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

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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

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Spring Showers and Spring Flowers Blythe Swap

This was such a fun swap to put together! My partner and I figured out quickly that we both like the Mori Girl style and that really informed my process for making things. I got so excited about it! I wrote a few new patterns for knitted items (see yesterday’s freebie for one!) and sewed a bunch. Here’s a quick look at the things I sent:

And the awesome package I received:

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review: 20 to Make: Modern Needlepoint

20 to Make: Modern Needlepoint

20 to Make: Modern Needlepoint by Jayne Schofield

This book is just what the title says: 20 needlepoint patterns (and not a lot more). There is a brief 2-page section listing useful information on materials, how to start, how to read a chart, finishing, and blocking, but otherwise the book assumes that the reader is already experienced in needlepoint and/or is a quick study. The patterns are charted in full color with symbols and are easy to read, though personally I’d prefer it if they had row and column numbers (being a knitter, I’m used to that – I’m not experienced enough in needlepoint to know if it’s the norm there). The patterns are cute (some a little on the country-craftsy side) and feature a range of subjects from flowers to animals to homes and more.

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

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review: Simply Stitched

Simply Stitched

Simply Stitched: Beautiful Embroidery Motifs and Projects with Wool and Cotton by Yumiko Higuchi

The projects in this book combine wool embroidery thread and cotton embroidery floss. Most of the projects I’ve seen use either one or the other exclusively, so this combination allows for a different look than many other embroidery projects. Fourteen projects and sixteen motifs are included here, all inspired by nature, mostly plants and animals. The motifs and finished projects are shown in large color photographs while the project and motif instructions are provided in black and grey illustrations. The floral motifs are pretty but not fussy and have a classic feel. The creature motifs seem simple but perfectly represent their subjects without anthropomorphizing. I especially love the bees (with segmented legs and french knot bodies) and roosters.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Sterling Heights Public Library through the awesome MeLCat ILL system

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review: Forgotten Ways for Modern Days

 photo forgotten ways_zpswywsnbnh.jpeg

Forgotten Ways for Modern Days: Kitchen Cures and Household Lore for a Natural Home and Garden by Rachelle Blondel

This is one of those books that is totally practical but for me personally remains aspirational. I just never seem to find the time to gather the necessary ingredients for these types of projects – I might remember to buy the glycerin and essential oil that I wouldn’t have on hand to make wood wipes, but will I take the time to actually make the wipes before I want to use them? Probably not. This is purely my own lack of effort, though, and I’m sure that many other folks will appreciate the limited ingredient lists required to make most of these items. For cleaning and other chores, I just don’t spend any more time on them than I have to, so preparing in advance is unlikely to actually happen. Recipes are included for cleaning, laundry, kitchen, household, and garden items, as well as those used for health and beauty. The book is lovely to hold and look at and most of the recipes only require half a dozen ingredients, making them pretty reasonable in terms of preparation and cost. The paper it is printed on and the design all lend themselves to a natural feel that jibes with the book’s intent.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Hart Area Public Library using the awesome MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Natural Color

Natural Color

Natural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye Projects for Your Home and Wardrobe by Sasha Duerr

The concept of making one’s own dyes from plants is as appealing as ever (at least to those so inclined) and Duerr likens the process to the slow food movement – she gathers dye sources seasonally as they’re available and finds comfort in the changing palette throughout the year (of course, she lives in California where plants are more plentiful/alive during the winter months). As such, the book is organized by season with projects and recipes that utilize commonly available plants (again, at least commonly available in some places). A section on mordants and other modifiers (some plants will produce different colors if another element is added) is followed by a guide to the techniques used in the recipes. Most of the recipes seem pretty doable, though collecting the proper equipment might take a while (you need to use stainless steel vessels to avoid any interactions with the vessel material itself) and I definitely wouldn’t be able to find some of the plant ingredients locally at any time of year. It is a gorgeous book, though, and just looking through it is inspirational even if not wholly achievable.

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

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