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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Texts on Textiles

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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Exploring the art of sewing? Here are some tales to comfort and inspire.

Book Cover Cloth Lullaby

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois, by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, follows the life of the sculpture artist who grew up restoring old tapestries with her mother. Textured fabrics come to life through Arsenault’s illustrations alongside Novesky’s beautiful language. Louise’s mother “loved to work in the warm sun, her needle rising and falling beside the lilting river, perfect, delicate spiderwebs glinting with caught drops of water above her.” Louise learned about warp and weft, spindles and needles, and how to dye wool from plants. The image of the spider takes on symbolic meaning throughout, i.e. “Her mother, like a spider whose web is torn, didn’t get angry, she just got on with the fixing of it.” After her beloved mother died, Louise harnessed her grief—cutting up bed linens, handkerchiefs, dresses, and wedding napkins for sculptures and cloth books.

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Strange Material

Strange Materials Cover

November is Art Books Month at 49th Shelf, for which there's no one better to turn to than Leanne Prain, the Queen of Canadian Cool DIY. Her latest book is Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles,and we're pleased to feature an excerpt from her chapter, "Technology and New Methods of Storytelling," which explores the ways that textile artists are using digital and social media to further their craft. 

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"I really enjoy the way that the Internet has enabled an interest in knitting to spread much further. I love the way that so many knitters embrace technology." —artist Freddie Robins

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The digital world has brought about a variety of ways to communicate, including blogging, tweeting, and texting. Textile artists are exploring new technologies, weaving stories into QR codes that can only be read by a smartphone, re-creating Internet memes in their stitchwork, or journaling on fabric about online matchmaking. The urge to share our experiences through the handmade arts is not a notion lost in historical reference but a vibrant part of the community. Why shouldn’t our textile work reflect how we communicate today?

Crafters have long embraced the opportunity to share stories about themselves and meet each other online. The popular website Knithacker asks k …

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