Woman’s Day Book of American Needlework

August 27, 2009


book coverThis book, part needlework history, part American history and part needlework how-to, was written by Rose Wilder Lane; the only surviving child of Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House books. Lane, born on December 5, 1886, was an independent woman who spoke freely about the many issues of her day. She was, for example, opposed to the concept of Social Security and vowed to have no income that required her to pay the deduction.

Her strong opinions extended to the subject of needlework. This book, published in 1963, contains step by step instructions for every type of traditional American needlework; however, it is Lane’s commentaries that make this book so interesting. In her introduction, Lane writes that “needlework is the art that tells the truth about the real life of people in their time and place…Needlework is anonymous; the people create it. Each piece is the work of a woman who is thinking only of making for her child, her friend, her home or herself a bit of beauty that pleases her.” 

She continues in the introduction that “it (needlework) expresses everything that makes her (a woman) an individual unlike any other person-her character, her mind and her spirit, her experience in living. It expresses, too, her country’s history and culture, the traditions, the philosophy, the way of living that she takes for granted.”

Lane also added tidbits of wisdom about each type of needlework covered in the book. According to her “there is inexhaustible pleasure in embroidering and a deep satisfaction comes from a quiet hour spent stitching your own idea into tangible reality.” In her opinion “cross stitch shows us that simplicity, in things as in persons, has more values than appear at first glance.” For her, the beauty of cross stitch is in its four-square appearance, “strictly faithful to the straight line. She also writes about crewel work, needlepoint, quilting and weaving among other needlework techniques.

To read more of Rose Wilder Lane’s thoughts and opinions go to http://www.amazon.com. This book is out of print but is available through the used booksellers listed on the website.   


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