So, Google Book Search . . . I knew it existed, but it simply never occurred to me that I might find craft books there. (Which probably makes me the last person in America to figure this out, but there you go.)
See where it says, “Full View,” there in the blue bar? When you select that option, your search results will be very old, public-domain books. And there are a lot of wonderful crafty things to be discovered there.
Your best bet is to search for specific techniques — these old books were rarely about general crafting. I found interesting books with search terms like “crochet,” “embroidery,” and “sewing.”
And I love reading the text from these old books, because the general perspective on craft was so different — in many cases, of course, craft skills were important cogs in the domestic machinery. And every now and again, you run across something funny, like this bit from Art in Needlework, A Book About Embroidery, by Lewis Foreman Day and Mary Buckle (1907):
“The custom has been, since woman learnt to kill time with a needle, to think of embroidery too much as an idle accomplishment. It is more than that. At the very least it is a handicraft: at the best it is an art.”
Hope you’re able to kill some time with a needle (or hook, or loom, or bone-folder) today. Happy Exploring!