The Last Stitch References

None of my stuff comes from a vacuum, and certainly several of my pieces stem from patterns or designs that are featured in source books. Moreover, stitch encyclopedias can provide the details of both the basic how-to's of needlework as well as the more complex or unusual techniques. Some of these books have already directly influenced or contributed to my own design projects, while others have yet to do so, but are good to check out nonetheless. All of the books listed here are part of my personal library, built over years' worth of visits to big chain bookstores, craft stores, and dusty-nook used book stores. Book sales at the local library can be pretty good, as well, especially when the library is replacing older editions of some old reliables.

Aside from pattern- or stitch- sourcebooks, there's a wealth of craft information and inspiration available on the web. For the Japanese- or anime-themed projects, I've had to go to some unusual sources. A certain amount of cross-wise thinking is necessary to find what you're looking for in most cases, since your crafty-purposes usually don't match the intended purpose of the material. The online or electronic resources that I've found most helpful are listed here as well, and they can be a great timesaver when it comes to designing your own work.

Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework
Editor: Virginia Colton; 1979 (newer versions exist)
Publisher: Reader's Digest Association
ISBN: 0-89577-059-8

Comments: The flagship of my collection, I have yet to find a more exhaustive stitch encyclopedia. Besides embroidery and needlepoint, there are equally detailed sections on every other major non-sewing craft that involves fabric and/or thread, including, but not limited to, knitting, lace-making, quilting, and macramé. The diagrams and instructions are excellent, as are the sections on designing for each of the techniques. They have a handful of projects for each major craft as well.

Jeffrey's Kanji Server & Japanese-English Dictionary (with U.S., Canada, and Australia mirrors)

Comments: An essential resource for finding Japanese words in their native character form, kanji. The best advantage over print dictionaries is the customizable option to display kanji as a black-and-white bitmap which can be used as-is in patterns. (FYI, I use 26pt for small and 48pt for large characters.)

Dover Needlework Series
Publisher: Dover Publications

Comments: A growing collection of themed pattern-books, the needlework series covers a wide range of sources and all of the books are quite reasonably priced, usually less than US$5. This series is just a subset of the larger craft publishing division of Dover, which has books for nearly every craft technique, including stained glass, quilting, and papercrafts. Each book has its own copyright restrictions, but there is a "royalty-free" category of books that overlaps into the Needlework series.

Better Homes & Gardens: 2001 Cross Stitch Designs
Editor: Carol Field Dahlstrom; 1999
Publisher: Meredith Books
ISBN: 0-696-20780-X

Comments: A great resource book to give or receive as a gift (that's how I got mine), this pattern-book has lots of small motifs suitable for combining or stitching onto housewares & clothes, monogram-style. The motifs are grouped by theme and are thoroughly indexed. There are also brief sections on stitching and ideas for finished projects, with templates suitable for photocopying.

Celtic Charted Designs
Author: Co Spinhoven
Publisher: Dover Publications
ISBN: 0-486-25411-9

Comments: A representative member of the Dover Needlework Series, this pattern-book covers most things Celtic, as well as some Persian designs. Celtic design books are practically a sub-genre, but this one is very good to start with, especially with its short sketches on building Celtic-inspired geometric patterns like spirals and knots.

Fantasy Cross Stitch
Author: Julie Hasler; 1997
Publisher: David & Charles
ISBN: 0-7153-1012-7 (paper)
0-7153-0571-9 (hardcover)

Comments: A book of brightly-colored motifs, each reflecting some aspect of the esoteric or fantastic. Of note are the large, vivid zodiac sigils suitable for decorating windows, chairs, or jackets alike, as well as the pegasus & unicorn patterns done in subtle variations on grey.

Flowers, Birds, and Unicorns: Medieval Needlepoint
Author: Candace Bahouth; 1993
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
ISBN: 0-8109-3316-0

Comments: An anecdotal book of fairly large patterns, generally inspired by European medieval and renaissance art and culture, including the Unicorn Tapestries. Many of the patterns are quite elaborate and striking, and are suitable for banners and upholstery projects.

