book reviews

2014-11-06 16.26.52

Review: Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home & Tree: Stockings, Ornaments, Garlands, and More

Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home & Tree: Stockings, Ornaments, Garlands, and More
Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home & Tree: Stockings, Ornaments, Garlands, and More by Edie Eckman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s that time of year again. Everybody is getting ready for the holidays and for us, home made decor is always on the top of the “mood setters”. So when I received Christmas Crochet for review, it came just at the right time.

This book is full to the brim with the most adorable crochet projects! Tiny mittens and socks for garlands, felted ornaments for your tree, little birds of hope and tabletop “trees”, to name a few. I fell in love with the little birds and was going to make some to show with this review, but time ran away from me and BAM, it was Friday, November 7th and my turn to post in the blog hop. I started it though. I hope that counts!

2014-11-06 16.27.33

2014-11-06 16.26.28

The full size stockings for the chimney caught my daughter’s eye and she might just make one, or four of them, to display around the holidays. The patterns in the book are well written and there is something suitable for all kinds of skill levels. So the three crocheters in the family (my son = beginner, my daughter = intermediate, and I = *master of the universe*) will find something to make, that will keep us occupied, without being boring.

2014-11-06 16.28.03

One of the best things about the book: It has all patterns in both written and charted form. I am a chart girl all the way, however a lot of my students like to have the written form, just to check back.

I find the “Project notes” that come with each of the patterns a nice touch. You can see at one glance what techniques will be required for this project and know right up front what to look up, if you might need help with a sock heel, or crochet in the round. (youtube is your friend!)

2014-11-06 16.27.10

Another nice addition is the different textures the projects offer. So many different stitches and even felted ornaments, there is something new to learn for everyone.

The projects are mostly small and can be finished in an afternoon. This is of particular interest to procrastinators, such as myself. Why hasten to make gifts , when you can wait until the last minute? Or maybe you are invited to a holiday party and just want a little something to bring as a hostess gift, that is not the predictable bottle of wine, or a third bouquet of flowers, the hostess will have to take care of.

The book is small enough to fit comfortably in your project bag and you can whip it out and get an ornament going while you wait for the bus, or sit at the doctors office. I like portable projects and books, that travel with me without weighing me down too much.

Want to know the best part about this review? There is a giveaway! You can win your very own copy of Christmas Crochet! Right here. All you have to do, is simply leave a comment and tell me a bit about what you are going to crochet this year! That’s it. Easy as pie! (Sorry, the giveaway is open to US residents only.Too much postage otherwise.)

And since this is a blog hop, there are more opportunities to win! Just check out the other blogs and see their requirements to enter!
Here is a list of all participating blogs:

4-Nov Moogly

If you are on Ravelry and want to add some of the projects to your queue, here is a link for you:
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/christmas-crochet-for-hearth-home–tree/patterns
And in case you don’t want to wait out the giveaway, here is a link to storey, where you can buy your own copy of the book:
Storey: http://www.storey.com/book_detail.php?isbn=9781612123295&cat=Crafts&p=0

The giveaway will close November 14th at midnight and I will announce the winner on November 15th.

Review: How to Knit: Learn the Basic Stitches and Techniques. A Storey Basics® Title

How to Knit: Learn the Basic Stitches and Techniques. A Storey Basics® Title
How to Knit: Learn the Basic Stitches and Techniques. A Storey Basics® Title by Leslie Ann Bestor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Leslie Ann Bestor is also the author of Cast On, Bind Off. A book I heartily approve of and have recommended to many a customer and student of mine.

This new book of hers is not deviating from her previously displayed excellence. I love the easy to understand instructions and the general voice of the book.

Aside from teaching you how to create the knit and purl stitches Mrs. Bestor gives lots of information on other things important to knitting, but often overlooked, such as choosing a needle that is right FOR YOU!, how to fix mistakes and runaway stitches, why gauge matters, yarn sizes and measurements, how to read patterns and charts, and how to recognize what stitches create which fabric.

Everything is brought to you with a little bit of humor to keep things light. I adore her style of writing.

I believe any willing novice can learn to knit with this book, without frustration in a short while.

I will certainly recommend this book to people without ready internet access and even with the internet. It’s always nice to have a little guide in your knitting bag, to just quickly look up what comes next. Internet is not always available in all the places we like to knit!

View all my reviews

Review: How to Crochet: Learn the Basic Stitches and Techniques

How to Crochet: Learn the Basic Stitches and Techniques
How to Crochet: Learn the Basic Stitches and Techniques by Sara Delaney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great book for beginning crocheters.

If you ever wanted to learn how to crochet, but don’t have anybody to show you how, or a LYS around you to take a class, there are plenty of books to help. Some with greater success than others. This is one of the good ones. Trust me, I teach crochet and knitting for a living.

Easy to understand, concise instructions will make sure you are not getting lost, or confused with too much input at the same time.

I find the trick to start practice on a piece of tulle quite smart and might use it in my classes from time to time.

The book walks you through the importance of Gauge in your crochet. An important step, if you want to make garments that fit the intended recipient. Many first time classes forget all about it. I know I drone on in my classes about gauge and try to make it second nature for my students to check it before starting a project.

Aside from showing you how to perform the stitches and an entire chapter on gauge (Yes, it IS that important!!!) Mrs. Delaney also has a chapter on finishing your work. Sewing in ends, changing yarns, adding an edge and finishing off with blocking your piece. I find it incredibly important that this is also given. The student is not just left with the finished square, to fend for themselves. A lot of people don’t know, a hand crochet piece will look infinitely better after blocking. Not to mention HOW to block it.

