Friday, January 30, 2015

 The March Blog will be published March 8th. Please join us.

                     FEBRUARY 2015 BLOG 

Hearts abound in Feburary. On the 14th of February love is everywhere expressed with greeting cards, candy, flowers, and dates for dinner for Valentine's Day, a holiday in the middle of winter that brings happiness to millions.  Candy comes in heart-shaped boxes, cards have hearts all over them. Is the heart on cards the same shape as our hearts?  Well, hearts are red, that's for the blood our hearts pump through our entire body but the shape is not the same as our heart. Believe it or not this shape we are so familiar might have begun in North Africa. North Africa. The peoples in ancient time used the Silphium seed for seasoning and the seed was heart-shaped and appeared on coins.  As we know once a form gets into the human psyche it gets widely used. 

Well today the red heart makes us think of Valentine's Day on February 14th named for St. Valentine, a Christian martyr in 269 C.E.  In 496 C.E. Pope Gelasius marked the 14th of February as a day of celebration of his martyrdom. He is the patron saint of couples, love, happy marriages, travelers, bee keepers and more.  Like the game of telephone where a group of people line up in chairs and the first person whispers a message to the second person, the second to the third, and on to the end of the line, the message received by the last person usually doesn't resemble what the original message was.  So here we are, sending valentines with hearts that don't resemble our hearts.  
We can always use a reminder of the love in our lives so I guess it doesn't matter how it all got started other than it tickles me to discover the beginnings of everything.  So  Happy Valentine's Day!

On a serious note, February, because of celebrating the heart, usually called the seat of the emotions, is now American Heart month.  That most important muscle shouldn't be ignored or taken for granted.  We all need to check our diets, blood pressure, cholesterol and weight and never smoke or quit if a smoker.  All these things affect the heart. I just experienced a heart arrhythmia called Atrial Ectopy caused by stress, benign but a warning. I cut back on my must dos like freaking out over house and yard work and proble disappeared like magic. I was lucky. But I will take better care of myself.  Apparently, watching diet, weight, not smoking, etc. isn't enough.  We need to mind our schedules, emotions and sleep habits as well.  

My Valentine gift to all my blog reader is a wish for a healthy heart and happy life and happy stitching.      


         "It is much better to have your gold in the hand than in the heart"
                                                  - Thomas Fuller -

Around the world, across the centuries, as long as man was civilized (maybe before) the metal, gold was loved and desired and even lusted after). Why? It was soft and malleable and never tarnished like silver and the color was beautiful. Gold has served us faithfully as adornment and as money and definitely speaks of power. Gold was thought the sun's metal and the metal of a god was only for royalty. King Tut's Death Mask was made of it, as was the lining of the succession of boxes his sarcophagus was placed in and as were many of the gorgeous objects he was buried with.  I've seen his tomb, his burial objects, and gold-lined boxes. I can say I was blown away by the craftsmanship.

In 1380 the King of Castille forbade all Spaniards except royalty from wearing cloth of gold or gold jewelry. Religious have used gold in cermonial robes as well as in sacred art and the actual decor of their temples, cathedrals, or mosques. Close your eyes and imagine entering an ancient Egyptian temple or a Medieval cathedral full of golden objects, mosaic tiled walls glittering gold and robes of gold embroidery in the candlelight.  Who wouldn't feel they were catching a glimpse of the afterlife?

In some societies even today, gold in various forms is a show of a woman's wealth and worth.  In Egypt the bride-to-be is given a platter of gold gifts, when married her husband gives her gold. If she is a valued wife, she is aglitter. When I lived in Egypt I loved
seeing the Bedouin women with their veils of gold coin, gold about their necks, arms and ankles. When they walked, which was most graceful, their gold made the most delightful tinkling noise.

 Stories of legends have been written about the seductive power of gold. Think of fairytales. King Midas, whose greedy love for gold, made a wish all he touched would turn to gold. Only when this power turned his food and beloved daughter to gold did her realize what was really important.. Rumplestilskin demanded straw be turned into gold but that didn't end well for him either. In mythology Helen of Troy's golden spindle could produce perfect thread. Even the apples of the Hesperides were made of pure gold. And don't forget Jason's quest for the golden fleece. Centuries later a design of apples in gold thread was embroidered on the cloak of King Mercia to bring him good fortune.

