On picking this book up, I had never heard of the Baltimore Album style, but apparently this specific type of quilt block was popular during the 1840s in Baltimore. They were created to reflect an image of life at that time, and some reflected (in a somewhat hidden way) not just the day to day of the women who made them, but their political opinions as well. The patterns included here range from table rugs to pillows to sewing notions, and instruction on felting wool, making patterns, and appliquéing with felted wool are provided. These projects have bold color, fine detail, and certainly reflect the skill and time required to create them. Some also include details about the history of the content, such as the symbolism of various fruit used in the cornucopia table rug. Templates are also included.
Who doesn’t love the idea of a whimsical garden that delights all ages? This book showcases 19 children’s and discovery gardens from all over the United States. For each garden, it provides details of the goal, concept, and design the garden’s creators started with, along with a guide to key areas and a list of plants used. Also listed is contact information and some stats such as size. Accompanying all this information are sketches and design images from the conceptual and planning stages of the garden’s creation, as well as color photographs of the garden at present. There’s lots of good inspiration here for most any gardener, even if you’re not planning something on the scale of these large projects.
This picture book, published in association with Amnesty International, is one of a growing number of titles aimed at bringing political awareness to young children. In this story, a family flees their home country to settle in a place where, unlike in the country they fled, all the children are able to attend school, but they quickly find that the limited options in their new home are also unsatisfying. This unrest is illustrated by the three monotone sweater options available to children: solid green, orange, or grey. The mother, tired of seeing the children looking “like an army” in their matching clothing, unravels three sweaters and uses the wool to knit multicolored versions which soon become a trend. This seemingly inconsequential thing brings joy to everyone and illustrates the point that small actions can spread out and become larger ones. The illustrations are also restricted to a limited color palette (mostly but not completely green, orange, grey, and black) and use knitting symbols and imagery throughout for a very effective and striking look. The last couple pages include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which may spur further questions and discussion.
full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Enchanted Lion Books
Fliers: 20 small posters with big thoughts by Nathaniel Russell
When I first saw the cover of this book, I thought, that looks like that one Art Assignment. Well, it turns out that’s for good reason: that Art Assignment was created by the author of this book! These are fliers (or flyers) that were created to be more art than utility. You might find them funny, thought-provoking, mildly disturbing, or a variety of other possible things. Some are distinctly Night Vale-esque (which I particularly appreciate) but there are lots of themes taking off on the themes of actual fliers. The former punk rocker in me also really loves the DIY look of these. I remember cutting and pasting (by hand) band posters and zines and these have that same feel. All pages are thick cardstock and designed to easily pull out so you can post them or frame them or whatever suits you.
This book is a collection of essays (some of which are indistinguishable from full-on journal articles) on the experience of being in an intentionally designed outdoor space, with a specific focus on sound and smell. Most of the contributors are academics, but the essays are not all as dry as you might fear. (They do all include full citation lists as you’d expect.) Many illustrations are included as part of the writing, some of which are photographs of gardens as they currently exist, others of which are historical artwork and diagrams that relate to the subject matter. This isn’t a light read by any means, but works well as a ‘dip in and out’ book – read the essay(s) that suit your interest and move on. If nothing else, gardeners will find inspiration in the illustrations.
This book looks at a variety of techniques and inspiration points and encourages the reader to create unique pieces. Many of the techniques may seem basic, but used in the ways shown, look anything but basic. Most of the techniques will be familiar to crafters. A few of the inspiration points, though, are possibly inappropriate – an African mask is used, but its origin is not given more specificity (Africa is a big continent with many people and one mask cannot possibly be representative of all of them) and a Hula dancer is treated as a pin-up girl, which seems outright disrespectful, for example. It’s a bummer that an otherwise useful book is kind of ruined by these insensitive inclusions.
As I’ve mentioned, my raised bed veg garden has not been my garden priority the last couple of years. I’ve just not been paying as much attention to it, part of the reason is that the trees nearby it have grown and are now shading it more than desired part of the day. I really need to relocate it next summer (although I’m also toying with the idea of trying to grow veggies in among the ornamental plants throughout the garden – I have a feeling that critters will eat more than I will with this approach, though). This book has 30 projects for growing veggies in the garden, ranging from plant supports to planter boxes and raised beds, to tool containers and organizers. Each project is rated for difficulty and includes a complete list of required materials and tools. A series of in-process photos are also shown, though not every step is fully illustrated, so some ability to interpret instructions without a visual is required. Ideas for using each item are also given, such as tips for growing particular crops on a plant support. Several of these have me dreaming about the future – I look forward to the day when our trees bear enough fruit to require the apple storage trays!
Modern quilt – it’s a term that can be defined in a number of ways, but probably falls into the ‘I know it when I see it’ category. One common feature is the use of large blocks, larger than you’d commonly see in many traditional quilt styles, anyway. That’s the basis of these ten quilt designs, each of which includes a list of materials, a cutting list, directions for making templates, fabric recommendations, step-by-step piecing instructions, and palette suggestions.
The Flower Book: Let the beauty of each bloom speak for itself – natural flower arrangements for your home
Fans of flowers will be delighted with the full color photos in this large book. Step by step instructions are provided for creating professional-looking cut flower arrangements and bouquets. Recommended specific flowers are profiled, including a wealth of information in addition to a huge close-up color photo. These flowers are listed individually and then several are used to create a mixed-flower arrangement. Even as someone who appreciates flowers almost exclusively where they grow in the garden, there is a ton of inspiration here – from which flowers might look good together to the facts about the plants themselves.
Quilted Celebrations: 18 Designs to Capture Life’s Milestones with Needle and Thread by Amanda Murphy
There’s virtually no limit to the number of occasions on which you could gift a quilt. Murphy includes ten designs for new baby, birthdays, religious rites, graduation, wedding, anniversary, and commemorating a life here. She also includes ideas for personalizing the quilt to the specific recipient. These ten projects utilize a variety of quilt blocking techniques, and could easily be adapted to suit another occasion or no occasion at all. Templates are included.