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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review: Designer Joi’s Fashion Sewing Workshop

Designer Joi's Fashion Sewing Workshop

Designer Joi’s Fashion Sewing Workshop: Practical skills for stylish garment design by Joi Mahon

Mahon is a designer and teacher who teaches throughout the US and has created patterns for McCall’s. Here she outlines the processes of designing, sketching, and patternmaking (flat pattern, draping, drafting, and computer-generated). She also devotes a chapter to designing for “the real body” which includes details about taking measurements and modifying commercial patterns. This is an overarching book that contains a lot of information garment sewists will want to know. It is not a source for patterns themselves, but hopefully the reader will be able to construct their own or alter commercially available patterns after reading.

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

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review: Pen to Thread

Pen To Thread

Pen to Thread: 750 hand-drawn embroidery designs to inspire your stitches by Sarah Watson

Watson, an illustrator and designer, has collected her favorite motifs to create using embroidery. Also included are instructions for getting started and basic embroidery techniques, illustrated with both color photographs and hand-drawn diagrams. These introductory and instructional sections are robust and well put-together and will be an asset for anyone learning (or improving their skills in) embroidery regardless of whether the motifs are to their taste. The motifs are grouped into categories: made in the USA, food, craft room, tools of the trade, school days, in the kitchen, in the garden, around the house, fun!, the great outdoors, by the sea, animals, plants, frames & borders, and alphabets. With more than 750 designs included, a wide variety of subject matter is covered. I know I often find myself wishing for a specific motif when working on a craft project, and I love to have so much variety in one source. Each set of color photographs of completed motifs is followed by one of black and white outlines for those designs and others not pictured in color. Specific instruction for each motif is not included – it is up to the reader to look at a design and determine which stitch is used where and in what order, and for the designs not pictured in color, up to the reader to make that part up themselves. The style of these motifs is sweet and not fussy. Includes a CD.

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

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review: Favorite Fabric Bowls, Boxes & Vases

Favorite Fabric Bowls, Boxes & Vases

Favorite Fabric Bowls, Boxes & Vases: 15 quick-to-make projects * 45 inspiring variations by Linda Johansen

Patterns for six bowls, five boxes, and four vases are included, with a few variations as part of each pattern. They use stiff interfacing (as opposed to clever engineering) to provide the structure of each item, and rely heavily on satin stitch for the seams. This uniformity of construction means that the projects all look fairly similar (the bowls especially seem just barely distinguishable from one another). The boxes would make nice vessels for gifts, but the look of these projects is just not my aesthetic.

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

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review: Learn How to Knit with 50 Squares

Learn how to Knit with 50 Squares

Learn How to Knit with 50 Squares: for beginners and up, a unique approach to learning to knit by Che Lam

Making a swatch is often the first step in a knitting project (or it should be, technically, even if many knitters don’t do it regularly). Making a swatch will provide you with an example of your gauge (how many rows and stitches you get per inch) and let you see how the stitch pattern will look in that yarn on that needle size. It can save a huge amount of time and is super useful, even if it’s not as much fun as just diving in to the project you’re excited to make. This book takes the approach of having the beginning knitter practice and learn by making, essentially, a ton of swatches. You start out with garter stitch, then move to stockinette, then start learning decreases and increases, and so forth. There are 50 squares followed by five projects for the starting knitter, all of which are made using square pieces. This is a different approach to learning to knit than I’ve seen before, and I feel like encouraging swatch-making will only benefit the knitter in the long run.

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

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