Crafts & DIY Reviews, May 15, 2012


Testa, Melanie. Dreaming from the Journal Page: Transforming the Sketchbook to Art. North Light: F+W. May 2012. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781440314346. pap. $24.99. ART INSTRUCTION

In this distinctive guide, accomplished textile artist Testa looks at sketchbooks from a mixed-media perspective, emphasizing their value as personal journals, inspiration for larger or more complicated works of art, and art objects in themselves. The book presents numerous techniques, including some less-common materials like ruling pens and Saral paper, with which the reader can experiment liberally. VERDICT While the emphasis on intuition throughout the book may not appeal to everyone, intermediate to experienced artists as well as scrapbook-making hobbyists are likely to find lots of good ideas here.


Anderson, Amy. Mod Podge Rocks!: Decoupage Your World. Lark: Sterling. Jun. 2012. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454702412. pap. $14.95. CRAFTS

Mod Podge hasn’t changed much in 45 years, but crafting tastes have. Anderson ( has assembled a variety of home decor, accessory, and holiday projects that bring this iconic sealer from the macramé-planter era to the modern age. Standouts include a necklace made with candy wrappers and a stylish clock using washi tape and scrapbook paper. VERDICT Younger crafters will enjoy Anderson’s fresh approach, and those who remember the 1970s will be pleased to see the return of an old favorite.

do it yourself

Racusin, Jacob Deva & Ace McArleton. The Natural Building Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to Integrative Design and Construction. Chelsea Green. May 2012. c.464p. illus. index. ISBN 9781603583398. pap. $49.95 with DVD. DIY

Builders and educators Racusin and McArleton bring all considerations of green construction to light. Their writing is articulate and their explanations are in-depth, but they provide little how-to. Chapters encompass a wide variety of natural construction methods and materials. The planning sections really shine. VERDICT This guide stands out for the wealth of information it provides on green construction basics and planning. A solid addition to building collections.

fiber crafts

Causee, Linda & Rita Weiss. 1,000 Any-Size Quilt Blocks. Leisure Arts. 2012. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781609003326. pap. $24.95 with CD. FIBER CRAFTS

Causee and Weiss’s collection of quilt blocks is organized by characteristics, with the name of each block plus a full-color illustration. The CD includes templates or directions for foundation piecing, depending on the type of block selected, and all blocks are presented in a variety of sizes, which allows quilters to print the size they need without having to enlarge their templates on a copier. Basic quilting directions are provided; however, this is more of a reference to quilt blocks than a how-to-quilt book. VERDICT Quilters who enjoy designing their own quilts or who are looking for information about a particular quilt block will find this collection useful.

Gabriel, Nikki. The Handknitter’s Yarn Guide: A Visual Reference to Yarns and Fibers. Griffin: St. Martin’s. May 2012. 176p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781250003072. pap. $24.99. FIBER CRAFTS

This guide to yarn covers both natural and synthetic fibers in a variety of weights. A section is devoted to each fiber, and information regarding properties of the fiber, care, recommended needle sizes, and general qualities (including drape, resilience, and sustainability) is provided. Stockinette, cable, and lace swatches are shown for each weight of most of the yarns to give knitters an idea of the stitch definition. VERDICT Less narrative than Clara Parkes’s The Knitter’s Book of Yarn , Gabriel’s well-organized, no-nonsense guide provides a just the facts approach to the various types of yarn on the market.

starred review starHiatt, June Hemmons (text) & Jesse Hiatt (illus.). The Principles of Knitting: Methods and Techniques of Hand Knitting. Touchstone: S. & S. 2012. 712p. illus. index. ISBN 9781416535171. $45. FIBER CRAFTS

Out of print since the mid-1990s, Hiatt’s classic guide to all things knitting has been fully revised and expanded. If it’s knitting-related and you need to know about it, it’s probably in this book. Hiatt goes well beyond the basic how-to approach, choosing instead to provide context and explain the whys behind the techniques. Knitters of all skill levels will find a comprehensive guide to the basics and beyond, including information about lace, cables, color work, beaded knitting, and finishing techniques. One drawback: at 700-plus pages, it’s more of an at-home reference than a portable book for the knitting bag. VERDICT This new edition of one of the great knitting references will bring Hiatt’s clear explanations and comprehensive information to a new generation of knitters.

Wilkins, Lesley. Blackwork Made Easy: Techniques, Patterns & Samplers. Search, dist. by IPG. May 2012. 96p. illus. index. ISBN 9781844487530. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Blackwork was brought to England from Spain in the early 16th century by Catherine of Aragon, and this Arabic style of embroidery morphed into something more English than Spanish over the years. Wilkins (Beginner’s Guide to Blackwork ) introduces the basics of blackwork (e.g., selecting the appropriate thread and canvas and choosing stitches and motifs), then presents a variety of blackwork charts, including several inspired by a 1598 sampler owned by the Victoria and Albert Museum. Blackwork does not need to be sewn with black thread, and several of the patterns are quite colorful. VERDICT Crafters who cross-stitch or embroider may appreciate blackwork as well‚ especially if they enjoy Tudor-era motifs.

interior design

Cregan, Lisa. House Beautiful Kitchens: Creating a Beautiful Kitchen of Your Own. Hearst: Sterling. Jun. 2012. 336p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781588169006. $40. INTERIOR DESIGN

Cregan (House Beautiful Style 101 ) showcases the work of and interviews 40 designers about their design choices. Throughout the text, kitchen designers, architects, chefs, and even cookbook authors give their expert advice on features they value in a kitchen. In addition, there are specific sections devoted to the choices available in kitchen appliances and materials such as refrigerators, ovens, faucets, floors, cabinets, countertops, and lighting as well as suggestions for items to create a particular look. VERDICT Home owners plotting their own kitchen redo will find plenty of inspiration and information amid the 600 color photographs and abundant professional advice here.

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