3 new book reviews: crochet, quilting, & spinning

Three new books are now available from Storey Publishing. They cover crochet, quilting, and spinning. Without further ado, let’s jump in.

This is a very long post. Please click to jump straight to the quilt or spinning books.

Crochet Taxidermy

Crochet Taxidermy : 30 Quirky Animal Projects, from Mouse to Moose
by Taylor Hart

Storey Publishing
paperback, $14.95
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

This adorable book provides ideas for doing something a bit different with all those amigurumi you can’t stop crocheting other than stuffing and tossing them to the nearest kiddo or kitten. Mount them!

I know. It’s seems obvious right? I’ve framed things, but mounting wasn’t something that I’d thought of (and I now wish I had).

This title is formatted a little differently than many recent crochet and knitting titles – all the designs are displayed and featured at the start of the book and after the features you find the instructions.

Feel free to ooh and ahh your way through the woodland creatures such as sly fox (who started Hart on this journey) and lil stinker. Giggle about the nursery rhymes you could inscribe to farm friends how now, brown cow and the baaad sheep. Pretend you went on a safari with ellie elephant and renegade rhino. The sea creatures include a colossal squid and jiggly jellyfish. Overall there are 30 designs full of whimsy. The basics cover how to crochet the figures in general and include Hart’s tried and true tricks. Following all of this general information are the specific instructions which include all the standard parts of a well written pattern. Not sure how to affix your critter to the plaque? Don’t fret. There are clear instructions and you don’t need power tools (though if you know how to use them, that opens up many more design possibilities!)

This is a fun book that will likely make you smile. I see is as a great source of ideas for quick and easy unique gifts. Once you’ve crocheted your way through these amigurumi, what whimsy might you decide to mount? A few fun ideas popped into my brain while I was reading this book.

The Quilt Design Coloring Workbook

The Quilt Design Coloring Workbook : 91 Modern Art–Inspired Designs and Exercises

by Thomas Knauer
Storey Publishing
paperback, $18.95
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I admit I fell for the title first and when I read the book blurb, I knew I needed to request it. Yes coloring books are all the craze but that wasn’t why this title caught my eye, the two words Design and Workbook were. My art education ended in jr. high. Yes, I took an architecture history course in college, but other than spending time strolling through the Met and MoMA, that’s about as formal as my art education gets. It’s a challenge now working with artists and those special people who just “get” color. I am challenged greatly if asked to mix more than two to three, could this title be what I’ve looked for?

Yes. And it’s so much more.

Knauer has condensed modern art history, color theory, and quilting into 144 pages of an amazing book. It is helpful for those who have aspirations to quilt (such as I do) , those who want to understand the relationship of color and space, and for those who love to color!

After a clear introduction to Knauer and his philosophy to modern art and color, we jump into sections that cover seven aesthetics of modern art. They are organized beautifully and make the book really work.

Each section begins with an overview of the aesthetic. We then see a sample quilt followed by an example in modern art. Following this foundation, there are both design exercises and coloring exercises to cause the reader to test and stretch ideas.

It is the design exercises that set this workbook apart from all the coloring books proliferating on store shelves and provides useful education for all artists. For example, in the section Balance, the reader is asked to add a shape that balances the composition and then another to again throw it into imbalance. Repeating until the desired effect is reached. Wow, it’s not easy. It’s made me stop and think about how I use shape and color value and layout. For more on these experiments please read Quilt Design Coloring Workbook: Why Include Design Experiments???

The appendices includes a summary of modern art movements with selected artists and selected further readings.

I highly recommend this book!


Yarnitecture : A Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want

by Jillian Moreno
Storey Publishing
Hardcover, $29.95
Also available as an ebook.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Like me you probably have whole shelves devoted to, and have read many books about, spinning, yarn, and wool from the likes of Alden Amos, Carol Ekarius, Judith MacKenzie McCuin , Clara Parkes, and Deborah Robson among many others (I just took a quick sampling of my bookshelf, I can’t list everyone), but you haven’t quite figured out how to take all that knowledge and improve the yarn you spin. Yarnitecture is your answer.

Moreno builds on her extensive experience as a knitter and spinner and has figured out a way to break down all the parts of making a yarn in a way that makes sense and will aid the reader in producing the yarn they want to spin. This isn’t a book for those who have never picked up a spindle or sat at a wheel. It’s perfect for me as I already keep a notebook (very useful for my yarn vision) and want to move out of what I’ll call my spinning rut. Several years ago my goal was to figure out how to spin a consistent yarn of a certain size. I can. I now almost always prepare, draft, and spin my fiber the same way braid after braid.

Organized in seven sections, grouped and named inspired by phases encountered when building a house (such as foundation, frame, and paint), Moreno has written a remarkable book. I took copious notes each time I’ve read my eARC copy. I am incorporating the lessons and tips I’ve picked up into my spinning and I see a positive result in my spinning.

While many experienced spinners will likely think they should skip straight to the chapter of what’s currently causing them trouble, I urge at least one complete cover to cover read. Yes, I know my notebook about my spinning isn’t unique, but I like Moreno’s way to keep quick notes with her samples and spun yarns. It’s also nice to read suggestions on what to record, and why.

The photos of fiber preparations and clarifying woolen vs worsted and top vs roving should be required reading for all spinners and those who write product descriptions. I’m sure I’ve read it a zillion times before. I think it’s finally beginning to stick.

All of the other sections from drafting, plying, color, to finishing and actual knitting are delightful and full of tips. When two (or more) techniques are compared, I enjoyed the clear photographs to help further explain what was going on and why. The included designs are both a range of styles and fibers and a great starting point for taking the lessons in the book and turning them into something that can be knitted and not just another pretty skein of handspun that sits in a basket to be admired. I liked that notes were included from the spinner of the yarn of things they found difficult or helpful.

I recommend this to every spinning knitter. I’m eager for a time machine so I can give it to my past self and prevent many hours of spinning frustration.


I received eARCs of these titles from NetGalley in exchange for reviews. The FTC wants you to know.

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