That brings us to needlework and the passion for goldwork.  Who can resist the glittering opulence of gold threads in a beautiful design. In earlier times royalty and the church was assured the gold embroidery was real. It is recorded that the entire Nave of St. Denis in Paris was hung with real gold-embroidered fabrics. Byzantine designs of elaborate patterning with figures worked in laid gold against a silk background adorned churches and royalty. Couching was used in minutely different directions to catch the light, a reminder to the faithful of power of God and his church on earth.  What about the "gold" threads of today? 

Do you remember the old saying, "All that Glitters is not gold?" What looks like gold thread may or may not contain real gold.  Select carefully.  Some needlework may or may not need gold but just the color to work.  For your "masterpieces" maybe all that glitters should be gold.

If goldwork fever has hit you and you need to explore this technique further, I've included some great, great books on goldwork. But a warning to the wise: if you haven't already been bitten by the gold bug you will after you read these books.

Everett, Hazel - Goldwork: Techniques, Projects and Pure Inspiration - This skilled goldwork embroiderer draws on traditional methods and creates works that are brilliantly executed in a style that is both modern and unique. She includes a huge range of techniques and materiald, nine projects and numerous examples of the author's own work, providing both instruction and inspirations for embroiderers and textile artists of all abilities.  $29.95

McCook, Helen - Goldwork - Our author teaches, designs, and lectures at the Royal School of Needlework.  Her needlework has been exhibited and is held in private collections worldwide.  In this great little book you are introduced to metal-thread embroidery and as she says, "offers a helping hand to iron out any general problems" as well as learning great techniques. This book is in full-color, spiral-bound and a handy 5 1/2 x 8 1/2.  $21.95.

I've spoken about Alison Cole before.  As I mentioned I met this delightful red-head at the EGA National Seminar 2014 and loved the sparkle in her eye and love of needlework. She combines stumpwork with goldwork and brings us the most gorgeous and orginal projects not only in class but in her two marvelous books. She has a knack with her teaching and her needle.  At the seminar I sold out on her books and took orders as well.  I will be carrying her books - she says I'm the only one in the states - which is really a shame because they are classics. Both books are beautifully done in full-color with clear instructions. 

All that Glitters contains gorgeous projects featuring the techniques of Goldwork and Stumpwork. She includes sections on Beasic Supplies and Requirements, Stitches and Techniques and Prjects, ranging from dimensional framed pieces to functional items all with clear, easy to read instrucitons and illustrations.  $39.95

The Midas Touch - follows the same layout but all new projects from bejeweled dragonfly and a gorgeous butterfly to a fuchsia fantasy with a wonderful hummingbird.  Eleven projects.  $39.95

Another gold and silver project comes to mind.  Patricia Mazu's Gold and Silver Times Three - Three petite stockings that can glitter on your Christmas tree. Pat includes all instructions and I can tell you the pictures, though lovely, do not do them justice. I had a customer hungry for this project after she had seen it in person. $14.00


I love to answer that question.  So I'll get right to it with my finds below:

Ringquist, Rebecca - Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops: A Bend-The-Rules Primer - This book is for the embroiderer who appreciates the value of beautiful stitches but likes to break a few rules. Our author is a refreshing new resource for both standard and outside-the-box techniques. She teaches everything from the "proper" way to form a French knot and transfer a design to a canvas to new ways to stitch three -dimensionally, work with nontraditional threads and fabrics, draw with thread free-form, and mix and match machine and hand-stitching. Included are 20 innovative projects, including a cloth sampler designed specifically for the book and it is included in a package in the back, table linens, wall art, and clothing embellishments.  $29.95   Due out on April 14th. 

Snyder, Julie - Just Stitches I Use - This is the latest of her books in her series with titles going through the alphabet.  She is up to "J" now.  There are some repeat stitches from her other books but Julie, being the great needlework teacher and designer she is, does a number of variations of stitches in this book. For example, she goes wild with Rhodes stitches, Crescents and more.  She presents this book as she did her other books, tall, thin and spiral-bound.  $39.95.  

