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LoveReading’s Creativity section is perfect for those who want to make things with their own hands. Whether you’d like to learn the latest craft technique, see what others are doing as design inspiration and trying to keep up and have a go at the latest technological developments, have a look at the selection of titles we have below.
Our March 2021 Book Club Recommendation Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. This is such a welcoming and warming read with community spirit, traditional craft, and the environment at its heart. Author Robert J Somerville was commissioned to build an elm barn by hand in Hertfordshire. Over the course of a year volunteers gathered together to help build the barn, and this is the story. There are so many positive elements to this read. A community of volunteers come together to: “teach, practice and celebrate skilled rural craftsmanship”. And while Dutch elm disease has decimated our Elm population, there is hope for the trees survival. As Robert Somerville says: “Elm is a species that suffered a major pandemic, but its incredible determination to survive prevails. Elm is proving itself to be a tree with an enduring life force, and, to my mind, is an appropriate icon for getting closer to nature, the resurgence in making things by hand and for bringing old skills back to life”. The book contains a myriad of interesting illustrations and photos as well as the story from concept to raising of the barn. At a time when community really matters, when our environment needs love and nurturing, Barn Club echoes with all that is good. It is a wonderful read that lightened my spirits and made me smile.
When I first saw this book, my immediate reaction was, hands off everyone, that’s mine! (No sharp elbows were used to obtain it I promise). This is the official Harry Potter Knitting Magic Pattern Book by Tanis Gray, and if you didn’t know you needed it, you do now. Non-knitting Harry Potter fans will be queuing up to learn a new skill, knitters previously unaware of Harry Potter (ummm, there might be a couple out there), can make some perfect presents, and if you love both, well, you are sorted. Tanis Gray is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, author of 9 knitting books and has over 500 published knitting designs. If you are new to knitting, the different projects are marked according to skill levels and include ‘Crafty Creatures’, ‘Wizarding Wardrobe’, Inspired Apparel’ and ‘Delightful Decor’. Particular favourites of mine are the Nagini Lariat (beginner), the Cornish Pixie (easy), and the Wizarding Transportation Scarf (advanced). Full instructions are given, with charts, and fabulous photos of finished pieces by Laura Flippen. Both useful and beautiful, with some lovely links, sketches and photos from the Harry Potter films, this is a must-have book for crafty fans and has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book.
I must confess that I exclaimed with delight when I saw All Good Things for the first time. It is fabulously described as “a treasury of images to uplift the spirits and reawaken wonder”. The size is perfect, the cover divinely enticing, and it just beckoned me in. I simply sank into the pages of the most beautiful images of art from around the world and through time. You may already have heard of, or indeed follow Stephen Ellcock on social media. Over the last ten years he has shared his images with the world. And we have taken them to our heart. Here he “explores our world and the human response to it one realm at a time”, and so we visit various realms from ‘The Face of the Water’, through to ‘The Human Realm’ and ‘Gods and Monsters’. The images and their explanations sit patiently, just waiting for you to turn the page. I have quite fallen in love with this book, it is gorgeous. September Publishing has created a little masterpiece, and it has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book and one of my picks of the month. All Good Things is a treasure of a treasury and would make the most perfect gift (but make sure you keep a copy for yourself!). Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
This whimsical collection of botanical-inspired needlework projects will take you from budding novice to confident stitcher as you explore a variety of simple counted embroidery techniques. There are 15 gorgeous projects on offer here, with templates, beautiful photos and comprehensive instructions, plus on the back page an envelope contains four of the larger embroidery charts. The alphabet bunting flags and daisy chain bracelet are stylishly simple and quite delightful. This really would make a perfect gift, the enchanting cover tempts you inside and the charming story of Thistledown Farmhouse continues with each new project. ~ Liz Robinson
I'd given up trying to knit as have never conquered wonky edges and dropped stitches with the added complication of being left-handed. But – with Sharon Brant's help I really think I could give it another go. For one thing there is a very good “What to do when it goes wrong” section and there's good advice for left-handers. It's aimed at complete beginners and so there are explanations on basics such as reading patterns before you start. The step-by-step illustrations are a good size and easy to follow, taking users from the very first casting on to an acceptable row of knitting. Get this right and you can venture onto the chapters showing more advanced knitting - an excellent knitting companion. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading: The Knitter's Bible: The Complete Handbook for Creative Knitters, Claire Crompton 100 Little Knitted Projects, Sarah Keen
Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne are back with a new title in the Best in Show series. This time they have turned back time and delved into the fascinating prehistoric world with a collection of new patterns for dinosaurs and other creatures. There are 12 prehistoric creatures to knit, the T-Rex and Stegosaurus are particularly fabulous. Beginners can attempt some of the easier designs, more experienced knitters may be more comfortable overall though. It's worth noting that these are not toys, as wire or pipe cleaners are used as framework, however they would certainly brighten or frighten the other occupants of a bedroom shelf. Written with humour and including some fun dinosaur facts, this would make a lovely stocking filler for Christmas. ~ Liz Robinson
