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  • Writer's pictureAjda Zorko

Embroidery library

Which books do I have at home and why choose these?

I love checking out what libraries have to offer on the topic of embroidery. The range of titles is very diverse, with few titles being repeated. Both older and newer editions, Slovenian and English, are interesting (if you have the chance, check what is available in other languages: German, Italian, and French...). I bought these books either because they are not available in libraries, or because I like to have them available to check information (especially the translation!).

Let’s start with a modest book from the 80’s, which (in my own opinion) is as indispensable as the needle itself:

Front page of a book titleted Vezenje writen by Wanda Bonando
Bonando: Vezenje

1. Vezenje, Wanda Bonando and Marinella Nava; Lipa Koper 1981 (original title: Guida all’ricamo)


  • The convenient format (13x20cm) is small enough to be easily used as a manual while embroidering, and it can be comfortably read right from your hand.

  • Lots of comprehensible photos and illustrations. If you pay attention, you will find very similar illustrations in many later-published Slovenian books on embroidery.

  • A rich collection of stitches and how to make them. Nowadays, we really prefer to learn some of the more difficult stitches with the help of videos, but if you want to work "offline", this is a real break from screens.

  • Availability: the book is available in many libraries and it is easy to get a used copy, even at a very affordable price. Tip: if you are very skilled with your hands, you can also look for "Knitting" and "Crochet" from the same series.

  • Translations of a wide range of stitch names. True that some names in Slovene are still missing (e.g. Turkey stitch), but there is a very rich vocabulary to get to know.


  • In the case of a dynamic task such as handcrafting, the photo can’t quite convey how we have to move, especially compared to video content.

  • Products and designs are out of fashion: today we look for different motifs and different colour80s combinations.

  • The book sticks to a limited set of embroidery techniques.

2. EEnciklopedija ročnih del, Judy Brittain; DZS Ljubljana 1988 (original title: Step by step Encyclopedea of Needlecraft)


  • Rich descriptions of a wide range of embroidery techniques and materials and a demonstration of some embroidery techniques known from around the world.

  • Slovenian expressions and names of materials and stitches, even less known and used techniques in our country.

  • Brief presentation of the product, material and manufacturing technique.

  • Available in used form.


  • Large, less convenient format (22x28cm). The book is heavy and research is much easier with the help of a table or in a sitting position.

  • The techniques described in the book are in themselves challenging and would need a lot of additional explanations.

  • Not very commonly available in libraries. Bought mine used.

3. Stitch, step by step: Maggie Gordon and Ellie Vance; Dorling Kindersley 2011


  • Handy paperback, with lots of beautiful, color photos

  • Rich set of instructions and gallery of stitches

  • Well-described crafting techniques and possible projects with these stitches


  • The book is in English with no Slovenian version published.

  • Not available in many libraries, bought on Amazon

I’ll present 4 and 5 together, as both are RSN editions (Royal School of Needlework, Search Press London)

4. Raised Embroidery: Kelley Aldridge and

5. Book of Embroidery: RSN

Both are very substantial books that describe well the various techniques, materials and constructions. Both are in English, there is no edition in Slovenian translation.

4. Raised Embroidery is dedicated to embroideries where volume is built up and rises away from the surface of the fabric. It describes various basting/padding techniques and the making of stitches, which form a very voluminous, 3D representation of the chosen motif.

The advantages are that it is a light book, with paperback binding and a thorough description of the stitches. As a weakness, I see the presentation of individual projects, where the possibility of undertaking a project exactly like the presented one is very small. Personally, I prefer books that show the stitch itself and don't tie it to a specific project. This may, however, help others to visualize the appearance of the chosen stitch on their own project.

5. The Book of Embroidery is more like an encyclopedia. There is a huge variety of information available. It is arranged sensibly and according to clearly defined sections. The book is of a larger format in hardcover, so its use as a manual is slightly less favourable.

For me, manuals for embroidery represent a break from screens, networks and the Internet. With them, I can easily find a new stitch I want to try, a new technique, but in the analog. Without the urge to sneak a quick check on messages and reactions to the latest post. This way, I approach the craft more focused and have a better feeling of productivity after the end of crafting.

If you enjoyed bit of reading, stop by my insta page (@ajda_embro_design) where you’ll get an idea for a gift, learn how to make a stitch or find some other useful embroidery information!

Ajda Zorko is a guest blogger. Her opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Štikarca.

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