Books for Winter: Knitting Part One

Now that it’s Winter, it’s an ideal time to get out those needles and wool, cosy up in front of the fire and start knitting! While I am definitely no expert in the art form, hence I suspect my large number of books on the subject, I have still managed to make quite a few scarves and hats over the years, which I will feature throughout this post, including the odd challenging and stimulating technique! I actually did do a brief course in knitting at TAFE years ago, some of whose samples are also featured in this post!

Here are some of the knitting books in my craft library, which I have found particularly useful! Because this post is quite long, I have divided it into two posts: General Knitting Books (Beginners and Advanced) this week and Designers and Patterns (including toys) next week.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.47.42General Knitting Books

Beginner Knitters

How To Knit: The Definitive Knitting Course Complete With Step-By-Step Techniques, Stitch Libraries and Projects For Your Home and Family by Debbie Bliss 1999

An excellent book for the beginner, the Introduction covers yarns and equipment and instructions for working from a pattern and knitting a tension swatch, to holding the yarn and needles, making a slip knot, casting on and off, increasing and decreasing, the basic stitches and the first of a number of simple projects throughout the book to familiarise the reader with the techniques.32476691_10156215149529933_7249506115308748800_nChapter Two covers single and double rib, picking up stitches, making a stitch and cast-off buttonhole, as well as a simple stitch pattern library.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.34.37While Aran knitting, with its intricate cables, twists and bobbles creating amazing textures, is the subject of Chapter Three, personally I was more drawn to the colour workshop in Chapter Four with its emphasis on Fair Isle and Intarsia techniques. Joining in yarn, securing ends, weaving and stranding, working from a chart and working in the round with circular needles or a set of four needles is also covered.BlogKnittingBooks2518-05-13 13.38.47Chapter Five focuses on lace knitting, with instructions on yarn overs, additional decreases and making lace edging, as well as a lace stitch library of pretty lace patterns. While I will probably never do the complicated -looking entrelac knitting, it is still good to know that I can learn how-to in Chapter Six! I am more likely to use Chapter Seven, which discusses all the decorative details like embroidery, Swiss darning, loop knitting and fringing, the use of sequins and beads, making pompoms and cords, and finishing a garment with a decorative hem.

For more experienced knitters, there is a Design Workshop in Chapter Eight, which discusses design  principles and how to design a simple sweater, making sweater calculations, patterns and motifs, edgings and designing for children.

The final chapter appropriately focuses on finishing the garment: Making up and joining pieces, seams, picking up dropped stitches, unravelling, finishing fabrics by blocking and pressing and caring for knitwear.

Standard knitting abbreviations and yarn weights are included in the appendix, along with a list of stockists.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 10.58.27

The Encyclopedia of Knitting: Step-By-Step Techniques, Stitches and Inspirational Designs by Lesley Stanfield and Melody Griffiths 2000

Another excellent book covering the basics, it is divided into three parts:

The Essentials: Materials, basic skills, and essential and additional know-how, including four different cast-on methods, knit and purl, garter and stockinette stitches, seven cast-off methods, picking up dropped stitches, shaping a garment with increases and decreases, picking up stitches, reading patterns and charts, understanding gauge, making up, hems and facings, fastenings, grafting, turning rows and bias and chevron knitting.

The Stitch Collection advances from basic knit and purl and ribs through cables, twists, bobbles and leaves and lace to stranded colour knitting, intarsia and special effects like cross-stitch and embroidery, incorporating beads and sequins, loops, slipstitch colour knitting, motif entrelac, tucks and pleats and circular knitting. The chunky cowl below was knitted in seed stitch on circular needles to a free pattern called Marian by Jane Richmond. See: http://www.janerichmond.com/products/marian-cowl.

BlogKnittingBooks20%DSCN1507BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.37.49Design and Inspiration covers the fundamentals of the design process: Measuring and number crunching, planning repeats, motifs and patterns, combining colour and cables, circular yokes and designing a cardigan, as well as a gallery of vintage patterns from the 1920s to the 1960s, multicultural influences, contemporary designers, colour and texture and knitting for kids and for fun.

