Memory Like a Sieve

Thanks for your comments and suggestions about the embroidery workshop. It would seem I need all the help I can get.

A funny story - I went to follow up 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.


  1. you could also try amazing array of all kinds of needlework, though not used they are reasonably priced and ship fast


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