Encyclopedia of Needlework: Swap Meet Find

Everyone who knows me knows I have a love for old books. When an old book revolves around my work (pastry) or hobby (sewing) then the find becomes all that much sweeter. And with swap meets, you never know what you'll find. A couple of weekends ago at the San Diego Kobey's Swap Meet, I found this gem hidden in a box of old books, sitting demurely at the bottom. The guy at the booth said everything in the box was a buck, and I left happy.

The Encyclopedia of Needlework was written by Thérèse de Dillmont, and first published in 1884. It covered all the elements of sewing: Plain Sewing; Mending; Single and Cut Open-Work; Net and Damask Stitches; White Embroidery; Flat Stitch and Gold Embroidery; Tapestry and Linen Embroidery; Knitting; Crochet Work; Tatting; Macramé; Netting; Irish Lace; Laces of Different Kinds; Miscellaneous Fancy Work; and Practical Directions.

My copy is laid out slightly different: Plain Sewing; The Sewing and Embroidering Machine: Machine-Sewing and Embroidering (a very short chapter); Mending; Embroidery Upon White Materials; Linen Embroidery; Embroidery Upon Silk and Velvet; Gold Embroidery; Appliqué Work; Tapestry; Knitting; Crochet; Tatting; Macramé; Netting; Openwork on Linen; Embroidered Laces; Needle-made Laces; Pillow Laces; Needlework Trimmings; and Miscellaneous Directions.

My DMC Library version has an added List of Special Articles in Cotton, Linen, and Silk. It contains over 800 pages, has gilt edging on the pages, contains 1107 illustrations throughout the book with 13 colored plates. There is no copyright date in the edition. I really lucked out as my edition is in excellent shape, with no wear around the edgings. The pages are yellowed and the binding is a little brittle, but finding it in a bin for a buck was a gorgeous find. The tiny book is thick and fat, and fits nicely in the palm of my hand - so unlike the large sewing texts on the market now.

There are many copies and reprints you can purchase from places like Amazon and from Abe books, but the Encyclopedia of Needlework can be read and downloaded for free. The EncyclopediaofNeedlework.com has the complete text and Project Gutenberg has the book in many different versions ready for downloading as an epub or kindle versions.

This is a fascinating and engrossing read, and no matter which version you have, you'll learn a lot from someone who was an expert in the art of sewing over a hundred years ago.

Renee Shelton.