Friday, November 29, 2013

Knitting Yarns

Knitting Yarns: Writers on KnittingKnitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting by Ann Hood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anyone who has read more than one of my reviews before knows I'm a crafter and more specifically a knitter and crocheter, and anyone who follows my blog knows I try to review a wide variety of crafting books, so naturally I jumped at the chance.

There's a few similar books out there, a collection of short stories with the common theme of knitting in all the stories. The difference is this collection includes more famous people, like Barbara Kingsolver, Sue Grafton, and Anne Shayne (of Mason Dixon fame). Like any short story collection, some are better than others - my least favorite was about a guy who kept talking about how he didn't knit but yet his story somehow involves knitting anyway. He just kept talking about how he didn't knit, like he was insulting the craft and those who love it. But that's the great thing about short story collections, you spend a few minutes reading a story you don't like, you move on to the next one that you do like.

There's also a few patterns included in the book, which in books like this I always figure they include solely as a way of selling more books (you know, people who enjoy reading will read this book, and people who just want patterns will buy this book, so you get twice as many sales). You have no idea what the patterns look like because you have to go online to see photos - I hope that this is maybe just something in my e-ARC and not in the final book. They are all very basic designs, like fingerless gloves, cabled head wrap, ruffled slipper socks, coffee cozies, etc., and most designed by Helen Bingham.

I received a copy of this book for free through

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

book review: Last Chance Knit & Stitch by Hope Ramsay

Last Chance Knit & Stitch (Last Chance, #6)Last Chance Knit & Stitch by Hope Ramsay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book right after I read "Dark and Stormy Knit". I always read these types of books, being a big knitter, but these types of books are always just too cutesy and happy and perfect for me.

That being said, this is one of the better knitting fiction books out there that I've read. The pacing is good, you can get into the characters, the storyline moves along at a decent pace. I'm not terribly in love with any of the characters, and I'm not terribly upset when the book ends, either. It's a quick read, great for whiling away a couple of hours (or in my case, read on quick work breaks). Molly's character drove me batty for most of the book, she was just way too weak willed (and immature) for her age, and it did make it difficult to really get into the book.

I received a review copy from netgalley for free in exchange for my honest review

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Quilting With a Modern Slant

Quilting with a Modern Slant: People, Patterns, and Techniques Inspiring the Modern Quilt CommunityQuilting with a Modern Slant: People, Patterns, and Techniques Inspiring the Modern Quilt Community by Rachel May
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First, I want to say I am not a quilter, but I am a fiber artist and teacher and have long, long been obsessed with quilts. I own a ton of quilt books for their inspiration and even own a fabric stash & a sewing machine, though I can barely sew. I want to be a quilter, but the fiber life has a mind of its own.

The book starts with the basics, explaining how to make a simple quilt (6 parts) and defines what modern quilting is, and what different people feel about quilting and modern quilting in particular. There's a lot of writing from lots of different quilters from all walks of life, talking about how they make quilts and why and how they got started. You'll reconigize some of the names included in the book if you have any interest in quilting at all.

The book also has gorgeous, inspiring photography on each and every page.

I enjoyed the improv section the most, which makes sense because I love freeform the most in my fiber journey.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Granny Square Love

Granny Square Love: A New Twist on a Crochet Classic for Your HomeGranny Square Love: A New Twist on a Crochet Classic for Your Home by Sarah London
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all, let me start by saying I'm a huge fan of Sarah London, have been reading her blog since she first started writing one, & I'm also ravelry friends with her.

The book starts as with so many other crochet books, with a how to section. I really, really, really hate seeing that in so many books, I always feel if you are a beginner crocheter, you'd be getting a whole how-to book out of the library or from the bookstore, you wouldn't just pick up a random crochet book & hope there's a how to section in it. To me, it's really a waste of space in the book & a waste of money, but that may just be me.

As with all of London's stuff, all of the projects in the book are very bright & colorful, which is why she has so many fans. The projects are beautifully photographed, with both full shots & close up views. There are 25 projects included in the book, & they are all very beginner friendly. The focus here is on color, not stitches, and each project includes some tips on picking color.

My absolute favorite project is the Grocer's Tote, which is also featured on London's blog.

I won a copy of this book as part of London's blog tour.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Great Little Gifts to Knit

Great Little Gifts to Knit: 30 Quick and Colorful PatternsGreat Little Gifts to Knit: 30 Quick and Colorful Patterns by Jean Moss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a little confused because I vividly remember reviewing this book, going through all the patterns & adding my thoughts and comments about each one, and I can't find a copy of my review anywhere either online or on my hard drive. So here I am trying to recreate it, playing catch up as I am always doing.

