought it it because I wanted to try my hand at making my own geometrics is tread of relying only on premodern designs, and it looked comprehensive.

    As a book it really is comprehensive. The best part is how the author encourages …independence, I guess is the best way to put it. She encourages even the beginning reader to experiment with adapting stitches: rescaling, making up new compound stitches from simpler units, even varying the stitch itself. This isn’t something that I’ve seen other books do explicitly: neither encouragement nor advice for when the diagram in the book is almost right.

    I also love how the author lets her own enthusiasm peek through. Stumpwork is “an embroidered malapropism”, for instance, Bargello is overrated, medieval Islamic art is a great source of patterning. Her voice is just great fun to spend time with.

    —Tangentially, the book makes visible the rise of Silicon Valley between its publication and my purchase. Sherlee Lantz is kindred soul. But culture has changed since publication of the book, which is older than I am. It’s easier to see the minor but pervasive differences than to describe them, but in short: She is an enthusiast; I am a nerd aspiring to geekdom.

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