If you want to buy me a present, whether it be for my birthday, Christmas or any other reason for that matter, then I am easily pleased .... my favourite perfume, a little something from Tiffany or failing that, a good book.
Now I have to admit I have been truly blessed with my husband and his family. Whenever a present buying occasion looms, they ask me for a list of gifts I would like. I duly supply them with a list of CDs, books, DVDs, perfume etc that I would like and they buy me something from my list. Fabulous! You may argue that there is no element of surprise in that but at least you end up with gifts you want and need, rather than a pile to sell on eBay at a later date!
This Christmas, I put down a couple of craft books that looked interesting. I am always on the hunt for new crafts to try and different ideas to incorporate into my handbags. My lovely in-laws bought both of the books I had on my list and I have to say, they are well worth buying or borrowing from your local library.
Firstly, is "Freeform Crochet and Beyond" by Renate Kirkpatrick. Whilst I can knit, I have never tried crochet. I bought a needle years ago which is as far as I have ever got. Recently, I saw crochet mentioned on a television programme and it sparked my interest again. However, I knew I didn't just want to make squares for a throw, I needed more than that. I find a good place for book hunting is Amazon, so I did a search on crochet to see what came up. With Amazon's look inside feature you can view the contents and a few pages of books to get a feel for them. In the past I have also borrowed them from the library to see if they are worth buying. I have bought books in the past and ended up disappointed with the contents.
"Freeform Crochet and Beyond" is well worth a look though if you are a novice or a crochet guru. The book begins with the basics and gives very clear illustrations on the different stitches and techniques required. It then progresses to the obligatory squares and then into flowers, scarves, hats, handbags, jewellery, cushions and shawls. It also gives information on incorporating your crochet into felt work, another area that really interests me. The book is packed with brightly coloured photographs which just make me even more enthusiastic to get started.
The second book I received was "The Art of Manipulating Fabric" by Colette Wolff. I have to say, this book left me slightly speechless. I never even imagined in my wildest dreams that fabric could be smocked, quilted, pleated, ruffled, not to mention tucked and stuffed, in so many ways! I may have tried simple smocking years ago whilst as school and I always admired my Aunt's smocked cushions as a child but that was as far as it went. Having stumbled across this book on Amazon, the front cover alone sold the book to me.
Every page offers clear diagrams and photographs alongside the text to guide you through sewing techniques I have never seen or heard of. I think the technique for my Aunt's cushions is shirring. They looked like the top photo on the front cover anyway as far as I can remember. Looking in the book there are so many different patterns you can achieve though. My only slight criticism of the book is that all of the photos are in black and white. Colour would have definitely made it a bit more appealing. Don't let that put you off though, this book is still an absolute gem.
For a quick link to Amazon for more information on either book, please scroll down the left hand side of the blog and use the link in the Amazon box.