review: Planting Design for Dry Gardens

Planting Design for Dry Gardens

Planting Design for Dry Gardens: Beautiful, resilient groundcovers for terraces, paved areas, gravel and other alternatives to the lawn by Olivier Filippi

Filippi starts off with a history of lawns, concluding with a look at the relatively recent movement toward ecological meadows and other alternatives. Then he moves on to a look at groundcover plants as they grow in the wild all over the world. The next section details a variety of groundcover gardens including those that are walkable, for an alternative that is quite similar to a lawn but without the water or mowing requirements. Many of these groundcovers bloom once a year, so they actually have an added beauty that a lawn does not. Filippi also explores other variations, such as a grassland that features cultivated weeds, flowering steppes, gravel gardens, green plants used to enhance stone surfaces, flowering meadows, and more. The second half of the book provides instructions for preparing the soil, planting, and maintaining these gardens (with a particular focus on reducing the amount of maintenance required as time goes on), followed by a listing of groundcover plants for dry gardens. Color photographs illustrate throughout.

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

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:

April freebie!

It’s a new month and I have a new free pattern to share!

Linden Bag for Blythe

Introducing the Linden Bag for Blythe! I wanted to create a really easy-to-make bag for Blythe that could be made to suit a number of different styles. As you can see from the photos here, I went with Mori style, and I made two bags from different yarns. You can see that the texture of each bag is slightly different, which is a result of the yarns being different. The green one is a fractionally thinner yarn made from alpaca, which is a little less fluffy than the cream yarn, which is merino. You can make the strap the thickness you like and as it also forms the sides of the bag, construction is super simple and finishing doesn’t take very long. When you’re done, you can embellish it in whatever way suits you. You could also make it smaller for Middie or super tiny for Petite.

Linden Bag for Blythe

Download this free pattern on Ravelry, LoveKnitting, and Craftsy.

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

review: New Wild Garden

New Wild Garden

New Wild Garden: Natural-style planting and practicalities by Ian Hodgson

Just as I like to use native plants, I also like to create gardens that fit together naturally, and this book is all about doing that. This type of garden – inspired by those that exist naturally without human intervention – provide such robust habitats for insects and other small wildlife. The large color photographs used here offer a great look at what different plant combinations will look like. I find this especially useful since not everything will be blooming at the same time, so it’s nice to see a garden where some things are blooming, others have already bloomed, and some have not bloomed yet. Hodgson also covers planning and planting how-tos throughout, for a variety of types of sites and plants. There is even a section here on how to use these philosophies in container gardens. Finally, a gallery showcases ideal annuals, biennials, perennials, grasses, sedges, rushes, bulbs, climbers, trees, shrubs, water plants, and bog plants.

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

Sweet Helena

Helena Sweater for Blythe by AnneArchy

My plan for this sweater was to make something that suits a mohair or mohair blend lace weight yarn and is reversible (can be worn cardigan style or pullover style) – and I succeeded! This sweet sweater is knit using garter stitch, which really works in this type of lofty yarn. It has a collar that looks great no matter which way you wear it, and is a lovely simple canvas for your embellishments. The short sleeves work well with the lightweight feel of the yarn, making this a perfect sweater for spring.

Ravelry, Etsy, LoveKnitting, and Craftsy

review: Road Food

Road Food

Road Food: An eater’s guide to more than 1,000 of the best local hot spots & hidden gems across America by Jane & Michael Stern (10th edition)

Fans of The Splendid Table will recognize these authors as regular guest experts in finding and reviewing food across the United States. This book divides the country into regions and focuses on a dozen or so eateries in each state in each region. Michigan’s entries include some of the most famous places you’ve already heard of such as Lafayette Coney Island, Northside Grill, and Zingerman’s Deli. Most of the Michigan restaurants are either up north or in Southeast Michigan, with a few exceptions on the west side – disappointingly nothing at all inland between Ann Arbor and Traverse City. Still, it’s a good guide for someone traveling and I have no doubt that the food at all of these places is excellent.

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

Anchors Aweigh!

Anchors Aweigh Sweater for Blythe

Ahoy! Fashion above deck! This three-quarter length sleeve sweater for Blythe is nautical-inspired but fashionable in any situation. It has a narrow stripe and roll neck and is a classic style. I originally designed this back in 2011 for a swap and recently found my pattern notes and made it again, so here it is!

Heave ho-ver to Ravelry, Etsy, LoveKnitting, and Craftsy to find this pattern.

review: Grow Native

Grow Native

Grow Native: Bringing Natural Beauty to Your Garden by Lynn M. Steiner

I’m already on board for using native plants in the garden – they tend to be lower maintenance, thrive with little attention, sustain habitat for butterflies and birds, and fit into my cottage garden aesthetic. Besides, they belong here, right? This book focuses on identifying plant communities that would have existed in your area before it was developed and recreating them in your gardens. A several page chart offers ‘instead of that, plant this’ suggestions to avoid weedy and invasive flowers, groundcovers, grasses, shrubs, vines, and trees. Throughout the book, color photographs show both individual plants and gardens with a combination of plants, providing lots of inspiration. About half the book is instructive and the other half provides one-page entries for a variety of recommended plants. This is one that I may purchase for myself because it has such a wealth of information and ideas that I know I’ll want to refer back to it.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Fenton Branch of the Genesee District Library through the awesome MeLCat ILL system