Of course, there is lots of information to be had online, however, not everyone is connected at all times or can access it readily. A book on the other hand will wait patiently in your bag, or on a shelf until you are ready.
Also: Although there are tons of youtube videos, if you don’t know what to search for, you won’t find it. I think a good mix between youtube and this book should set you up just fine.

I will definitely let my students know about this book, to have something to look things up, after the class is done and they just need a small reminder.

View all my reviews

2014-10-10 13.27.09

PLY MAGAZINE: a Rave and a review

I have been following PLY magazine on FB for a while now and been drooling over their issues as they came out. Sadly it is not in my budget to subscribe to it at this point.

Somehow I got talking to talking to Jacey Boggs Faulkner, Editor in Chief of the magazine and wonderful person all round. Anyway, she was sweet enough to comp me an issue (or was it really evil???? Because now I am obsessed with saving up for a subscription) for review.

Well. The Community issue arrived here just a few days ago. OH BOY. What can I say?

How about ITSABSOLUTELYAWESOMEANDILOVEIT! Seriously, this magazine is amazing. SO MUCH INFO! The ads in it are decent and do not distract you from the experience,  like in so many other magazines these days.

I rather love the idea of a magazine gathering it’s content around a theme, rather than just the seasons for once. There is so much to sink your teeth into with a theme. So many variants to explore!

The Fall issue is all about community. Let me just cite you some of the articles in it: Communities through time and art (my favourite one!), Shetland Sheep & Wool: A crossover of communities, Ravelers spin together. See what I mean it’s all about community?

2014-10-10 13.18.51

The other amazing thing are the patterns in the magazine. They are beautiful and wearable. The patterns consist of a SPIN IT section (the designer explains about how she spun the yarn for the project, gives you the specs of the wool and the finished yarn you will be aiming for and general encouragement to go try it for yourself). Then there is the pattern itself, as we are used to them in other knitting/spinning magazines. I find PLY’s patterns clearly written and very detailed. I love that it’s not all squished together. The patterns have room and are nicely formatted. It’s very easy to follow them and not lose your place. The patterns in this magazine are for a really really cute cardigan, a fun hat and a shawl. There is something for everyone! If you want a big, sink your teeth into project, or just something little and quick for that bit of fluff, you just could not say no to at the fibre fair.2014-10-10 13.19.41 2014-10-10 13.20.03

Ads.. well, it is a magazine and it does have to make money. There are ads. HOWEVER, they are decently placed on the edges of the articles. You do not have to flip through pages and pages in a row. I really DO appreciate that! I hope that won’t change.

The magazine is 104 pages of INFO, ENCOURAGEMENT and FIBRE. It’s a catalog lol I am smitten!

2014-10-10 13.19.12

When you get this magazine (see how I said WHEN? Because I URGE YOU to go subscribe to it), go make yourself a nice cup of tea, or coffee, or chocolate (or grab a glass of wine) and make yourself comfortable. This is a READ not a brows and look at pictures magazine. Although the photos in PLY magazine are really wonderful shots and some are supplied by the readers themselves. There are frequent shout outs and requests on the PLY FB page for photos of sheep or diverse other things. I love this level of inclusion of the readers. I find it wonderful to see a community come together and create something so inspiring.

Of course the big part of the work is done by the editors and photographers. To them I would like to extend a big THANK YOU! and Please continue the hard work you have put in so far. It is amazing and wonderful and worth every penny!

Want to subscribe now, or contribute to the magazine? Here you go!

Review: The Spinner’s Book of Fleece: A Breed-by-Breed Guide to Choosing and Spinning the Perfect Fiber for Every Purpose

The Spinner's Book of Fleece: A Breed-by-Breed Guide to Choosing and Spinning the Perfect Fiber for Every Purpose
The Spinner’s Book of Fleece: A Breed-by-Breed Guide to Choosing and Spinning the Perfect Fiber for Every Purpose by Beth Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this book about a week ago from the publisher for review.
I have not put it down since!

I don’t know how I could live without this book for so long!

What a wonderful resource!!!

This book will NOT teach you how to spin. It will teach you how to spin a yarn that suits the fibre you have! We(well I anyway) think about our projects and what the end result will be and then go from there. I have not ever started with the fibre. This book has toppled my spinning habit on it’s head! I cannot wait to go and find some of the breeds Mrs. Smith is talking about in her wonderful book and spin them into the perfect yarn for the perfect project!
I have always loved to knit with my home spun yarn, but this will make the whole experience even more rewarding, I think. To know the best way to show off any fibre’s strong points and really make it work for you and the project.

Mrs. Smith also gives a bit of a background on the sheep breeds, she discusses in the book. Couple this book with The Field Guide To Fleece and you are pretty much set for any fibre market, or breed auction you could imagine! I CAN’T WAIT TO TRY OUT SOME OF THE TIPS she gives for choosing your fleece at an auction, or a fibre festival! :)
I feel so much more confident to go and buy a fleece instead of processed fibre. I feel armed and ready!

But wait! There is more!
The book also teaches you how to identify the random bits in your stash, to which you lost all notes and labels. (yes, I have those too!! LOTS of those!)
So much information about the breeds and how to keep your head on straight when going to fibre shows and how to pick fleeces, or more processed fiber.

I honestly believe this book is a necessity in every spinners library. No matter if you are a beginner, or an expert. We all can use a refresher course from time to time and a little place to look things up. We can’t keep EVERYTHING in our heads, all the time.

Thank you, for such a wonderful resource book! I know I will recommend it to all my fibre friends.

The information is well written and easily understood and put in, are o practice. I find it always so important that even books like this one, for plain information are written well and in an engaging manner. This is absolutely the case for Beth Smith. She knows what she is talking about and gets it across in a way that doesn’t make you fall asleep three pages in.

I feel so much more confident in picking my next fleece and processing it myself to really show it off to it’s best.

View all my reviews