Monthly Archives: August 2011

Book Reviews – a Trio of Treasures – DAY ONE!

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I am going to do mini reviews this week on three books recently read. First up, Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders 101 Sewing Projects Using Cottons, Knits, Voiles, Corduroy, Fleece, Flannel, Home Dec, Oilcloth, Wool, and Beyond by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins.

I read this book on my Adobe Digital Reader, and I will have to say, up front, that reading craft books via an e-reader of any kind is an exercise in frustration for me. In this instance, it actually means I cannot give a full honest appraisal of the book’s usefulness, or the patterns (which are provided in an attached envelope in the real hard cover book) because reading a book this way is not conducive to a hands-on approach. Other books I have read and reviewed in this format were actually similarly difficult, (Simply Great Breads and the Crocheted Prayer Shawl Companion) because you cannot print books you get via this medium, for review. In the latter instances, I just kept my computer handy and referred to it as I crocheted or baked. Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders unfortunately does not lend itself to that kind of use. Nonetheless, I can tell you about the book’s strong points, and writing style!

Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins have written another best-selling fabric book, One-Yard Wonders: 101 Sewing Fabric Projects; Look How Much You Can Make with Just One Yard of Fabric! I have not read that one, but get the sense that this one is more detailed insofar as it deals with different types of fabric, how they handle, the tools needed to cut and sew on different fabrics. Chapter 1 starts with Fabric Fundamentals, which was quite useful, whether you are an experienced seamstress/tailor, or a beginner. It gives you guidance on how to get the best from your sewing machine, what kind of needles to use for different fabrics, and details on presser feet, tension and thread weights. Good basic stuff, handy to have in one place. This chapter also has an excellent list of 31 Equipment Must-Haves.

The remaining chapters “take on” each kind of fabric, providing a pattern and tips on working with cotton, wool, knits etc. The patterns are illustrated with sketches, as well as photographs of the completed project. There is an excellent Glossary at the end of sewing and fabric terms, which, whatever your skill level, is really handy to have at your fingertips.

If I had had the actual book and patterns, there are several I would have tried, including the adorable Hedgehog Bookends or the adorable Knight in Shining Armor. (NOTE: Please remember that these are copyrighted pictures/photos, the property of the authors, photographers and/or publisher, and as such are displayed for review purposes only. Please do NOT copy or distribute!) From Hats to Belts to Scarves, this has some unusual ideas for fabric and sewing. If you have kids, and/or teens, there are projects in here that would be right up their alley! (LOVE those Clichés!Cliches!)

The Bottom Line? I liked it, I really liked it! I would not give it full marks because I was unable to test the patterns myself, but the layout, ideas and writing are great. This book will not be published until mid December, 2011, so that I don’t think it will do for making Christmas gifts for this year, but plan ahead for next year, or better yet, give the book as a gift!

Enjoy!

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Voila ~ 2nd Project in Progress ~ Complete!

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Remember the funky board thingie?

Here are the various and miscellaneous things I used to create the finished project:

From there, I put them all together… and created this….

 

 

When I finally get this hung in my new place in a couple of months, I will post a picture! The jar can be used simply as a catch-all. a pencil holder or a vase for a handful of wildflowers. The metal ruler is, of course, magnetic, for notes, there are two hooks on the bottom, and three next to the jar, and up there in the upper left hand corner is the metal gizmo-thingamajiggy that Ed took off the original boards. The two uprights that come up from the top (see the smaller top picture of the two “finished” photos) had exposed screws in them; the holes go all the way through the boards, so we will use those to screw the boards to the wall.  Can’t wait to get it up on the wall and use it!

Projects in Progress – Completed!

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Well, rather than blog this weekend, I decided to finish the projects at (in?) hand.

You remember the rusty saw blade, right?

 

Introducing, the Sawblade Address sign…

Here is the first stage. I decided to use it “as is” because the rustiness kind

of authenticity to it. So I just added the numbers…

But something was missing – it looked rather drab…

So, I took it to the next level with a gold paint pen.

 

Now it really POPS! I like it, don’t you!? I put a solar light right next to it,

and it leans up against one of the mimosas around the place…

 

Tune in tomorrow, when I unveil my other weekend  project, completed!

Craftivism: An Old-Fashioned Vision with a New Name

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Over 10 years ago, I got aboard the crafting for charity bandwagon.  And nothing pleases me more than to know that the trend is growing stronger. My personal inclination is to make things for charities in the United States, for no matter what the need is Internationally, there are hungry, homeless children in this country that need our love and support. But of course, just that fact that charitable creations are on your radar is a plus, and you can just ignore me if you are interested in a multi-national approach. 😉

You don’t have to look for a big charity, or a national organization to find a place to give, either!  You can do it in your own backyard, so to speak. Contact local churches, food closets, social services and women’s shelters. Most can give you a list of what they need (for instance, blankets, socks, hats & mittens, shawls, layettes etc.) and then you can fine-tune their needs to your talents and interests.

Stumped for ideas? Here are some of my favorite charities that are online:

Project Linus Their mission, should you chose to accept it, is to give children from birth to age 18 with a blanket to call their own. Begun in 1995, they have donated more than THREE million blankets to children in need. The site has patterns, lists of chapters you can join (you don’t need to join a chapter, but donations should be made through a chapter – or if no chapter exists locally, you can mail your handmade blankets in…or consider starting a chapter in your area; I did, and it was a joyful several years that I worked on it!) Be sure to start with the FAQ’s when you go to the site for the first time.

