LifeLine Book Fair

LifeLine Book Fair

Every year Lifeline holds a huge secondhand book sale in order to raise funds for their counselling service. This year since Jerry is on leave we managed to get there on the opening day. The book fair is held in a huge warehouse and is packed with tables of books. As you can see it was pretty crowded yesterday.

I was delighted to discover The Batsford Encyclopaedia of Embroidery Stitches by Anne Butler for only a few dollars. There is a story associated with this book so make a cuppa, settle down and I will share it. This has been a mystery book for me and I hunted for it for 25 years!

I first encountered this book in the early 80’s. It is loaded with some very interesting stitches. I can remember standing on a hot day at an old hot photocopy machine in the public library with my daughter asleep in the pram. It was hot and I raced the job because I wanted to get it done before she woke up.

Because I was in a hurry I made the mistake of not taking a note of the tile and author. Sure enough when I looked for it again on the library shelves I could not find it and because I did not have the details of the book I could not search for it. So I had photocopies of some really different stitch varieties but no source!

As you can see the stitches are illustrated with a black and white photograph of the finished stitch and a line drawing. There are no written instructions on how to do the stitches just the illustrations. For years I have tried to solve this mystery so now I have. Not only have our paths crossed again but I now have an ex-library copy of the book for the cost of a few dollars!

Looking through it last night there are about 30 really unusual varieties of stitches so TAST just got very interesting!

Other bargains picked up were Margaret Swain’s Figures On Fabric, Ann Ladbury A Comprehensive A-Z of Fabrics, a copy of The Sewing Machine: Its invention and Development by Grace Rogers Cooper and a book simply called Burrell. This biography of Sir William Burrell by Richard Marks is the first of the ranks to be read as it is also about the formation and development of the Burrell Collection

So I am totally delighted with my finds and we plan on returning to sale tomorrow as they discount the last of the books. Many of the magazines and ephemera etc are priced right and are fair game for chopping up and using in collage work. So we always make a second trip on the Sunday just before the sale finishes.

Well that’s my news and now since the sun is out I am toddling off to tackle the garden as it’s spring here and the weeds are sprouting along with the flowers!


  1. Marci – I am not sure if its worth that high a price unless you can follow directions from line drawings easily. There is no description of how you do stitches. Page after page is simply a photograph and a line drawn illustration.It is also in black and white so looks very dated now. The big advantage however is that there are many stitches in it that are not listed elsewhere.
    I think if possible try and borrow it from a library via inter library loan if necessary and take a look at it for yourself.Its a book for stitch addicts who like me collect stitches and love discovering new varieties rather than something you would refer to often.

  2. After seeing your post about this book I went to Amazon to see if they had this book. They do, in price ranges from $41.25 to (gasp) $178.98. You got a deal!

    I guess I’ll wait for tidbits of the book in TAST. Would it be worth the $41.25 price?

  3. Hi Sharon!
    And thanks for your congrats on my blog! You know, one of the very first blogs I did to read was your ” in a minute ago”. I have so fun to read and wath your lovely stitching and links. And often I found links to flickr, and I thought it was a Textile site 🙂
    I am sorry but I am very, very late with the TAST, or should I say I have stopped! But sometimes when I need to learn a new stitch, it´s so wonderful to look there!

  4. I almost died laughing when I saw the shot of the “mystery book”…I have been “intra-library” loaning that same book for some time-in fact, it is in my suitcase for my beach trip tomorrow. Same author,same cover but it is entitled The Arco Encyclopedia of Embroidery Stitches.Copyright 1979.
    You certainly have a big find!

  5. Jacqui I am pretty sure it is a form of couching – perhaps some of the historical embroiderers could verify this one. I have just done a scrummage through my books but could not find a reference to it but somewhere in the back of my mind I have read about this stitch.I am pretty sure you are right but would love confirmation from anyone else if they know. Thanks

  6. Hi Sharon, I wonder if amongst your many stitches dictionaries etc, you have any information on “Mesa Stitch”. It is used on a canvaswork bag (shown on the back cover) in the new Batsford title “New Canvaswork” by Jill Carter. It is the border stitch used just inside the edge of the bag and appears to be a form of couching but I can’t find it anywhere in any of my books or searching Google. The closest I can find is “Colcha Stitch”. Any help would be appreciated.

    Incidentally I completely recommend this book for those interested in contemporary canvaswork – it really is a very comprehensive ideas book – no projects, and it’s stitch dictionary is basic, but well worth looking at for inspiration.


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