100 books like The Subversive Stitch

By Rozsika Parker,

Here are 100 books that The Subversive Stitch fans have personally recommended if you like The Subversive Stitch. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Threads: The Delicate Life of John Craske

Clare Hunter Author Of Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle

From my list on needlework that will surprise and move you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have sewn since I was a child, taught by my mother to keep me out of mischief. From having the best-dressed dolls in the neighbourhood I graduated to making my own, sometimes outlandish, forms of fashion and then became a banner maker and community textile artist. Sewing is in my DNA and I love the tactile, rhythmic soothe of it. But I have long been curious about how, in the many books are published about needlework, very few ever mention why people sew. This is what fascinates me, the stories of sewing, because it is through its purpose that we discover the spirit that lies within it. 

Clare's book list on needlework that will surprise and move you

Clare Hunter Why did Clare love this book?

This is a rare and poignant insight into a man’s needlecraft and it was a delight to read. Julia Blackburn sets out on a mission to rediscover the neglected embroideries and forgotten story of the Norfolk fisherman, John Craske, (1881-1943). Her research leads her to many dead ends and unexpected encounters and, along the way, she experiences and shares her own story of loss. I love this book because it takes me into the world of the sea captured in the fishing folk Blackburn meets and introduces me to Craske’s mesmerising embroideries made under tragic circumstances.

By Julia Blackburn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Threads as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the East Anglian Book of the Year 2015

John Craske, a Norfok fisherman, was born in 1881 and in 1917, when he had just turned thirty-six, he fell seriously ill. For the rest of his life he kept moving in and out of what was described as 'a stuporous state'. In 1923 he started making paintings of the sea and boats and the coastline seen from the sea, and later, when he was too ill to stand and paint, he turned to embroidery, which he could do lying in bed. His embroideries were also the sea, including his…


Book cover of Patch Work: A Life Amongst Clothes

Clare Hunter Author Of Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle

From my list on needlework that will surprise and move you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have sewn since I was a child, taught by my mother to keep me out of mischief. From having the best-dressed dolls in the neighbourhood I graduated to making my own, sometimes outlandish, forms of fashion and then became a banner maker and community textile artist. Sewing is in my DNA and I love the tactile, rhythmic soothe of it. But I have long been curious about how, in the many books are published about needlework, very few ever mention why people sew. This is what fascinates me, the stories of sewing, because it is through its purpose that we discover the spirit that lies within it. 

Clare's book list on needlework that will surprise and move you

Clare Hunter Why did Clare love this book?

This is a surprisingly gentle memoir by the curator of fashion at the V & A Museum in London. She uses her own wardrobe to unfold the story of her own life. In exquisite prose she traces how, whether homemade or haute couture, what we wear catches significant moments in our lives and archives personal memories. It made me think of my own clothes in a different way and understand why I couldn’t throw out those that remind me of people I love and my own joyful or sad events.        

By Claire Wilcox,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Patch Work as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A TELEGRAPH BOOK OF THE YEAR

'I am overwhelmed by this book. It is an absolute masterpiece. A book of such beauty and profundity, of such poetry in its emotion and observation ... I found my sense of life transformed by her writing as I often find it transformed after the exhibition of a great artist' LAURA CUMMING

Claire Wilcox has been a curator of fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum for most of her working life. In Patch Work, she steps into the archive of memory, deftly stitching together her dedicated study of fashion with the story of…


Book cover of Worn: A People's History of Clothing

Clare Hunter Author Of Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle

From my list on needlework that will surprise and move you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have sewn since I was a child, taught by my mother to keep me out of mischief. From having the best-dressed dolls in the neighbourhood I graduated to making my own, sometimes outlandish, forms of fashion and then became a banner maker and community textile artist. Sewing is in my DNA and I love the tactile, rhythmic soothe of it. But I have long been curious about how, in the many books are published about needlework, very few ever mention why people sew. This is what fascinates me, the stories of sewing, because it is through its purpose that we discover the spirit that lies within it. 