I love Jean Moss's designs and I'm always looking for "gift" related patterns. I only knit for a few people & usually socks, because generally speaking those are the only items that anyone ever appreciates (it's why I knit a lot for charity). This book has a lot of gift giving ideas that maybe, just maybe might actually be appreciated by family.

Patterns are clearly written, terms and abbreviations are explained, and items are well photographed.

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Curvy girl Crochet

Curvy Girl Crochet: 25 Patterns that Fit and FlatterCurvy Girl Crochet: 25 Patterns that Fit and Flatter by Mary Beth Temple
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another book that I vividly remember reviewing, but yet I can't find a copy of it anywhere.

I downloaded this book to read and go through on my nook and it entertained me all the way on the long drive to the airport and back (we were taking my parents). There is a wonderful variety of patterns in here that you'd come to expect from Mary Beth Temple, from jackets and sweaters to accessories. And of course there's hints and tips on how to make garments actually fit your body and make them flatter.

There's simpler, basic, every day sweater designs, that you'd actually live in all winter long, and more complicated, fancier stuff that you'd make and wear on special occasions.

Crochet garments, even in this day and age, still has the repuation that it's bulky and not flattering on a girl's figure, and this book goes a long long way to change that.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Soap Craft

Soap Craft: 31 Recipes for Creating Amazing Handmade SoapsSoap Craft: 31 Recipes for Creating Amazing Handmade Soaps by Anne-Marie Faiola
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Years ago - before I knitted, before I designed, before I taught fiber arts, before weaving and spinning and dying, back when I did other crafts that didn't involve yarn, crafts like scrapbooking and latch hook and embroidery and cross stitching, I made homemade soap. I didn't make a ton of it, but I made soap, and it was fun.

When this book popped up on netgalley, I remembered how much fun it was to make soap. I didn't make anything fancy or honestly anything that even looked pretty, but it was fun. And reading this book made me remember how much fun it was to make soap and why I enjoyed making soap in the first place, and makes me long to make soap again (even though honestly, it won't happen because I'm a little too busy with the knitting, crocheting, hopeful weaving, sometimes spinning, always dying yarn and fiber, and oh yeah the designing and the occasional knitting class, too. Not to mention the reviews. And oh, seeing your husband every other Sunday).

Anyone's who's thought of trying a new craft or is looking for a new hobby or perhaps something different to sell at a craft show, should try this book. There's great details and lots of photos, besides amazing end products that you can actually make.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Mom and Me Knits

Mom & Me Knits: 20 Pretty Projects for Mothers and DaughtersMom & Me Knits: 20 Pretty Projects for Mothers and Daughters by Stefanie Japel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Any knitter knows the name Stefanie Japel - famous for designs like the one skein wonder and the mini sweater / boob holder and author of countless other knitting books. So even though I don't have a daughter, I had to grab this book from my library and take a look. I happen to be a fan of matching mother daughter outfits, anyway - my mom & I always had matching Easter outfits, and we even had matching "pilgrim" outfits we wore to Plymouth Plantation & Sturbridge Village.

Outfits don't match perfectly, and Stefanie explains her daughters aren't girlie girlie, so she's not designing pretty "pink" outfits, but every day wearable outs that both mom and daughter will enjoy and wear all the time - something I want in a FO.

Patterns are sized through infants to size 50" adults and are all made in Stefanie's usual seamless, top down style.

There's a great mix of styles as well, from lace, cables, aran, etc. - I love the Mother's Lace Cardigan (of course, I love lace!)

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Best-Dressed Knitted Bears: Dozens of Patterns for Teddy Bears, Bear Costumes and Accessories. Emma KingThe Best-Dressed Knitted Bears: Dozens of Patterns for Teddy Bears, Bear Costumes and Accessories. Emma King by Emma King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVE this book! It's laid out well, the patterns and directions are very clear, and I love the photos and the patterns.

First of all, and I know you've heard it before, I love toys even though I can't make them. This book once again makes me want to desperately try. I love how the book is set up - an easy bear to make (and some clothes), a harder bear to make (and different clothes), and lastly, the hardest and biggest bear in the bunch to make, with more clothes. The bears are knitted flat, but an knitter can easily convert the bears to being knit in the round to save some of the seaming chores.

The clothes are only written for each individual bear size, but again, an experienced knitter can easily make them a little bigger or smaller to fit the bear you knit. You can also adjust yarn weight & needle size to make the bears a little bigger or smaller.

Most of the outfits are beyond cute - I love the wizard and pirate outfits the best - and a few are rather simple, like the princess dress.

