Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Needle Felting

20 Cute Projects to Felt From Wool By Emma Herian Published by GMC Publications RRP £14.99

Want to learn a new craft this autumn then this is the book for you. I have long been an admirer of Emma’s work and have followed her on instagram for a while. She is a craftswoman of great renown who has many skills under her belt and appears to turn her hand to new projects almost effortlessly. In her forward to this book she describes how she came to needle felting by accident when she was asked to run a workshop on it.

Unlike many crafts, needle felting is very forgiving to beginners, so there is no excuse not to have a go. As if by magic, pieces of natural wool can be sculpted simply by stabbing them with special felting needles.

The tiny barbs on the needles make the wool denser and denser, so that it can be moulded into whatever shape you desire. The book is divided into three sections geared towards beginner, intermediate and advanced, there’s a felting project for everyone, no matter what level of experience.

 The basic techniques are covered and each project is accompanied, with step-by-step instructions and, photographs. There are hints and tips throughout, and twenty projects in all. Once you have made many of the projects in the book you will be in a position to create your own. There are projects to make for occasions such as Christmas, Halloween, Easter and other celebrations. There are lovely animals including, rabbits, piglets, bears and a bee.

My only criticism of the book is the name ‘Cute’ which gives it the feel of something, well cute! I feel the work has much more substance to it than that. If you want to try a new craft that takes up little room and is perfect for winter evenings then this my friends, is it.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Sew Simple Quilts and Patchworks

17 Designs using Kaffe Fassett’s Artisan Fabrics. By Kaffe Fassett

Published by Taunton RRP in UK £17.99

Last weekend was the Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham. It is a fantastic event with lots of exciting and stimulating work on show as well as masterclasses and lots to see and do. With this in mind I have reviewed a new patchwork and quilting book by Kaffe Fassett.

Unlike most ‘Sew Simple’ books Kaffe Fassett manages to create easy to make projects and yet at the same time make them look sophisticated and very appealing. I have long been an admirer of Kaffe’s since he first came to the UK as a young painter who morphed into a knitwear designer. He took on tapestries and then mosaic before turning his hand to quilts and fabric design.

The secret of his success has to be his wonderful use of colour and the way he uses different patterns together. He had an exhibition of his work at London’s Fashion and Textile museum and my lasting memory of it, was being enveloped in a riot of colour and pattern.

Throughout this book he uses his artisan collection that is inspired by different types of fabrics from different cultures from around the world. He uses both Ikats and batiks and uses them with quilting cottons perfect for the projects in this book.

The project each come with clear instructions and their own assembling diagrams. The projects include throws, quilts, cushions and simple stylish garments and fun projects for children, a tent and a pillow bed.

A lovely practical book. Distributed in the UK by GMC Publications.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

DIY for Dog Lovers

36 P-awsome Canine Crafts

By Kat Roberts

Published by Lark

This is a fun and practical book written by the author of Crafting for Cat Ladies. So if dogs are not your thing you can go and get her other book.

She opens the book with the introduction

         “ My dog inspires me daily with her loyalty, humour and love. Sharker greets me when I return home after work, always joyful.”

 The book opens with the usual techniques tips and materials. As this is a multi craft book there are quite a few of these. There is a mixture of items for your dog and items inspired by dogs. The first chapter called Home includes silhouette portraits of dogs, paw printed stamped gift wrap, a banner and a bone shaped Welcome mat.

The next chapter has accessories including a journal, a fido phone case, a mans best friendship braclet and a Dachshund Shopping Tote.

There are fashion items including Dalmation shoes, a canine clutch and paw print elbow patches. There are fun ideas for DIY dog themed entertaining and finally a chapter on items that you can make for your dog including a name tag, a dog coat, a dog bed, and an up-cycled dog toy.

If you love dogs, have a sense of fun and also love to craft these projects will definitely fit the bill!

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

JOMO knits to celebrate the Joy of Missing Out

by Christine Boggis published by GMC Publications

Before I start on this review I must come clean and admit it, I am a poor knitter. This is why I think this book is so great. Most of the projects are done using very thick wool and are quick and easy to make.

I hadn’t heard of Jomo before I was sent this book, so for those of you who don’t know it has grown out of the social media term Fomo which means Fear of Missing Out.

As author Christine Boggis says,

“ Fomo fuelled and was fuelled by, social media posts of people having fun, eating photogenic dinners and jumping into swimming pools.” But a time came when all those images of people driven to constant consumption, striving and activity started to feel exhausting.

