Thursday, 23 June 2011

Craft book reviews

I have lots of lovely sewing, crochet and crafty books on my shelves. I was about to list my favourites when I realised that before you can review a craft book, you really should have made something from it. So the first two books I am going to review are by Pip Lincolne because I have made things from those and they also happen to be two of my favourites.

Meet me at Mike’s – by Pip Lincolne
This first book ‘Meet me at Mike’s’ was given to me by my husband for Christmas 2009. I am not kidding you, this book caused an epiphany! I read it from front to back to start with (I do that with craft books) and it completely re-ignited my long since missing crafty self. I don’t know where crafty self went for a while. I think I was pre-occupied with partying, socialising, husband hunting, moving, marrying and making a couple of babies. Anyway, once crafty self was released, I was eating, sleeping, dreaming crafts projects. So obviously this book is special for me. Some people go to India to find themselves. I opened this book.
So, information you might actually find useful about this book.  I love the style of writing. It’s like you are having a nice chat with an encouraging friend over a cuppa. It makes you feel like you really could make anything in the book.
As it happens, I chose to make two very simple things from this book as I needed some baby presents at the time.

Cutest ever baby knickers
I made the knickers quite a while ago and I don’t remember having any issues at all with the instructions. They were very cute indeed. I was slightly disappointed that the fabric I had chosen looked girlier than I had originally thought once they were made up. It meant I couldn’t keep them for youngest son. I did try but my husband vetoed it. They really did look super sweet though. Although, slightly distracting. Very hard to do anything other than squeeze chubby thighs.
I sent them to a friend for her baby along with a baby-grow which I had appliqu├ęd with the same fabric. I would only change one thing if I made them again. I used a quilting cotton last time and next time I would use pre-used fabric such as an old pillowcase (as per book suggestion) or a dress making fabric that is slightly thinner than quilting cotton. I think they would be softer and more comfy straight away.

Teeny tiny goody two shoes
Gosh, I started these when I first got the book but I didn’t have any elastic so had to put them to one side (that is such an annoying thing to have to do!) I also didn’t really have a crafting space at that time so they got bumped down the list of more urgent and exciting things even when I did eventually have the elastic. I eventually finished them the other day and they are very sweet. I encountered a few frustrations in the final stages of putting them together but nothing to do with the instructions...I was just rushing instead of easing things along!  They are cute and pretty easy and would make a sweet newborn pressie.
Crocheted granny square
Well, this set me off on some whole new world of yarn and hooks and blankets and hats and books...even my previously crafty self had not knitted or crocheted. Anyway, once you get it, crochet is a piece of cake...It really is very simple and personally I think easier and quicker (I’m a bit of a results driven person!) than knitting. So I tried to follow Pip’s instructions and I nearly got there, but not quite. Having said that, I also couldn’t quite get it by following anyone else’s written instructions in books or online. No, it’s just a bit hard to learn to crochet by word alone. It all fell into place for me when I watched a few videos on youtube. Suddenly it all makes sense. Pip actually recommends this too. Better still, find someone to show you. I couldn’t find anyone to show me...I really tried too! I called several nursing homes looking for a granny who might like a slice of cake in exchange for a few hints and joy. I even called Age Concern who asked all the ladies on the Monday to Friday lunch clubs. Still No. Then I called craft and wool shops and asked about courses...Nothing! So in the end I figured it all out by looking at this book and watching clips on youtube ...just make sure you are watching someone who is teaching it in the right language – American terms for crochet are different from the UK and the rest of the world.
Anyway, after making many squares in beautiful colours I realised how long it was going to take to make the hugeous blankie that I desired...all those colour changes and all those endy bits plus lots of sewing I decided to make one humongous square. 
No sewing together and a lot less endy bits. It is so easy to make this blanket...if you like it you can literally do a few rows every night and in no time you have a lovely snuggly blanket.  I will blog more about crochet and yarn soon, in the meantime, you should really see Pip’s amazing blog if you are interested in knowing more about crochet.

Sew, la, tea, do by Pip Lincolne
When this book came out, I had to have it, but sadly I also had to wait as it takes ages to get over here from Australia. I got it about two months ago. First off, it’s another great read. The patterns are cute and slightly more advanced than the last book...just the right amount. So yesterday I made a pair of these trousers for my children (yes one pair, both children - my youngest son is a giant two year old so he kind of shares some of his four year old brother’s clothes).
So the trousers took me 2 hours and 8 minutes including 1 x cup of tea (make and drink) and 1 x packet crisps (raid and eat).
I knew I would like these and probably want to make them again so I traced the pattern onto thicker paper to keep safe and use again. I then held the paper pattern pieces onto the fabric and cut out, partly with my rotary cutter (long straight bits) and fiddly bits with scissors. 
I should have pinned the pattern on to the fabric but I just wanted to get on so I didn’t. It came out fine anyway. Now, it said cut out each part twice but it didn’t say make sure you turn the pattern over before you cut out second one! Fortunately my fabric was identical back and front so when I forgot to do this it didn’t matter. Phew! Also my fabric was stripy and I forgot to make sure the stripes were straight on the leg bits, luckily they were.
From there I followed the pattern to the letter...I pin like this... I was shown how to do this and it’s a good tip as you can sew over the needles and they are also easy to remove if you don’t want to do that.
Also, I forgot that you only need to pin the part you are sewing. I got a bit carried away, pinned the backs together and then realised I only need to pin one section, sew, then open out. Durr!
After that, my only other tip is to always read one step ahead. Then you kind get the aim of the part you are focussing on at the time.
I added small sewn up ‘turn ups’ as they were too long for my two year old and I like turn ups. Stitched ones are good as they don’t get t full of sandpit. I folded them up three times as I wanted to be able to let them down later.
I am really pleased with them. I think they are really sweet. Unfortunately as they don’t have Lightning McQueen on them they were received very cooly by my four year old. My two year old has yet to be corrupted by the world so he quite likes them although I had to promise him that he could have a go with my camera in order to get this picture.
So the next thing I am going to make (in a minute! Hurrah!) from this book is actually not a pattern but the cute bunting from the front cover. It’s so colourful and mini. I think it would look so nice adorning a child’s headboard (yes, one past the age of putting things around necks) or the doorway to your tent or even your bathroom...I have to make it as I have not been sleeping well thinking about making it. That is nuts isn’t it! I know it is.
So, just to summarise, and in case you hadn't already gathered, I love these two books, the pictures, the patterns, the illutrations, the words, the fonts, the lot...and I also love the blog!

Turrah for now, Nix!

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