Archive for the 'Book Reviews' Category

Chic and Simple Sewing

Chic   Simple SewingSometimes, you have to step back a little bit from personal experience and evaluate a book on it’s own merits. I have in front of me just such a book in Chic and Simple Sewing by Christine Haynes.

This book is a great introduction to basic sewing techniques. The garments are trendy and sassy without being overly complicated. There is plenty of discussion about choosing prints and textures to make harmonious garments that flatter almost every body type. There are great explanations of basic tools and tips on setting up a sewing are. And there is a little envelope in the front to hold all the patterns. You could, by using a few of the variation tips, build a pretty complete wardrobe using this book, and the purchase price is well below what it would cost to buy so many patterns in the fabric store. In short, I would be very comfortable handing this book to one of my teenage daughters and saying, “Let me know if you need any help.”

That said, there’s not a whole lot in here that I would make for myself. The patterns are young and breezy, and while that’s not a bad thing, it’s also not necessarily my basic style. And at this point in my crafting career, I am generally looking for something at least marginally challenging. If you’ve put together several Daisy Kingdom designs, as I have, then this book is liable to leave you asking “and?” as it does me.

OTOH, since few of my clothes fit properly anymore since I’ve lost weight, I might press the book into service just so I can clothe myself quickly and easily. Efficient does have it’s place, after all!

And that wraps another book review. It’s a craft blog, were you expecting acne treatment reviews?

Wrapped in Gems by Mai Sato-Flores with Jesse Flores

When all else fails, grab a book! In truth, I would much rather be talking about something crafty today, but I haven’t done a single creative thing since last we spoke. I plan to change that tomorrow afternoon, but until then I really need something to say, so……….

Wrapped in Gems Let’s pull out Wrapped in Gems. The first thing I have to say about this book is that it is simply beautiful. That shouldn’t be very surprising, given the title, but there are some truly stunning pictures in here. Secondly, the book intimidates me. I don’t think I am nearly skilled enough to be working with real stones. Which doesn’t mean that I can’t practice some of these designs with glass stones, while I build my skills!!

One thing I really liked about the book is the explanation of the different stones in the front. For example, did you know that a ruby is a red sapphire? That one and the pink-orange padparadscha are the only ones with separate names, all other colors are just referred to as sapphires.

In the back, you’ll find a tool glossary and all in between you will find patterns and techniques. Since I was beginning to explore wire wrapping when I packed my bead stuff away, this book really appeals to me. Definitely an inspiration to pull out my toys and play a bit. But I must chisel out some space in this crowded house first, LOL! I like to work on beading with all my stuff spread around me :mrgreen:

Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts

www.randomhouse.com 1 2 3 4 5 6And finally, we get to the really massive Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts. And when I say massive, I mean 400 pages of fabric crafting goodness, not counting the flyleaves OR the included cd with templates and such. It’s big, people. And it is chock-full of techniques and tips, and yes, projects. More than 150 of them, from felted wool animals to table linens.

Now, I haven’t made a secret on this blog of the fact that I don’t watch Martha Stewart on tv. Frankly, her always perky face and yankee voice get on my very last nerve. I couldn’t look and sound like that, even pumped full of xanax and Lipovox, and so she shouldn’t either, ykwim? Seriously, the woman never has a bad day, except for the whole prison thing, and even then she taught people to do neat stuff. But read her? Oh yes, because she is just full of knowledge. I’ve reviewed every book of hers that I could get my hands on, and I have never, never been disappointed in the slightest. She cooks, she cleans, she crafts and she still smiles. If I could stand to look at and listen to her, she’d be my hero. As it is, I will just adore her in print. And only grudgingly. Because I am stubborn and willful, and I made up my mind not to like her before she started writing books.

Do you remember a few posts ago, I mentioned that Diva was half-crafty, and I thought I could nudge her into some sewing and such with a bit of effort? I don’t think it will take that much effort at all. I reckon I can just hand her this book and be done with it. Only as a loan, of course, because I will totally Indian Wrestle her on the living room floor for it if she tries to remove it from this house. Or even from the common areas of this house i.e. it is NOT disappearing into her room.

So what’s in here? The subtitle pretty much sums it up: Basic Techniques for Sewing, Applique, Embroidery, Quilting, Dyeing, and Printing, plus 150 Inspired Projects from A to Z. And get this, she even tells you how to install a flush mount bracket and rod to hold your new pinch pleated cafe curtains!

