The Textile Artist’s Studio Handbook [Quarry Books (July 1, 2012)] by Visnja Popovic and Owyn Ruck [Textile Arts Centre website + blog]

Brought to you by the textile arts centre in New York, this book brings a beautifully laid out overview to various ways of creating and embellishing fabric: felting, knitting and crochet, weaving, printing, dyeing, sewing and applique, needlework. With only a chapter on each of these subjects, the information is not in depth enough for a beginner, but certainly gives some interesting ideas for those already familiar with the required techniques. There is also some great information on fibres and setting up a home studio.

Crochet Boutique [Lark Crafts (September 4, 2012)] by Rachael Oglesby. [blog]

A really cool wearable crochet book for beginners. The stitches are not complicated, and there is no fine hooks and yarn involved, but I think that more advanced crocheters looking for a fun ‘in between’ project will find something here to love too. Lots of scarves and hats and shawls, a couple of tops and sweet accessories too. I love the yarn and colour choices – making this book very visually appealing.

How to Make Stuffed Animals [Quarry Books (July 1, 2012)] by Sian Keegan [website  +  blog]

I loved the how-to illustrations in this book, and the toys are all very cute. They are all small-ish stuffed animals with big personalities – quite life-like faces and 3d body shapes. These little guys would make very sweet gifts. The instructions are good, making these toys look more complicated to make than they actually are.

{ 1 comment }

Book: We make dolls

by Admin on 26/10/2012

in Books

Book reviewed by Megan Enright: Megan is wife to a tolerant and encouraging husband and mother to four children ranging in age from 18 years down to 5 years. She spends her days keeping company with her 5 year old daughter and her evenings cheering on the sidelines as her older sons deal with homework, sport and other teenage issues. In her quieter moments, she likes to knit, embroider, sew and cook. She’d like to have the time and talent to crochet and quilt….maybe one day.  She can be found at Notebook from home blog.

We Make Dolls!: Top Dollmakers Share Their Secrets & Patterns

Jenny Doh. Lark Crafts (June 2012).

First of all, this is a seriously gorgeous book to read. My 5 year old daughter and I spent quite some time just poring over the pictures of cute, whimsical, pretty, quirky, personality-filled dolls. My daughter wanted me to make them all — of course!

I am not an experienced doll-maker. I have made about three easy dolls that were mainly just a showcase for some pretty fabric I had in my stash. They were fun and quick to make. The dolls in We make dolls are, on the whole, more complicated but the extra features added by each of the doll-makers profiled certainly provide some lovely and interesting dolls.

Ten doll makers are featured and they discuss over a number of pages their influences, the sources of their design ideas and how their ideas become the reality of a doll. I enjoyed the process of getting inside a crafter’s head and gaining insight into how their projects had evolved. After each interview a couple of doll patterns are included, with each one well described with step-by step photos.

As a doll making newby I was glad of the general doll making instructions at the beginning of the book as there are many teddies and other jointed dolls which are quite complex. Also included are some small but beautiful needle felted dolls. General needle felting instructions are in the book but some experience in this area would definitely be an advantage to achieve a lovely finished product.

Along with these more complicated designs there are some dolls with simple assembly that rely on embroidered embellishment to add extra features. Denise Ferragamo has designed two Matryoshka-style dolls for the book that include simple but effective floral stitching. Even as a novice doll artist I felt confident enough to tackle one of these dolls (see my version above). Overall, I found this book quite inspirational. The idea of making one of these dolls was very appealing, even the rather dangerously named, Tattooed Man. We Make Dolls is fun and informative. Now all I have to do is to have a consensus between my daughter and me on which doll to make next!


  • Enjoying a quiet interlude after an early start … I went to the farmers market with a friend then we did our family house clean for an hour.
  • Loving that it is raining outside … just a drizzle and it won’t stop me from hanging the clothes on the line.
  • Waiting for a load of washing to finish so I can put the next one on … it’s washing day today … hoping to get all the towels and sheets washed, they’ll enjoy the rain too.
  • Listening to talkback radio on the ABC … actually just turned it off, it was a bit dry and I couldn’t concentrate properly.
  • Researching the next Action Pack {Family Apothecary … so luscious} … just hopped online to buy some seaweed powder, kaolin clay and some essential oils.
  • Eating strawberries and drinking fresh mandarin juice from the markets … such intense real flavour!
  • Sketching, scanning and fiddling in illustrator.
  • Hoping that two of our ducks are enjoying their new home … we still have two left and we need to find a home for them before next year.
  • Making silly faces at my daughter … and she is making faces at me.
  • Thinking and planning for next year {the link leads the Action Pack blog where I discuss our family’s plans for next year}.

What are you doing?

Knitting Designer series [link to whole series HERE]

More at Whipup

 My Pinterest boards

Reading and watching

  • We watched the movie Eragon for the second time the other night, since we are all reading the series of books (separately –  and then discussing it in a book club sort of way) we felt we needed a refresher on the movie – just to see what was different {quite a bit actually}. We are all loving this series the Inheritance Cycle (some of us are further ahead in the series than others) – and are fascinated by the author Christopher Paolini, he wrote the first book in the series when he was just 15, his parents helped him to self publish it and it was picked up by a publisher a couple of years later.
  • One of our family read-aloud novels earlier this year was Holes by Louis Sachar, we loved this book — adventure, boys daring escapades plus a touch of the ridiculous, and so when we discovered that a movie had been made from the book a few years ago we had to watch it — it was pretty good (not as a good as the book though – but pretty close) — read the book!.

