As somebody who is a craft author and maker of many years, when I saw the title and strap line of this book it resonated with me.
In the introduction the authors, both
makers, describe how they realized that craft is their therapy.
‘ Working with my hands to make a thing-whether it’s a sketchbook or a piece of weaving or drawing –fulfils some essential function of me. It feels predestined, it’s a part of my DNA. I can’t imagine not having a project on the go. There would be a hole in my life, a sense that there is something I should be doing. When I’m making I am focused, resolved, connected to the work I am shaping. Afterwards I feel refreshed, invigorated even, and always more energetic for what is going on around me. I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as I’m making, I can do all the other things being alive requires of me. I equate my daily craft practice with, if anything, meditation.” Azru Tahsin, editor, crafter and one of the authors of this book.
The co-author Rosemary Davidson describes being surround with materials from which to make as a small child. Her grandmother was a seamstress and so Rosemary had access to beads feather and threads from a very early age.
“When I’m making I have room to think. And
to do my daydreaming.” she says.
Neither woman wishes to set up a business crafting things so they wondered why do they craft. This book comes up with some very plausible of the answers.
We make things because we enjoy it and because our crafts make us feel better.
It is when we return to our sewing, knitting, bookbinding or weaving that we
achieve moments of calm. When our energy is low, making something energizes us.
Making reaches into the place where ideas are sparked and where problems are
The authors admit that they are not craft
experts, or feel particularly ‘artistic’ in the conventional sense of the word.
They both work as freelance editors, but it is by being menders, dabblers and
gung-ho experimenters that they are convinced there are health benefits to be
had by practicing as often as possible a craft that inspires and challenges.
‘Through making and mending things, we
contend that you are also potentially making and mending yourself’.
book is divided into three sections. The first, and for me the most fascinating
part, explores what is meant by creativity and the importance of craft in our
lives. The authors explore the latest research on how working with your hands
and making things can have a huge impact on your mental well-being and
The second section of the book deals with how to deal with negativity, how to stretch your imagination and flex your fingers. The final part of the book has a projects section that gives techniques for a number of crafts including weaving on a frame, knitting, drawing making a simple clay pot and darning and mending. There is lots of helpful advise including inspirational web sites and a recommended reading list.
I have been reviewing practical books for over 25 years and used to review for the magazine Inspirations back in the day. I think it is a pity that books are now sold in the same way as other items, such as clothes and groceries, with a short shelf life. With the Great British Sewing Bee being very much on our minds I think this book deserves a second look, it is fun, practical and original.
Textile artist Chloe Owens http://chloeowens.com/is inspired by all things vintage, and much of her work is made from 1960’s fabrics. She is also a lover of annuals, that she read as a child. Their brightly coloured illustrations, and instructions mixed in with activities, puzzles and games has been a major influence in the design of this book.
Make a headdress – great for a summer festival
Instead of a run of the mill craft book, Chloe has ingeniously made an annual complete with games: follow the thread, strings and needles, lotto.
Included are translations of rhyming slang, for example: Bangers- “bangers and mash” (sausages and mashed potato)=cash. As with the best of annuals it has many illustrators, so that each project is almost like a mini book in its own right. Each project starts with a witty heading or a pun, so a reclaimed chair is called ‘The best seat in the house’.
a pin board wizard’ pin board is taken from the song of the same name from The
Who’s ‘Tommy’ album. Many of the projects are written as if a friend or animal
has made them and so they take the comic book form in both layout and story
line. The result of all this is a very busy looking, book of fun.
How to re-upholster a sewing box to make a cat bed
I like the way Chloe writes, her instructions are clear and she encourages you to have a go! This is a hip book, full of diverse projects, and lovely photographs by the late Claire Richardson. Projects range from felt biscuits to soft toy animals, a very cute baby dress and some furniture projects and home accessories. Amongst my favourite projects is “A must have for the modern man”, the deluxe felt beard, now with optional moustache. I am not sure if I will be sporting it just yet but when the chilly autumn winds blow you never know.
Make these lovely recycled Christmas stockings from an old blanket or jumper and decorate with easy blanket stitch and pom poms
You will need
Old blanket or jumper
Paper and pencil
Caron Simply Soft yarn in Neon Orange, Neon Green, Neon Pink and Burgundy, £4.95 each
Draw a boot shape onto paper and cut out. Fold your blanket or jumper in half, then pin on the paper pattern cut out using pinking shears.
Sew the two boot shapes together around the edges, wrong sides together, using blanket stitch – and remember to leave the top unstitched. There are lots of YouTube videos that teach blanket stitch – don’t worry, it’s easy! Sew running stitch around the top of the boot on both sides.
Make a plait from wool and fold it in half to make a hanging loop. Sew onto the top of the boot on the side with the heel. Make the pom poms (use two doughnut shapes of cardboard to do this, exactly like you remember as a kid!) and attach to the stocking with yarn as a final flourish.
A pillow -case from which to copy the measurements
Dress making pins
Measure the pillow-case add 1cm seam allowance to each side.
Measure the depth of the flap and add seam allowance to each side.
Cut a front and a back in one fabric and cut a flap in a contrast fabric.
Neaten one long side of the flap by turning under 0.5cm and the same again, sew with a running stitch.
Sew one piece of trim along the neatened edge of the flap. With right sides together, sew the flap onto one narrow side of the back piece of fabric. Press the seam flat.
Turn under and under again one narrow side of the, pillowcase, front fabric. Press, pin and sew on a piece of lace.
With right sides facing, pin the pillow case front to the pillowcase back so that the front opening reaches up to where the flap is. Sew with a running stitch.
Fold the flap over, where you have just sewn so that the front of the flap faces the wrong side of the pillow front. Pin the sides of the flap to the sides of the pillow and sew with a running stitch. Turn through so that the fabric is the correct way round.