Book Review: Needlepoint for Everyone

Title: Needlepoint for Everyone

Author: Mary Brooks Picken & Doris White

Date: 1970

Publisher: Harper & Row

ISBN: none, but click here to see it on Amazon

Length: 207 pages plus index

Illustrations: photos, mostly black and white, and some charts

Quote: “Needlepoint, which is embroidery on canvas, was a type of needlework highly developed by the English.”

Needlepoint for Everyone gives a few details from the history of needlepoint, but there’s not a great deal of history in this book. Neither is there a great deal of exposition. There are examples of needlepoint found in museums and historic mansions, explanations of techniques, and chapters about specific styles and subjects for needlepoint. There are lots of pictures. Most of them are black and white, but most are clear enough to inspire crafters.

Specific topics discussed in this book include the needlepoint of Blair House (“the Guest White House”), needlepoint in rehabilitation programs, samplers and mottoes, devotionals, needlepoint for children, needlepoint for men, needlepoint in advertising, needlepoint treasures in museums, and needlepoint symbols.

This ambitious, somewhat eccentric book contains far more photographs than charts, but even knitters and weavers—as well as needlepointers and cross-stitches—can find some inspiration in Needlepoint for Everyone.

By looking her up online, I’ve learned that Mary Brooks Picken was quite an interesting character. She died, around age ninety-five, before I became a serious needle crafter. Back in 1916 she had founded the “Women’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences.” As what one pattern publisher still calls “the original fashion authority,” she wrote ninety-six books on sewing and textile crafts. Someone looking for fresh material for a Women’s History Month project might want to research her life and work. Certainly she no longer needs a dollar.

Needlepoint for Everyone was reprinted in 1997, so the older edition I physically owned when I wrote this review has not gone into unreasonable collector prices. To buy it here, you’d need to send $5 per copy + $5 per package to salolianigodagewi @ yahoo, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t buy a cheaper copy somewhere else…unless you want to tuck a copy of Needlepoint for Everyone into a package with a Fair Trade Book.


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