Book review – Jacobean Embroidery

November 4, 2007 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Book Review, Embroidery, Project Gutenberg | 1 Comment

Not a lot of fibery things seem to be happening around here, and I don’t want to bore you with pictures of the very slow progress on my needlepoint lace project, which is the only project that gets worked on at all. But one of the other things I do might be of interest to you, so I decided to start a series of posts about the E-books that are listed in the needlework section of Project Gutenberg’s Crafts Bookshelf.

I’ve been helping to prepare electronic versions of public domain books at Project Gutenberg’s Distributed Proofreaders Project for over a year now. How I found this marvellous project has to do with one of those needleworks books, and it is the book with which I want to start this series. While surfing various fiber blogs, I stumbled across a post with a link to Jacobean Embroidery, a very nice book with 17th and 18th century embroidery patterns. When clicking this link, you’ll get taken to Project Gutenberg’s catalog entry for this book, where you can download your own copy, but just to show you what you will get, here’s one of the plates from that book:

Jacobean Embroidery

Only a few of them are in colour, but all are showing beautiful patterns of plants and animals. Jacobean embroidery is a wool embroidery where most of the background fabric is visible. The book has an introduction which details some of the history surrounding that kind of embroidery, the main part consists of plates with embroidery patterns taken from old works together with a description of what stitches and colours were used. Lots of ideas to be found here!

I was very impressed what I was seeing in that book. It’s a high quality electronic version of an old book that you’re very unlikely to find in your local library, and here someone had done the work of producing that version and making it available for free! I’ve been interested in old needleworks techniques for a long time, and I always have the feeling that a lot of knowledge is on the verge of getting lost, since almost nobody seems to practice those old, time-consuming techniques anymore. So, I was interested, and my unasked question about how this book had been prepared and published got answered way faster than I expected. On top of that catalog page there was a slim advert, asking for help preparing E-books at the Distributed Proofreaders site. I clicked that link, read a bit about the site’s concept, registered, and before I knew what was happening, I was hooked. I have to admit that during the last year I spent more time volunteering there than doing anything fibery. It’s amazing what I got accomplished nevertheless! 😉 Of course I’m not only working on fiber-books, but those are still the largest motivation why I’m there.

So, during the next weeks, whenever I have nothing new of my own doing to present, I’ll go rummage through that crafts bookshelf and tell you a bit about the fiber books that are listed there. I hope you’ll enjoy those excursions into history as much as I do!

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