Foreword Reviews

Busy Hands, Warm Heart

Eight Books for Crafters of All Types


Crafting trends come and go, but crafters of all skill levels and genres enjoy books that make their crafting life easier, inspire them to raise the bar on their own craft, and make them laugh or think, or both.

This collection of new releases covers knitting, quilting, origami, Lego construction, and more, but all the books are sure to get people interested in crafting and to try new things.

Make Creatures with Felt Mistress

12 Couture Characters to Sew

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Louise Evans
Laurence King Publishing
Softcover $19.95 (112pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Making softies and dolls is a big trend in crafting, and these creatures made of felt and faux fur, complete with their own wardrobes and backstories, take critter-crafting to the next level.

These projects are mostly not for people new to making their own dolls, as there are lots of details and some special materials that general crafters might not have on hand.

They are not quick projects, but the instructions are detailed and supplemented with line drawings that show what needs to be done. Illustrations of the finished dolls add to the whimsy. The projects are certain to be rewarding, as stitchers make their own creatures following the instructions or develop their own creations inspired by these designs.

Full-size paper patterns are included with the book, which is helpful, but patterns are printed on both sides of the paper and different pieces overlap each other, so crafters will likely want to trace the patterns onto other paper rather than cutting out the patterns directly from the book.

This book offers plenty of inspiration, advice, and fun creatures to create or spin off into completely different directions.

SARAH E. WHITE (October 28, 2016)

Tiny Lego Wonders

Build 40 Surprisingly Realistic Mini-Models!

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Mattia Zamboni
No Starch Press
Hardcover $24.95 (208pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Kids (ages 9 and up) and adults will delight in this collection of cars, boats, planes, trains, spaceships, and more, all constructed with Legos.

Designs are arranged by theme and include an airport, a race track, a harbor, and even a moon army, among others. Each project is shown with a list of materials and a level of difficulty (easy, medium, or hard), then the instructions are given in diagrams that anyone who has ever assembled a Lego kit will understand.

Some of the pieces used are standard, and colors can always be substituted. Sources are given for buying particular pieces that might not be in the builder’s collection. Variations are shown to give builders more ideas, but instructions aren’t given for those options.

Photographs of the finished designs in a Lego environment, such as the fire trucks and police car at the scene of a fire in a Lego apartment building, are inspiring and sure to encourage further building to make a whole scene.

The design choices will delight those who like assembling vehicles, and the identification of skill levels makes it easy to choose projects when working with kids.

SARAH E. WHITE (October 28, 2016)

Block Genius

Over 201 Pieced Quilt Blocks with No Math Charts

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Sue Voegtlin
Landauer Publishing
Softcover $24.95 (144pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

In Block Genius, Sue Voegtlin aims to take the guesswork—and the math—out of quilting, for quilters of all skill levels. She does this by providing exploded diagrams for more than 200 quilt blocks worked on grids of 2x2, 3x3, 4x4, or 6x6 blocks that can produce 6-, 9- or 12-inch squares.

The book includes tips for success and tutorials for making common shapes used in the blocks, such as half-square triangles, quarter-square triangles, flying geese, and square in a square, as well as sewing partial seams, parallel seams, adding corners, adding triangles to a square, and sewing triangles in a row. Each of the blocks is shown in a sewn swatch and a diagram that explains how to sew the block together, making it easy for newer and experienced quilters to choose blocks to practice with or pull together for projects.

Ideas for setting blocks in a quilt are given at the back of the book, to further inspire readers to make their own projects from the given blocks.

This is an easy, no-math, low-stress way to get started quilting or to make a quilted project fast, without having to measure or think about what sorts and sizes of pieces are needed.

SARAH E. WHITE (October 28, 2016)

LaFosse & Alexander’s Essential Book of Origami

The Complete Guide for Everyone

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Michael G. LaFosse
Richard L. Alexander
Tuttle Publishing
Softcover $16.95 (96pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

LaFosse & Alexander’s Essential Book of Origami begins with a traditional Japanese crane that takes twenty-two steps to complete and includes other playful and lovely forms, from a 3-D heart to a two-color cat with a whopping sixty steps, and from a leatherback sea turtle to a great white shark made from a two-dollar bill.

The diagrams for each step are clear and often show the results of folds that are difficult to describe in words, but having some origami experience before attempting these projects would be helpful.

For people who are comfortable with the craft, this is an excellent guide to the art of origami, with thoughts from these two renowned artists on paper selection, folding techniques, displaying, and preserving folded objects, among other issues.

The accompanying DVD, with four hours of instructions, takes origami students through folding techniques and paper preparation, as well as guiding viewers through each of the origami forms presented in the book. The diagrams and videos work together to allow practitioners to meet the authors’ goal of producing more artful folding with confidence and enjoyment.

