Needles and Books

Needleworkers are readers. We discovered this when we devoted the September/October 2010 issue of PieceWork to handwork in literature; the response was extraordinary. Readers loved learning how needlework has been incorporated in literature throughout time to represent a particular culture or societal standing—from Jane Austen's women to Miss Marple. In addition to the pleas for another issue devoted to literature, we received myriad suggestions for books and authors to include.

We listened! The September/October 2011 issue of PieceWork is devoted to handwork in literature and includes a variety of literary-inspired projects.

Mary Polityka Bush's embroidered gift pouch with a cross-stitched secret message inside. Photo by Joe Coca.

Meet Eliza, Countess of la Zeur, an intrepid spy, actually a double agent, working for both Louis XIV and William of Orange, in Neal Stephenson's novel Quicksilver. Clever Eliza passes secret information by encrypting it in cross-stitch, using the direction of the stitches as binary code. Well, that was just too good to pass up! Designer Mary Polityka Bush used braille, a form of binary code, to encrypt in Smyrna cross-stitches, a special message on the inside cover of her companion project. Eliza would be enthralled.

Silvia Gardiol's Venetian needlelace medallion inspired by an Italian legend. Photo by Joe Coca.

More readers suggested British author Patricia Wentworth than any other for inclusion in future literary-inspired issues. It turns out that Wentworth was amazingly prolific—she created thirty-two mystery novels featuring the knitting detective, Miss Maude Silver, between 1928 and 1961. After all, if we included Miss Marple we must give Miss Silver her due. And we did!  You'll learn all about her keen mind and big heart, and find a sweet pair of baby booties à la Miss Silver to knit.

Joanna Johnson's knitted Jumper for General Jinjur. Photo by Joe Coca.

Indulge in the laugh-out-loud satirical piece on crochet from Punch magazine and its companion filet-crocheted antimacassar; George Eliot's Mill on the Floss and muffatees to knit straight from the needles of Maggie Tulliver; General Jinjur, a lesser known, but quite indomitable heroine from the Wizard of Oz series, and the pattern to knit her jumper; a stunning Venetian needlelace medallion based on an Italian legend; and much more!

This September/October issue is just filled with needlework in literature.

Happy Reading,

P.S. The March/April 2012 issue of PieceWork will be all about tools. Send us photos of your unique and vintage tools for possible inclusion in this special issue. Even if you don't know exactly what your tool was used for, other readers may be able to provide information. Email [email protected] to learn how to send your photos.