In the back is a key to chart symbols, needle sizes and abbreviations and a glossary and index.BlogKnittingBooks3018-04-17 10.58.18Knitting: Over 20 Exciting Projects For you To Make For Home and Family  Published by  Treasure Press 1986

This simple old book was my introduction to knitting back in my early married days and I am including it, because it was the source of my very first completed project and introduced me to the art of Fair Isle Knitting.

There is a brief history of knitting at the start, followed by information on different types of yarns and needles, needle sizes, basic skills and shaping, advanced techniques like cables, bobbles, buttonholes and colour work, reading patterns, tension and abbreviations and stitch symbols.

Stitch patterns include ribs, Aran patterns, colourwork, lace, slipstitch colourwork and lacy edgings.

There is also a small section on finishing off, laundry symbols, aftercare, design and decorative finishes.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.01.37

The rest of the book is devoted to patterns for a variety of sweaters and dresses, baby layouts, cushion covers and bedspreads and a beautiful Fair Isle trio of socks, gloves and hat, the latter which I knitted for my two girls- the book’s bright version for Caro in the photo below and a softer version in pastel blue, pink and green mohair for Jen.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.27.30

And lastly, for the kids…!

Fun With Wool Published by the Australian Wool Corporation 1981

An oldie, but a goodie, from which my children learnt to knit. It starts with Finger Knitting and  French Knitting with a homemade nancy, though we used the old wooden cotton reels with four nails in the top, as well as plying, plaiting and twisting cords and making wool collages.BlogKnittingBooks3018-04-18 07.42.53Basic Knitting is next with easy  illustrated instructions for casting on and off, knit and purl stitches, stocking stitch and rib, increasing and decreasing, joining seams; reading a pattern, tension, pompoms and tassels and embroidery stitches.

There are many suggestions for knitted projects from jewellery, finger puppets and toys to pencil cases,tennis racquet covers, patchwork throws, scarves, hats and mittens, and simple jumpers made out of squares and rectangles.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.22.43

There are also chapters on basic crochet; simple weaving using cardboard looms or picture frames, forked branches and even cross of two sticks to make a God’s Eye; and basic spinning using a pencil or spindle. Here are two photos of my children knitting scarves- 14 year old Caroline knitting a bright colourful scarf for the Armidale Winter (above) and our 20 year old university student Jenny, who made us all long red scarves in the even colder Canberra Winter.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.44.46 She also commemorated her knitting forays in this cute illustration and even her own song- ‘The Long Red Scarf’!BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.44.52More Advanced Knitters

The Handknitter’s Design Book: A Practical Guide To Creating Beautiful Knitwear by Alison Ellen 1992

While probably a bit advanced for me, this book is perfect for knitters, who want to create their own designs! It starts by examining the precedents of knitting- its history and traditional techniques; different kinds of yarn: wool, alpaca/angora and cashmere, cotton and linen, silk, synthetics and more unusual material like string and ribbon, rags and waste packaging; the properties of stretch and drape; choosing needles, tension and basic knitting techniques with all the possible variations including casting on and off; picking up stitches and colour knitting. The swatches below feature in order: Simple Cable Ribs (Cable to the left; Cable to the right); Horseshoe Cable; and Plaited Cable.

Texture, colour and patterns (horizontal/vertical and diagonal stripes; grids and checks; dots and repeat motifs; geometric; motifs; pictorial/floral and abstract/ random) are examined in great detail in Chapters Four to Six, while Chapter Seven focuses on shapes and details: block patterns; calculations and measurements; adjustments for different body shapes; shape variations-chevrons; waisted shapes, peplums and frills; skirts; sleeves and cuffs; armholes; necks; collars; openings; buttonholes and loops; pockets; and joins and seams. Below is a photo of a beautiful Broken Cable Pullover, which I bought thirty years ago and which still attracts admiring comments every Winter!BlogKnittingBooks20%DSCN1491The Stitch Library is an excellent reference guide to over 50 different types of knitting stitches and is followed by a few projects, which can be used as a starting point for your own individual designs, with basic patterns for triangular and diagonal shawls; simple jumpers, cardigans and hats; and cushions.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 10.58.35

Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting by Alice Starmore 1988

While designing my own garment from scratch is probably beyond my capabilities, I do love colour and am much more prepared to take up the challenge of Fair Isle knitting, with which I have had a lifelong love affair! In fact, we even spent a weekend staying at a bird observatory lodge on the Fair Isle, when we visited the United Kingdom in 1994. While we were there, I bought a beautiful warm polo neck jumper from some local knitters, featured in the photo below.BlogKnittingBooks20%DSCN1498BlogKnittingBooks20%DSCN1497Alice Starmore is a foremost authority on Fair Isle knitting and I own two of her books, one of which I have already featured in my post on Design Books. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/01/23/craft-books-colour-design-and-inspiration-part-one/.