Clare's book list on needlework that will surprise and move you

Clare Hunter Why did Clare love this book?

This is a brilliantly researched book which allowed me to accompany Sofi Thanhauser as she travelled across continents to unearth the origin and the fate of fabric production.  It made me realise the terrible damage done to our environment and to communities through colonialisation, exploitation, industrialisation, and our throw-away economy. Tracking how craft is being replaced with slave labour, how traditions are being eroded, and local economies destroyed in the pursuit of cheaper and greater textile production, Worn is not a comfortable read, but it is, for me, a reminder of the human cost involved in most of what I wear. 

By Sofi Thanhauser,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Worn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A sweeping and captivatingly told history of clothing and the stuff it is made of—an unparalleled deep-dive into how everyday garments have transformed our lives, our societies, and our planet.

“We learn that, if we were a bit more curious about our clothes, they would offer us rich, interesting and often surprising insights into human history...a deep and sustained inquiry into the origins of what we wear, and what we have worn for the past 500 years."
—The Washington Post

In this panoramic social history, Sofi Thanhauser brilliantly tells five stories—Linen, Cotton, Silk, Synthetics, Wool—about the clothes we wear and…


Book cover of This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History

Clare Hunter Author Of Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle

From my list on needlework that will surprise and move you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have sewn since I was a child, taught by my mother to keep me out of mischief. From having the best-dressed dolls in the neighbourhood I graduated to making my own, sometimes outlandish, forms of fashion and then became a banner maker and community textile artist. Sewing is in my DNA and I love the tactile, rhythmic soothe of it. But I have long been curious about how, in the many books are published about needlework, very few ever mention why people sew. This is what fascinates me, the stories of sewing, because it is through its purpose that we discover the spirit that lies within it. 

Clare's book list on needlework that will surprise and move you

Clare Hunter Why did Clare love this book?

I am a very poor knitter and admire those who can knit up a jumper that is not embarrassing to wear. Esther Rutter is an expert and enthusiastic knitter and, in this book, she travels through Britain setting up her own challenges to knit something that echoes the traditions of the places she visits. There is a jumper from Fife in Scotland and a crocheted bikini its borders, Viking socks, and a Welsh cap: each one requiring hours of toil, each one accompanied by frustration and setbacks as stitches are dropped, the yarn snags and patterns are misread. As she journeys and knits, Rutter reveals the history of knitting, wool, and patterns place by place. I loved her perseverance, I relished her discoveries and I learnt enough about the knitter’s craft through time and today to make me want to get out my own knitting needs. 

By Esther Rutter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Golden Fleece as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over the course of a year, Esther Rutter - who grew up on a sheep farm in Suffolk, and learned to spin, weave and knit as a child - travels the length of the British Isles, to tell the story of wool's long history here.

She unearths fascinating histories of communities whose lives were shaped by wool, from the mill workers of the Border countries, to the English market towns built on profits of the wool trade, and the Highland communities cleared for sheep farming; and finds tradition and innovation intermingling in today's knitwear industries. Along the way, she explores…


Book cover of The Thread Collectors

Molly O'Keefe Author Of The Sunshine Girls

From my list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved historical novels since my mom first read Anne of Green Gables to me as a kid. They are the novels I reach for first and love the most. The creative glimpse into other times and lives is, to me, the most exciting reading experience. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. My latest book – The Sunshine Girls is a dual narrative timeline, set in the current day and the 1960s-1980s. 

Molly's book list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II

Molly O'Keefe Why did Molly love this book?

This novel set in 1863 during the Civil War, about two women – one enslaved in New Orleans, the other Jewish and living in New York City who risk everything for the soldiers they love. There is so much fascinating historical detail in this book - the war, the experience of Black men as soldiers, the brutal life of enslaved women in the deep south, the community they created because of and despite of the brutality. Northern free women and their domestic roles and limitations – the communities they built. It’s about bravery and needlepoint. Seriously.

