There are a few places in the world--Japan is one, Mexico is another--where the articles of daily life so suit the mode of living that they have survived Western penetration. Writing about Mexican and Guatemalan embroidery, Goodman--no mere craftnik--describes first the fibers and dyes, the looms and weaves; and then the design of the garments as derived from the fabrics. The garments, in turn, have roots (the all-purpose, vari-sized servilleta, or napkin, being ""indispensable in a culture where paper is scarce""); the symbols, moreover, ""are not copied out of habit, but in an awareness of their meaning."" Approaching the stitchery per se, Goodman explains the superiority of hand-spun and hand-woven textiles for formalized embroidery: ""The warp and weft usually have the same dimensions, and [this makes] it easier to count the threads."" (In Mayan, xocbichuy--""to count""--is a word for embroidery."") There follow descriptions and illustrations of work done in cross stitch, herringbone stitch, and others, and of decorative edgings, seams, and necklines. Fine color photos, mostly by Charles Dorkin, complete the ensemble. Equally a learning experience and a designer's resource.