review: Handmade Heirlooms

Handmade Heirlooms

Handmade Heirlooms: Crafting with intention, making things that matter, and connecting to family & tradition by Jennifer Casa

This book embraces the idea of family heirlooms being special keepsakes that are, more often than not, handmade by someone in the family. One doesn’t often think of creating new heirlooms, but this book challenges the reader to do just that – instead of simply making a gift for a family member, make something that will be loved by that person and handed down over the years. These projects are made using a variety of techniques including knitting, crochet, sewing, and more. They range from traditional baby items like booties and caps to more unique objects like a knitted airplane toy. Some are more utilitarian, like a knitting needle roll and a monogrammed bulletin board.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the East Lansing Public Library through the MeLCat ILL system

early spring garden walkthrough

This weekend I took a walk through the gardens to see how things look at the beginning of our spring growing season. There’s not a huge amount happening, but there are signs of life returning!

The lilacs are looking good after we did the really big prune last year:

Lilac really doing just fine after hard prune last year

White Lilac rebounding after deep prune last year

I’ll be picking up more fruit trees from the Conservation District later this week, so I need to pick up some more mulch to go around them and get ready to dig some holes. I ordered probably too many trees, but as our goal is to have the yard be completely gardens (except the fenced in area where Coraline runs around, which will just be clover without much else), I’m pretty much fine with having a ton of petite fruit trees throughout.

Lots more pics on Flickr.

review: Take a Ball of String

Take a Ball of String

Take a Ball of String: 16 Beautiful Projects for Your Home by Jemima Schlee

These projects are divided into categories of kitchen, office, porch, and bathroom, and include a variety of items made from standard twine or household cotton string. These creations are crocheted, knit, woven, or glued. Instructions for crocheting and knitting are provided in a separate sections, while the other techniques are detailed within the project instructions. All projects have a homespun, earthy quality.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Troy Public Library through the MeLCat ILL system

review: Save the Bees with Natural Backyard Hives

Save the Bees with Natural Backyard Hives

Save the Bees with Natural Backyard Hives: The easy and treatment-free way to attract and keep healthy bees by Rob and Chelsea McFarland

This approach to beekeeping is based on understanding bees and working with them in as many ways as possible (as opposed to putting the human’s needs/wants first). For a first-time beekeeper, this book recommends three crucial elements: community, education, and equipment. Of these, equipment will be the most expensive in terms of dollars – a basic first year’s worth of equipment will run approximately $500. Lots of detail is provided about the equipment and options available with special attention to why the authors recommend particular choices. All the phases of beekeeping are outlined, from planning all the way through to harvesting honey and maintaining healthy hives. I aspire to keep bees someday and this book is a great place to start.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Shiawassee District Library through the MeLCat ILL system

review: Hello, Cutie!

Hello, Cutie

Hello, Cutie! Adventures in Cute Culture by Pamela Klaffke

As you have probably gathered, cute things are fully within my area of interest. And you know that the first thing I did with this book was flip through to see if Blythe was included. Good news! She’s first mentioned on page 17, and Klaffke is clearly a fan, too. She writes about finding Blythe forums online, which fed her enthusiasm for the doll. I turned the page and there’s a photo of several of the Blythe enthusiasts I follow! How cool! She goes on to write about meeting up with Blythe folks in her area and the things that make Blythe cute. There are a few short digressions into Forum Drama, which feel a little out of place amidst the book’s general tone of positivity, but mostly it’s about why people love Blythe and other cute things. Throughout the book, short features highlight people who make or collect cute things. The whole thing is really a celebration of cute things and an exploration into why we love them. It was published in 2012, so sadly a lot of the online links included are either gone or out of date (many of the blogs, for example, have been abandoned in the intervening years) but many of them will still lead to further information.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Mott Community College Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

review: Dresden Carnival

Dresden Carnival

Dresden Carnival: 16 Modern Quilt Projects *Innovative Designs* by Marian B. Gallian and Yvette Marie Jones

Dresden plates are a classic and these designs play with the original idea in a variety of ways. Many but not all of these designs are floral – dresden plates lend themselves so well to floral motifs – and range from very traditional to more modern. This book includes pattern pieces (which could be copied or traced from the page) throughout as well as larger pieces in a perforated section (for easy removal) in the back.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Capital Area District Library through the awesome MeLCat ILL system

review: Happy Home Outside

Happy Home Outside

Happy Home Outside: Everyday Magic for Outdoor Life by Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau

The focus here is on bringing the comforts of the indoors to the outdoors with a very colorful, cozy aesthetic. The DIY projects mostly reuse found objects and range from quite simple to a bit more involved. A number of recipes are scattered throughout along with ideas for gatherings and parties. I was annoyed to see a tipi and racist terminology in the accompanying text, which pretty much ruined this book for me. Not recommended.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Ann Arbor District Library through the MeLCat ILL system

review: Cross-stitch to Calm

Cross-stitch to Calm

Cross-stitch to Calm: Stitch and De-Stress with 40 Simple Patterns by Leah Lintz

I feel like many of us could use some calming in our lives these days – I know that I rely on knitting to take me to a good head space – and what a bonus to produce something at the same time. Lintz offers 40 patterns that are more modern than most commercially available patterns. These are not designed to be cute (though some are in the broad sense of the term) and have a more no-frills look. Most of these designs are monochrome and may benefit from being stitched on fabric in colors other than white. Patterns include flora, fauna, symbols, objects, and words. My favorite design is the rainbow-color word Smile, though I do also love the Bird on a Branch, Flock, Pretty Kitty, Abstract Dandelion, and Bonsai.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Kent District Library through the awesome MeLCat ILL system