Craft Hope This is a somewhat new organization that started with a dynamite idea – sewing, knitting, crocheting and all manner of crafting can be donated to inspire hope in others. Jade Sims is the founder of the group, and her book, Craft Hope, is delightful. Many of the ideas and patterns are available online as well, though. There are 32 projects in the book, and a dozen or so online. Their methodology is by project. You sign up for the current project, if you are interested, and follow the guidelines and deadlines for that project. The current project is # 14 – the making of Christmas stockings for families severely impacted by tornadoes in this country, some 12,000 of them.  You can find out more about this project on the page Christmas in Dixie.

A new book is coming out in late September, which I will review on this site as soon as I get my copy. Called Craft Activism: People, Ideas, and Projects from the New Community of Handmade and How You Can Join In,  it looks to be a wonderful collection of ideas and patterns. Look it up on your favorite online bookstore, but don’t buy it until you see my review!

There are some interesting blogs around the ‘net that seem to be focusing on creativity and ideas for charitable crafting. I encourage you to sign up for some, check them out. You can always drop your subscription if it isn’t what you are looking for.

For example: Betsy Greer has a far-reaching blog, discussing craftivism worldwide, which can be found at Craft+Activism=Craftivism Betsy has written a book as well, Knitting for Good, which you can find out about on her blog.

Etsy has some teams and communities, such as that are focused on charitable gifting of handmade items, check that out and see what you think. You may have to prowl around to find others, since things change daily there.

Another aspect of crafting for charity is fundraisers. Churches and non-profits often have craft fairs and special events where they sell homemade crafts to raise money for specific projects. Your best bet, if this is where your interest lies, is to contact local churches, clubs (e.g. Soroptimists or Lions clubs…) and local organizations advertising in the paper.

Last but not least, check online bulletin boards. There’s a good one at Craftster (Crafting for Good and Not Evil) which has some ideas, patterns, charities etc. on their community bulletin board. I am not 100% certain, but you may have to register before posting, although I think you can read the posts anonymously.

I did a review of Crocheted Prayer Shawl Companion here on the site recently – look on the right-hand sidebar for a link to that posting.

Hope this gave you some good ideas, and will help fuel your interest and excitement in creating for charity. Craftivism is a new word, but it’s meaning is timeless!

 

 

Book Review – Simply Great Breads by Daniel Leader

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Firstly, yes making bread is a craft. AND an art. I have been indulging in this pleasure for some 40 years now, and have tried everything from friendship bread to  quick rise goodies. But, I made a serious mistake when I picked up this book to read for the first time. I did it at 9 o’clock at night! ACK!

So, the first thing this morning,  I sorted through my available ingredients and began one of Daniel Leader’s great recipes. I had to rule out Monkey Bread, because I didn’t have the right pan, and I didn’t have any bread flour left for the yummy looking Brioche Muffins.  Actually, several of the recipes call for bread flour, which I usually have on hand, as it has a higher gluten content. At any rate, I decided to try to try the “Lightly Shaped Parker House Rolls” for supper, to be served with my homemade chicken and rice soup. I remind you, dear reader, to a) NOT read this book before bed (unless you want the visions of jam-filled Berliners dancing through your head) and, b) to make an effort to stock your cupboard with the usual bread-maker’s supplies, including instant yeast, bread flour, etc., which are delineated so well in Leader’s book.

Pre-fermenting complete

This morning, I started the “pre-ferment,” a fairly new technique for me, which I learned to refine and utilize while reading this book. (BTW, all the pictures herein are of my own efforts, not from the book – so except for the book cover, above, what you are looking at, for better or for worse, is Laura’s baking! 🙂  )

Individual Rolls, after rising, ready to bake

Then, late in the afternoon, I finished up the rolls and set them out to rise while getting the finishing touches done on the soup. I know it seems odd to be eating soup when it is 115 outside in this overly-hot Arizona summer – but it is a stove-top job, and makes for great quick lunches later in the week!

Hot from the oven, ready to eat!

Gritting my teeth at having the oven on in our little place when it is in the high-80’s inside, even with A/C , I popped the rolls in the oven for the requisite 18-20 minutes. Oh. My. Ambrosia! The recipe stated it made 24 rolls, but since I like big – there were 20 hot, buttery rolls. Okay. Confession time. I didn’t have much soup! Leader states the rolls are better eaten fresh, and truly, we did our best! The leftovers I froze, per Leader’s instructions, for a treat later in the week.

I love(d) the fact that the recipes in this book are so all encompassing. Bagel recipes take place along with Ciabata Rolls (my next adventure) sweet breads, flat breads, and even a  salad recipe and extras.  Bialys recipes dance through the pages, along with Navajo Bread, Challah and Berliners. The instructions are detailed, the index and resource pages fantastic. Leader includes equivalency charts, and the recipe ingredients will work whether you are American or European.  I really appreciated the Glossary of Baking Terms as well, for although I am an experienced baker and bread maker, it was nice to have all of it in the same place for reference.

Bottom line – I really recommend this book. I admit I get a lot of recipes off the internet these days, to save space, but this one will go on my bookshelf along with half-a dozen of my treasured family favorites. It would make a great gift as well – package it along with a personally crafted gift basket, with special ingredients, pans and homemade towels or jelly for an added fillip.  ENJOY!

A freshly baked batch of Parker House Rolls

Projects in Progress

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A “SNEAK PEEK” at two craft projects I am currently working on.

I found this funky ‘thing’ out in the brush – and have great plans for it!


And this saw blade was also found on a walkabout. I have already started the project, but am only going to show you the “before” picture today!


Next week I hope to have both projects completed. Come back and check it out, or better yet, sign up to receive my blog via email…

Happy Trails!

COMING SOON!

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Reviews on the table (Books being read)

Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts – including a CD with printable patterns (2010)

Craft Activism by Joan Tapper and Gale Zucker

a book about Bread (the eating kind, not the money kind!)

 

AND – a column about Craftivism outside the realm of knitting! A definition of Craftivism can be found on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craftivism