By Shaunna J. Edwards, Alyson Richman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Thread Collectors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“An unforgettable story of female strength, hope and friendship. This collaborative work is magnificent—a true revelation!” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman with the Blue Star

“A brilliant story brimming with unexpected friendships and family ties. Historically sound and beautifully stitched, The Thread Collectors will stay with you long after the last page is turned.” —Sadeqa Johnson, international bestselling author of Yellow Wife  

1863: In a small Creole cottage in New Orleans, an ingenious young Black woman named Stella embroiders intricate maps on repurposed cloth to help enslaved men flee and join the Union Army. Bound…


Book cover of Felbrigg: The Story of a House

Lindsay Allason-Jones Author Of Roman Woman: Everyday Life in Hadrian's Britain

From my list on how people in different periods or cultures lived their lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an archaeologist, mostly working in the Roman period. Until I retired in 2011, I was the Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Artefact Studies and Reader in Roman Material Culture at Newcastle University, having previously been the Director of Archaeological Museums for the University. My working life started by specialising in identifying those small items which come out of every excavation, but more and more I became interested in what those artefacts told us about the people who lived on the site. Reading books about peoples’ lives in other cultures and periods provides insight into those people of the past for whom we have little documentary evidence.

Lindsay's book list on how people in different periods or cultures lived their lives

Lindsay Allason-Jones Why did Lindsay love this book?

Although this is the story of a house from the early 17th century to the 1960s, it offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the four families who lived there in turn as they won and lost fortunes, married well and badly, and survived the events of history.

By R W Ketton-Cremer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Felbrigg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Lob

Aoife Greenham Author Of Big Dance

From my list on children's books about grief and death.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and illustrator of children's picturebooks, having completed my MA at the Cambridge School of Art. I am endlessly fascinated with the picture book as a rich medium for children to safely and slowly approach topics that might be challenging for them. Picture books can be such a versatile, interesting place for curiosity and confidence to thrive, while also creating a lovely time for closeness between parent/carer and child. As we grapple with the long-term effects of the pandemic, I feel that children will need stories more than ever, to help them make sense of their experiences.

Aoife's book list on children's books about grief and death

Aoife Greenham Why did Aoife love this book?

Lob is a gentle, magical, and affirming chapter book. The story centres around Lucy, her relationship with her Grandad, and their belief in the mythical garden helper Lob. In Lucy's devotion to her grandad, and her love of nature, we come to see how grief can be slowly approached and lived with. The illustrations are beautifully observed by Smy, who is a master of showing emotion through posture and environment. I love this story for the way that it weaves grief, love, and magic together in an accessible and respectful way for children and grown-up readers.

By Linda Newbery,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lob as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

He's older than anyone can tell. Older than the trees. Older than anybody. For as long as she can remember, Lucy has wanted to catch a glimpse of the mysterious green man who lives in Grandpa Will's garden: Lob. You have to be very special to see him; that's what Grandpa says. Lucy's parents think Lob's just imaginary, but Lucy knows he exists. And she can't believe it when she finally spots Lob in the gooseberry bushes. But Lucy's world is about to be shattered by a terrible event. What will happen to Lob now - and will she ever…


Book cover of May Morris: Art & Life New Perspectives

Jan Marsh Author Of The Collected Letters of Jane Morris

From my list on William Morris and his family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a lifelong admiration for William Morris’s eloquent writings on political optimism. And how these fit with the personal life of his wife Janey and daughter May. This began with my biography of the two women, published by the feminist Pandora Press and continuing through to editing Jane Morris’s Collected Letters. Admiration is also critical engagement rather than simple fandom. We need to think, act, and endeavor to promote how we might live better lives in the world. I love the task of relating individual lives in the context of their time. Biography involves historical imagination to fill the gaps in recorded information and conceive how those in the past thought, felt and behaved.   

Jan's book list on William Morris and his family

Jan Marsh Why did Jan love this book?

May Morris, daughter of the more famous William, was a renowned designer and craftswoman. She shared her father’s political ideals and took them forward through the textile arts of the Arts & Crafts Movement. 

