‘I do so hate finishing books.  I would like to go on with them forever.’  Beatrix Potter 1905

Beatrix, I agree with you wholeheartedly.  I adore books – they are precious reservoirs from which I quench my thirst as often as I can.

So, as promised, today I’m sharing three of the books on my desk now – the books I’m reading and working with to assist me to present The Stitch Safari Podcasts, but also for the simple pleasure of learning and exploring further.  And am I learning!

Now there’s one bonus item I’m including in this list of deliciousness, and that’s my brand new addition of a bamboo book stand, costing around $30.  It’s invaluable for keeping pages open while I’m enjoying a cup of coffee while I’m reading.  It’s simple to use, looks great and really helps me enjoy my reading time.  That’s recommendation number one.

Next to the books, I’m going to use a star system to help clarify a few things.  To be consistent, I’ll comment on things like readability, content, images, and bibliography.  Five stars = amazing, four stars = good, three stars = OK, two and one stars = find another book.  This is simply my opinion, so you be the judge if you can.  I’ve found book descriptions to be misleading at best.

‘Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.’  Plato

China’s Dragon Robes ***

W.chinasdragonrobes.cathyjackcoupland Written by Schuyler Cammann, First Published in 1953, republished by Air Media Resources Ltd. Chicago, 2001.  Full of factual, very detailed information I’m finding it a little difficult to plough through.  It’s interesting, just a tad heavy.  I’ll finish it as I love Dragon Robes, and the history, tradition, and symbology attached to them, but they are complex, changing with each Dynasty.  Only small, A5 size, it includes a central conglomeration of black and white images, which is disappointing, but understandable considering when it was first published.  What a shame this republished edition lacks any coloured images to glorify the cloth, the embroidery, and the narrative. Brand new, the book has already come away from the spine, which I find extremely annoying.  It’s worth reading, but it lacks those beautiful images you need to pore over to understand the author’s narrative.  And the examples are available.  Check out my Dragon Robe Pinterest Board.  Anyone interested in design and pattern would enjoy this research.  Detailed, dated Bibliography, but the information’s there if you’re keen.  Purchase here.

Women’s Work – The First 20,000 Years – Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times *****

W.womenswork.cathyjackcouplandWritten by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, Published by Norton Paperback in 1995.  Just read the reviews from places like The New York Times Book Review, Scientific American, and The Washington Post Book Club.  I found this book by reading Kassia St. Clair’s book, The Golden Thread, proving that one good book leads to another good book.  This fabulous, easy to read book portrays the beginnings of thread and weaving, cloth, and clothing development with the addition of well researched historical markers.  Scattered throughout with hand-drawn-sketches, with a few black and white images from museums that are sometimes a little difficult to interpret.  I don’t care, the story’s there.  I’m about halfway through and can’t wait to finish this book.  I’m looking at some of her other publications now.  It’s a small A5 sized book, overflowing with perceptive scholarship.  This is a thought-provoking journey through history with a focus on the whys of women in society.  Detailed Source List for each chapter.  Purchase here.

The Golden Thread – How Fabric Changed History *****

W.thegoldenthread.cathyjackcouplandWritten by Kassia St Clair, Published by John Murray Publishers, 2018. This is the sort of book I would read again and again.  It’s a very easy read, and so informative.  Filled with craftily woven stories that bring history to life but also include accounts of modern-day technologies such as streamlining athletic sportswear and space suits.  From caveman times, through to Ancient China and The Silk Road, The Vikings, Lace and so much more. One chapter, Workers in the Factory was eye-opening.  Again, a small A5 sized book, with no content images per se, just simple line drawings for each chapter.  Images aren’t necessary here.  This is a must-read for any textile lover.  Detailed Source List for each chapter.  Purchase here.

Next week, I have three more books, The Subversive Stitch, The Bayeux Tapestry, and Guo Pei, Couture Beyond.

I look forward to joining you then.

cathy jack coupland