Monthly Archives: July 2020

Book Review: Shawls Wraps and Scarves – 21 Elegant & Graceful Hand-Knit Patterns

Shawls Wraps and Scarves

21 Elegant & Graceful Hand-Knit Patterns

By Louisa Harding

Knitting a hand-knit shawl, wrap or scarf is like giving a hug to the lucky person you are making it for every time they wrap it around their shoulders. The patterns in Shawls, Wraps and Scarves have been lovingly been created to highlight stitches, yarns and color. Harding draws upon her photographs and memories to bring these works of art to knitters of all skill levels.

With full page color photos as well as the finished dimensions, type and amount of yarn needed, “needles and notions” and gauge. She also adds notes such as “I suggest using a circular needle” and “I have used markers every 20 stitches because this will help keep track of short row shaping”. As a knitter these comments are highly valued.

If you want a quick and easy shawl, try “Lark’s Alvina”, the pointed castoff elevates a simple shawl to stunning. “Evanthe” has delicate beads worked into the fabric for a bit of unexpected wow. Want to play with colorwork? “Raizel” uses two colors to create a pretty paisley wrap. I honestly could go on, telling you the highlights of each of the 21 patterns, each one beautiful and unique in its own way.

I highly recommend this book for knitters both beginning and seasoned. The instructions are clearly written and easy to follow. Patterns that need them also have charts for you as well as the written instructions. The back of the book has a section with abbreviations and a glossary, general information, yarn information and some information about the author that cannot be missed.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

 

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Book Review: Printmaking – How to Print Anything on Everything

Printmaking

How to Print Anything on Everything

By Christine Medley

Printmaking may not be a hobby you have considered, but this book might just change your mind. The how’s, whys and supplies are clearly outlined. Using beautiful color pictures among the step-by-step instructions will have you starting a new craft that will soon be your favorite.

Beginning by showing the reader the 4 types of printmaking, as well as plate types (blocks, stamps, found objects) your interest will be stirred and creativity will be awakened. On to cutting tools for carving designs and actual printing you will start to imagine the personalized cards, pictures and gifts you will be able to make.

But hold yourself back until you read the chapters on ink, paper, cleanup as well as design and production. I often get excited and want to jump in with both feet, but printmaking does take a bit of precision that is best taken on after reading the entire book before starting. That doesn’t mean you can’t jot down some ideas and notes for when you start.

Printmaking, How to Print Anything on Everything, is written for adults, not children. The tools needed as well as the various inks and precision needed requires adult supervision at the least if you choose to have your children help.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Big Book of Balloon Art – Learn From a Master!

The Big Book of Balloon Art

More Than 100 Fun Sculptures

By Gerry Giovinco (aka Captain Visual)

Balloon animals fascinate adults and children alike. For a few dollars, you can create a zoo of colorful animals, hats, magic wands and even a little red wagon. Gerry Giovinco shares his knowledge and craft so that you can wow everyone with your balloon art.

From the type of balloons, to blowing them up properly (the amount of air is super important to the final product) and learning the all-important twists, Giovinco gives us clear written instructions with diagrams. When you get to chapter five and beyond, you will be making a colorful menagerie of critters and several popular hats.

Each pattern has written instructions and diagrams to ensure your success. While most of the designs are a bit complicated for children, there are a few that they can easily master. The cobra just needs a twist and a couple of bubbles and a headband is one easy twist.

A big bag of balloons is only a few dollars, and you will have hours of fun creating balloon art for friends, family and maybe even a few strangers that see your creations and want one for their children. I recommend this book for adults and children, with adult supervision and assistance for younger kids.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Easy Aircraft Origami

Easy Aircraft Origami

By Jayson Merrill

Jayson Merrill is back with his fifth origami book, Easy Aircraft. This origami master’s latest book contains 14 awesome projects. Each one will soar into the sky, taking flight after creation.

Step-by-step, clear and concise instructions are included for each of the aircrafts. Symbols and signs such as the different kinds of lines and arrows used in the instructions as well as the procedures for proper folds are clearly taught. Using detailed drawings to demonstrate each fold, you will be completing your aircraft with confidence and ease.

From the Hawker (16 steps) to the Mourningstar (39 steps) and the 12 aircraft between them, you will enjoy creating and flying each of them. It is a great way to engage your child. Taking them to a park or the backyard, you will have countless hours of fun together.

