Three Books on Historical Needlework from Around the World

Textiles from around the world continue to inspire and fascinate. PieceWork celebrates historical needlework in all of its many forms. Here are three books we recommend on needlework traditions from around the globe. The first takes us to Australia, the second sails across the oceans to South America, and the third makes its way around the world again to India.

Historical Needlework

Across the Desert: Aboriginal Batik from Central Australia
By Judith Ryan
Victoria, Australia: National Gallery of Victoria, 2009. Softbound, 168 pages, $37.50. ISBN 978-0-724-10299-0.

This stunning book served as the catalog for a 2008–2009 exhibition in Melbourne with more than sixty garments and textiles made by Aboriginal women using the technique of wax-resist dyeing called batik. Large color photographs of the textiles and garments allow the reader to examine the artistry achieved by the makers, while photographs of the makers provide the personal connection.

Historical Needlework

Andean Folk Knits: Great Designs from Peru, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia
By Marcia Lewandowski
Asheville, North Carolina: Lark Books, 2005. Hardbound, 144 pages, $24.95. ISBN 1-57990-582-X.

A brief history of the Andean people and their long knitting tradition sets the stage for the twenty-five knitting projects featured here. Choose from scarves, purses, mittens, and gloves.

Historical Needlework

Indian Textiles
By John Gillow and Nicholas Barnard
New York: Thames & Hudson, 2008. Hardbound, 224 pages, $50. ISBN 978-0-500-51432-0.

This beautifully illustrated book shows the breadth and depth of textiles produced in India. From antiquity to the present, examples of the textiles are enhanced by period and contemporary photographs of textile artisans. The bibliography, listing of museums and galleries throughout the world with Indian textile collections, and a glossary add to this informative book.

Read about more about historical needlework in our blog post, “Two Book Reviews on Historical Needlework: French Women Workers and Fair Isle Knitting,” and in every issue of PieceWork.

Looking to truly indulge in your passion for embroidery? Take one of the new online courses offered by England’s Royal School of Needlework (RSN). Select from Jacobean Crewelwork or Blackwork courses or enroll in Whitework or Goldwork courses. Visit their website today to sign up—

Learn more about historical needlework from PieceWork!


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