Imparting wisdom from across two decades, Philip Pullman’s Dæmon Voices shares a generous banquet of thought-provoking insights into the art of story-telling and Pullman’s personal processes and passions. As the book’s editor, Simon Mason, writes in his introduction, Pullman is “interested in, above all, human nature, how we live and love and fight and betray and console one another. How we explain ourselves to ourselves,” and this all-encompassing ethos is reflected here, with essays covering everything from the responsibilities of the storyteller, how stories work, and authors’ intentions, to William Blake, Oliver Twist, and writing fantasy realistically. The tone is lively, ablaze with clear-sighted wit, no matter how complex the subject, with many pieces having been delivered at conferences. One of my personal favourites is “Let’s Write it in Red” which begins with an anecdote about a train journey during which the author witnessed children demonstrating the “two great principles of storytelling”. The first principle is that there are rules - among them stories must begin and have unity, and storytellers mustn’t be afraid of the obvious. Stories must have a destination too, and storytellers “must design the path so that it leads to the destination most surely, and with the maximum effect.” The second principle relates to form: “if the story is a path, then to follow it you have to ignore quite ruthlessly all the things that tempt you away from it. Your business as a storyteller is with the path, not the wood.” To these, Pullman adds a third - knowledge. Storytellers should “become more interested in your subject-matter than in the way you appear to others to be dealing with it.” With each of the 32 essays embodying these astute principles, Dæmon Voices is a trove of enlightenment, and entertaining to boot.
Are YOU the ultimate map-reader? Do you know your trig points from your National Trails? Can you calculate using contours? And can you fathom exactly how far the footpath is from the free house? Track down hidden treasures, decipher geographical details and discover amazing facts as you work through this unique puzzle book based on 40 of the Ordnance Survey's best British maps. Explore the first ever OS map made in 1801, unearth the history of curious place names, encounter abandoned Medieval villages and search the site of the first tarmac road in the world. With hundreds of puzzles ranging from easy to mind-boggling, this mix of navigational tests, word games, code-crackers, anagrams and mathematical conundrums will put your friends and family through their paces on the path to becoming the ultimate map-master!
The team behind Mollie Makes magazine have brought together all their favourite knit designers to share their tips, stories and beautiful projects. Knitting may seem complicated, but in fact there are just two stitches you need to learn. Once you have mastered knit and purl, you can knit pretty much anything. This is a vibrantly colourful book, primarily focusing on beginners, with patterns in the first section, followed by handy techniques in the second. The 18 projects range from phone covers to Christmas tree decorations. The techniques are really helpful, and includes a section on correcting mistakes. The bright and cheerful How to Knit would make a great present for craft lovers. ~ Liz Robinson
A range of designers share the knowledge giving apprentice knitters a good grounding in the craft with some interesting and often quirky ideas for putting their new skills to use. Absolute beginners will find this particularly appealing as the projects are often small and can be quickly made with the patterns being easy to follow and accompanied by tips and trick boxes. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading: Knitty Gritty: Knitting for the Absolute Beginner, Aneeta Patel Knitting without Tears, Elizabeth Zimmerman
This inspiring new book from the team behind MillaMia knitwear is packed with projects to take you through the wintertime. As the seasons change from cool, crisp autumn to the cold and dark of winter, Scandinavians are particularly good at easing the transition with clothing, interiors and food that bring warmth and light. From traditional Scandinavian designs through to some more unconventional projects, there is plenty on offer. The designs have been graded to the skill level, from beginner through to experienced, and mostly feature knitwear, however there are some gorgeous home decorations and Christmas ideas on offer too. The beautiful photos show off the designs and at the end there are several delicious Swedish recipes to tempt you as you knit. ~ Liz Robinson
By turns gripping, meditative and elemental, and always inspirational, this treasure trove of prose, poetry and art lays bare a richness of relationships between female adventurers and the great outdoors. Shunning conventional, simplistic narratives about mankind conquering the highest this, or the deepest that, each adventurer-contributor shares their unique experiences with enlightening, engaging subtlety. In the wise words of one writer, “People go outdoors to push themselves past what they thought they could do…I go outdoors for the struggle, not to beat it.” This eloquent anthology contains over seventy pieces of writing and art, among them an enlightening piece about the motivations of an Antarctic researcher, an intimate account of a mountaineer’s connection with her father through cross-country skiing, and an exquisite evocation of the sensuous life-forces of a Dartmoor brook. It’s a delight to dip into, and the perfect gift for nature-lovers and adventure-seekers.
Our mass produced globalised world does give us all access to things from around the world but they do lack any personality and individuality so it's not surprising there is currently a real upsurge in making and creating beautiful and interesting things yourself.
As William Morris once said 'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.'
Here is a lovingly chosen selection of books to get you creating some beauty for your home. Whether you would like to knit, sew, sketch or print, you can hopefully find a book here that will spark your imagination.