June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

A crafty roundup: New books to inspire every crafter

Sandra Fahning

Special to The Gazette

A true craft lover doesn’t put the craft “toys” away just because warm weather has arrived. Nope, a really crafty person will just change gears and keep going all year round. Knitters will probably switch from large wool projects to cotton yarn and small items like dishcloths. Quilters might choose to work on table runners or small wall hangings. While there are always new books to tempt novice and experienced crafters alike, crafts, like fashions, usually come full circle. Some crafts lose popularity for a while and therefore, there are no new books forthcoming, while others make huge comebacks. Here are some books to check out:

This year, knitting socks appears to be gaining popularity, and with “Teach Yourself Visually: Sock Knitting” by Laura Chau, knitters will learn all they’ll ever need to know about creating socks. Instructions are paired with photos demonstrating each step. There are directions for knitting socks from the top-down, from the toe-up and, for those who don’t like to knit-in-the-round, there’s also a pattern for a basic flat sock. Take note, this is not a learn-to-knit-book, it’s a learn-to-make-socks book.

Another book, “Knit with Deborah Norville” is by the Emmy award-winning journalist who is the anchor of “Inside Edition.” This particular book would be a great choice anytime of the year because of the great diversity of patterns that includes small items such as hats, socks and media holders and larger items like sweaters and afghans. There are 18 designs and the directions and illustrations are very clear.

“SimpleStyle” by Ann Budd is aptly described as having 19 innovative to traditional designs with simple knitting techniques. The patterns have easy to follow directions and, when it comes to the innovative designs, some of them just might become traditional. The “Stay-Put Wrap,” for instance, looks like a shawl but has sleeves. It’s very classy. There’s a section at the back of the book called Design Notebook that is interesting because it explains some of the simple techniques in the book’s patterns.


Scrapbooking for sure is an any-season craft, and “Encyclopedia of Scrapbooking” by Creating Keepsakes, edited by Tracy White, is tagged as the “most complete guide to scrapbooking ever published.” It covers fundamentals as well as beginning, intermediate and advanced embellishing … way too much to list here. The color photos accompanying the text make this an easy aid.

“Cookbooking” by Barbara Winkler is a new way to scrapbook. You can turn those stacks of recipes you’ve cut out of newspapers and magazines and turn them into a scrapbook cookbook. You’ll never have to hunt for that clipping again. This is a spiral bound book that is full of ideas and instructions to get the creative juices flowing. How about a “Crazy for Chocolate!” cookbook or a “Here Comes the Bride” recipe gift box? The possibilities are endless. As a bonus, several recipes are included in the book.


“Grannies on the Go” features crocheted granny square patterns by a variety of designers. There are many fun ways to use granny squares in afghans, jewelry, totes and purses, to name but a few. The shrug pattern, for instance, uses three basic granny squares that are crocheted with crayon-colored self-striping yarn. This book does feature a how-to section of basic crochet stitches.

Easily one of the very best new craft books is “Fiber Gathering” by Joanne Seiff. The author travels to 11 American fiber events, such as Maryland’s Sheep and Wool Festival, and she takes you with her to see the sheep-shearing demonstrations and handmade spinning wheels. If you can’t be there yourself, the book’s photography is the next best thing. “Fiber Gathering” is more than a travelogue, however. There are many excellent patterns interspersed throughout the book as well as how-to instructions to make your own inexpensive equipment such as a drop spindle made with an apple or knitting needles from pencils or chopsticks. There are more than 25 projects included in this well-done book.


“Hooked on Jewelry: 40+ Designs to Crochet” is by Pat Harste. Jewelry making is a popular craft and this book is full of designs, many of which are very elegant especially when coupled with standard jewelry-making choices such as pearls or beads. The author explains everything connected to this art such as crochet hooks, jewelry-making supplies and tools. The instructions are clear and the photographs are worth a thousand words.

Beading is another well-liked craft and authors Marlene Blessing and Jamie Hogsett have just published a new book in their “Create Jewelry” series called “Create Jewelry: Glass.” This is an informative book with more than 20 designs to create using step-by-step instructions. Additional sidebars of interest include the history of glass, glass bead-making techniques, and entertaining tidbits about these specialty beads.


Well, for those who aspire to wield a paintbrush, but have never gotten around to it, Leisure Arts’ “Painted Ornaments” may be what they’ve been waiting for. This book contains ideas for ornaments for every season. You’ll find a Jack-O’-Lantern Tree and spring floral eggs to paint and, of course, Christmas ornaments. The designs were created by 11 artists.


Being handy with a needle has its advantages as “Seams to Me: 24 New Reasons to Love Sewing” by Anna Maria Horner notes: “It seems to me that our everyday needs can be answered with more than just the store-bought.” This nifty, spiral bound book offers patterns for projects ranging from pincushions to quilts. There is a how-to sewing section in the front of the book that will teach you everything you need to know to make the projects.

Another projects-type book is “Sew, So Cute!” by Mary Engelbreit. If you’re an Engelbreit fan, you’ll like the imaginative designs and their bright colors that are featured in the pillows, aprons, bibs and more. While the spiral hardcover binding makes the book easy to use, the instructions are not illustrated as well as they could be. It needs to be noted that novice sewers might become frustrated and need a helping hand.


Quilting made a huge comeback several years ago, and it’s still going strong. A new book called “Kaleidoscope the Smart Way” by Sharon Sebrow will remind you just how much fun it is to gaze through a kaleidoscope and see all those shiny bits and pieces fall into patterns. This is a new, easier concept for the kaleidoscope block. A template called the Smart-Plate template is used, and while a printed Smart-Plate template is provided at the back of the book, a plastic template can be purchased. Thirteen quilt patterns are included in this impressive book.

Crazy for Quilting? Judith Baker Montano has created “Embroidery & Crazy Quilt Stitch Tool.” This book offers instructions for all of those wonderful stitches and combinations that cover traditional crazy quilts. This is a small, spiral bound book that can be positioned like an easel for easy use, and it is full of color illustrations.

“Hearts & Tulips” by Margaret Docherty is all about appliqué work. It’s chockfull of tulip, heart and bird designs to create blocks for some pretty unique quilts. The book is well illustrated and the instructions are excellent — if you are going to appliqué by machine. The 38 blocks in this book were done by machine and those are the only instructions included. However, she does state that all of the blocks can be done by hand, if desired. So, if you want to hand appliqué these blocks, but don’t know how, you may have to buy another book.

Contact Sandra Fahning at accent@ohio.net.