Book Review- Mollie Makes ‘Christmas’

When I received the news that’ Mollie Makes’ magazine  was releasing  their first book (published by Collins and Brown) and that it would be a ‘Christmas’ crafting book, there was cause for much celebration! The  ‘Mollie Makes ‘ magazine was first published in May 2011. Their ethos of ‘ living and loving handmade’ has been carried through to this book with nineteen attractive projects to make and create. The  projects are written and created by  twelve independent and talented designers,  thus insuring the book is original and up to date.

The very attractive cover of the small (20.5 cmx20.5cm) but perfectly formed Mollie Makes ‘Christmas’ – Collins and Brown

 Once the  very attractive hardback front cover is opened, the theme of vintage paper and fabric prints begins. This theme runs throughout the book, separating and  surrounding each project. It’s a great touch  and adds another

Each project gives a small introduction to the designer, materials and templates needed and handy tips . The large, clear pictures and instructions were easy to follow

My finished, very cute cottage. I want to make a whole village by Christmas though   my slightly punctured needle felted fingers are telling me otherwise!

attractive dimension to the book. After a short introduction by the ‘Mollie Makes’ magazine editor, Jane Toff,  we are off with the first project- ‘Needle Felt Christmas Cottages’ by Gretel Parker. http://www.gretelparker.com/    This  project I had to try. I have never done needle felting before, but the instructions were straightforward and clear to follow and the time given to complete the project was surprisingly accurate. The end result being my rather lovely cottage decoration.

Continuing through the book, the reader gets to try out a range of techniques such as lino-cutting, knitting, sewing, paper-craft, free-hand embroidery and crocheting.  Cara Medus http://caramedus.com/  has created a rather brilliant crochet  ‘Santa Kit’  consisting of carrots, mince pie and a bottle of festive booze to leave out on December 24th !  The fact that I am yet to master the art of crocheting hasn’t put me off the book. After all there is still

Something for Santa to chew on, a brilliant crochet supper by Cara Medus

two and a half months until Christmas (time of writing) in which to learn .

One other project I had to try before writing this review was ‘String of Stars’- a paper decoration by Kirsty Neale http://kirstyneale.typepad.com/

Simple and brilliant!

Using old paperbacks, brown paper, maps and some fantastic Christmas crafting paper, I spent this afternoon cutting stars and sewing them together to make starry 3-d garland, it’s so simple but beautifully effective! I love it.

I love my star garland, I can see it staying up all year!

Well, my initial  cause for celebration when hearing about this book is totally justified. Mollie Makes ‘Christmas’ is a must for beginners and experienced crafters. I would definitely recommend putting it at the top of the Christmas list, or better still get it before  Christmas for a chance to make  and create all the projects in the build up to the festive season.

The Good and Bad news:-

All the templates for the projects are at the back of the book, but they do need enlarging,  Bah Humbug!

The good news is you will be able to download the full size templates at  http://www.lovecrafts.co.uk/books/mollie-makes-christmas/

For more information on Mollie Makes ‘Christmas’  visit   http://molliemakes.themakingspot.com/

A little note:

One of three huge shelf units devoted to scrumptious craft paper

The scrumptious crafting Christmas paper  that I brought for my star garland was from http://www.artycrafty.com/ in Godalming in Surrey. ‘Arty Crafty’ is an independent local shop, with a very helpful owner. Despite turning up in my gardening wellies and treading mud all over the shop floor, the lady (sorry, I didn’t get her name) went on to show me the array of different papers,  how to put my felting needle holder together and really helpful advise on how to use it! Thankyou x

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Book Review – ‘ Ultimate Knitting Bible’ by Sharon Brant

A must have knitting book

When the publishers ‘Collins and Brown’ put me on their reviewers list, my first choice of book had to be ‘Ultimate Knitting Bible’. My knitting skills can only be described as a basic ‘a hat and scarf knitter’. I can knit a pattern of stocking stitch  but only using one colour of wool. Now, after having the book for two weeks, I can knit stripes and moss stitch, increase and decrease  properly  instead  of using my own hotchpotch method and have gone on to buying a more intricate and detailed knitting  pattern.

Moss stitch and stocking stitch

‘Ultimate Knitting Bible’ is written by Sharon Brant, who with twelve years of working with Rowan certainly knows how to write an easy to follow manual.  The book is a good weight, with thick pages and most importantly large diagrams that are easy to follow.   The book begins with ‘Getting Started’ explaining the many types of knitting needles and equipment and what they are used for.  It then progresses into different types and thicknesses of yarn and later explaining the many abbreviations used on knitting patterns (something that has put me off many a knitting pattern).

My first stripes, Im very proud!

What I have noticed about this book when I have shown it to other very keen knitters  is that it seems to always bring the reaction of “I didn’t know that”, for example, the many different ways to ‘cast-on’.  As you work your way through the many attractive colour coded chapters, it becomes clear that ‘Ultimate Knitting Bible’ is an essential reference not only for beginners, but for experienced knitters as well. It must be made clear that this book does not have projects to make; it is purely a guide and a reference. It does however have little practise patterns to knit small squares of what you have learnt so far.  For experienced  knitters,  some of the sections include advice on making your own patterns,  construction of outfits,  gathers and flares,  shaping and how to knit ‘ Fair Isle ‘ (something I still feel I would need to be shown!)

The diagrams are large and clear,making them easy to follow

A nice touch at the rear of the book is a chapter on ‘How to Crochet’.  Starting right from the basics of how to hold your hook and yarn, to how to create a crochet finish to your knitting.

All in all, I can thoroughly recommend this book.  It is easy to follow and looks attractive as a coffee table book to flick through. For me personally I would still need help with some of the more difficult practises. However, as a guide and a reference, the ‘Ultimate Knitting Bible’ is perfect.