The West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild

Booklist Index
Embroidery General
Surface Embroidery
Counted Thread <-- YOU ARE HERE
Metal Thread
Canvas Work
Stitched Fabric
Modelbuchen/Pattern Books
Ecclesiastical Embroidery
Textiles & Design

Annotated Booklist:
Counted Thread Embroidery

100 Blackwork Charts
Skinner, Linn
self, Los Angeles, 1996
100 patterns taken from 16th and 17th C. textiles at the V&A or the Fitzwilliam. For ease of description she has given them names, but don't let that confuse you. Excellent source. SB

500 Alphabets in Cross Stitch
Hasler, Julie
David & Charles, Devon UK, 1998
ISBN# 0-7153-0610-3
While not historical patterns, the charting is useful in planning out alphabethical markings. SB

Another 100 Blackwork Charts
Skinner, Linn
self, Los Angeles, 1997
100 patterns taken from 16th and 17th C. textiles. For ease of description she has given them names, but don't let that confuse you. Excellent source. SB

Assisi Embroideries
Jane Zimmerman
self published, Richmond CA, 1977
This was originally produced for one of her classes. A good overview of the technique. The patterns are her own adaptations primarily from modern cross stitch patterns. SB

Assisi Embroidery: Old Italian Cross Stitch Designs
Leszner, Eva Maria
B. T. Batsford Ltd., London, 1988
ISBN# 0-7134-5595-0
Book has lots of designs which have their roots in 16th and 17th C. designs. Good explanation of interrelationship of blackwork techniques stitches and the use of cross stitch to make the designs work. However, the author uses cross stitch exclusively as part of the voided design instead of long arm cross stitch or running stitches. SB

Assisi Embroidery Technique and 42 Charted Designs
Ness, Pamela Miller
Dover Publications Inc., New York, 1979
ISBN# 0-486-23743-5
Excellent overview of technique. The patterns are mix of modern items and adaptation of period patterns. This is a good starter book. SB

Barnett, Lesley
Simon & Schuster Australia/Search Press Ltd., Australia/Kent, 1996
ISBN# 0-7318-0607-7
Good book for understanding methods of changing the effect of the patterns - stitch pattern families, thread use, number of stitches within a pattern, etc. Most of the book has a very modern bent, but useful to the designer. SB

Gostelow, Mary
Dover, Mineola, 1976
ISBN# 0-486-40178-2
Wonderful overview of blackwork and how it was used on costume. Space is spent on how blackwork was portrayed by painters during the 16th C which is very helpful in learning what makes a piece look authentic. One of the few books which discusses curvilinear blackwork and pictorial blackwork. SB

Hogg, Becky
Search Press 2010
ISBN# 978-1-8448-5512
A small spiral bound book with modern images.  Produced by the Royal School of Needlework, briefly covers history and materials.  Covers basic running stitch and has many patterns.  Nice section on shading and design.  JR
Beginner - Intermediate

Blackwork: A new Approach
Day, Brenda
Guild of Master Craftsman Publications, East Sussex, 2000
ISBN# 1-86108-148-0
Good book to help understand the technique and application of filling motifs. Well rooted in traditional blackwork, not all patterns are pre-1600. SB

Blackwork Companion: Book 3 - Pattern Coordination
Altherr, Ilse
self, Lancaster PA, 1999
ISBN# 0-9624090-1-4
This pamphlet, 3rd in a series, stresses the importance of coordinating patterns within a design. While artistically pleasing to the modern eye, it does not necessary relate to historical blackwork. This book is useful in understanding pattern relationship for design and the techniques are transferable. SB

Blackwork Embroidery
Geddes, Elisabeth and McNeill, Moyra
Dover, New York, 1976
ISBN# 0-486-23245-X
Excellent overview of Blackwork with great detail of pictures of the various types of blackwork. One of the books to have in your needlework library for the text. Much of the information on patterns reflects primarily non-period information. SB

Blackwork Embroidery: Design and Technique
Pascoe, Margaret
Batsford, London, 1986
ISBN# 0-7134-5145-9
While decidedly modern in its outlook, the book has some excellent contributions in techniques, patterns, and use of blackwork on clothing and decorative items. SB

Blackwork Embroidery: My Methods & Techniques
Robinson, Jack
Flying Machine General Trading Co., London, 1998
ISBN# 0-9537130-0-8
Robinson is a designer and practicioner of blackwork in the UK. This book was written to convey his techniques and approach. It is clear and quite usable. Can't get to a class on blackwork - use this book to get started on good habits. Pattern are undated. SB

