3 book reviews: practical letters, bath knits, and online presence

It’s snowing and I’d love to be curled up with a good book and my knitting right now, so tonight’s post is to try to catch up with three book reviews.

book cover image for practical letter bookPractical Letter Book
by J. H. Kaemmerer
Dover Publications
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This was initially published in 1911 as Kaemmerer’s Practical Letter Book: Containing Several Hundred Alphabets in 140 Plates; Together with Descriptive Text, For the Use of Sign Painters, Show Card Writers, Decorators, Artists and Craftsmen. While I am none of those professions, I am fascinated by calligraphy and word art. Kaemmerer’s title has stood the test of time and the plates were a delight to look through. This is not a modern how-to guide! The first portion contains specific considerations of the letters and words in different situations while the second contains the beautiful plates. For example, in the case of the English Block Letter: “The M. W. and Y. should be one-third wider than the other letters… These proportions however are by no means arbitrary but must be varied according to the particular word that is being painted. A case where a variation is very necessary is where a sign is to be placed at an elevation and is to be viewed from the ground, for instance, if it is even 10 ft. high it might be necessary to slightly thicken the top and bottom portions of the letter so as to allow for the shortening which comes about from viewing the letters at an angle.” There is a considerable amount of useful information for calligraphers, sign painters, and anyone fascinated by lettering. Some modern readers will be disappointed in this book with its lack of tutorials. However I am thankful this title is republished and available today to a new audience.

book cover image for Bath Knits by Mary Beth TempleBath Knits: 30 Projects Made to Pamper
by Mary Beth Temple
Stackpole Books

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

I requested this book with hesitation, I know the author, which would likely bias me to say nice things about the title no matter what. I want to write fair reviews, but as I am more involved in this industry, that isn’t easy. Additionally, last month I read another title from the publisher’s catalog at my library and was incredibly disappointed. My curiosity won out to see if an author’s experience could positively and fundamentally shape the book. That answer? Yes.

I was further curious if a topic that I don’t have much of an opinion or interest in could catch my eye and make me desire to knit a project or two. Again, that answer? Yes.

Mary Beth Temple has created 30 projects that span from quick and easy to clever and pampering. While the page layout is traditional (to me it feels like a magazine), it is definitely clear and easy to navigate. The charts fill the page, something my eyes appreciate! The photos are styled in a way that feels both inspirational (my bathroom is rarely that tidy) and obtainable (it could be). While I don’t think many expect me to work with 10mm needles, the Plush Bathmat looks super squishy and find I want to knit one! I think the lacy mirror is a neat accent idea for any room and would be a perfect to use yarn from a beginning spinner (if I were to put it in the bathroom, I’d stick to a cotton or linen yarn as suggested in the pattern). I found the Cabled Towels a quick and low-cost project that would dress up any bathroom. Don’t worry, if bath knits means washcloths for you, there are several! I like the visual index at the end, we’re visual people and having a featured image of the project next to the name is a nice and appreciated touch.

It pleases me to say that I recommend Bath Knits!

book cover image for: Creating an Online Presence: 2nd Edition by Cat RamboCreating an Online Presence: 2nd Edition
by Cat Rambo
Plunkett Press
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Does this title belong here? Yes. Hear me out. I often am asked by my technology clients what they need in their website. I also receive questions from new designers as I tech edit their patterns.

Cat Rambo is an author I’ve followed for her science fiction and fantasy writing for years. She’s written a no-nonsense guide to both getting started and fine tuning your online presence. There is no fluff. There is no BS. I really appreciate that she tells it how it is. Some of the advice may become dated sooner than others as she talks about specific technologies and software, however overall I think this title will age well.

What is the best part about this book? The notes I scribbled while reading tell it all: backup, backup, backup!!! ♥

Seriously. What I also like, especially in our new reality is that she asks you to stop and think how much time you want to put into your web presence, how separated you want to keep it from you (and your privacy). Additionally, the reminder that while this is an investment of your time into your “brand”, which could improve/influence your sales, don’t get carried away. There’s a fine line between productivity and procrastination. Do not allow this to get into the way of what you really need to do, in her case write, in the case of myself and most of my clients: design/make/craft.

I highly recommend this title for those looking to craft a meaningful online presence without the mess of pointless glitter.

I received ebook review copies of all titles from NetGalley. I also received a hard copy of Bath Knits from Stackpole Books. The FTC wants you to know.

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