For the Love of Craft Books
Hi, my name is Kaye and I’m a craft-bookaholic...actually I’m mostly addicted to sewing books of any sort. I am also addicted to fabric, but that is a completely different story.
Of course all of you are readers (you’re reading this aren’t you?), but do you get that pulse racing, euphoric-high when you enter a bookstore? The one that kind of makes you sweat, and deep down you know that your credit card is waiting and ready for a workout? I get that, especially when I venture near the sewing books section. Every book tells a different story, but every book’s story still has at its core the same heartbeat of handmade love. Whether the book you pick up is in English or Japanese, hardcover or soft, chock full of pictures or simplistic and lovely line drawings, all of these books have one major thing in common – they were written by a person who lives and breathes creativity and who put all of themselves into their book.
One of the first sewing books that made me swoon was Amy Karol’s Bend-the-Rules Sewing. I originally found Amy though her blog Angry Chicken (she is neither angry nor a chicken), and was struck not only by her beautiful pictures, but also by her wit and natural quality. All of these things carried over to her book and I have had a lovely time perusing its pages and being inspired by the fun and functional patterns.
I do not often actually make a pattern or sew up something that comes from a book; rather I use these books as inspiration to facilitate my own creativity. Often times, it is not the pattern or project itself that causes me to create - I find inspiration in the way colours and prints are paired together, the look of a button, or a technique explained by the author. These are the things that make crafty-type books so invaluable.
Many times I fall even more in love with a specific fabric line or fabric designer because of a book, and this just recently happened with Kaari Meng’s (of French General fame) Home Sewn. I received this book as a Christmas gift from my Mum and have not only fallen even harder for French General’s most recent line Rouenneries, which is inspired by French linens in lovely muted tones, but have also developed a new respect for vintage French textiles (gorgeous!).
These types of books also give us the chance to peek into the lives of designers and crafty people we admire. This may seem like snooping or being overly-curious, but I think it’s really neat to get a glimpse of the surroundings of those people whose blogs we read, fabric lines we love, and whose creativity inspires us so much. This I found especially true of Anna Maria Horner’s Seams to Me; as with Amy Karol, I first found Anna Maria through her blog and immediately fell in love with her fabric collections, especially Drawing Room which is still one of my favourites. I remember going right back to the beginning and reading every post Anna Maria had written, she is so open on her blog that I immediately felt at home in her space and still to this day love seeing the way her family grows and evolves. In Seams to Me, most of the photographs were taken by Anna Maria and her children serve as models in many of the shots. Seams to Me is also a wonderful book because Anna Maria really encourages her readers to experiment and use her book for inspiration, not just for the patterns.
My newest love is Rashida Coleman-Hale’s I Love Patchwork, it includes 21 Zakka inspired projects and all them incorporate linen (which I adore!) mixed with lovely cotton prints. I can not remember if I first found Rashida though her blog, I Heart Linen, or when I saw her work in the premiere issue of Stitch magazine, but I know that I immediately fell in love with her creativity and the way she pairs textures. I am a big fan of patchwork and constantly find myself incorporating it into my own sewing; whether it’s the quilts I make or smaller things like the patchwork scarflette I made which has now found a home with Rachel. I Love Patchwork really challenges its reader to look at fabric in different ways and to consider mixing textures and fibres in their own work. When one opens this book you are immediately struck by the fact that it was indeed a labour of love, everything is so fresh and new, and the stories that Rashida includes with each pattern show just what kind of a lovely woman she is. And Rashida is indeed a lovely woman, I have had the privilege of talking to her a bit via the Internet, and she never fails to put a smile on my face.
Other favourite crafty books:
Martha Stewart’s Encyclopaedia of Crafts: Who doesn’t love Martha? Okay, maybe you don’t love her, but this book is a great resource. Many of the crafts are taken from issues of Living, but it’s so nice to have them in one, easily accessible space.
One Yard Wonders by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins: Wonderful! I know that I personally have many one-yard cuts of fabric lying around that I bought because I loved the fabric but had no idea what I’d use it for at the time. This book is a compendium of 101 projects written by many of your favourite bloggers, crafters and sewists.
Zakka Sewing by Therese Laskey and Chika Mori: Another books of Japanese inspired projects; most of the projects are for the home (including a wonderful squirrel shaped teapot cozy which can be seen on the front cover). Like Rashida’s book, this one also mixes different fabric textures and types together to create beautiful pieces.
Stitch ‘N Bitch by Debbie Stoller: This is the book that I used when I re-taught myself to knit and it is fantastic. I have read many reviews where people have stated that using this book was the only way they were able to knit. I also want to get myself Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker because I just taught myself to crochet and I know this book would be an excellent resource.
Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp: Really one of the best books that I’ve found for learning techniques. Great!
I also read a few crafty magazines including Martha Stewart Living, Stitch, and Quilts and More. Thanks for staying with me through this post, it came out a lot longer than I thought and I didn’t even say all I could have!