Ultra cosy blanket and pure wool cable stitch socks made from shetland wool

The author thought It might be nice to just sit in front of the TV  with a box set, a cup of tea and whole load of wool – even if it meant missing out on something ostensibly more exciting. With that idea, Jomo was born: the joy of missing out.

The book is about making something slowly, although the knits in the book are quite quick.

Breakfast in bed

What is JOMO knitting? It is not about being told what you should be doing by marketeers or anyone else. It is about slow fashion  and being a maker rather than a consumer. It is about being in the moment that is, not wishing for a different moment that might look more impressive on a social media feed.

Most importantly JOMO knitting is about embracing who you are and loving it-no matter what anyone else might think.

End of the Rainbow a perfect gift for a new baby

This inspiring book is split into three sections – Nest, Explore and Share.  There are 21 knitting projects and insights into how to use knitting to unwind from the demands of our over-stimulated and digitalized lives. Dotted about the book are special sections exploring the link between knitting and Jomo. Along with humorous observations and lists.

One of my favourite sections in the book is the introduction to modern kniterature. This includes both fiction and non-fiction knitting books. We are given five ways to make more time for knitting. I would translate this into 5 ways to do more crafting.

Just be me sweater and fingerless mits

Lots of lovely projects, my favourite being the first project in the book the breakfast in bed sweater. The marigold fingerless mits are nice as is the Box Set binge blanket.

This is much, much more than your usual set of knitting patterns, it is an inspirational  lifestyle guide and friend all wrapped up in book form.

Published by GMC publications at £14.99

book review, Book Reviews

Crocheted Succulents

Cacti & Other Succulent Plants to Make

By Emma Varnam

Published by GMC RRP £14.99

When this book arrived through my letterbox it caused me to giggle. It seems such a bizarre and bonkers idea to crochet a Cactus. However if you, like me, are fairly hopeless with house plants then why not.

 As Emma says in her introduction

‘ Succulent plants have grown in popularity in recent years, as our climate gets hotter and hotter and more of us are able to grow these plants outside in pots. I started growing succulents about two years ago and my son loves to collect cacti too. We have attended courses on how to look after our plants and how to propagate them. Then it occurred to me it would be fun to create a crocheted version of our collection.

         The techniques of crotchet are perfectly suited to creating these cute specimens, and these versions are immune to the perils of overwatering or drought.’

         In some of the patterns Emma has embellished her crocheted succulents with flowers and pompoms to create an exotic look.

She even has an imaginative idea for display and that is to mix them with her living cacti and succulents. The technique is simple it is a wonderful hobby to carry around with you  as you travel on the bus or tube on the way to work. A great talking point with strangers perhaps. The book has full colour photography throughout and the contents page is a delight with each plant species captioned with a picture of its crocheted version below the name. With 25 different varieties you could make them all and give a few away as original presents to friends and family.

         Emma Varnam is a crochet and knitwear designer and author. Her books , also published by GMC, included How To Crochet, Granny Squares, Granny Squares Home, Cute Crocheted animals. She has collaborated with knitwear designer Debbie Bliss. Her crochet blog is

Blog, book review, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

You want to make classic clothes for your child but have no idea where to find a pattern? I have the answer the book SEW ADORABLE: by Vanessa Mooncie

Have you ever wished you could make your baby and toddler clothes? Sew Adorable: classic clothes for boys and girls, by Vanessa Mooncie is a practical sewing book of timeless classic projects, giving you the know how to create child’s entire wardrobe from 0-3 years. The simple projects, are all elegant and stylish. Included are instructions and patterns for everyday clothes, party wear and even costumes and soft toys, with plenty of inspiration this is just the book to get you sewing. All the time and work of sewing a garment will be rewarded when it’s worn again and again, and then passed on to younger siblings

Sew Adorable is organized into three sections, opening with an inspirational gallery of beautiful toddlers wearing all the clothes from the book. There are easy to follow, step-by-step project details, followed by a handy section on techniques so you can be confident of completing your project quickly and painlessly.

The book is impeccably tasteful, and the clothes are similar in feel  to those worn by the children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. As most of the projects take up very little fabric there are lots of opportunities to use up all those fabric scraps and remnants you’ve been hoarding.

A beautiful book and perfect for anyone who has a baby or toddlers and enjoys getting creative.

Sew Adorable by Vanessa Mooncie

Published by GMC

£14.99 available from