It ISN'T necessary to spend the rest of the summer reading racy Gothic novels. Enough new arts and crafts books are in the bookstores this year to incite the staunchest beachbum into flurries of creation to last until Christmas.
Sandra Lounsbury Foose's "Scrap Savers' Stitchery Book," (Doubleday, $8.95) will bring out the rag picker in everyone. Her book contains graphed patterns for stuffed animals, quilts, potholder, pillows, shower curtains and lots of potential Christmas goodies. All you need is a plain stitch sewing machine and a bag of scraps.
While little girls in America are out making mud pies, girls in Scandinavia are learning to embroider. Edith Nielsen started stitching as a toddler and hasn't stopped since. In her book "Scandinavian Embroidery Past and Present" (Charles Scribner's Sons, $14.95) she gives the history of Scandinavian embroidery from 1700 to the present. "No new stitches have been developed anywhere in the world since the 16th century," Nielsen explains; and if you follow the directions in her book for pillows, wall hangings and tablecloths, you will have learned all the techniques needed.
Making an heirloom quilt is always a good but enterprising task. It also helps if you have lots of space so you can set up a frame. For those of us who are not so advantaged, "Quilting in Squares" (Charles Scribner's Sons, $12.95), by Katharine Fisher and Elizabeth Kay, is an alternative. The easy-to-follow instructions and color pictures show how to make a quilt one square at a time. This is a great idea for crafty ones who start out with great gusto then burn out halfway through the project. Just stash your squares away until the spirit moves you again.
Lisa Sergio emphatically insists "You Can Upholster!" (J.B. Lippincott Co., $8.96) if you follow her instructions. The book tells you how to do everything you need to know about upholstery fabrics, tools, stripping, stuffing and savings a sagging seat.
Following the success of their first book, Mary Kay Davis and Helen Giammattei have written "More Needlepoint From America's Great Quilt Design" (Workman Publishing Co., $6.95). Sixty-two quilt patterns, including Amish and coverlet designs, have been illustrated and adapted for needlepoint.
Students of costume design will be fascinated by Mary Gostelow's lavishly illustrated book "Embroidery of All Russia" (Charles Scribner's Sons, $9.95). The section on religious embroidery gives detailed historical information on wall hangings, icon veils and altar cloths. There are graphed directions for the easier patters; however, this is not a book for the beginner.
Nor is Muriel Baker's book "Stumpwork, The Art of Raised Embroidery" (Charles Scribner's Sons, $14.95). Baker has revived the 17th-century English three-dimensional art in her richly illustrated book, in which she traces the history and explains technical details of the stumpwork figures. "stumpwork, which can best ge described as a combination of painting, sculpture and embroidery, shows an abhorrence of any open space whatsoever," Baker writes. The stitches that were used for embroidered pictures, mirror frames and jewel boxes are carefully explained in the back of the book and may be adapted to modern embroidery.
Mira Silverstein traveled extensively to museums, cooperatives and cottage industries, collecting needlework samples for her fourth book "International Needlework" (Charles Scribner's Sons, $17.95). The well-illustrated volume includes 50 projects using embroidery, quilting, applique, lace and beadwork techniques from 17 countries. San Blas applique or reverse applique is described in one of her chapters; however, the directions are quite oblique. She suggests you trace the design from the black-and-white photograph, transfer it to a dressmaker's pattern and stitch away.
Needlepointers looking for a new slant will find one in Ella Projansky's "Sculptured Needlepoint Stitchery" (Charles Scribner's Sons, $14.95). Her book contains easy-to-follow diagrams for lacy potpourri, Queen Anne, quadrille stitchery and others. The textured designs can be achieved by the novice and as Projansky says, "If you've never done any needlepoint, you're in luck; you have no bad habits to unlearn."
Stitching Oriental rug patterns is difficult, elaborate and time-consuming work, but "Needlepoint and Latch Hook Rugs" by Dorothy Kaestner (Charles Scribner's Sons, $14.95) makes it interesting and easier. She gives instructions for everything from a hall runner (63 inches by 105 inches) to an Oriental dollhose rug (3 3/4 inches by 5 3/4 inches). The complicated patterns are meticulously graphed for hook rugs or needlepoint, and simple geometric designs for the beginner are offered.
Forget all the jokes about learning basketweaving in college. Dorothy Wright explains in her book, "The Complete Book of Baskets and Basketry" (Charles Scribner's Sons, $12.95), all you need to learn about one of the oldest crafts. After giving a history of basketweaving, Wright laments, "In the times past, boredom was probably the main reason for the patient creation of such exquisitely fine and time-consuming artifacts; now the whole world has other ways to counter tedium, though less tasteful, more ephemeral and probably less successful." It makes you feel guilty enough to buy the book and learn the various patterns, from the twined work baskets of China to the seed-gathering baskets used by the Pomo Indians.
If you still don't know your slip-dentsleying from your weft and swarp, look it up in the glossary of terms in Azalea Stuart Thorpe's and Jack Lenor Larsen's book, "Elements of Weaving" (Doubleday/Dolphin Books, $5.95). This newly revised edition tells the history of weaving and details two projects to start you off, followed by a complete analysis of the four-harness foot-power loom, drafting, the kinds of weaves, materials and approaches to design, texture, pattern and color.
Copyright laws, income tax responsibilities and zoning regulations shouldn't deter you from taking any of the above hobbies and turning them into big bucks. "Make It & Sell It, A Young People's Guide to Marketing Crafts" (Charles Scribner's Sons, $7.95) is written for the benefit of young people who want to find a market for their crafts. Working with a partner, testing the market, setting prices, advertising and legal responsibilities are some of the topics explained by the author Loretta Holz.