These are the other titles she has available:
176 Amazing Stitches to Unlock Creativity - $37.95; Categories for Needlepoint Stitches - $36.96; Darn Fillings - $34.95; Backgrounds for Needlepoint - $36.95 and Great Layers for Needlepoint - $36.95. 

Burr, Trish - Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery: Vintage Portraits, Florals and Birds - I was so excited to see this new book by Trish.  She covers small, embroidered "paintings" and shows they can have all the detail, form, and beauty of a larger piece - except they're much quicker to stitch. These lovely images capture the appealing designs of the romantic images typical of the Victorian and post-Victorian eras. All the projects - traditional portraits, birds and flowers - have detailed thread diagrams, and easy-to-follow instructions teach the basic stitches.  $19.95

Her other five books are classics in the embroidery field:
Colour Confidence in Embroidery - $32.95; Crewel and Surface Embroidery - $24.95; Long and Short Stitch Embroidery - $19.95; Needle Painting Embroidery - $19.95; Redoute's Finest Flowers in Embroidery - $19.95 (now O/P but copies available).

GMC Publishing - Embroidery: 20 Projects for Friends to Make - This book encourages friends to stitch together.  Embroider projects from napkins, to chairs to wall hangings then this book is for you.  Suitable for all levels of ability and featuring 20 fun and gorgeous projects, this book includes a full-technique section that explains the basic-skills needed and includes clear and stylish photos to guide you through.  $19.95

Simpson, Sophie - What Deliah Did: Secret Garden Embroidery- This enchanting stitchery guide follows Deliah as she comes upon a secret garden right next door and meets its lively and eccentric owner. All the embroidery projects capture the flora, fauna, and other wonderful curiosities that fill Deliah's newly discovered horticultural haven. Using a range of techniques, you can stitch birds, bees, blooming flowers, and more.  There are 15 projects included.  $19.95 
           This is a third in her series: What Deliah Did.  The first two are: Stitch the Halls! - $14.95 and Storyland Cross Stitch - $19.95.


The new edition of the classic book,  The Needlepoint Book by Jo Ippolito Christensen is due in April and is  known to many needleworkers as the "black bible".  This classic has been completely revised and updated and includes a crash course on how to use new fibers; updated information on materials; as well as how to work with with and care for them; dozens of new stitches and a chapter on the popular openwork stitches; and diagrams and diagrams and stitch guides for every project in the book. Also featured: thirty-two pages of color photographs with all new projects; a new Ribbon Stitch chapter; and in all, 432 stitches and 1,500 illustrations.  $60.00 
            Don't forget your 20% discount! Discount code: heart15.  Use it for this or any other book you want in this blog or past blogs or any book you've found somewhere else.


Two bestselling books are once again available:

Richardson, Lynda - Stiches ala Carte - Linda says she found her "Aha" moment when she didn't want to leave the background blank but didn't want to fill it up, either. She found a lovely twisty turny sort of image and that became her first background stitch. This book, she says, is more than just backgrounds; it's changed the way she looked at needlepoint.  $29.95

Gone Stitching - Got Stitches: Multi-Layered Stitches for Needlepoint - This portable encyclopedia of multi-layered stitches categorizes stitches by the number of threads per each stitch. Whether you have two, three, or four different threads, they have the perfect stitch for your project. They also include chapters on trame and trellis stitches.  $29.95


A year ago last February I was excited about receiving a new book, The Art of Chinese Embroidery by Margaret Lee.  I was waiting for it to arrive and this February I am again waiting for it's arrival near the end of this month. This book is hard to find so if you want a gorgeous book on Chinese embroidery by a world-known embroiderer here is a great chance.  The book is fully-illustrated in color with clear diagrams and perforated full-size patterns.  $44.95   (Don't forget your 20% discount.)

