Thursday, November 24, 2016

                NOVEMBER BLOG  2016

Come on in! Love to see you!  Bring your cup of tea and a snack and enjoy browsing through this blog. Don't forget to find the hidden discount code buried in one of the articles for 20% off on any new book.  Glad to have you join us. 

This year I've been researching each month to discover what the name of each month means, what the flower and birthstone are. So let's get into November, my birth month. First of all, so many of the months we've visited the meanings are all wrong, same with November as novem in Latin means nine but November today is the 11th month. Well, that because November in the Roman calendar was the ninth month, back when March was the first month of the year, but now we use the Gregorian calendar. What a mess! I wonder why the names weren't changed. But who am I to question the powers to be?  It's my birth month and I'll accept the name.

The birth stone for November is the topaz. What may surprise some of you is that the topaz comes in many colors as I show in the picture I've included. Even with all the color choices I've always loved the smoky topaz. At one point in history the colorless topaz was thought to be a diamond. During the middle ages the topaz was thought to heal mental and physical disorders and improve the eyesight. Hmmm! Maybe I could have used the topaz and skipped the cataract surgery I've just had. Well, I think I will just enjoy the stone and leave it at that.

The flower of the month of November is the chrysanthemum which I love. "Mums' are one of the most cultivated flowers in the world. The name comes from the Greek words "chrysos", meaning gold and "anthemon" meaning flower. The flower is a member of the daisy family. In some parts of Asia
Chrysanthemum tea is popular and in China the leaves are steamed and boiled for eating. In Korea the flowers are used to add flavor to wine.  Believe it or not keeping mums inside your house is said to reduce air pollution. The flower is a choice for the 13th wedding anniversary. 

I've never met Yvette Stanton but I truly admire her.  I'm convinced she has more hours in her day then the rest of has. How is it she gets to travel around the world, teach classes, design embroidery and have authored so many embroidery books. Maybe while she is teaching embroidery she can instruct us how she schedules her life. 

Before I introduce her new book I need to introduce this prolific, passionate embroiderer.  She is from Australia, the land of so many great embroiderers, and teaches there at shops and needlework guilds. Her embroidery focus is whitework of all kinds. She learned to stitch as a girl both in school and at home and has never lost her passion for this embroidery style.  

Though her first two books were published by a large international publishing house to great success she, having been trained in graphic arts, decided to test her skills on publishing herself.  I admire her business savvy. But I still need to know how she does all this in the same 24 hours I have.

We share one medical event in our lives.  Yvette became sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 2008 and I was sick with that in 1991.  I know what she went through. Hard to get out of bed at all, hard to concentrate on a project, and hard to enjoy life.  It took me two years to overcome this illness and I see she conquered her battle with this horrible disease.  At the end of her illness she wrote an article on how to take care of people when serious or chronically ill.  Thank you, Yvette.

Yvette is a serious traveler and goes to countries where white work embroidery is an art.  She's been to Italy, Portugal, Ireland and England. Her and her family also spent three months in Ethiopia. What was next?  I'm guessing it was Norway since she has come out with a new book, Early-Style Hardanger this year. 

Her new book covers a type of hardanger, not often seen outside of Norway and is quite distinct from contemporary Hardanger. She has included 10 projects with a range of contemporary applications, including a blouse with embroidered cuffs and collar, soft furnishings for the home, table linen, and small articles suitable to give as gifts. You will discover what makes early-style Hardanger different from contemporary Hardanger. The historical and cultural information, including many photographs of historical examples of Hardanger that helps you place the embroidery within its cultural context. The left-and right-handed step-by-step stitch and technique instrucitons are easy to follow, making it easy to learn. You will learn to avoid problems and have the self-assurance to fix any mistakes you make.  $29.99


Elegant Hardanger - This is the 2nd edition and revised, this 64 page book contains 170 clear diagrams that show you stitches and techniques, plus 15 projects all beautifully shown and charted. You will even learn to do the harder hardanger stitches, hints and tips, how to fix mistakes, and more.  $19.95

Mountmellick Embroidery, Inspired by Nature - This book includes detailed instruction, history, patterns and includes the technique for knitting the characteristic edge fringes and for this traditional whiltework embroidery of Ireland. $29.95

Portuguese Whitework Embroidery - Bullion embroidery from Guimares in northern Portugal. Drawn thread work and bullion embroidery combine to create needlework in this unique style. Includes pattern insert covering projects.  $29.95

Sardinian Knotted Embroidery - From the town of Teulada in Sardinai, Italy. A simple knotted stitch creates the pattern and textures of this lovely embroidery.  11 projects and step-by-step and left and right-handed instructions. Includes pattern insert covering projects.