The instructions for the techniques are very detailed and she gets some amazing results. I looked pretty closely at the fabric dyeing section, and I learned quite a few things. I mention that specifically, because some of you may remember that I used to dye yarn professionally. Now, it’s a different medium, and you can do way more with fabric than you can with yarn, but still….

Another section I really liked was “how to repair a patchwork quilt”. Now I watched Grandmother quilt, and I have made a few tops myself, so I have a basic idea of the process. Some of the quilts that Grandmother made for me are put away because they need patching, and my cousin has a few from Grandma that he’s asked if I could patch, and I will be using this section as a guide for that. We will both be able to enjoy our quilts again. :lol:

I could go on and on. The book is, after all, 400 pages, as I said. I’ll just sum it up by saying that if you are into fabric crafts of any kind, this book is pretty much worth it’s weight in gold. And that’s a lot of gold, ykwim? Luckily, it retails for just $35 bucks.

OhMyGosh—Thigh High Socks

Ok, so I am holding in my hands yet another book. It’s reading night here at Chez Cass Knits, mostly because I promised myself I was going to take care of this stack of backed-up books/pepers/magazines this weekend, and the weekend is winding down and I worked yesterday and tore out my room today and re-arranged it, and here we are on Sunday evening, soon to be Monday morning, and I. Must. Finish. This. Stack. of. Stuff. And, also, I hope those energy vitamins kick in soon. But don’t last too long. I still gotta get up in the morning, ykwim?

But, where was I? Oh yeah, ohmygosh, thigh high socks! This book has a pair of thigh-highs. Now, folks, I hate panty hose. Hate them, hate them, hate them. I only buy them when absolutely necessary, and I wear thigh-highs unless my skirt is absolutely too short for them (in which case I go with tights) or I am going to be dancing (because one near wardrobe malfunction at a formal event is enough for this gal). But the thought of making my own never occurred to me! And why not? I don’t kow, because really you can only find them in black or tan, and they aren’t very sturdy, and ohmygosh THIGH HIGH SOCKS!


Umm, I should probably tell you the name of the book, huh? Well, it’s Toe-Up Socks For Every Body by Wendy Johnson of Wendy Knits. In addition to the THS, there are pretty little socks for Drama, manly socks (including a pair with flames) which I may make for That One when I am tired of making hats for him and have knitted all the socks I want for myself (read that never if you like), kneesocks for Diva. I guess she really meant it when she said every body.

This book will be staying on my bookshelf, along with the other sock books I plan to work my way though. You know, after I …… I dunno. Use up all my fat yarn, maybe? Slog through the tall-as-me pile of reading material I have to read? And the equally tall pile I want to read? Cause I sure haven’t been knitting socks lately, though I really enjoy doing so. Hmmm…..can I trade myself sock knitting for reading? Of course, it hardly seems fair that I can’t knit socks and read at the same time. I can do that with fat yarn. And by fat, I mean anything above fingering weight.

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Crochet Lace Innovations by Doris Chan

www.randomhouse.com 1 2 3 4 5Tonight, dear readers, I had a chance to look through Crochet Lace Innovations by Doris Chan. Ooh, gals, there is some purtiful stuff up in here. There are vests and shawls and scarves and capes and shirts and the most amazing dress I have probably ever seen. It’s called the Bozena Dress and it is on page 96 of the book, and if I could figure out what in the world to wear under it, I would so be making it for myself. If you know, please tell me exactly what someone wears underneath a see through dress! Seriously. I would totally show it to you, but I can’t find a picture of it online. It’s a-may-zing!

Ok, now that I am through praising The Dress (notice the caps), let me talk about the book a bit. There are several other patterns, and while some of them would make good wedding accessories, some are also practical for every day wear. And all those techniques I didn’t quite understand are beautifully explained with nice diagrams. For instance, I now know that those huge, HUGE knitting needles I have, they aren’t knitting needles at all, but are, rather, sticks for making broomstick lace. Never mind that I used them to make a knitted laprobe for Grandmother out of really bulky yarn several years ago. Ahem. There are also tutorials for Tunisian Lace and Hairpin Lace.

This book delighted me at almost every page turn. Alas, I know I won’t make anything from it, so I am planing to pass it along to a friend of mine who is an avid crocheter. But if I can figure out what to wear under The Dress, I am totally asking to borrow it back.