Any knitter who enjoys toys and making them for the children in their life - or big kids like me! - will love this book.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Knit Christmas Stockings: 19 Patterns for Stockings and OrnamentsKnit Christmas Stockings: 19 Patterns for Stockings and Ornaments by Gwen Steege
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So let us begin, shall we?

Now, I want to start off by saying... I've never knit a Christmas stocking before. I know, I know.... though I've knit plenty of socks, I've never knit stockings, and I don't hang any up by the chimney with care, either... I have a store bought stocking for hubby, my parents & I and that's it. But maybe with this book... just maybe... that will change?

We start with the usual how to section, including how to knit, purl, increases and decreases, turn a heel (short rows) and the importance of a gauge swatch. I've complained before about how knitting & crocheting books always include a how to section & it bugs the heck out of me, I find it a complete waste of space. If you are buying a book of knitting patterns then you already know how to knit... if you want to learn how to knit, you are going to buy a how to book, or take a class, or ask a friend, or go onto youtube

The patterns are laid out very clearly, and each part of the stocking is spelled out for you, casting on, knit the leg, turning the heel, finishing, etc and the photos are what you'd expect: clear, pretty, well lit. Patterns are all charted.

So, the patterns! Some of my favorites from the book include:

Winter Wonderland - a cute fair isle stocking, space to customize a (short) name, with little 3 dimensional snowmen to add on

Mix and Match Stockings - just what the title says, it's a great mix of fair isle patterns, you can also add a name to it.

Stars Brocade - if I were to knit my MIL a stocking, this would be it, though instead of the photographed white I'd use a Victorian burgandy

Mini Socks - great for an advent calendar

there's also an assortment of ornaments/package tags as well.

I received a copy of this book free through netgalley.

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book review: Knit Your Socks on Straight: A New and Inventive Technique with Just Two Needles; 20 Original Designs by Alice Curtis

Knit Your Socks on Straight: A New and Inventive Technique with Just Two Needles; 20 Original DesignsKnit Your Socks on Straight: A New and Inventive Technique with Just Two Needles; 20 Original Designs by Alice Curtis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good morning!

Have you seen this book yet, that just came out today? Have you admired the crazy gorgeous yarn on the front cover or the designs on the inside? Have you started knitting socks yet?

Anyone who reads my blog knows I knit a lot of socks - a lot - though I make mainly basic, easy, toe up socks and don't often challenge myself in the socknitting department... or really, the knitting department. (I'll challenge myself with crochet sometimes, but knitting... knitting is just for me, and for fun, and I really do like the basics though I do know how to do any knitting technique under the sun & teach them all on a regular basis). Now, that being said, I love to knit in the round (and regularly turn flat knit patterns into being knit in the round) but I can't wait to start the socks in this book.

OK, whew... went off on a tangent there, didn't I?

So the book begins with the basics... how to, gauge, and specific sock knitting techniques as well, such as turning the heel. Then come the socks... oh the gorgeous socks! There's 15 patterns here, from the basic worsted weight sock to the fancy, fingering weight texture or cabled socks, and there's baby socks and heavier slipper socks. Surprisingly, there's only a few intarsia designs (Coffee Break would make EXCELLENT scrap socks) & only one pair of lace socks (though admitably it's gorgeous).

Alice Curtis, who's an LYS owner (lucky girl), even explains the best way to seam the socks... and seriously... it's not hard, and the finished socks look good. Crocheters, are you listening? She's having us slip stitch the sock seam!

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Knit Your Own Dog: The Second Litter: 25 More Pedigree PoochesKnit Your Own Dog: The Second Litter: 25 More Pedigree Pooches by Sally Muir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yeah! It's time for a craft book review!

From the authors of the beloved and best-selling Knit Your Own Dog and Knit Your Own Cat comes 25 more cute dogs to knit! The list of included dog breeds are:

1) Chihuahua 2) Bichon Frise 3) Shih Tzu, 4) Wire-haired Dachshund 5) Chinese Crested Dog 6) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 7) Hungarian Puli 8) Shar Pei 9) Lurcher, (10) Greyhound 11) Border Terrier 12) Cairn Terrier 13) Staffordshire Bull Terrier 14) Bedlington Terrier, 15) Yorkshire Terrier, 16) Airedale Terrier 17) Weimaraner 18) Pointer 19) English Springer Spaniel, 20) Golden Retriever 21) Irish Wolfhound 22) Beagle, (23) Bernese Mountain Dog, 24) Boxer 25) Doberman Pinscher

Now, I know what you are thinking - anyone who knows me, knows I don't make stuffed animals! I just have NO talent for it, but it doesn't mean I don't admire people's creativity and talent and doesn't mean I can't love the book all the same!