Ukrainian Drawn Thread Embroidery - With Merezhka Poltavska Yvette brings us unique counted thread technique detailed through historic perspective, step by step drawings and photos and sampler projects.  $19.95


The Left-Handed Embroiderer's Companion - This book is a great step-by-step stitch resource for left-handed embroiderers. If you are a "lefty" and feel "left"-out of embroidery techniques here's your chance to learn all of Yvette's tips and tricks for doing loads of stitches. $27.95

The Right-Handed Embroiderer's Companion - This book is for right-handed embroiderers who want to improve their techniques, stitches.  Yvette includes lots of tips and tricks for doing just that.  $27.95


           (And Probably Never Will)

(I wrote some of this six years ago and with new information I'm bringing this revised edition back)

I'll be honest, I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the technical age. I was happily set in my ways and tired of running to keep up with all that changes that seem to happen non-stop. Fax machines, tiny cell phones that take pictures, I-pods, computers, electronic credit card machines, and on and on were becoming a necessity to survive in business. I waved my white flag, but very selectively. I drew my line in the sand between what is necessary technology and what is not important to own.  This is what I decided:

1.  No cell phones except for emergencies and traveling safety. Everywhere I go I see cell phones glued to ears - now "smart phones".  I've asked myself, why do they constantly need to be talking to someone. Even while driving.  Now we have learned talking and driving has sent traffic accidents spiraling up. Some states have passed laws against talking and driving. (discount code: 1716)

2.  Yes to faxes. I can read them at my leisure. They don't interrupt what I'm doing.  I can fax papers today I needed to hand deliver or mail before faxes.  Great invention.

3.  No hand held devices for music, movies, e-mails, etc. They are costly little machines. Perhaps if I was traveling but I'm not.  Even then I don't think so. Doesn't anybody look at the real world anymore? Is nature passé?

4.  Yes to computers.  They make work, like writing this blog easier. I do a lot of writing and I don't miss typewriters and correction tape at all!  Research on the web is neat but you have to be careful of the source of information.  I don't read my newspaper on-line. I love to fold the paper back to an article or crossword.  I rip out interesting stuff.

5.  No to electronic book reading machines.  Why?  No, I'm not afraid as a bookdealer these gizmos will take over the book business.  In fact, I read that Amazon is opening a brick and  mortar bookstore. According to a report on a news show, these gizmos are selling but seemed to have plateaued. Audio books, however, are in. I can remember when book dealers were shaking in their boots because Crown Books, a large discounted book chain opened. We're still here. Then everyone was afraid of Amazon and the web.  Guess what? We're still here and plan to be inspite of electronic reading devices.

     Yes, I've tried the machines - both the Kindle and the Nook. Did I like them? No. Why? First of all I'm not impressed with a gizmo that does what is already being done a much simpler way. Publishers like it and push it on us because it saves them time and money. The paper in books is recycled so it is used over and over.  Great idea!  Now whoever invented writing and paper - they were geniuses! If I decide I want to read a book I can go to the library, a bookstore (new or used), borrow from a friend, or order on-line. I don't need to fumble with a machine to get to words. I don't want to push a a button, download a book, buy another machine, and deal with problems machines always come with.

     Books are warm and inviting. Many have wonderful covers and there is information on the back cover as to what the book is about and lots of great reviews. I like that. I like the feel of a book I like to mark pages with a Post-It so I can refer back to favorite passages. Books are recycled to other people, friends, veterans, schools so they live on. Now with book readers we'll have more batteries and electronic machines in land fills.  Yes, books cost a bit more money but used books cost way less and there are discounts available. When you load a book in to machine that costs money too. So does the machine and you need a computer to operate it.  I've read these reading devices can freeze up and you need to call tech support. I don't need that to happen at night when I'm reading.  UGH!

