book reviews

It is 2 weeks until the end of our long summer school holiday break (I live in Australia in case you were not sure), and we have had a really busy and good break, usually around this time we are all pulling our hair out — can’t wait to get started on the school year — but this year it has been different, we have had, along with plenty of activities, some quiet time, time to reflect and be on our own, we have had time to work on projects, time to just chillax (in teen speak) and time to have some together-ness type fun. And despite not getting to the beach this summer we have had a really chilled out time.

The last couple of weeks of the school holidays we’ll be spending doing some projects, watching movies, going for bike rides and heading to the pool – swimming laps has been our summer recreation and we are all a little better for it. I think our summer of relaxin’ is due to my new direction of taking things easy – slowly – mindfully – intentionally – peacefully. Hoping it keeps going this way.

  • This past week on whipup has been extra good. You may have seen a tutorial to make a washable lunch bag :: some links to help organise your kids activities :: a guest post on making seaweed soap :: and another guest post on a sewing apparel challenge :: as well as my new interest in pinterest.
  • SOPA and PIPA were dropped by Congress this week thanks to the largest online protest in history.  On January 18th, 13 million people took the time to tell Congress to protect free speech rights on the internet. Hundreds of millions, maybe a billion, people all around the world saw the protest last Wednesday.  See the amazing numbers here and tell everyone what you did. Tweet with us, shout on the internet with us, let’s celebrate: Round of applause to the 13 million people who stood up.
  • And thank you everyone for filling out my demographics survey – over 1000 have completed the survey so far – its not too late if you have not done it yet and it only takes 5 minutes – and I will posting the results on monday.

More crafty discoveries to keep you busy …

What I am reading:
  • Beautiful Botanicals: 45 Applique Flowers & 14 Quilt Projects. By Deborah Kemball. Published by C&T Publishing (April 16, 2011).: If you love applique and applique flowers in particular then you will love this book. It is unique and inventive and has a lot of tips for technique – not just applique but some really neat methods for borders and foundation piecing.
  • I am enjoying River Camp Knits pattern book for Rowan by Amy Butler — Since that first knitwear collection for Rowan she has produced two more collections – I haven’t seen the patterns in the flesh so to speak but I do love Amy’s style and so I am sure I would love them too. Colourful and simple but with flair and interest.
  • Little Artists Handmade by Carly Schwerdt and published by Penguin Australia (2011), is much like her blog Moopy and Me — colourful, clever and quirky, featuring lots of handprinted fabrics and kids artwork. The book is divided into two sections – projects for kids (aimed at preschool aged kids and requiring adult help) to make and projects for adults to make from the kids finished artworks.

[Thanks to publishers and distributors for sending me books to review, I don’t get paid to post reviews but I am an amazon affiliate]

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ReSew: Turn Thrift-Store Finds into Fabulous Designs
by Jenny Wilding Cardon, (Martingale & Co February 2011).

Are you a pattern kinda stitcher or more the make-it-up-and-see-what-happens type? I am rather a maverick when it comes to sewing and more often than not I make it up as I go along. Patterns are not really my thing and as a result I tend to end up with a few projects that arguably would have been better off as great ideas that never got off the ground! It’s all part of the fun of creating. And given that most of the fabric I use for making clothes is found in an op-shop (thrift store), the mishaps are never worth a fortune. My favourite item I ever made was a ball gown from bronze coloured 1970’s shot silk curtains that cost me $30!

So, it was with great delight that I came across ReSew. While there are many patterns in this book, my favourite thing about the approach of author Jenny Wilding Cardon is her encouraging nature. Statements such as “Design diversions are welcome here.” and “Use the designs on the page. Then jump.” hooked me right in.

There’s the story of how Jenny began thrifting to hints on shopping second-hand. The patterns are easy to read and use and are well illustrated with tips (or “retips”) for techniques that the reader may not be familiar with.

But, here’s my favourite part, the bit that really got me excited: The designs are as simple or as complex as you dare make them and each project comes with a list of suggestions for “design diversions” – ideas, amendments and thoughts for adding a personal touch to your project.

I made the happy hat, mitten, and scarf set for each of my daughters and completed them in a little under an hour and a half. I do have to confess that I did the detailing with fancy machine stitching rather than hand-sewing but to have two complete winter sets in such a short timeframe and for only a $3 sweater each, I am super impressed. [See middle pic above. Ed.]

Next on my list is the cuffed skirt using men’s suiting… or perhaps the knit-knot T-shirt… I have so many sticky notes on these pages I’m not sure where I’ll start – perhaps I’ll wait and see what the op-shop gods deliver!

Fabric Remix: Repurpose & Redecorate with Simple Sewing & Easy UpholsterySewing Craft Books) by Sandy Stone, Lark Crafts

Are you one of those people for whom “re-purposing”, “re-mixing” and “up-cycling” are new concepts? Or do you, like me, now just have a name for that thing you’ve always done?