Edited by embroidery artist and historian Lynne Hulse, this book brings together a wide range of new essays on facets of May Morris’s life and career. It complements the lavishly illustrated exhibition catalogue May Morris: Arts & Crafts Designer. Together these two titles provide all currently available details of May’s work, all too often overshadowed by that of her father.

By Lynn Hulse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked May Morris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Femininity

Peg Tittle Author Of Gender Fraud: a fiction

From my list on to make you think about gender and sex.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of several novels—in addition to the one featured here, Impact, It Wasn't Enough (Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award), Exile, and What Happened to Tom (on Goodreads' "Fiction Books That Opened Your Eyes To A Social Or Political Issue" list).  I was a columnist for The Philosopher Magazine for eight years, Philosophy Now for two years, and the Ethics and Emerging Technologies website for a year ("TransGendered Courage" received 35,000 hits, making it #3 of the year, and "Ethics without Philosophers" received 34,000 hits, making it #5 of the year), and I've published a collection of think pieces titled Sexist Shit that Pisses Me Off. 

Peg's book list on to make you think about gender and sex

Peg Tittle Why did Peg love this book?

Another classic, written in 1984 by the author of Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, Brownmiller covers a lot: body, hair, clothes, voice, skin, movement, emotion, ambition. She says in her prologue, "I offer this book ... in the hope that the feminine ideal will no longer be used to perpetuate inequality between the sexes, and that exaggeration will not be required to rest secure in biological gender." 

By Susan Brownmiller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Femininity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Illuminating and informative....Essential reading."
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
Writing with great passion, warmth, and wit on a subject that's never been explored in these terms before, Susan Brownmiller draws on the many manifestations of femininity through the ages, and demonstrates in beautiful and telling detail the many powerful nuances of that one word.
"A positive joy to read!"
Nora Ephron
CHICAGO TRIBUNE BOOK WORLD


Book cover of Maiden to Mother: Unlocking Our Archetypal Journey into the Mature Feminine

Jeanette Bent Author Of Dark Star Reclaiming Lilith

From my list on strong female protagonist in an ascending world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been rising for years. In fact, Dark Star: Reclaiming Lilith is the culmination of 18 years’ worth of my personal ascension, which is certainly still a work in progress. My book is written in an extremely magical realistic, sci-fi/fantastical manner. I do believe that there are a cohort of women here on Planet Earth right now who’ve incarnated to help carry Gaia into her 5th dimension. Especially now, it’s relevant to move our planet into a more sustainable, spiritual, and connected way. If our voices can span across genres, generations, and gender, then maybe, they can reach all corners of the Universe before it’s too late for us and our planet.

Jeanette's book list on strong female protagonist in an ascending world

Jeanette Bent Why did Jeanette love this book?

This book not only changed my entire life, but it has also helped me shape the ending of my own book. Wilson gave me the permission and vocabulary to express abstract concepts that I was carrying around; sacred rage, patriarchal oppression, a lineage of matricidal trauma… big stuff. Rather than a book, Maiden to Mother is a cultural and feminine ancestral movement. By traversing your own underworlds and excavating all of the buried, scorned, traumatized parts of ourselves, we can then begin the healing journey and live honest to our souls. In this non-fiction book, Wilson asks the reader to go where they’ve never gone before, and in return, promises liberation and true joy. She delivers this in a no-bullshit manner. And guess what? It works.

By Sarah Durham Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Maiden to Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the goddess culture was stolen and buried, so too were women's rites of passage into our wild, intuitive femininity and maturity.
With Maiden to Mother, Sarah Durham Wilson excavates these ancient rites, guiding us through a sacred and crucial initiation from the immature Maiden into the archetypal Mother - the powerful, safe, compassionate, full-bloom feminine life force that exists within all of us.

Becoming the Mother is every woman's birthright - regardless of whether or not she raises children. The Mother is who we needed as a child, who we were meant to be in this life, and who…


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