Hip to Stitch: 20 Contemporary Projects Embellished with Thread written by Melinda A. Barta is a great embroidery book for both beginners just exploring the world of needlework as well as those more advanced. It starts with the basics explaining all the supplies and tips to help you get started. Even if you have been creating embroidery for some time there are tips that help with organization and also provide a fresh approach.
The layout of the book makes it simple to navigate and the pictures are inspiring. Most importantly, the directions for the projects are clear and easy to understand. There are twenty projects in this book and they are all very different which helps keep those creative juices flowing. Stitchers of all levels can take something away from it and hopefully explore new techniques they have never tried.
A project I personally found interesting (plus just plain beautiful) was the Korean inspired thimbles. There are four different patterns to choose from and I chose to make the red thimble featured here in the book's photograph. Speaking from a beginner's point-of-view this project is do-able. Working on a smaller scale was challenging at times but also very fun. It is also nice to work on a project that can be completed in a couple of hours!
This thimble also introduced a new stitch to me, the couching stitch. It covers the seam of the thimble by laying thread over it and tacking it down with a working thread. You can view directions and an illustration here at Annie's Attic.
If you would like to see the thimble I made, check out the flickr embroidery pool where you will also see tons of inspiring work by some very talented stitchers.