Thanks for your comments and suggestions about the embroidery workshop. It would seem I need all the help I can get.
Sue's recommendation for books: Constance Howard's Book of Stitches and Jacqueline Enthoven's The Stitches of Creative Embroidery. First I checked the public library: they had neither of them. Then I went into Nanaimo and my favourite store, The Stitcher's Muse*. I couldn't remember Constance's last name, it completely eluded me even though I knew her work, which gives you an idea of the level of brain fog I'm experiencing. Luckily her book was facing outwards on the shelf. I leapt upon it, saying "Here it is!"
I'm sure the shopkeeper thought I was a bit nutty, but it was a slow Monday so she went on an online search for the Enthoven book - none of her suppliers carried it so she suggested I might find it used. When I got home I checked Abebooks, and indeed they had a copy at the used bookstore in the town my mother lives, so I emailed her asking if she might look for it next time she was downtown. Mission accomplished, I thought smugly!
But there was a nagging thought. The cover of The Stitches of Creative Embroidery looked strangely familiar in the small picture on the website. Had I read it before? Perhaps checked it out from a different library? Maybe, just maybe I already had a copy. I searched my bookshelves, which are considerably less full after I donated a huge schwack of books to the Saltspring library. My God, maybe I had given the book away without realizing it!
But no. There it was, on the bottom shelf, in with all my Japanese craft magazines. It still had a sticker for $2 on it. I must have picked it up at a thrift store somewhere, read it, and completely forgotten about it. I very sheepishly phoned my mom and told her to ignore my email.
Both books are very 1970's, and quite astonishing in the range and depth of stitch-y exploration. I think that era may have been the last great hurrah for embroidery. Today's revival typically uses a much smaller stitch palette, and deals more with ideas and references than boundary pushing pattern and texture. I think the Howard book could be republished, with colour plates and more images of her own work - it would be a blockbuster!
*The Stitcher's Muse will have a new website in a month or so, with all their 15,000 products available. Their range of threads, tools and kits is really fantastic, so bookmark their page for your future online shopping pleasure. In-store shopping is a real treat, too. Plus, they had the Book of Stitches new for much less than Amazon, and their customer service is tremendous.