review: A well-crafted home

a well-crafted home

A well-crafted home: inspiration and 60 projects for personalizing your space by Janet Crowther

This book is part of the current trend of making decor that will appear to be used or vintage. For many of them, you might be able to find materials at an estate sale or flea market, but you could also use new materials from Home Despot or your local hardware store. Each project is designated with a skill level and includes a finished size, so it’s easy to see at a glance if a particular project will work for both your ability and the space you have in mind. This aesthetic of this book, with matte color photos filled with tone-on-tone shades of cream, and its projects will appeal to fans of the decor on Fixer Upper. I feel like a few of these might actually be things that they’ve done on that show! The textiles used in the sample projects make you wish you could put your hands on them – you can almost feel the linen used to make a pillowcase and duvet. The book closes with instructions for a few of the techniques used, including several types of dyeing, a few ways of sewing seams, basic woodworking techniques, leather cutting, and distressing a mirror for an antique look. Like most books of this type, you may end up spending more on materials than you would buying a pre-made shabby chic item at a big box store, but the goal Crowther espouses is to enjoy the process as much as the product.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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Not surly, Surya

Surya Hat for Middie Blythe

Isn’t this hat cute? It’s a version of a hat I made awhile back for Neo Blythe, but this time it’s for Middie. This is yet another thing I’ve knitted for Blythe that I might wear myself, so perhaps I’ll make a human version next.

Find this pattern for your Middie on Ravelry, LoveKnitting, Craftsy, and Etsy.

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Review: The Keto Reset Diet

The Keto Reset Diet

The Keto Reset Diet: Reboot your metabolism in 21 days and burn fat forever by Mark Sisson with Brad Kearns

This is a diet plan for those who are looking for a way to lose weight and aren’t shy about eating a very specific selection of types of foods. The idea behind this plan might sound familiar – it’s designed around eating high protein and very-low-if-any carbs. You follow this extremely strict plan for three weeks and then gradually ease up on those restrictions. This book includes both general guidelines and detailed meal plans for those 21 days. It also provides charts outlining grams of carbs, fat, and protein and total calories for the ingredients/portions used in the meal plans. All the recipes using those ingredients are also provided, so you can make all the items on the meal plans. I’m not good at restrictive diets myself – I tend to go overboard and then get mad at the world when I’m unsatisfied – and I’m not a medical professional or scientist, but I’ve heard from other folks that it has worked well for them. Your mileage may vary!

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: The Garden in Every Sense and Season

The Garden in Every Sense and Season

The Garden in Every Sense and Season by Tovah Martin, photographs by Kindra Clineff

Gardeners looking for inspiration in the form of color photos will not be disappointed here. Martin focuses on each of the five senses as she moves through the four seasons, picking out favorite plants and parts of the garden (including earth and creatures) for each combination. She tells this story from her own first-person perspective with a cordial, friendly tone, which really draws you through and makes you want to find out what she’ll focus on next. She even finds things to appreciated during an East Coast winter!

full disclosure: reviewed from a NetGalley digital copy

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review: Knitting Ephemera

Knitting Ephemera

Knitting Ephemera: a compendium of articles, useful and otherwise, for the edification and amusement of the handknitter by Carol J. Sulcoski

Knitters will likely recognize Sulcoski’s name from her many books and articles, hand-dyed yarns, and speaking and teaching engagements. This is one of those cute little books that makes a great gift and can be enjoyed by dipping in here and there to read one or more of the short entries. These entries are provided in no stated order and include a biography of the patron saint of knitting (oops! there isn’t one, but a few possibilities are detailed), knitting-related world records, a list of knitting acronyms, definitions of yarn color effects terms, facts about knitwear through the ages, and many more. This would be a lovely book for a coffee table, waiting room, or other spot where someone is likely to pick it up for a few minutes and enjoy the facts they happen upon.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Kalamazoo Public Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Wise Craft Quilts

Wise Craft Quilts

Wise Craft Quilts: A guide to turning beloved fabrics into meaningful patchwork by Blair Stocker

So many people I know have quilts like this – created from shirts and other items that have special meaning. I have not seen many books focused specifically on these, though, so this is nice to see. Stocker offers 21 designs using a variety of types of material, including baby clothes, a wedding dress, table linens, and even bike race numbers (used to create a picnic blanket). Surprisingly, a t-shirt quilt is not among the projects here, but there are tons of instructions for creating those online. Many of these projects could be adapted to use whatever material you want to use – it wouldn’t have to be reuse of something existing, or could be a combination of reuse and purchased fabrics. There are a lot of options here, as well as inspiration for repurposing existing materials.

full disclosure: I borrowed this from my local public library, the Chippewa River District Library System

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review: the life-changing manga of tidying up

the life-changing manga of tidying up

the life-changing manga of tidying up: a magical story by Marie Kondo, illustrated by Yuko Uramoto

Are you a fan of the life-changing magic of tidying up? Or maybe you are looking for a different way into the Marie Kondo way of life? This book is a story-fied version of the original concept: it has a main character, Chiaki Suzuki, who is a young woman living in a cluttered Tokyo apartment. Her neighbor who likes to keep things tidy and Marie Kondo (AKA KonMari) herself also feature in the narrative. The story takes Chiaki from living a social life that mirrors her messy home to streamlining her wardrobe and letting go of the tangible reminders of past relationships. The concept that physical possessions weigh you down and hold you in the past will be familiar to KonMari devotees, as is the idea of using objects and clothing to spark joy and live a more fulfilling life.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: Visual Guide to Working in a Series

Visual Guide to Working in a Series

Visual Guide to Working in a Series: Next steps in inspired design – gallery of 200+ art quilts by Elizabeth Barton

Many artists work in series and art quilters are no exception. Barton offers examples of the things that can tie a series of art quilts together, using some of her own quilts as well as those by other well-known quilt artists. These examples are meant to provide inspiration and the accompanying information a guide to developing one’s own style. Barton also shares some of her own creative process, such as taking a photograph, making it into a tracing, and then piecing a quilt based on that outline (just one of many possibilities explored here). General artistic techniques and information are also provided, such as positive and negative space, color theory, value, and creating the illusion of depth. This book is a good choice for those wishing to learn as well as those just looking for inspiration.

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

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review: The Front Yard Forager

Front Yard Forager

The Front Yard Forager: Identifying, collecting, and cooking the 30 most common urban weeds by Melany Vorass Herrera

Foraging sounds neat, doesn’t it? Like, we all want to be self-sufficient and as an apocalypse (zombie or otherwise) seems just around the corner, it would pay to be able to find food anywhere. This book provides some history on how the western world has defined weeds, the ways in which urban and suburban landscaping has changed over time (the rise of the lawn, among other things), and things to keep in mind (personal safety while foraging, environmental pollution, and local regulations, etc.). Plants are grouped by where they’re likely to be found (lawns, vacant lots, and so forth). Each edible weed is described and a few recipes featuring that plant are provided. Most of the illustrations are monotone, which is a shame as they’d be much more useful if they were in color. There is a color insert, but I wish it were color throughout. The final chapter outlines poisonous weeds that are common to urban areas. I’ve eaten a few of the plants included here, like purslane, and they were fine, but on the whole I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I’m adventurous enough to try things as I’m pulling them out of the garden.

Full disclosure: I borrowed this book from my local Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Library

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