review: Rock Gardening

Rock Gardening

Rock Gardening: Reimagining a classic style – gardens – techniques – plants by Joseph Tychonievich

Reducing water use is an increasingly popular topic as relates to gardening and landscaping. Though this author lives in Michigan, he traveled to a variety of locations in the United State and United Kingdom to explore rock gardens in a variety of climates. Many of these featured gardens are quite large and contain both rock and traditional gardens, but the focus here is on the former. Color photographs highlight both wide shots and close-ups of particular plantings. The second section focuses on techniques including constructing rock gardens in various styles, preparing and maintaining the soil, choosing containers, knowing your climate, and obtaining and propagating plants. The third and final portion of the book is a list of types and genii that are generally suited to rock gardens, such as cacti, campanulas, dianthus, sempervivums, and more. Several pages of description and color photographs are provided for each.

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

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review: Knits from the Heart of Norway

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Knits from the Heart of Norway: 30 sweaters, hats, socks, and mittens inspired by the Telemark Region by Irene Haugland

Scandinavian knitting has such a distinctive style and rich history and this book celebrates both. All of the designs are advanced in terms of colorwork (I’m not sure you could do justice to Norwegian knitting otherwise) but you do feel as though any of these items will become family heirlooms, so the effort put in is worth it for the gorgeous results. All designs are pictured in full color photos with close-up shots of specific details, and the photographs are taken out in nature in beautiful settings that only enhance the beauty of the knitwear.

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

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review: 501 Enchanting Embroidery Designs

501 Enchanting Embroidery Designs

501 Enchanting Embroidery Designs: Irresistible stitchables to brighten up your life by Boutique-sha

I’ve been hoping to do some more embroidery and this wealth of mini patterns will certainly provide fodder for my upcoming projects. A wide variety of embroidery designs are grouped into themes including cute cups, a cozy room, a tidy kitchen, a visit to the flea market, Scandinavian forest designs, adorable items from Eastern Europe, the music’s playing, I love fruit!, sweet things for girls, stripes and polka dots (which actually includes a lot of outdoor/park elements), Japanese celebrations, birds & flowers, tasty tea time, and lace patterns. These are followed by some cross stitch collections including Scandinavian style cross stitch, a cross stitch alphabet, cross stitch cats and dogs, continuous cross stitch patterns. Ideas for using these elements are part of full projects are then provided, including pouches, pin cushions, dishcloths, and more. A short how-to guide includes color photographs for the very basics like threading the needle. The second half of the book is printed in monotone on matte paper and provides somewhat bare-bones instructions for each of the patterns.

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

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review: Landscape and Garden Design Sketchbooks

Landscape and Garden Design Sketchbooks

Landscape and Garden Design Sketchbooks by Tim Richardson

This book contains sketches, landscape plans, and photos of 3D models of 37 gardens all over the world. A brief overview provides background about the garden and its planning process. The plans and sketches use a variety of media and are presented in relatively large format (the book is oversize) – it feels like an art book combined with a high-end designer’s sketchbook. It is gorgeous to look through and the only thing I wish it had included were photos of the completed gardens to compare with the designs. One bonus: this book is essentially a list of gardens that one might want to visit.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the James White Library at Andrews University through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Simple Color Knitting

Simple Color Knitting

Simple Color Knitting: A complete how-to-knit-with-color workshop with 20 projects by Erika Knight

Working with beautiful, colorful yarn is one of the joys of knitting. Even a monochrome project can be gorgeous if the color is pleasing. The introductory sections of this book give background on color theory, various techniques for using colors, and a gallery of swatches illustrating different techniques. The projects then start with a monochrome throw, with the intent that the yarn color used will make a statement when juxtaposed with the furniture (of a different color) it will sit on. The following projects use phasing, stripes, color-based stitch patterns, and other techniques to create a sweater, pillows, mittens, throws, and more. The intense colors used and the quality of the photographs will provide inspiration as well.

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

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review: Love the House You’re In

Love the House You're In

Love the House You’re In: 40 ways to improve your home and change your life by Paige Rien

It seems like there’s a cottage industry based around people who don’t like the house they bought (I tried watching Love it or List it but the hosts annoyed me so much I couldn’t stand it). This book offers a guide to assessing your home and explores ideas for making improvements. The content covers home improvement considerations including resale value, municipal codes and requirements, planning for your family’s future, and so on. It looks at that type of big picture but also gets to the nitty-gritty of choosing durable fabrics and paint colors. This book refers often to finding inspiration in magazines and online, but does not provide that kind of visual help itself, keeping strictly to the informational content.

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

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review: The Quilter’s Paper-piecing Workbook

The Quilter's Paper-piecing Workbook

The Quilter’s Paper-piecing Workbook: Paper piece with confidence to create 18 gorgeous quilted projects by Elizabeth Dackson

I have not done much paper-piecing yet myself, but though I usually like to freehand things as I go, I’m interested to learn more about this technique to expand my repertoire. This book starts with practice mini-projects and moves from there to rookie, adventurous, and daring levels of projects. Each project comes with cutting charts that show exactly how to cut the fabric and piece it together. As a newb, this seems the most intimidating part so these charts are reassuring. The rookie level projects include blocks that could easily be created without using paper-piecing, which is a nice way for someone like me to see the differences in construction between methods. A CD is included with printable templates.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Bay County Library System through the MeLCat ILL system

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review: Growing Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit

Growing Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit

Growing Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit: A step-by-step guide to kitchen and allotment gardening with 1400 photographs by Richard Bird & Jessica Houdret

This hefty (over 500 pages) guide to growing your own food goes from the history of food gardens all the way through everything a gardener needs to know. It is filled with full-color photos on glossy paper, providing inspiration along with information. Though the design sections are not super lengthy, they provide creative ideas for different ways to set up your gardens, illustrated with photos and hand-drawn diagrams. Directories of vegetables, fruit, and herbs are also provided and include a wide variety of plants (the herb directory especially takes a broad definition of the term and includes a lot more than just the typical kitchen garden herbs).

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

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review: Quilter’s Academy vol. 5 Master’s Year

Quilter's Academy vol.5

Quilter’s Academy vol. 5 – Master’s Year: A Skill-Building Course in Quiltmaking by Harriet Hargrave & Carrie Hargrave-Jones

This book, the fifth in the series, is intended to offer as inspiration more than instruction (the previous four volumes are more traditional pattern books), and focuses on medallion quilts. A history of medallion quilts is provided and includes some full color photographs of stunning quilts from as early as the 18th century. The authors then give instruction on planning a medallion quilt, making beginner-, intermediate-, and advanced-level medallion quilts, and recreating antique medallion quilts. Finally, there is an extensive section on borders which will be useful to makers of all types of quilts. Plenty of patterns are included throughout for those who wish to create the examples used in the book.

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

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review: The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest

The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest

The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest by Michael VanderBrug

This book strives to be a start-to-finish guide to growing veggies in the Midwest (defined pretty broadly here as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin). It has basic gardening instruction, planning information, a schedule of what to do January-December, a list of recommended plants, and tables of conversions, hardiness zones, and planting schedules. Printed on matte paper and with line drawing illustrations, this book has a homespun feel that will appeal to many gardeners.

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

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