SARAH E. WHITE (October 28, 2016)


20 Chunky Knit Fashions

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Linda Zemba Burhance
Taunton Press
Softcover $24.95 (160pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Bulky, super bulky, and jumbo yarns are making a big impact in fashion and in knitting. The large scale makes for dramatic garments that knit up quickly, and this is a fun way to play with texture and color when combining yarns to make bigger stitches. Big Knit Love uses these giant yarns, often in combination, to make dramatic tops, cowls, scarves, and other accessories.

The book opens with a section covering all the knitting skills needed to complete the projects, making it a great choice for beginners who want to get in on the bulky-knitting trend. The patterns also list skill levels, which makes it easier for newer knitters to choose projects that will allow them to be successful.

Knitters with more experience who like the look of big knits will also enjoy this book, though the emphasis on novelty yarns in some projects might be off-putting to knitters who prefer a more classic look. Large pictures show off the finished garments and highlight special techniques needed in specific projects. Designer notes offer alternative ideas for yarn choices and additional tips for altering the patterns for a unique finish in a flash.

SARAH E. WHITE (October 28, 2016)

Crafting with Feminism

25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy

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Bonnie Burton
Quirk Books
Softcover $14.99 (112pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

The change-the-world spirit of feminism combines with the DIY attitude of craft in this irreverent and inspiring book of projects with a saucy, sarcastic bent. Options include feminist badges of honor, sequined flames on a bra, feminist finger puppets, a planter made out of a high-heeled shoe, a business-card holder made from a girl-band cassette tape, and personalized coats of arms with suggested phrases like “ave regina,” or “all hail the queen.”

Variations are given for many of the crafts so they can be truly original or reflect the maker’s particular feminist heroes, from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Queen Elizabeth, or favored slogans and passions.

A few projects are rather strange, such as a huggable uterus pillow for crampy days, little dolls made out of tampons, and salt-dough ornaments inspired by vaginas.

This is true DIY territory, with just two projects providing templates. The photos and suggestions offer plenty of inspiration for crafters who don’t want or need hand-holding tutorials.

These craft ideas offer lots of fun inspiration for DIY gifts for feisty women, and playlists of movies and music, party themes, and tips to make throwing a feminist craft night a breeze.

SARAH E. WHITE (October 28, 2016)

Knitter’s Know-How

127 Techniques Every Knitter Needs to Know

Book Cover
Cap Sease
Hardcover $28.99 (112pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Finishing a knitting project well is key to having it turn out the way the knitter really wants. Without good planning from the beginning and the proper choice of finishing techniques, such as seaming, edging, placing buttonholes, and blocking, the hours spent knitting a project can go to waste.

Cap Sease covers a wide range of planning and finishing techniques in this straightforward and helpful book. Clear illustrations, sometimes photographs and sometimes drawings, show knitters just what to do to get the results they want. The book offers many options for the necessary steps of finishing, leaving it up to the knitters to determine what works best for them. For example, while most knitters are familiar with mattress stitch as a way to sew seams, Sease offers nine other options, as well as knit and crocheted edges.

The book will be a huge help to newer knitters who will want to keep it handy as they knit their first sweaters. But it’s also a great refresher for more seasoned knitters and likely includes some techniques and methods knitters haven’t seen or tried before.

Knitter’s Know-How is a great reference for anyone who knits garments or other projects that require finishing, whether that’s picking up stitches, blocking, or even just weaving in ends.

SARAH E. WHITE (October 28, 2016)

Oaxaca Stories in Cloth

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Eric Sebastian Mindling
Thrums Books
Softcover $36.95 (280pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

One of the important things about craft is the ability to preserve and document traditional methods and pass on cultural information to the next generation.

Oaxaca Stories in Cloth captures the rapidly disappearing stories and garment-making traditions of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, where dyeing and weaving elaborate garments has long been a part of the indigenous culture. The book combines large, striking photos with the stories of people who make and wear the garments. It serves as a historical record of the designs that may one day be lost as people stop wearing them, and provides inspiration to crafters around the world and across genres. It’s not a book that seeks crafters to replicate traditional designs—there are no how-to instructions or even detailed photographs of garments—but the color, designs, and motifs of these garments are sure to inspire.

From the colorful pompoms and plaited hair of a woman dressed for a wedding in San Martin Itunyoso to the bold animal designs woven into garments made in San Pablo Tijaltepec, these dazzling images give a glimpse into the daily life of those (mostly women) who still wear the traditional dress and documents a “last generation” in places where only the oldest still wear the traditional clothes.

SARAH E. WHITE (October 28, 2016)

Sarah E. White

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