     And speaking of reading at night I've been reading science reports that are advising that reading from those screens at night can effect the brain and sleeping. They are advising no machines and screens TWO HOURS before sleep. That's when I have time to read! And I can't afford lack of sleep.

     IMPORTANT - The other thing discovered about these screens on Kindles, etc. that these machines affect their brains, in fact on a test of 125,000 children using these screens under the age of seven, part of the brain had shrunk. That scares me. I have friends who run an award-winning charter school from kindergarten thru sixth grade here in Arizona and they do not allow screens in their school.  The kids that come into the school unable to read (in the third grade) are reading, have comprehension for what they read and can spell within that first year in this school. Something they couldn't do in public school. Why? My friends after years of study concluded the only way to learn to read was using phonics something many public schools do not - they use sight reading.  Also my friends encourage them to love learning and right now are teaching the kids ancient Greek. The kids pour over a huge globe and tons of reading material and are encouraged to tell the others what they've learned. And they read books - no computers.

This is why I stay with books. Those kids love to run their fingers over shelved books and select what they want to read - me too! So call me old-fashion! I consider that a compliment. But if you have an opposing opinion, my ears are open.  If you agree, I'd love to hear from you too.

I must put this wonderful book here.  This is something you can't do with books stored in a machine.

Thompson, Damian - Books Make a Home: Elegant Ideas for Storing and Displaying Books - This book explores the important role they play in decoration, as well as functional items. This author and bibliophile tours the rooms of the home and discovers many techniques for shelving, stacking, and closeting volumes, and illustrating how each space can be brought to life by books. Alongside inspirational photographs is a wealth of practical design solutions for each space and size of collection. She also shows us how to create new space for an ever-growing collections; how to combine books with other personal effects to create eye-catching displays; and helpful feature spreads will illustrate how to organize and care for your books.  She also includes quotes from famous readers throughout this book.  $29.95


Belliville, Cathy - Let's Begin Making Bobbin Lace - This book is a collection of lace patterns which the Lace Museum in Sunnyvale collected and use in their beginning bobbin lace classes. It includes the full curriculum of Cathy Belleville to develop an overview of basic bobbin lace skills.  $44.00

Braun, Rachel - Embroidery and Sacred Text: New Designs in Judaic Needlework - Some 20 years ago, Rachel Braun began to explore ways that Jewish texts could be embroidered literally and figuratively in original needlecraft designs. She combines the precision of a mathematical mind with the spiritual depth of a true artist. Her embroideries commemorate life cycle events such as bar mitzvahs and births, but also comment on Torah texts and the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness. Along the way she invents five new Hebrew fonts, designs, five new English alphabets, and reproduces the templates for her designs. She readily shares her insights, providing accessible explanations while also conveying the joy of designing with thread.  $24.00

Brown, Christen - The Embroidery Book: Visual Resource of Color and Design - 149 Stitches - Step-by-Step Guide - Enjoy the tranquility of slow stitching with this step-by-step guide, visual guide to 149 embroidery stitches, motifs, and extras. Go beyond the basic color theory-robust, color charts take the guesswork out of choosing thread, silk ribbon, buttons, beads and trims. Then take your embroidery to the next level with luxurious seam treatments, and stunning stand-alone designs.  $27.95

Brown, Pauline - The Encyclopedia of Embroidery Techniques: A Unique Visual Directory of All the Major Embroidery Techniques. This is a Search Press Classic. This book is a comprehensive directory of embroidery technique for both the beginner and the experienced embroiderer. She includes 240 stitches, ranging from cross stitch to Assisi and from machine embroidery to quilting, each one illustrated in full-color and accompanied by explanatory artwork. An inspirational gallery includes finished examples of traditional and innovative pieces from around the world.  $19.95