I mean seriously, how can you not love something like this?

My favorite patterns in the book are the Shih Tzu (a dear high school friend of mine had one of those) and the terriors. The one I liked the least? the golden retriever, which is one of my favorite dog breeds - it just didn't really look like a GR to me.

Again, not having made anything out of this book, take this with a grain of salt, but looking through the instructions, some of them seem a bit unclear to me, and sewing up all the little tiny pieces scares the crap out of me.

I received a review copy through netgalley.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

DIY Mason Jars

DIY Mason Jars: Thirty-Five Creative Crafts and Projects for the Classic ContainerDIY Mason Jars: Thirty-Five Creative Crafts and Projects for the Classic Container by Melissa Averinos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was terribly excited to see my library had an e-copy of this book that just came out a month ago - not bad for small town USA!

The geek in me loves Part One: Mason Miscellany, which includes a history of the humble mason jar and explains the difference between a canning jar and a mason jar.

The projects use mostly common household objects and the projects are presented with very straightfoward directions. There's various categories and each category starts out with a basic project - like a base for making your own salad dressing using a mason jar as your holder.

Projects include:
vintage ceiling light
Reed diffuser
Sprouting jars
Homespun soap dispenser
cloud jars

The best part about this book is Melissa's witty charm which is evident throughout the book.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lace One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of LaceLace One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace by Judith Durant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all - I am a BIG fan of lace, and when I'm not knitting ribbing or garter stitch, I'm probably knitting lace. And being an avid yard saler who ends up with nothing but odd skeins in my stash, you know I'm all about the one skein projects! So yes, I freely admit, this book was published just for ME! (oh, you mean I'm not the only one?)

The sections are:

hats and caps
mittens, gloves and cuffs
socks (of course!)
knits for kids
it's a wrap - scarves, shawls, and the like
lacey accessories
items for the home
And of course, a variety of weights of yarn in each section and different construction methods.

Now, some people, when they think of lace, think of gossamer, see through, open, airy, and hard... most of the projects aren't that at all, but simply modern designs that happen to have a lot of holes in them, you know, holes you put in your project on purpose. Designs are charted, and though some have a large number of rows / rounds in them, alot of projects are easily memorizable. There's some matching sets in the book, too, which I always like.

There are some incredibly cute baby knits in here - the baby accessories are cute, but what really stands out are the adorable sweaters and cardigans for babies that makes me wish I had a baby to knit for right now. Hana and Haru are my favorites.

And I don't knit baby things! ever! (OK: I do crochet baby blankets)

There's even a cute American Girl Doll set.

I received a review copy from netgalley

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Knit a Kitten

Knit a Kitten, Purl a Puppy: Picture Knit Projects for Pet Loving FamiliesKnit a Kitten, Purl a Puppy: Picture Knit Projects for Pet Loving Families by Peggy Gaffney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a review copy of this book last fall, and it's been sitting on the side of my bed since then. I hadn't written a review, not because I didn't like the book, but because I DID like the book - I had intentions of making up a project from the book, and sharing that along with the review. Well, life gets in the way, and you procrastinate, and I finally accepted the fact that that is just not going to happen, so I better get my act in gear and write up the review!

This is the second book Peggy Gaffney has in her series of animal related patterns. The book is very straightforward - a bunch of animal charts, that you can use for sweaters, bags, skirts, vests, and hats. The items are all straightforward, so that the cute animal charts will shine.

The positive:
* it's dogs! it's cats! it's knitting! and it's intarsia!
* there's a great range of dogs, from from Golden Retrievers, to Siberian Husky puppies, to Bulldogs and German Shepherds - there's also a selection of bonus charts you can mix and match with any of the patterns in the book.
* there's a section on intarsia hints (including how to eliminate holes) and suggestions for making it easier
* there's a section on spinning dog hair

There's a few negatives I see with this book:
* some of the finished samples didn't look very well executed - I suspect a heavy blocking would have fixed this, but because of the nature of intarsia, it's very difficult to keep your gauge steady and consistent & neat looking. Some of the pictures are distorted and this distracts from how cute the dogs are!
* there's not a lot of cats - it's 75% dogs and 25% cats. I expected more kitties!
* There's a brief mention of how you can substitute any chart in any design - just center it. Well, that's great, but I''m not much of a math person & my head began to swim when I tried to figure it out. I'm sure it's easy, but I could've used a hint to get me started.
* the book is just a classic paperback - knitting books with large charts like this one, really need to be published in a spiral bound format so the book will lay flat

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