There is another fine book available on Chinese Embroidery by Shao Xiaocheng, Chinese Embroidery: An Illustrated Guide that includes a brief history of the subject, styles, knowledge about selection, and collecting and preservation of embroidered articles. She includes wonderful photos, analyzes 25 kinds of needlework for Chinese embroidery to help you master this art.  $27.95

As for Japanese Embroidery there is only one book in-print available that teaches this art, Traditional Japanese Embroidery by Julie Grey.  She mentions students of this embroidery must watch a master at work and 'steal the knowledge'.  Here's our chance to 'steal' her knowledge.  $21.95

I'm hoping someone somewhere will come out with a much needled book on Japanese embroidery.  

I guess for the month of February I should have romance novels instead of mysteries but perhaps you will find enough romance in some of these stories to warm your heart.

Archer, Connie - Ladle to the Grave - With her grandfather and her best friend both accused of murder, Lucky Jamieson, owner of the popular By the Spoonful in Snowflake, Vermont must work fast to get them out of hot water before the real killer stirs up more trouble.  Includes recipes.  $7.99

Bradford, Laura - Suspendered Sentence: An Amish Mystery - After a fire, hundreds of Amish men raise a new barn for the Stoltzfus family. But in the midst of the work, a human skeleton is unearthed. The remains belong to a teen thought to have left her Amish family during her Rumspringa years ago. Detective Jakob Fisher is determined to solve the young woman's murder with Claire Weatherly's help.  $7.99

Budewitz, Leslie - Assault and Pepper: A Spice Shop Mystery - This Agatha Award-winning author introduces Pepper Reece, the owner of the Seattle Spice Spice who thinks she can handle any kind of salty customer - until a murderer ends up in the mix.  $7.99

Childs, Laura - Steeped in Evil: A Tea Shop Mystery - Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning has been invited to a wine-tasting party at the Knighthall Winery, owned by Jordan Knight. But the sweet evening develops a bitter aftertaste when the body of Knight's son is found in a wine barrel. Cracking tough cases is vintage Theodosia. Includes recipes and tea time tips.  $7.99

Hale, Rebecca M. - How to Catch a Cat: A Cat's and Curios Mystery - This is another in her bestselling New York Times series featuring Rupert and Isabella, and their mistress, to put a stop to a serial killer with a penchant for City Hall interns.  $7.99 

Harris, C.S. - Why Kings Confess: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery - Regency England, January 1813. The mutilated body of a young French doctor found in an alley besides a mysterious, badly injured woman entangles Sebastian in the deadly riddle of the "Lost Dauphin," the boy prince who disappeared during the darkest days of the French Revolution.  $7.99

McLaughlin, Staci - A Healthy Homicide: A Blossom Valley Mystery - Resourceful Dana Lewis of Blossom Valley's O'Connell Organic Farm and Spa is suddenly faced with stiff competition from another spa - until the proprietor turns up dead.  Includes tips for healthy living.  $7.99

Orgain, Diana - A First Date with Death: A Love or Money Mystery - Reality TV meets murder in the first in a new series from the co-author of the New York Times-bestselling Scrapbook Mysteries. When brokenhearted Georgia Thornton goes looking for romance on reality TV, she has nothing to lose apart from a good man, a cash prize - maybe for her life.  $7.99

Swanson, Denise - Dying for a Cupcake - Cupcake Queen Kizzy Cutler returns to Shadow Bend, Missouri, after 20 years to kick off her new line of cupcakes with a competition, which Dev has agreen to host in her shop. But before the first cupcake is even baked, Kizzy's assistant dies from a mysterious ailment. After Kizzy escapes several near misses, Dev is convinced that someone has it in for Kizzy.  $7.99

In case you are not familiar with Ruth Kern Books I'd like to introduce you to our business. We've been in business for over 23 years specializing in needlework books.  We have provided needlework books for ANG and EGA seminars for 21 years.  We also offer a free out-of-print book search and stock lots of out-of-print books at our shop.  If you are searching for a particular title give us a try.  We have a website: that is being updated.

Questions? Call us Monday through Saturday between 9:30 to 6 pm.  Look forward to hearing from you. I always have time for book lovers. Or e-mail me at: or  If you need to reach us by mail:  Ruth Kern Books  7235 N. 9th Ave.  Phoenix, AZ  85021.  



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