Ciotti, Donatella - Tatted Lace Accessories - In her latest book, this author teaches the reader how to make tatted lace, also known as frivolite, a durable yet delicate form of lace constructed using a series of knots and loops. Although it has been a traditional crafts for centuries, Donatella's step-by-step instructions focus on more modern needle techniques, making the craft accessible to a contemporary audience. This type of lace has been very popular in high in high fashion design. This book includes 22 gorgeous designs to make including bracelets, earrings, necklaces and brooches. Illustrated and explained with diagrams and step-by-step photos to help you make the items exactly as shown, or use them as inspiration for your own designs. There are ideas for special occasions, such as weddings or christenings as well as table decorations, purses, mobile phone holders and much more.  $17.95

De Bree, Hans - U.S.-Made Fully Machine-Embroidered, Cut Edge Shoulder Sleeve Insignia of World War II and How They Were Manufactured: A Collectors Guide - This highly detailed reference book is for both novice and experienced collectors, and is focused on the World War II U.S. -made, fully machine-embroidered, cut edge shoulder sleeve insignia (SSI). It provides guidelines that can be considered when determining whether a SSI is original World War II era manufactured or not. Also, the difference in SSI manufacturing are explained in such way as to create a timeline in a patch collection. Knowing these details will add to the personal value of a collection and make it much more than simply just having a group of patches. In addition, the book will help collectors avoid spending money on something that is not what it seems; copies; reproductions of World War I, Interwar, or World War II SSIs; and post-World War II SSIs.   $59.99

Embroidery, Stitchex - Fancy Teapots Hand Embroidery Patterns - Hand embroidery patterns of 10 Fancy Teapots - perfect for tea towels, wallhangings, and just any kitchen décor. Designs are beginner friendly and consist of straight stitches only. All you need to do is transfer to your fabric using your favorite method and start stitching! Our embroidery is designed in the redwork style, but feel free to use your creativity to explore other colors to match your project. Each design is provided in 4 sizes ranging from about 3 inches to approximately 7-8 inches. Use your imagination to create your own projects ranging from quilts to pillow covers to wall-hangings and more! Also included are a few basic embroidery tips, but a basic embroidery knowledge is helpful.  $12.95

Fabre, Josie - Fast Peyote Stitch Jewelry - In this book, designer Josie Fabre, full-time scientist and mother, shares several techniques that allow for much quicker creation of the Peyote stitch. While this stitch is often the first stitch learned by beginning stitchers, it is extremely time-consuming. She simplifies the process with her detailed instructions and original, multi-drop, flat peyote, patterns. Her inspired bracelet patterns range from the traditional wide to slim width, some include clean edging, some are finished with a stitched toggle clasp, and others use a double clasp. While bracelets are the main jewelry pieces, she has also included necklaces and earrings.  $21.99

Hartley, Florence - The Ladies hand Book of Fancy and  Ornamental Work: Directions and Patterns from the Civil War Era - This Dover edition of Civil War-era guide to crafting and handwork fetures 262 engraved patterns, drawn from English, French, and German sources. Directions and patterns for decorating collars, hair ornaments, cushions, purses, and other items encompass several techniques, from beadwork and braiding to crochet, knitting, and many varieties of lace work and tatting.  $14.95

Higuchi, Yumiko - Zakka Embroidery: Simple One - And Two- Color Embroidery Motifs and Small Crafts - This book presents designs that are an elegant blend of Japanese and Scandinavian style. The motifs and patterns are spare and graphic, yet softened with organic shapes and imagery drawn from nature. The result is embroidery that evokes a personal feel and conjures a sense of nostalgia. Here Japanese designer Yumiko Higuchi presents embroidery motifs to be stitches using just one or two colors. Each embroidery design is paired with a simple craft project, transforming the stitched fabric into a functional object, including pouches, pillows, aprons, and more.  With beautiful photos. clear step-by-step instructions, and detailed diagrams.  $19.95

Kaur, Harpreet - Embroidery Designs for Neckline - This reprinted vintage embroidery book contains 50 beautiful embroidery designs for neckline which are searched and collected from the internets.  $15.95