Wealth was never a reality in our home while I was growing up. Make do, re-use and bargain hunt were definitely the concepts we lived by. And I am ever so grateful to my mother for teaching me how to shop at charity stores, clearing sales and deceased estate auctions long before it was fashionable to do so. I can remember from an early age being taught the importance of using what was already available and only purchasing new as a last resort.

As I have grown up and now have children of my own, economic necessity is not the driving force for my thrifty approach but rather an awareness of the planet’s finite resources and a desire to have my girls grow up in an environment where consumerism is a distant land.

I still have an enduring love for finding an old item and making it new again. Coming across fabric remix was like walking into my very own comfort zone. Sandy Stone’s atypical approach to a craft book resonated with me. And while I have been re-fashioning old clothing, curtains and other fabrics for some time, there is a whole load of motivation to be found in these pages.

This book is an awakening for me. Although our home is furnished with almost exclusively second-hand furniture and many of the “decorator items” such as throws and pillows are made with thrifted materials, Sandy has managed to provide a fresh approach and a whole new level of enthusiam for me.

From her inspiration to sources to materials to care instructions, there is an array of original and interesting information presented in an easy to read and even easier to follow format. And in the “obi totes” I found an exciting use for a whole stack of cotton curtains and fabric belts that I’ve been saving for a rainy day…

About the reviewer: Julie is the slightly unhinged mum of two beautiful little girls (and another baby on the way), she enjoys the thought of pursuing creative interests but never seems to have the time! Julie blogs at Relish.



We love the Action Pack and hope you do too – if you don’t yet have a copy you can get it here:


Issue 2 of Action Pack is launching 1 April. The April issue’s theme is ‘Seeds & beads’ with a bonus Easter Supplement! Filled with craft, cooking, science and gardening + printables and art projects – for kids aged 7+ (and the young at heart). I will be offering newsletter readers a 20% discount coupon and will be sending it out in a midweek newsletter next week with more information. Thank you for all your support – love you guys!

This week at whipup… Last week of our Guest Blogger Series …


  • I am currently reading Creating an Australian Garden (published by Allen and Unwin) – Do you love gardening, do you love Australia? Oh glorious big beautiful book full of gardening advice and plants and design for the Australian climate. Lots of practical advice and design inspiration!
  • Also gazing lovingly upon Quilts Around the World: The Story of Quilting from Alabama to Zimbabwe Voyageur Press; First edition (November 21, 2010). Visually stunning, incredible stories and historic perspectives, the people – the cultures – the fabrics – and the quilts! Wow!
  • And In the Kitchen: More Than 1000 Recipes for Every Day by Allan Campion and Michelle Curtis. Published by Hardie Grant Books (November 1, 2010). A big solid book, full of family favourites – beautifully laid out, written, photographed and styled – the total package. And the recipes too – From basics like Pot roast chicken and Easy sponge cake to more special treats (but still easy) like Raspberry and mascarpone tart and Sichuan Eggplant – I love that dish mmm – brings back memories of travelling in China – such a hearty and earthy dish. There is a whole chapter on slow cooking – I am addicted to slow cooking lately – just put it all in a dish and leave alone for hours for it to do its thing. As well as being big on everyday family friendly meals, this book also all about desserts and simplicity and heart warming and family and togetherness  and good food and ingredients and all those lovely things!
  • Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Collections of the Smithsonian Museum (Princeton Architectural Press March 24, 2010) – yes! – don’t you just love lists – and other people’s lists can be so interesting don’t you think – a real window into the soul or at least the mind! Having fun dipping into this book.

Crafty news and links


So much to do – so little time.



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Holiday reading [pt 1]

by kath_red on 10/11/2008

in Books

Here is my list of books perfect for some light holiday crafting/reading or gift giving. Check out the book reviews too!

Natural Knits for Babies & Toddlers
By Tina Barrett published by Guild of Master Craftsman (October 7, 2008) [read the review here]

Crochet Me: Designs to Fuel the Crochet Revolution By Kim Werker. Interweave Press, 2007. [read the review here]

The Hungry Scientist Handbook: Electric Birthday Cakes, Edible Origami, and Other DIY Projects for Techies, Tinkerers, and Foodies by Patrick Buckley and Lily Binns, published by Collins Living (September 23, 2008). [read the review here]

Print Liberation: The Screen Printing Primer by Nick Paparone, Jamie Dillon and Luren Jenison, published by North Light Books (June 24, 2008). [read the review here]

Sweater Renewal: Felting Knits into New Sweaters and Accessories by Sharon Franco Rothschild, published by Potter Craft (August 19, 2008). [read the review here]

A Fine Fleece: Knitting with Handspun Yarns by Lisa Lloyd, published by Potter Craft (April 8, 2008) [read the review here]

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