Blackwork & Holbein Embroidery: Book 2
Altherr, Ilse
self, Chester NJ, 1981
The patterns are mostly period and she pain stakingly goes through and shows how to work the patterns to achieve the goal of reversible embroidery. SB

Blackwork: Make a Joyful Stitch
Altherr, Ilse
self, Lancaster, 1983
One of the best for learning how to do filling patterns. The beginner can take this pamphlet and work through the project learning 75% of the blackwork techniques and tips one needs to know to do well done and well thought out work. SB

Blackwork Stitch-by-stitch
Leather, Carol
X-Calibre, Huntingdon, 2001
This book has been called ""the book I wish I had when I first started doing this technique". It is a very good book for technique. It is easy to understand and straight forward in its presentation. Some of the patterns are period and the concepts of "shading" in blackwork are applicable to some historical patterns. An excellent place to start. SB

Celtic Cross Stitch Samplers
Wainwright, Angela
Cassell, London, 1995
ISBN# 0-304-34443-5
The designs in here are best described as "period-esque". This is a fun book, but not a historical one. SB

Charted Folk Designs for Cross Stitch Embroidery: 278 Charts of Ancient Folk Embroideries From the Countries Along the Danube
Fortis, Maria & Andreas
Dover, New York, 1975
ISBN# 0-486-23191-7
Dover reprint. Kiewe implies in the introduction that many of the patterns can be dated pre-1600 but individual patterns are not identified. Nor it is clear how these patterns would have been used (table linen, clothing, seam covering, etc.) SB [4th[4th Edition published by Sebaldus-Vertag, Nuremberg 1962 - copyright 1950]

Compleat Anachronist's Introduction to Blackwork. Book #31
ferch Emrys, Shoshanna Jehanne
Society for Creative Anachronism, 1987
Good diagrams for doing a number of period stitches such as running, cross-stitch, herringbone, etc. Basic background info for getting started. Designs are somewhat easy to follow. AG

Counted Thread Embroidery on Linens and Canvas
Norbury, James
The Studio Publications, New York, 1956
Clear instructions and diagrams on the stitches. Good information and hints on the techniques. The projects suggested are fun, but not necessarily appropriate for our group. SB

Counted Thread Embroidery Projects
Zimmerman, Jane D.
self, Oakland CA, 1978
Contains blackwork, assisi, and pulled thread patterns which are probably pre-1600, just not the projects themselves. SB

Counted-Thread Embroidery
Fairfield, Helen
St Martins Press, New York, 1987
ISBN# 0-312-01236-5
One of the best basic books on counted thread work that I've found. While modern in approach to the design and stitch use, it very clearly walks through all the techniques fo making the stitching work well. Includes instructions on finishing including basic finger loop braiding and tassels. SB

Darned Easy: A Collection of Darning Patterns
Simon, Sally
self , Southfield, MI, 1981
This spiral bound notebook is full of darning patterns. Whether you are into pre-1600 or Victorian darning, these clear charts with clear explanation of the technique are useful additions to your library. SB

Designs for Holbein Embroidery: 110 New Geometric Patterns
Scheuer, Nikki
Doubleday & Co., New York, 1976
ISBN# 0-385-11001-4
Ignore most of the patterns for projects and concentrate on the filling patterns. She shows or has adapted from many pre-1600 textiles patterns which work in blackwork. Much like a stitcher taking a period pattern book which did not differentiate the use to which the pattern would be put - engraving or needlework, lace or embroidery. SB

DMC Libraries: Assisi Embroideries
Th. de Dillmont, ed.
Societe Anonyme Dollfus-Mieg & Cie, Mulhouse, France,
This pamphlet was produced in honor of St. Francis. The patterns are what was in use during the early part of the 20th C, but many have their roots in the 13th and 14th century embroideries. Patterns, but not charted. A useful pamphlet, but difficult to get. SB

Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt
Ellis, Marianne
Ashmolean Museum/Curious Works Press, Oxford, 2001
ISBN# 1-85444-135-3
Wonderful book of Mamluk embroideries from the 11th -15th C's. Each is detailed as to to stitch, thread and fabric content and historical derivation of style. SB

English Embroidery- I Double Running or Back Stitch
Pesel, Louisa F.
B. T. Batsford Ltd., London, 1931
Book of patterns taken from samplers in public and private collections. Mostly 17th C. This book is hard to get and expensive, but worth looking at if you can get the chance. SB