Kuthiala, Surabhi - Positive Paisleys: 44 Beautiful Paisley Designs: Flower Patterns, Heena Patterns, Beautiful Borders and Full Page Patterns and more: Hailing from the Princely state of Rajasthan (India), I have always been enticed by the beautiful Paisley designs around her in form of Heena, Mehndi, Wall Carvings, Tapestry, etc. This book is an attempt to bring this ancient art to life.  COLOR AWAY!  $12.95

Lewis, Garth - 2000 Color Combinations - Color theory concepts and perception with selection of works from contemporary designers.  $25.00

Nicholson, Nancy - Modern Folk Embroidery: 30 Contemporary Projects for Folk Art Inspired Designs - Folk art is influencing everything from fashion to interiors. This collection includes 20 embroidery designs with project ideas to show you how to use the designs to create beautiful and practical home décor items and accessories. The techniques for the stitches and project instructions are shown using Nancy's stitch diagrams so extremely easy to follower whether you are an experienced stitcher or a newbie.  The 20 projects are divided between felt and fabric sections and include: pin cushion, lampshade, tote bag, cushion, table runner, and coaster and pinafore.  $22.99

Pesel, Louise - English Embroidery - I- Double-Running or Back-Stitch - If you have been embroidering for a good while the name Louise Pesel is familiar. This vintage handbook on double-running or back-stitch, will diagrams and scale drawings taken from 17th century samplers and other sources. This book is an affordable, high-quality edition complete with the original text and artwork.  $19.95

Vogelsinger, Nichole - Boho Embroidery: Modern Projects from  Traditional Stitches - This is a book that details 20+ embroidery stitches that work well with hoop art and incorporates applique. It will visually inspire creatively with the goal of creating your own textile art that can be displayed in a hoop. $24.95

Historical Fiction - An Oxymoron?
"Oxymoron _ Figures of Speech that uses seeming contraditions; realm or domain of the impossible." Websters

As I sit at my desk going over a very long "to-do" list my mind snags on the words, historical fiction. My mind can "snag" easily, to easily when I discover something I just have to know more about. Right now, it's historical fiction that, at first look, seems an oxymoron to me. How can history be fiction? Or fiction a history? I chew on this for a bit. I understand that straight history can sometimes go down dry and tasteless. Just the facts, Ma'am, just the facts. That's great for research but some people like their history in a story form and that's where the fiction comes in. A good historical novelist will not twist the history out-of-shape, nor the setting, nor the real historical characters true nature. Instead they take all of that and then with using the insight of good research and their talent for telling a story breathes life into the time and people they are writing about. That's what keeps us up at night, unable to put the book aside. And history told this way seems to stick in our head. We remember a story better than lists of dates and places. So perhaps historical fiction is not a contradictory figure of speech after all. I love historical fiction and I write it too.  I hope you love it as well.

Turner, Lucille - Gioconda - A Novel of Leonardo da Vinci - A solitary child, Leonardo da Vinci's only intimate friend is Lisa Gherardini, the girl who spied on him in his workshop and on his nature walks. Spurned by his tutor, he is sent despairing father to Florence as an apprentice. Under the guiding hand of Verrocchio, the master sculptor, he begins to make his name. But success requires sacrifice; Florence demand a level of conformity impossible for him. Forced to leave, Leonardo places himself at the service of the charismatic, power-thirsty Duke of Milan. His journey leads his back to Lisa and the portrait he has waited so long to paint, the culmination of his life's work.  $13.95

I usually discover a multitude of books but this time I'm going to concentrate on this one.  I have read it, and parts of it more than once.  Lucille Turner is a masterful storyteller and writer. This is her first book, and it is brilliant.  I've read a lot about Leonardo da Vinci and I'm blown away with her wonderful research and incredible use of words.  It is not wordy, every word is selected specifically for each sentence.  Even if you never heard of Leonardo da Vinci you will know him intimately if you read this remarkable novel.  She gives a reason why the Mona Lisa was never delivered and her conclusion fits perfectly.

To make sure you know something of Leonardo, I included a brief overview of this man, considered the most brilliant man who ever lived.  When writing about the creative process he wrote: "THE QUEST MUST BE UNDERTAKEN ALONE, FOR THE DESTINATION LIES WITHIN."