I recommend this book for adults or teens. As previously stated, your youngsters will enjoy the finished aircraft, but the precision needed for success is better left to adults.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: 3-D Paper Craft – Personalize Your Space on a Budget

3-D Paper Craft

Create Fun Paper Cutouts from Plain Paper

By Yoko Ganaha & Piggy Tsujioka

Wall art needn’t be expensive. Yoko Ganaha & Piggy Tsujioka will show you how strong and beautiful 3-D Paper Cutting can be. Your designs will add personalized POP to your walls, personalizing your space for pennies.

Several different alphabets, flowers, holiday items such as snowflakes and pumpkins can be created from drawing paper. They suggest using 80# (2gsm) paper. Then copy the page of the pattern you choose, enlarging it as needed. Each pattern has the creases shown for you to copy to the back side of your paper, then fold accordingly.

There are diagrams, pictures and detailed instructions to allow you to succeed in creating fabulous, one-of-a-kind wall art for pennies. Tips and tricks such as when and where to us a tracing wheel, hole punch and ordinary household glue are included in the instructions.

Adults and teens can easily create these fun paper cutouts. But that doesn’t mean your children can’t help pick out a design for you to put on their wall, or make a collage to hang from their ceiling. The smaller designs could be used to decorate a stunning Christmas tree. The possibilities are endless and extremely economical and fun to make.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Japanese Wonder Knitting – Beautiful Stitches for Knitters to Learn

Japanese Wonder Knitting

By Nihon Vogue

 Japanese knitting is different but similar to American knitting. The process of knitting is the same. Both use needles and yarn or thread, both have instruction charts. The major difference is Japanese knitting focuses on patterns that can be made into knit items, American knitting emphasizes items, not the patterns. Instead of picking a stitch, American’s normally pick a pattern instead. This may sound confusing, but when it comes down to it, knitting is knitting and with Japanese knitting the beauty of the pattern will draw you in, then you can find the perfect item you want to create using the charted instructions.

Japanese Wonder Knitting features a variety of stitches as well as the patterns you can create using them. There are “Point Lessons” that teach you each stitch. There are complete, easy to understand written instructions as well as color photos to walk you through each step. At the end of the Point Lesson, there are color pictures of the swatch as well as a list of the projects in the book using the stitch. There is also a section that lists the types of yarn used, including weight, yardage and type such as baby alpaca and British wool DK.

Some of the patterns included have some colored pictures. Some have no pictures at all, which is not my favorite way to determine if I want to make an item. The patterns are for knits large and small. There is a hat, headband and tea cozy, as well as a blanket, shawl and purse. The number of techniques featured is impressive. They include double-knitting, entrelac and smocking.

If you are a knitter and love to try new techniques and stitches, this is the book for you. After learning a new stitch, you can incorporate it into hats, mittens, scarves or just about anything you can imagine knitting. It is fun to learn and grow as a knitter.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: What You Wish For – Can Dreams Come True?

What You Wish For

By Katherine Center

School Librarian Samantha Casey is happy in life, but not in love. She adores her job in the small, private school and the children she teaches. Her co-workers are kind, fun and have accepted her into their fold with open arms. The little community on Galveston Island, Texas is just what she is searching for after fleeing her last job. She loved the school she worked in, but after falling for one of the most amazing men she had ever met, his rebuff was too hard to live with. She moved to a small town and immediately felt at home and loved her new job at Kempner School.

After the devastating death of her boss Max, the principle and founder of Kempner School, everything changes in the small community. His replacement is named, and is none other than Duncan Carpenter, the man Sam fell head over heels for at her previous job. Not only will he be her boss, but the fun-loving crazy dressing man she knew is gone. And the new Duncan is sucking all of the joy out of the new school and town she now calls home. He is threatening to change everything she loves with new rules and joyless tactics based upon keeping all of the children safe in the eventuality of violence that he experienced firsthand.

Max’s widow Babette seems to be allowing all of the changes, but she is willing to hatch a scheme with Sam and a few friends to convince Duncan to enjoy, not fear life. In doing so, Sam will have to spend more time with Duncan, which makes her uncomfortable, but she’ll do almost anything to keep Max’s legacy alive.

What You Wish For is a deep, yet fast and easy to read novel.  It deals with love, loss and the devastation of a school shooting (that is presented as a memory of one of the characters). Ms. Center also writes of love, joy and happiness. The kindness of the characters as well as the love the residents of the town have for each other and the school will remain with you long after the last pages are read.

