Fair-Isle Knitting by Monica Russel, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215806, price 14.99 available from www.searchpress.com
This book offers three separate things – instructions on techniques; 45 stitch designs and 14 knitting patterns under the umbrella Fair-Isle. You can choose to knit from charts or written instructions. It’s a very loose look at fair-isle, that people often mistake as just colour knitting. It borders on folk and intarsia instead of true fair-isle. The patterns use a variety of yarn including Jamesons shetland, which comes in a fabulous range of colours, but this author sadly has no colour sense at all. Some of the samples have had the yarn stretched tight at the back too, a rookie error with fair-isle. The projects, assuming you think about the colours, are better than the sample stitch patterns but still too many are just coloured knitting methods and not fair-isle. A big disappointment if you are expecting what the title says. There is so little in this book about real fair-isle knitting.
Creative Straight Line Quilting by Natalia Whiting Bonner, softback published by Stash Books. ISBN 9781617457654, price 20.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com
In fear for free motion quilting? Stuck with straight lines but cannot come up with new and exciting ideas? Natalia comes to the rescue with 60 ideas for a professional quilting look using nothing but straight lines. There are designs for triangles, squares, borders and the very useful all over designs. Walking foot designs for domestic machines, ruler foot designs for domestic or longarm machines. pre-mark or use a foot as the guide; mark or use a ruler. Great designs for a fresh modern quilting look.
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.
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.
Stitched Textiles: Seascapes by Amanda Hislop, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215646, price 15.99 from www.searchpress.com
An exciting addition to this wonderful series that explores textile techniques and design. Step inside the wonderful world of seascapes with artist Amanda Hislop. Find original projects, step-by-step demonstrations, clear photographs and instructions and inspiration through design exercises. Discover how to capture the magic of the seaside, the shore and sea in stitch. Many wonderful samples of finished work and of how the artist works. Looks at inspiration, sketchbooks, drawing and mark making as well as methods. A delight for anyone who loves the sea and stitch.
Whitework Embroidery by Ayako Otsuka, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216896, price 14.99, available from www.searchpress.com
What a beautiful book this is. 30 gorgeous whitework embroidery designs for you to make. These interesting and varied designs use traditional stitches. The detailed techniques section is accompanied by step-by-step illustrations. The instructions show different types of whitework including drawn, counted and pulled. Two sampler patterns allow you to practice your skills. This book is suitable for beginner upwards. Handmade projects make perfect gifts and keepsakes and include table linens and items such as a teacosy, cushions, accessories, gifts for babies including a heirloom christening gown, and gifts for a wedding such as a ringbearer pillow. Embroiderers will find this book a pleasure to look at and practical with good projects and clear instructions. The projects are elegant. I have one niggle, all the photos are at the front followed by tools, materials, techniques and then the instructions and the back with only line drawings. I prefer clear photos with the project instructions.
Machine Quilting For Beginners by Carolyn S. Vagts, softback published by Annie’s Quilting. ISBN9781590128602, price 12.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com
A step by step guide to free motion quilting. Going from very basic to feathers and more challenging designs. Most quilters I meet want to learn or to improve their free motion quilting. There is one thing to learn – practice. This book helps you do just that. With clear photos and directional diagrams, it will take you through simple lines, hoops, leaves, swirls and doodles to beautiful feathers and curlicue designs. It includes basics, exercises and using guides. The basics section contains all you need to know about fabric, thread and setting up your machine. The free-motion exercises increase in difficulty, taking you from easy to expert in 20 steps. So feasibly you could go from beginner to expert in less than 3 weeks. Chances are you might need to practice a little more. The final section is about using rulers to mark your work. The work shown is not perfect and I believe that we have to let go of perfect when we free-motion. A handy guide to learning free-motion quilting.
A Field Guide Quilts With An Angle Sheila Christensen, softback published by C&T. ISBN 9781617456411. Price 24.99. Available in the UK from www.searchpress.com
Get started with tools, fabrics and basics. This book teaches angles – triangles, trapezoid, diamond, parallelogram and jewel, plus strip-pieced quilts and a primer ‘design your own blocks’. Each 60° shape section has great quilt patterns. The 60° shape is throughly explored through techniques and possibilities. Sheila has the same design philosophy as myself: one thing leads to another. Standard sizes make strips easy to rotary cut and piece. The colour section is basic with one glaring error, blue does not face yellow on the colour wheel. Basic quilting techniques include cutting, seam sewing, chain piecing. This book comes into its own when we get to the lessons. Great grids, instructions and quick reference charts, super blocks and fantastic quilts. Marks out of 10 – A plus for the quilt designs; as a designer myself I would still love to sit down and make most of these. Highly recommended as a thorough grounding in 60° shape, ease of use, inspiration for all levels and 15 wonderful quilt designs.
Organic Applique by Kathy Doughty, softback published by Stash Books. ISBN 978-1617458231, price 21.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com
The intro chapters are more Doughty’s philosophy on life than quilting per se. I am very attracted to the colourful quilts and applique shapes in this book. I am particularly drawn to the organic flowers and plants. There are useful exercises for choosing fabrics. Instructions include basting, needle turn applique, EPP and hand quilting. You’ll also find a chapter on inspiration, although the photos in this are not very inspiring and poor quality. Design tips for those who prefer to use the book purely for inspiration and projects for those who need something more concrete to follow. If you are a Doughty fan and a lover of interesting fabrics and applique, you’ll most likely love this book. Something of a pot boiler perhaps.
Painting Expressive Landscapes by Carole Robson, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215530, price 14.99 available from www.searchpress.com
A hallmark of this work is semi-abstract landscapes in watercolour and mixed media. The latter is water-soluble media and collage. The book is well illustrated with wonderful paintings, which should offer much inspiration. Flowing media are used to capture the essence of the natural landscape. You’ll find information on paint consistency; the usual watercolour techniques such as wet-in-wet and washes; pigments and their properties; colour and tools. There is also a section on ‘expressive techniques’. The author states these are not new and began with Turner, but mention should also be made of Ann Blockley, who has made many of these techniques her own. I love Carole’s paintings of her local landscape, although her work is very reminiscent of Ann’s to a point. Yet there is much here that is Carole, and for that I am glad. She is an experimenter and is pushing the boundaries. I like the abstracts and the use of digital art too. There are three step-by-step projects: Woodland with Silver Birch; Wayside Verge and Beach At Sunset, which explore the techniques. Fabulous images and easy to use.