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Book Review Blended Embroidery by Brian Haggard

Blended Embroidery by Brian Haggard, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617458095, price 23.99 gbp. Available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Always great to see a new book from this author. I love his style. This book covers how to blend the old and new, something Brian does to perfection. It covers inspiration, fabrics, stitch and projects. The introduction gives the story of Etta Mae and her trousseau. Seek and Find is all about finding things you can use in your work – it’s like treasure hunting. The projects are very satisfying. The Lacemaker is a very special piece; a small quilt with a beautiful lace edge and embellishments. There is a scissor holder and matching pincushion; a fabulous table runner; photo pincushions and sachets; a sewing butler including another pincushion, scissor holder and bag. There is also a gallery of work. Such a wonderful textile and quilting artist with a unique look. I recommend this book for its style and embellishments that could be applied to your own work.

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Book Review Sarah Payne’s Quilt School

Sarah Payne’s Quilt School, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782217305, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Simple projects, simple steps using pre-cuts for the novice quilter. For the novice one would expect greater detail about sewing machines, tools and materials, yet this section is brief. The book gets straight into the ‘lessons’. Each lesson teaches a simple skill with a simple project. The projects are useful and practical, the instructions clear and well photographed. There are 15 projects in all. However not one of the projects is made with care – the quilting is not lying flat or not in straight lines or not quite matching in most of the photos and it is very obvious. It just does not look like professional work. This poorly executed work is throughout the book and spoils the aim of the book, which is supposed to be to teach you to quilt with accuracy.

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Book Review The Art of Annemieke Mein

The Art of Annemieke Mein, hardback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782217657, price 25 gbp available from www.searchpress.com

Marvel at the textile skills of Annemieke Mein in this wondrous book of her work. Find skilful and amazing use of fabric, stitch, paint and embroidery to create imaginative flora and fauna that is sheer delight. Her subjects come to life, Mr. Frog is so textured you can almost feel his skin. Annemieke uses textiles as a sculptural medium to portray insects and other wildlife in natural settings. There are no less than 60 works of art shown in this book. Step into the world of a wildlife artist, outstanding in her field. See the detailed drawings and notes she makes. Discover how she selects fabrics and stitch to convey her subjects. She reveals the progression in her work, from early flat works through relief work (I am certain that Eastern Water Dragon’s eye just blinked) to the more sculptural work. Backgrounds blend, as they do in real life, as camouflage; the colours being very natural. Stitch just flows along leaves or quietly in the background. Even intense stitching just seems to blend at one with the fabrics and subjects; like a symbiotic relationship. In the high-relief wall sculpture, ‘Cup Moths’ the background shapes and colours are repeated in the leaf work, the cocoons blending beautifully; the moths themselves in relief but beautifully camouflaged. Other subjects include birds, beetles, wasps, gulls, branches, sea urchins, barnacles, mussels and kelp, seed pods, gum blossoms and grasshoppers. Each piece is accompanied by a description and often by drawings. Note the size of the panels, they are reasonably large wall pieces. Annemieke has also worked on costumes. She captures Australian wildlife like no other textile artist, detailed work to marvel at and admire. There is so much the textile artist can learn from this book – how to approach work, how to instil a feeling of reality, how to use colour and stitch to give form. This book was previously published in Australia in 1992. Highly recommended.

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Book Review The Embroidered Art of Chloe Giordano

The Embroidered Art of Chloe Giordano, hardback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215837, price 25.00 available from www.searchpress.com

An exquisite book of gentle embroidery. Follow Chloe into her woodland wonderland of flora and fauna. Encounter rabbits, foxes, hares, a wolf cub, a fawn or dormouse all lovingly embroidered. See how the author works and how her embroidery has progressed into delicate backgrounds that complement the subject. She uses sketching and painting to create the designs, blending thread colours for each piece. Good details are given on the working methods. However, there are no guides to threads used or what to buy. This is the artist talking you through her work. Each embroidery is produced in a hoop. There are many samples of work and detailed step by step photographs to guide you. An inspiring look at the artist’s work for any lover of animals and embroidered art.