Introducing Needlepoint
Author: Donna Lightbody; 1973
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee, and Shepard Co.
ISBN: 0-688-41550-4

Comments: Small, portable and highly accessible to beginners, this is actually the first book I learned the craft from. An array of stitches are presented through small projects, including the ubiquitous small pillows. (I still have the two I made over a decade ago...)

Websites and Image Galleries
Google Anime Image Galleries Index: Arts/Animation/Anime/ Image_Galleries/
Anime Genesis:
Ultimate Animanga Archive:
Otaku World:
Bishounen In Stitches:

Comments: Ironically, the web is both the best and worst source for patterns and source material. While the potential breadth of information is staggering to consider, given the number of people active online, the fluid nature of people's interests and resources makes sites appear and disappear seemingly at random. Last time I checked, these sites existed and were in some way useful or at least interesting. All are general anime link lists plus image galleries, except for the Google directory. The Bishounen in Stitches website is a craft-wise spur of a larger leering-fangirl site selling patterns, kits, and finished pieces of anime/manga bishounen-inspired needlepoint.

Manga, Artbooks and other Graphic Works
Asahiya USA:
Comments: Source images from which to derive patterns can be very difficult to come by. Web sources have the advantage of speed and convenience, but print sources can more than make up for the lack of convenient search functions with their greater breadth of subject matter. Generally speaking (in the U.S.), translating someone else's printed artwork into another medium, even needlework, is an infringement on their copyright. So private and personal use of any derived materials like a pattern is a borderline situation, while commercial use of the same materials is probably moving towards actionable territory. There are commercial pattern-books available for big-name commercial mascots like the Disney horde and the Looney Tunes gang. But, as far as I know, no such reference books are forthcoming for our animated friends from Japan.

Clip Art and "Royalty-Free" Works
Comments: An old and hallowed source of design inspiration, clip art can be modified and rearranged to produce some interesting patterns. Clip art used to appear exclusively in books of single-side printed paper, so that designers literally had to clip out the images they wanted and work out a sort of collage. In this electronic age, clip art is readily abundant in digital form, and can also be read directly from the printed page using a scanner. Dover publishes a series of books chock-full of clip art, often accompanied by a CD containing all of the printed images. Clip art also comes bundled with desktop publishing and word processing software. There are a host of websites that also offer access to so-called "royalty-free" artwork for a flat fee, but oftentimes these are just digital artists hawking their wares under different packaging.

Ethnic Needlepoint: Designs from Asia, Africa, and the Americas
Author: Mary Norden; 1993
Publisher: Watson-Guptill Publications, Inc.
ISBN: 0-8230-1605-6

Comments: A sparse charted pattern-book offerring a sampling of designs with non-European influences. Most of the patterns are derived from anthropological sources like vases and carvings.

Victorian Embroidery
Author: Freda Parker; 1991
Publisher: Crescent Books
ISBN: 0-517-06588-6

Comments: As advertised, a host of small free-form embroidery projects, organized by technique, with Victorian influences. The cross-stitch section includes two alphabets, rectangular-block and curlique, that are very versatile.

The New Needlecraft Project Book
Author: Lucinda Ganderton; 1996
Publisher: Smithmark Publishers
ISBN: 0-8317-7338-3

Comments: A survey of projects featuring different needleworking techniques, all with a decided bent towards small, dainty things suitable for gift-giving (just not to children or "no-frills" adults).

120 Needlepoint Design Projects
Author: Charles Barnes & David Blake; 1974
Publisher: Crown Publishers
ISBN: 0-517-514737

Comments: A dense pattern-book featuring designs ranging from the mundane to the psychodelic. Very obviously from the "needlepoint is for pillows" school of design, but some of the bold, cheery designs could be well-used in children's decor.

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