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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review: More Modern Top-Down Knitting

More Modern Top-Down Knitting

More Modern Top-Down Knitting: 24 garments based on Barbara G. Walker’s 12 top-down templates by Kristina McGowan

Barbara G. Walker’s Knitting from the Top is one of the classics. Many knitters may not even realize how many patterns they use have been influenced by Walker’s work, but her legacy is far-reaching. Many of the patterns I’ve designed myself were influenced by her work without me even being aware of it, as I developed my skills knitting from top-down patterns that could not have existed without Walker. This book celebrates that legacy and offers 24 patterns, two for each of Walker’s templates. Most are sweaters and two are hats. All of the patterns are written and include a schematic with measurements, and charts are included where needed for intarsia or detail sections. A few special techniques are outlined but for the most part, you’ll want to know how to knit before you start one of these projects.

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

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review: The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook

The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook

The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook: Fresh and foolproof recipes for your electric pressure cooker by Coco Morante

Instant Pots are all the rage these days! We don’t have one (yet) but since K does virtually all the cooking in our household, it’s up to him to want one enough to actually get one. So I haven’t actually tried these recipes myself, but they look pretty good. The recipes cover a wide variety of things: breakfast dishes, bean and grain-based recipes, soups, meat-specific meals (poultry, pork, and beef), veggies and side dishes, and desserts. It also includes basic info on operating this piece of equipment, troubleshooting for common problems, a list for stocking your pantry for cooking with it, and how the pressure system works. There’s also a chapter on converting other recipes to work with an Instant Pot. The book is divided into chapters by type of dish and is indexed for easy reference.

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

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review: The Edible Front Yard

Edible Front Yard

The Edible Front Yard: The mow-less, grow-more plan for a beautiful, bountiful garden by Ivette Soler

I’ve been interested in and working on reducing lawns for years. When we lived downstate, I mulched our entire front yard and made it a native plants garden (RIP, awesome garden, which we had to have sod laid over when we sold the house). Now we’ve replaced some areas of the yard with clover and are working to get rid of the rest of the lawn eventually. We live on a double lot and there is a LOT of lawn to cover, so it’s going to take a while. This book provides plant profiles of ornamental edibles and some plants we don’t usually think of as edible but which can be (sunflowers, lavender). It also contains design guidance for creating curb appeal, a handful of sample designs you could use or adapt, and information about clearing your current lawn and maintaining your new non-lawn garden. The focus here is on creating gardens rather than replacing grass with groundcovers that don’t need mowing.

Full disclosure: I borrowed this book from my local Chippewa River District Library

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review: The Knitter’s Book of Knowledge

The Knitter's Book of Knowledge

The Knitter’s Book of Knowledge: A complete guide to essential knitting techniques by Debbie Bliss

Looking for a one-stop reference book for knitting? This is it. Bliss brings her legendary expertise and covers pretty much all the things you could think of in an informational knitting book. She includes yarn, needles, the basics of how to knit, understanding the terminology and techniques used in knitting, variations of knitting texture, finishing techniques, knitting design, and entire chapters devoted to color, embellishments, shaping, and knitting in the round. Illustrated throughout with color photographs and hand-drawn diagrams (some of the clearest/easiest-to-parse I’ve seen), this book is beautiful and useful, and is definitely one I’ll be adding to my own personal library.

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

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review: The Joy of Stitching

The Joy of Stitching

The Joy of Stitching: 38 quick and easy embroidery and needlework designs by Nina Granlund Saether

This book focuses on projects, providing instructions for making a finished object (or embellishing an existing piece of clothing) that includes embroidery or needlework, but the motifs could easily be used in other contexts as well. Needlework designs are charted in color and black outline sketches are provided for embroidery designs. The designs here are cute but not super stylized – if you looked at the projects all collected together, it would not necessarily be apparent that they were all designed by one person. This could be seen as a negative (the collection lacks cohesion) but could also be viewed as a positive in that you could create all of the items and not have it be obvious that you got every one of them from the same source.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book form the Kent District Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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