Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Embroidery Now

Contemporary projects for you and your home

As we are in the dark dank days of November, at least here in the UK, I felt it was time to review a craft book that is a contemporary take on a a very old technique. A craft that you can easily practise with very little in the way of materials and equipment. Embroidery Now is a stylish hand-embroidery guide for the modern maker. The author, Jennifer Riggs, known on Instagram as @Threadhoney, walks you through the embroidery process.

Jennifer is a graphic designer and textile designer. She was taught to embroider by her grandmother when she was eight years old. It was after college that she took up embroidery again and started developing her own products and patterns. She has also collaborated with companies such as Coast, Focus Features and Comcast.

         From this book you’ll learn about the materials included in the practice, nine different stitch techniques with illustrated step-by-step instructions, and 30 individual projects designed for you to use in your home and wardrobe.

         Embroidery has a long and rich history that can be dated back to 30,000 BC, but there is now an entire movement of young people who have picked up their needles. Carrying on the tradition of their ancesters this time they’re doing it in a way that reflects modern times and their individuality.

         This book shows how to meld the old tradition of embroidery with new design concepts. Jennifer creates projects that have humour, don’t take themselves too seriously and reflect personal interests.

         Embroidery is a great way to repurpose, reuse and up-cycle old stuff and personalise treasures. It is also the perfect craft to carry around with you, as it takes up very little space.

         This book is a delight and perfect for both new and experiences embroiders alike. Included are a boho stitched lamp shade, embroidered accent pillow, constellation tablecloth, minimalist canvas wall art, starry stitched dresses, and much more. Buy it now and embroider some gifts to give away this Christmas.

Embroidery Now by Jennifer Cardenas Riggs (Hardie Grant £14.99) Photography ©Nassima Rothacker

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Baskets

Projects, techniques and inspirational designs for you and your home

Tabara N’Diaya

Published by Quadrille £14.99

Tabara grew up in Paris but her family originally came from Senegal a country known for its beautiful Senegalese baskets made from local grasses and coloured strings. In 2017, with her sister, she launched La Basketry, a home ware brand  designed in collaboration with a group of female basket-weavers from Ngaye Mkeka.

         In this, her first book ,she shines a light on the traditional craft of making baskets. However her contemporary designs fit in perfectly with the modern home.

         The book opens with examples of the history and culture of basket making around the world. This is a craft where you need very little in the way of tools and equipment so it is relatively inexpensive to set up. The book is divided into four main types of basket, based on the materials used, grass, cane, rope and twine.

In each chapter the materials are explained and as we now live in the days of the internet they are easy to come by.

         As well as basic techniques being covered the reader is given information on how to display woven pots and how to make them lids.

         I feel the strongest sections of the book are on the grass made baskets and the rope baskets. The techniques used for both are similar and involve turning and sewing although in the case of rope, the baskets are made using an ordinary domestic sewing machine.

         Tabara does basket making for pleasure in her spare time.

“ Basket making allows me to zone out. Hours pass while all I care about is transforming some grasses into a beautiful object, forgetting about my phone and my to do list and just focusing on the present moment.”

Blog, book review, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Want to make a really special cake? Then look no further, we bring you CAKEOLOGY by Juliet Sear

Published by Hardie Grant Hardback £20 eBook £10

With the book world going bonkers about The Great British Bake Off everyone is talking, eating and dreaming cake, so it is a good time to review a book by the Queen of the Cakewalk and founder of the popular baking boutique Fancy Nancy, Juliet Sear.

The book opens with a description of the essential tool kit followed by a warning, ‘do not start the projects before reading this.’ The body of the book is essentially about cake decorating and obviously before starting you need a cake to decorate. Juliet advises making large sponge cakes a day or two in advance and chilling to make them easier to work on and with. The final chapter gives the invaluable insiders knowledge with Juliet’s tried and tested recipes.

Juliet has chosen her publisher well, Hardie Grant are known for stylish beautiful cookery books and this is no exception. It is always very satisfying when a publisher bothers to style the pictures enticingly, even on the tools and materials pages.

Spoilt for choice with such a diverse range of cakes featured, it is very hard to pick one favourite. I love the ‘day of the dead’ inspired black skull cake decorated with bright patterns, flowers and symbols. Juliet is a cake artist specialising in hand painting, the three-tiered bird cake is beautiful. Other favourites are the Wedgewood inspired vase of flowers cake with fresh flower decorations and the cupcake bouquet that features a real vase with very gorgeous life like cup cake flowers. Even though this is a cake book, biscuits are included, there are adorable Dalmatians and kitschy acid coloured wooly jumpers and even love heart biscuits.

With over 20 recipes, easy to follow instructions and clear diagrams for a great number of techniques along with lovely photographs, this book takes you beyond the basics of baking into the realm where cake design merges with the world of arts and crafts.