English Embroidery - II Cross-Stitch: A Handbook with Diagrams, Scale Drawings and Photographs taken from XVIIth Century English Samplers and from Modern Examples
Pesel, Louisa F.
The Manual Press, Peoria IL, 1931
Difficult and expensive to get a hold of, but worth viewing to see how cross stitch was used in samplers and household textiles. She shows examples of long arm cross stitch in addition to other counted thread techniques. SB

Exploring Assisi: The Sinbad Series Number 4
Cornelius, Rosemary, Peg Doffek, Sue Hardy
self, Eilington, 1976
This pamphlet has a good historical overview. The remainder concentrates on their own designs which primarily are extremely modern. Extremely limited usefulness for us. SB

Folk Cross Stitch Design Collected by Emil Sigerus: 195 enchanting patterns in colour with an illustrated introduction to their origin and the role of the medieval Saxon Colonists of Transylvania
Kiewe, Heinz Edgar
Hans Meschendorfer, Munich, 1964
Each design is identified as to source year and country. Kiewe asserts that the designs are done in cross stitch, but it is difficult to confirm his assertions without clear pictures of the original which are rarely included. SB

Medieval Cross Stitch Samplers
Wainwright, Angela
Cassell, London, 1995
ISBN# 0-304-34442-7
The designs in here are best described as "period-esque". This is a fun book, but not a historical one. SB

Reversible Blackwork: Book 1
Altherr, Ilse
self, 1978, Chester NJ, 1985
One of the best on how-to do blackwork. She begins with fabric, threads, pattern transfer, and stitches. With stitches she carefully explains how to do the pattern to achieve the reversible style. While a Beginner could use this pamphlet, a slightly more experienced stitcher will find the book easier to use. SB

Ricami d'Assisi 2
Mani Di Fata, ed
I Lavori Femmininili Di Mani di Fata, Milan, 1999
An Italian pamphlet with charted designs of traditional assisi patterns and colors. However, traditional in this case is 18th C although these patterns have their roots in historical patterns. This pamphlet is one of the closest I've found to actually charting the patterns from historical textiles and is quite available. SB

Stitches for Counted Thread Embroidery - Vol. 1 Flat Stitches - Vol. 2 Dimensional Stitches
Shipp, Mary D.
HG Systems Inc., Bath, 1995
Good books of stitch - how to. Each stitch is clearly shown, in words, diagrams, step-by-step examples, and finished work. Good book to systematically learn stitches and their uses. Used for some of the EGA corespondence course and qualification levels. SB

The Art of Blackwork Embroidery
Drysdale, Rosemary
Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1975
ISBN# 0-684-14330-5
Good technique and pattern book for the relatively new blackworker. Some of the patterns have historical sources. Unfortunately, the patterns are not broken down as to flow of stitches and may be bit difficult without some experience. SB (rec(recommended by IB)

The Art of English Blackwork
Zimmerman, Jane D.
self, Richmond CA, 1996
ISBN# 0-9646219-1-6
100s of patterns and variations. Unfortunately sources for the patterns are absent. There is a little description of how-to, but this book is best approached with a fair understanding of how to dissect a pattern (see Altherr). SB

The New Dictionary of Counted-Thread Embroidery Stitches
Goldberg, Rhoda Ochser
Three Rivers Press, New York, 1998
ISBN# 0-517-88663-4
Excellent Beginners books for blackwork, assisi, and pattern darning. Lots of clear pictures, descriptions which include thread, cloth and needle size. While some of the patterns and fabrics are not period, the step is not a long one if you've learned from this book. SB

The Proper Stitch: A Guide for Counted Thread - The Needle's Prayse
O'Steen, Darlene
Symbol of Excellence Publishers Inc., Birmingham, 1994
ISBN# 0-932437-03-6
If you can find this book buy it!!!! It is THE best book for learning the majority of stitches seen in 16th and 17th C. samplers. The book has wonderfully clear diagrams. Descriptions and diagrams show how to reverse stitches and do them diagonally. SB

Variety Book No. 4
Testa, Carmela
Carmela Testa Co. Inc., Boston, 1927
This pamphlet has several wonderful patterns which are from the Mosaic of Duomo of Assisi. However, the methodology presented and the addition of modern hardanger patterns to decorate the pieces make this pamphlet of limited usefullness to the historic embroiderer. SB

Why Call It Blackwork?
Scoular, Marion
self, Duluth GA, 1993
If I could only have one how-to blackwork, this would be it. From tips on tension and flow, to how-to read a pattern and chart your course, this book has invaluable information. Caution when looking at her sense of "filling" as it is very modern, but wonderful hints on compensating stitches for filling patterns. Also contains a number of patterns some of which are period for us. SB

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This page most recently updated March 31, 2012.