Daniel Sheets Dye, Dover, 1974
Of all the books I own which I use for designing, this is my all-time favorite. I’ve had it for 30 years and have paged through it many times looking for ideas for patterns and stitches.
The book is a collection of well over a thousand different lattice designs created in China between 1000 and 1900. Most of these designs have been used for windows, screens and other decorative devices throughout China. Dye traveled around China, sketching these designs which he later classified and collected in this book. (There is also a second, much shorter, book of designs, but this one is best.)
Chinese Lattice Designs has a relatively short introductory section which covers the way the designs were collected, the construction techniques, the classification system and the history of lattice. While these are not essential to the dneedlepointer’s purpose, they make for fascinating reading.
The book is divided into chapters according to the 26 main classifications. A supplement has another 26 classifications of designs, these based on the type of object (tiles, windows, furniture, etc.) where it was found. The chapters begin with a short essay about the type of design and notes are included giving historical information about each design. Each pattern has a clear line drawing in black and white.
The designs range from small motifs to large complex designs which could even be translated into rugs or larger works. Since all but a couple of types are based on regular geometric shapes (squares, rectangles, octagons, and triangles), it is not very difficult to translate them into needlepoint.
This you can do in a number of ways, work the lines as blackwork patterns (seen in the center of the blackwork log cabin pillow, pictured here, and some logs as well, or take areas and reproduce them as Mosaic, Scotch or Cashmere stitches going in different directions (as in the two Chinese Lattice ornaments). Some of the curved patterns could even be translated into Bargello (an idea which just occurred to me).
Many people are hesitant about creating their own designs, but with a book like this and a sheet of graph paper it’s easy to do.