Don’t forget to grab your copy of the latest Action Pack magazine for kids (Go Tribal Issue)


Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter via email 


Kaffe Fassett, an accomplished painter and designer of textiles, is widely acknowledged as a visionary in the use of color. He is the author of 15 books, a fabric designer & knitwear designer for Rowan, and was honored in 1988 to become the first living textile designer to be given a one-person show at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Kaffe Fassett: Dreaming in Color: An Autobiography. STC Craft/A Melanie Falick Book (September 15, 2012).

Many people ask me, a 6’3” Californian man, how I got started in the world of textiles, how I got my name and above all, how I made so many things work in my favor. It was high time to write a book that outlined my most improbable career – from painter to avid knitter, needle point and patchworker designer.

The hardest thing was deciding how to approach the book. What do I leave out, what to include and try to explain it all. It was a nightmare at first, but as I got into it with the help of two editors I found myself really drawn into the great romp that is the last 45 years of my textile career. I had kept dozens of diaries, which was amazing to re-read after so many years. Unfortunately I cared little for details, like dates, so some whole sections didn’t even mention a year, let alone a month or day. But somehow the people I’ve worked with for years were able to piece it all together and the extraordinary Internet answered so many questions, like dates of events that ran alongside my crazy life.

Inevitably jamming 74 years into 200-plus pages meant a great selection process had to take place and many amusing stories had to go, but I do feel that the main thrust of the pattern of luck, that allowed me to bring my ideas to so many across the world, is there on the pages. It was a daunting experience to be sure and it was over a year till I could write again with confidence in my diary. I sort of felt I completed my life when the book went off after the last proof reading.

The best thing for me is the almost 500 illustrations showing my work and the influences of art and travel that inspired most of it. The book turns out to be homage to the great Steve Lovi, who not only photographed 5 of my books including our first book, Glorious Knits, but also taught me most of what I needed to get my career started. Steve died in his early 70’s just as Dreaming in Color was being completed. I was able to show a portrait I painted of him and state what his life meant to me. I hope those who read my book will have their questions answered and will be inspired to go on making their own creative textiles. The book is bursting with color, which has always been my magic talisman – so don’t be shy about using lots of it.


Reviewed by Julie: Julie is a slightly unhinged fabric junkie! She is also stitching and crafting obsessed. As well as being addicted to tea. And cake. She is mumma to three beautiful little girls and cares deeply about the world they will inherit. She blogs at Procrasticraft.

Denyse Schmidt: Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration: 20 New Designs with Historic Roots (Published by Stc Craft / Melanie Falick Books)

When Kathreen first offered me the chance to review this new offering from the doyenne of the modern quilting movement, I jumped at the chance. I had not yet seen the book, or for that matter read or heard about it but hey, it’s Denyse Schmidt, it can’t be anything other than amazing right? Yes, I did have HUGE expectations! But, she is an extraordinary artist and a woman whose work I have long admired. In this new tome, I have found myself far from disappointed. I think she may have just upped the ante in terms of how highly I regard her work. The sensibility of style, colour and composition in Schmidt’s quilts very much appeal to me.

The book is of high quality. The publishers have gone for a clean layout on thicker than standard stock with a hard cover, which combine to make this book look and feel luxurious – if nothing else, it would be a good coffee table decoration. However, there is so much more to it than just prettiness.

This book contains quilts for all levels of skill and experience, from the straightforward Postage Stamp through to the curvy and intricately pieced Snake Trail, there is a pattern that would appeal to almost any quilter. I find books by this author to be well written and simple to follow. No fluffing out the pages with wordy instructions, just straightforward, easy to follow steps. Included with the instructions for each quilt are notes on fabrics, tips for sewing and references to technique pages.

The author has taken the time to provide a background story on the quilts in the book. She has presented the history or a little personal story about the origins of the quilt or block pattern along with her thoughts – read the tale about Albert Small, the explosives handler from Ottawa. These anecdotes intrigued me and left me wanting to know more, they were almost insisting I go off and do my own research (which I did, I’m a curious being and these small snippets were too much of a temptation)…

In addition to the patterns and the tales, the “Tools, Materials & Techniques” section at the back of the book provides thorough notes on many different skills as well as interesting advice and tips on specifics like dealing with sharp points, dog ears and stay stitching. I imagine that even a proficient quilter could find handy hints here to increase their capability.

The overall nature of this book invokes a sense of going slow. It aims to inspire us to take a breath, examine the roots of our craft and perhaps experiment with time-honoured techniques and handwork -to buck the trend for faster, easier, instant… instead to explore the “communal aspect of the craft” and discover stories along the way.

This book has inspired me to stitch and in the collaborative spirit encouraged by the author, my own version of the Basketweave quilt (see below) was created from scraps and repurposed fabrics with the assistance of my four year old daughter and friends, both old and new.