This is the first book I have read by Katherine Center and I absolutely loved it. I will seek out her previous seven books and add them to my list. The message of hope and love is especially important now, I highly recommend this book.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop – Another Gem from Fannie Flagg

The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop

By Fannie Flagg

Some of the beloved characters of “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” are back and a new generation has grown up in Fannie Flagg’s latest gem. She tells stories of the past, weaving them with the current happenings in places near and far from the ghost town Whistle Stop has become.

The heart of this book is “Bud” Threadgoode, the adopted son of Idgie, birth son of Ruth, both of whom owned and ran the Whistle Stop Café. Bud is grown now; we get to meet his daughter Ruth in this book and follow his uneven path back to the life he loved.

Flagg takes the reader back in time from the 1930’s to present time, filling in the backstory of all the characters old and new. The short, snappy chapters are like sitting around with your favorite aunt telling you stories about your family’s past. The ease of transition from 1935 to present day is masterfully done and easy to follow.

The richness and difference of personalities shines through. Idgie has a heart of gold, but is not without problems. Ruthie is loved but challenged by the new family she marries into and Bud has lived a long and fulfilling life in spite of having lost an arm in an accident as a child.

I am a huge fan of Fannie Flagg’s books. Her style is easy to read and comforting because the message isn’t one of everything going right for the characters, but how they adapt, adjust and enjoy life no matter what happens, both good and bad.

This is the fifth book I have read by Ms. Flagg. I will never tire of her style, characters and the way she approaches and tells her stories. I highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys women’s fiction, general fiction, cozies and southern fiction.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Inspired Shawls -Stunning Patterns for Knitters

Inspired Shawls

15 Creative Patterns for Year-Round Knitting

By Laura Zukaite

Inspired Shawls is Fashion Designer Laura Zukaite’s brain child. She has created 15 stunning shawl patterns that range from easy to expert. All of her creations include beautiful color photographs, diagrams, charts and detailed, easy to read instructions. General abbreviations are listed at the end of the book, but any special abbreviations/instructions are conveniently printed on the first page of the pattern along with the gauge so you don’t have to keep flipping back and forth to the end of the book as you are knitting.

The beauty and diversity of these patterns is a knitter’s dream. Some of the shawls, like the Catagena and Nazca are as delicate as butterfly wings. Others are colorful and warm. I love the Geo Aztec Shawl. Knitted in DK/Light Worsted weight, with adorable tassels on each end makes this fun and functional shawl a favorite.

There is an interesting page about Ms. Zukaite’s design journey. Born in Lithuania, she learned to knit as a child. Now living in New York, she has studied at Parsons School of Design and has designed for Gap and Ralph Lauren to mention a few. She has published patterns in various knitting magazines and is the author of Lux Knits, Lux Knits; The Accessories as well as Inspired Shawls. I love the color, patterns and the inspiration in Inspired Shawls.

I highly recommend this book to knitters from novice to expert level. Happy knitting!

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Stepping Stones – Easy to Read, Hard to Forget

Stepping Stones

A Memoir of Addiction, Loss and Transformation

By Marilea C. Rabasa

Marilea is a daughter, mother, teacher, former ambassador’s wife, bulimic and alcoholic. She also suffers from depression. The road to her recovery is complex and heartbreaking at times, but uplifting and encouraging. Family history of alcoholism, addiction and mental illness plays a part of her journey as well as the journey she and her children follow.

This memoir does not whitewash the pain and suffering of Marilea and her family, nor does it make excuses. She allows the reader into her world that is a contradiction at times. She is elegant and intelligent at functions as an ambassador’s wife, but after the party is over, she will binge and purge in seclusion. Like her mother before her, the problems with alcohol are hidden from her family – or so she thinks.

Her lifelong struggle is not easy, addiction often wins. Sheer determination and the will to survive gives her the courage to follow the program she finally embraces. Just like you and me, each day she must make choices that affect her as well as those around her. Marilea bares her soul about her previous and current choices without pulling any punches. Her honesty is refreshing.

Written in short chapters (some only a page or paragraph long), Marilea writes about the good, bad and the ugly. Her fast-paced memoir is easy to read, but hard to forget. From her childhood to her retirement she shares her joy and pain, love and losses with candor and true stories of her life.

I recommend Stepping Stones to all readers. Every person knows someone who has an addiction or suffers from mental illness. Marilea’s journey to the place she is today is heartwarming and encouraging. I loved this book.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from publicist Maryglenn McCombs in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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