Leonardo knows of what he speaks. Although he eventually worked in a artist workshop with the best including Sandro Botticelli and he had assistants, Leonardo lived inside his own head. He'd take long walk in the nature he loved and inspired him and wrote copious notes - the letters always backwards so you needed a mirror to "decode" it. His invention.  By the way, his name means Leonardo of Vinci - the town he was born.

His entry into this world on April 15th, 1452 was to an unwed peasant mother, his father a notary. He received an at home education in Latin, geometry and mathematics from a local churchman. There were many signs of his genius in childhood and by age of 14 he was apprenticed to a workshop. But he was more than a impressive artist; he wanted to understand human anatomy and autopsied bodies which was frowned at that time.  He wanted to understand how the body worked not only for his art but he wanted to understand illness. But this was only a few of the many areas of science and art he excelled in.

When in Italy some years back, I was fortunate to visit the museum named for him. I was stunned to learn of his engineering feats including his interest in flying, machines, and architecture. Thank goodness his notes, designs, and paintings are still here.  I also had the opportunity to go to Milan to the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie to see

Leonardo's most famous painting - The Last Supper done in 1498. When I arrived it was in the process of restoration - half of the large painting was restored, the other half undone.  It was a great opportunity to see the before and after of this famous work.  The Last Supper is one of the most reproduced works of art.

How can I speak Leonardo's name and not mention his most  famous woman, Mona Lisa or la Gioconda, the woman he brought fame since he painted this woman in 1503.  That elusive smile that has been studied to death and honored. It is so perfect that Vasari was quoted as saying, the painting would make even the most confident master despair and lose heart. Lucky for us this small portrait is in the Louvre, Paris, France, in a near perfect state of preservation.  

I've only nicked the surface of his life but I hope this sparks your interest. Being a genius is not an easy road to walk. No one really understands you.  You see the world from an entirely different perspective and are involved in ideas and creativity beyond the average mind so you walk alone leaving the others far behind. Many knowledgeable people have poured over his myriad of notebooks and realized that although we are astonished with his discoveries and inventions Leonardo was not satisfied, he still yearned to learn more.

No, we will not be another Leonardo da Vinci but we can learn to think in a more creative way for our own passions such as needlework.  I've included some books that designed to open up your own creativity in new ways. Leonardo was right to do our ultimate best in creativity we must have "alone time".

Gelb, Michael - How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: 7 Steps to Genius Every Day - Genius is made, not born, and human beings are gifted with an almost unlimited potential for learning and creativity. Now readers can sharpen their senses and liberate their unique intelligence by following the example of the greatest genius of all time, Leonardo da Vinci. Halftone art throughout.  $18.00

Lester, Toby - Da Vinci's Ghost: Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image - To quote the critics, "This is a wonderful book. The author helps us understand, the unique intensity with which Leonardo saw the world. he saw it not only in its infinite diversity, but also as an impression of his own self, an explanation of what it means to be human." This book keeps us from taking for granted a familiar person. This story is like a detective mystery with lots of satisfactory number of insights in this man and the world he lived in. Dive in and don't come up until you've reached the end!  $17.00

Shlain, Leonardo - Leonardo's Brain: Undertanding Da Vinci's Creative Genius - This best-selling author explores the life, art, and mind of Leonardo da Vinci, seeking to explain his singularity by looking at his achievements in art, science, psychology, and military strategy and then employing state of the art left-right brain scientific, research to explain his universal genius. Shlain shows no other person in human history has excelled in so many different areas as da Vinci and he peels back the layers to explore the how and the why.  $18.95


If this is your first time with us I'd like to introduce you to our company. We've been in business for 24 years and have set up needlework bookshops at both the ANG and EGA seminars and for other needlework groups as well as having sites on the web.

Can't find a certain book? Give us a call Monday thru Saturday at 602-943-0738 and if you need to leave a message I'm probably helping Mark, my husband with M.S. or running books to the post office. I will return your call ASAP. Or you can e-mail me at To reach us by mail: Ruth Kern Books 7235 N. 9th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85021.  Love to hear from you.

IMPORTANT!!! Don't forget to find the discount code hidden in this blog that gives you a 20% discount on any new book you order.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING.  We all have plenty to be thankful for. 

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