Sweater Quest by Adrienne Martini

Recently I was offered the opportunity to read Sweater Quest by Adrienne Martini of martinimade. I don’t know if any of you read her blog or not, but you probably oughta, just sayin’. I enjoyed the book, but I am at a bit of a loss to explain it. For instance, if you are a process knitter, this book is for you. If you are a product knitter and want to understand how a process knitter thinks, this book is for you. If you are a knitter who is afraid of a good challenge and need a little encouragement, this book is for you. If you are a knitter who has ever knitted something just to prove you could, or just because you could, then this book is also for you. I guess if you are a knitter, or love a knitter, I can safely say this book is for you.

Sweater Quest details the year of Adrienne’s Mary Tudor. You may recognize the name as being one of Alice Starmore‘s designs. Why anyone would embark on a project of such magnitude and combine it with a book is beyond me, but she did it. And she is witty, and funny and thoughtful and original in the doing of it. It was a very enjoyable read, and easy to pick up and put down, which as you know is a very important thing in my leisure reading these days, what with work and ball and life, etc. Sometimes, I don’t have enough time to get a knitting project out, but a book I can eat five minutes at a time is a clear winner.

Speaking of knitting projects, mine are pretty much at a standstill, so I have a project of sorts for you: figure out a way for me to social security disability so I can spend a little more time reading and knitting and reading about knitting. Mmmmkay? ‘Kay!

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Color Knitting the Easy Way by Melissa Leapman

www.randomhouse.com 1 2 3 4Another day, another book, right? Ok, but don’t expect me to keep up this pace. The work week has once again commenced, and while I am not repairing or reading oximeters, I am a bit too tired at the end of the day for much more than a magazine article. And it better be short!

If you are wary of color knitting, you have to look at this book. The 10 projects in it are all knit with just one color per row, so you aren’t juggling 4,629 yarns at once. I am going to tell you right up front that I probably won’t be knitting any of these patterns. I do love the hoodie, but I am not crazy about the cuff and edging and I don’t have the nerve to try to put a zipper in my knitwear yet. YET. I may very well adapt the pattern to my own preference for ribbing and buttons and make it, however. But that’s not to say I don’t love this book! And let me tell you why.

Number one, the front is an extensive study in color theory. Now, I love colors. I really, really do. And I love multi-colored knits. But I really suck sucked at choosing colors. This book has convinced me that I can do it. She explains in great detail how to use the color wheel to design pleasing color schemes for up to six colors! Six people!

Number two, she offers several different ways to carry your yarn up the side of your work, so you aren’t weaving in a bazillion ends after you’ve finished your knitting. ‘Nuff said on that.

Number three, after the color theory and between the projects, she shows a slew of stitch patterns made with multiple colors. This means you can take the theory and the projects and do what I love to do best…design my own! Personally, I am fascinated by the dip stitch. I’d heard of knitting in the row below, of course, but this stitch comes from several rows below. I’d seen it once before in a wildly colored scrap yarn afghan, but never known what it was or how to do it–or why. It helps tie together the colors, of course!! Provided you aren’t working with scraps, LOL! And I guarantee that after this book, you’ll be so fascinated with color ideas that you will have lots of scraps. But you will also have too many ideas to actually use your scraps, and will spend a lot of time in the yarn store.

Regretsy

614o7JMjHYL. BO2 204 203 200 PIsitb sticker arrow clickOh my gosh, people! I get a lot of books to review. And I am way behind as you know. But I got this one in the mail not too long ago. I have no idea where it came from– I didn’t request it and I can’t find any mention of it in my emails. But if you are tired of reading about extenze side effects, if you have sworn off the evening news because it’s depressing, like I have, then this book is for you! Written by April Winchell, daughter of “Tigger”, this book is hilarious!

Most of you are familiar with Etsy, right? You can find some awesome handcrafted goods there. You can also find some things that leave you scratching you head. Born of the blog Regretsy, this book details the not so good, the bad and the truly ugly of Etsy. It’s a quick read, coming in at about 2 hours, and I spent a good amount of that time laughing too hard to read. And at just 10 bucks and change, it costs less than a movie and popcorn!

My copy is going straight to That One’s mom, since she’s an avid crafter like me. I hope she laughs just half as hard for half as long as I did, because if she does, she’ll love me forever. And also, her husband will be as irritated as my son was at all the noise, and that will make her laugh even more!

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