Thursday 29 October 2015

Two new reads

I treated myself to two new books this week, well I say treated, but actually I had a voucher from my birthday last November that I hadn't yet spent, so I used that to buy two fabulous new books.

The first is the newest title from bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) called Big Magic.  The synopsis is thus:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert's books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process - and showing us all just how easy it can be.

By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear.

Whether you long to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, embark on a long-held dream, or simply to make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration filled with wonder and unexpected joys.

I downloaded the sample onto my kindle and flew through it without pause so I ordered it instantly.  I'm looking forward to taking some time out to sit and read this.

The second book is one that I think I am going to treasure forever.  In fact, browsing through it with my seven year old yesterday, even she declared it's pages as magical.  The book is called The Magpie and the Wardrobe and is the creation of Sam McKechnie and Alexandrine Portelli.  I don't think I can even begin to describe it accurately though so here's the low-down:

Enter the spellbinding world of The Magpie & the Wardrobe. This truly unique book is a treasury of marvels and oddities, a lovingly curated compendium of time-honoured traditions and peculiar customs that have bewitched us for generations.
Discover simple magic, heirloom recipes and forgotten fairytales in this eclectic treasury. The twelve chapters, representative of the seasons, present the celebrations, superstitions and folklore that shape our year. From cherished traditions like Valentine's Day to the lost excitement of May Day Eve, The Magpie & the Wardrobe reveals a calendar bursting with history, imagination and curious facts. Take a closer look at your favourite homespun rituals and the magic we conjure every day; make a candle wish, mix a moon oil elixir, and hang your romantic hopes on the predictions of an apple peel. Illustrated by a unique collection of ephemera and embellished with trinkets and charms, this sumptuous volume will appeal to the creative and curious.

The books travels through the seasons from January to December and is full of rituals and traditions that filter through the months.  Each page is beautiful in both its colour and content, the photographs are delightful, and it's the sort of book that you will discover new things upon each reading.  It truly is a wonderful book (I'm running out of superlatives to describe it quite frankly)!

Hopefully these pictures give you some idea as to how the book is set out throughout but it is gorgeous, trust me, and I know a few people over on Instagram who have requested this for Christmas already!

G x

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Slow Stitch

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith
Published by Batsford
3rd September 2015
Hardback Edition
This lovely book by the talented Claire Wellesley-Smith caught my eye a few weeks ago, and I was lucky enough to be sent a copy by the publishers at Pavillion to read.  The first thing to note is that the cover itself is made of a velvety material which makes it very tactile indeed.  I know it won't be to everyone's taste but I really loved the feel of it.
The idea behind the book is thus:
The pleasures to be had from slowing down can be many, with connections to sustainability, simplicity, reflection, and tuning into traditional and other multicultural textile traditions. Slow Stitch is a much-needed guide to adopting a less-is-more approach, valuing quality over quantity, and bringing a meaningful and thoughtful approach to textile practice. Claire Wellesley-Smith introduces a range of ways in which you can slow your textile work down, including: * Using simple techniques inspired by traditional practice (including hand-stitch rhythms) * Reusing and re-inventing materials (reuse even old textile projects) * Limiting your equipment * Mending revisited (practical and decorative techniques) * Project ideas and resources that help towards making a more sustainable textile practice Richly illustrated throughout, and showcasing work from the best textile artists who work in this way, this is a truly inspirational book for those looking to reconnect with their craft and to find a new way of working.
Taking heed from the Slow Movement, Slow Stitch encourages you to take more time over the work that you produce.  That a row of hand stitched work is equally as worthwhile as row after row of machine made stitching.  It practically begs you to grab some old remnants of fabric and to begin piecing them together to create beautiful, unique things that you can stop and start at leisure.
Claire showcases the talents of a number of textile artists whose slow stitch projects all vary from each other, and encourages the reader in how they too can participate and produce their own similar work from that shown.  My hand stitching isn't very creative but I have to say that this book has certainly made me want to look further into the meditativeness of slow stitching, and I think a stitch journal might be right up my street.
G x

Monday 5 October 2015

my happy place

Is anyone still out there?!  Apologies, it's been a while again since I've blogged anything but I'm here now!  This summer, Agatha van finally got electricity which means that she can now be used as my crafting caravan and not just a storage area for my bits and bobs.  By the way, if you follow me over on Instagram (@thecraftyreader) then close this page down now as you'll have seen all these photos before!!!!

My first task was to bring everything down to start storing it properly within her many cupboards.  It took a while, but I'm happy with where everything is now located.

Cause right now I need a happy place to be
Then I had to start adding a bit of 'me' decoration to her.  Some fabric and wool bunting across the window, and photos of my family and blogging buddies makes me happy.  Can you spot Lazy Daisy Jones and Mrs Bertmius here?!

The next job is to get round to furnish her properly.  She's just had a new carpet and I've changed the curtains. 
before and after

It's the seats to do next but that's going to take a bit of time to get perfect and I'm not going to rush it.  I also need to check I've brought enough fabric to do it all!

I also made a few cushion covers, none of them match, but I used fabrics that make me smile, as well as a few purchased ones, including my dottie angel cushion cover.


This is my happy place.

G x