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Book review Abstract Acrylics by Waltraud Nawratil

Abstract Acrylics by Waltraud Nawratil, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216506, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

An experimental approach to painting. Abstracts using a variety of mediums and methods that you can follow in 27 step-by-step projects. The step-by-step is brief and although there are photographs, they do not show every step. I would therefore recommend this book for experienced painters, and also for those who understand how different paints work – are knowledgable about the flow of paint etc. Some great examples of finished works and I do like Waltraud’s methods and style. She introduces you to a different way of working. For example with a palette knife and spray paint as well as actual leaves and petals. The book concentrates on interpreting the natural world in a beautiful way. Discover how to transform the reality of the landscape and flowers into interesting abstract paintings.

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Book review 200 More Crochet Stitches by Tracey Todhunter

200 crochet stitches

Book review 200 More Crochet Stitches by Tracey Todhunter, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216636, price 14.99 available from www.searchpress.com

A fabulous stitchopedia of 200 more crochet stitches. A companion to the 200 crochet stitches already published by the same publisher. A book you will thumb through often to choose the right stitch for all your crochet projects. Great clear photos and easy to follow charts and step-by-step instructions. This practical guide will be your best crochet buddy. The Directory is divided into 24 basic stitches, 16 fans and shells, 20 clusters, puffs and popcorns, 14 spikes, 19 raised, 17 mesh, 18 lace, 13 chevron, 19 textured, 10 Tunisian, 15 coloured and 11 edgings. A fabulous range of stitches for every crocheter. In addition there are the basic techniques and stitches, variations and abbreviations. A full colour book that is a must for crochet addicts.

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Book Review The Joy of Jelly Rolls by Carolyn Forster

Book Review The Joy of Jelly Rolls by Carolyn Forster, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214700, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

A bumper book, compiled from Carolyn’s best sellers. It includes 44 gift projects and 24 quilts to make use of the ever popular jelly rolls for quilters. This is super value, especially if you do not have the previously published books. Gifts include patchwork and quilt home accessories such as coasters, bags, bunting, toys, hanging decorations and key fobs. The quilt designs include hand and machine sewing and use a variety of techniques. The latter are clearly explained with step by step instructions and good photographs. Backing, binding and finishing instructions are also included with templates. There is lots to love about this book including good tips and techniques. Projects I like include the patchwork dog, Manx log cabin mat, hanging fish, flower power coasters, Russian dolls, sunshine pot mat (my favourite), beach hut key fobs, thread pot and of course the quilts.

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Quilt As You Go Mage Vintage by Jera Brandwig

Quilt As You Go Made Vintage by Jera Brandwig, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing USA). ISBN 9781617454721, price 18.99, available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

A follow on from the best selling Quilt As You Go Made Modern. Jera has come up with another winner, based on the ever-popular vintage theme. The book gives materials and tools, information on batting and quilt sizes plus everything you need to know about what is unique about this way of quilting. It has become one of my favourite techniques for working on a domestic sewing machine. It is far easier to join the blocks, having quilted them, than to quilt the whole top in one go. 51 classic vintage blocks (12 inches (30cm) square, nine projects and three joining methods are included. You can even make your quilt reversible. Easy to follow instructions and great photographs and line drawings. The book is suitable for all levels of quilters. Versatile and easy, qaygo can be applied to any quilt block. It is absolutely fantastic with quilts small and large, a cushion and a table runner. The smaller quilts could be used as wall hangings. There’s a little bit of improvisation in there too. Recommended.

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Knitting Book Review Rainbow Knits by Nicki Trench

Rainbow Knits by Nicki Trench, softback published by Cico Books. ISBN 9781782495642, price 12.99 available from makeetc.com

Just what the doctor ordered – colourful knits – a joy to wear and a pleasure to knit. Combine colour to make your life a happier place. This book includes projects for the the home and accessories to wear. There are 20 projects including bags, hat, cardigan, sweater, tank top, shawl, cowl (front cover image) and scarf. The clothes are basic designs. For babies and children there is a cardigan, sweater, two blankets, a rabbit and hat. Under home and gifts you’ll find gorgeous mittens, cushion, passport cover (could be adapted to a phone cover), a fair-isle bag knitted using a chart, a tie, leg warmers, and sweet embroidered purse that could double as a pencil holder. At the back of the book is a useful, illustrated techniques and finishing section covering the basics. Try your knitting skills working in stripes, or use ombre or variegated yarns.