Sunday, 12 December 2010

Making things for your home - a couple of book reviews

With the current economic situation and people wanting to be more eco-friendly a lot of people are turning to making things for themselves, making use of second-hand and pre-loved items, seeking out artisan and handmade makers (like myself) and shopping locally and seasonally. To help cater for this phenomenon a number of TV programmes (e.g. River Cottage, Jamies 30 minute meals, Kirstie's Homemade Home and the BBC's Cracking Antiques) and 'how to' books have appeared, some of which I've bought for myself. So here's my views on a couple of them.

Kirstie's Homemade Home.

This book was written following the first successful series of the same name that followed Kirstie Allsop as she restored and decorated Meadowgate, her house in north Devon.

This is a good book for anyone who hasn't done one or all of the crafts that are included in the book. These include the more simple things that are easily done at home such as knitting, sewing, cake decorating, creating a herb garden and making candles, to the more specialist ones of glass-blowing, blacksmithing, pottery, spinning and weaving and working with stained glass.

One of the things on my 'to do' list is to learn to crochet and the clear and easy instructions in this book were really easy for me to get started and give a good foundation for moving onto more complicated things.

In the first part of the book 'Room by Room', Kirstie goes through all the rooms in a home, talking about her views on making a home and suggesting various ways of using second-hand and handmade items within the rooms.

The second part of the book, 'Getting Stuck In', concentrates on the various crafts. As well as instructions on how to get started, there are patterns for you to create some things of your own. These include, lavender bags, an envelope cushion cover, a rag rug, a patchwork cushion cover and a knitted tea-cosy to name but a few. There's also a section called 'The best of the rest' that covers blacksmithing, glassblowing, pottery, spinning and weaving, stained glass and willow-working, giving a glimpse of what's involved in each of the crafts.

The final section, 'Search and Find' gives suggestions on where to find pre-loved items and also has a comprehensive directory of makers, auction centres, courses and lots more.

Homemade - gorgeous things to make with love by Ros Badger and Elspeth Thompson.

Again, following the fashion for all things homemade, this book has a lovely selection of things to make.

The book is divided into four chapters, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, as the authors  consider that "nature remains one our greatest resources". Although the projects are based around the seasons, there most of them can be done at any time of the year. For example, the heart made out of buttons and wire, may be suggested by Valentine's Day, but it would also make a lovely token for a birthday.

This book covers all types of crafts from sewing a little girls summer dress, to making scones and the jam to go on them, to knitting fingerless gloves to keep your hands warm as you hang your Christmas wreath on your front door. This book tells you how to make them all.
As well as the projects themselves, there's a 'Homemade Basics' section that covers what equipment you need to have and basic 'how tos' for crafts, sewing, knitting, crochet, the garden and cooking. This section also has the patterns you need for some of the projects.

There's also a useful directory to point you towards suppliers and useful books and websites.

Again, a great book to get you started on making your own.


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