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While Charts for Colour Knitting has a distinctly multicultural feel with traditional and adapted patterns from all over the world, her Book of Fair Isle Knitting is specific to this beautiful little isolated island, with the first chapter giving a brief overview of the island’s history, as well as the origins and development of its unique style of stranded knitting.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-19 08.28.33

In Chapter Two, she discusses Pattern: the different types; reading pattern charts and creating patterns with a pattern library for Peerie, Border, Large, Allover, Norwegian Stars and Seeding patterns. Chapter Three focuses on Colour: its effect on and use in design with a gallery of different colour combinations for inspiration, while Chapter Four really gets down to the nitty-gritty with an emphasis on Technique: Circular knitting; Tension/ gauge; Casting-on; English and Continental knitting methods; Weaving in strands and corrugated ribbing; Increases and decreases; Steeks (the Scottish word for bridging openings like cardigan fronts or armholes when circular knitting); Joining knitting; Trimmings (buttonholes, pompoms, fringes and cords) and the care of Shetland wool garments.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-19 08.29.24

The Wardrobe of Patterns contains patterns for ganseys, sweaters, cardigans, jackets, vests and accessories (tammy, gloves and mittens), so the readers can gain confidence before embarking on the final section titled: Creating Your Own Designs, definitely a section for the more advanced knitter than myself!!!

It discusses measurements, drawing a plan, gauge, calculating stitches and rows, fitting patterns into widths/ lengths, centreing patterns, and  progressing from design to working instructions.

There are notes on designing tammies and caps; a gansey with a gusset (love the phrase!); gansey variations; cardigans; and variations in the shape and style of necklines, sleeves and lengths.

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An excellent reference guide for anyone interested in developing their knowledge and skill in Fair Isle Knitting!

Next week, we will feature books on knitting designers and their patterns.

Craft Books: Colour, Design and Inspiration: Part Two

Today, we are continuing with my post on Books about Colour, Design and Inspiration, with a review of some favourite children’s art and fantasy books; excellent books on using library resources and fun exercises to motivate and inspire; and stories about other craftspeople and their studios, finishing with some valuable practical books on running a craft business and art teaching.

Children’s Books

The Usborne Book of Art Ideas by Fiona Watt 1999/2009;

I love these little books. Aimed at young children, they are packed with lots of wonderful ideas, which can be used to inspire adults as well!BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (788) - Copy - Copy The Usborne Book of Art Ideas describes a wide variety of art materials (paper, paint, ink, pastels, wax crayons, pens, brushes and palettes) and techniques with pages on: mixing colours, density of paint application, colour theory, perspective, printing patterns, masking out, patterns and dots, glue pictures, elastic band prints, hand and cardboard prints, blow paintings, brush and ink work, watercolour painting, chalk and pastel techniques, wax resist rubbings and making cards and frames.

The Usborne Book of Art Projects by Fiona Watt 2003/2008;

This small sequel covers a variety of art projects from tissue paper windows; texturing paper; paper mosaic tins; paper weaving ; frames; and collaged cards and book covers to dangling bead shapes, foil fish; 3-D cityscapes; scratching paint; doodling; embossed circles and printing techniques.

Creative Art Crafts by Pedro de Lemos

: Book 2: Cardboard, Wood, Cloth and Metal  1945    and

Book 3: Weaving, Raffia Basketry, Textile Arts, Plastics, Jewelry Designs, Pottery Crafts, Cement Art Crafts, Sculpture, Puppetry, Masks, Stagecraft, Marionettes, Costuming, Pageantry, and Sandtable Projects 1948;

I rescued these two delightful old-fashioned volumes from the bin and wished I’d found the first volume as well (Book 1: Paper Craft, Toy Craft, Relief Craft)!

I loved the quote by John Erskine in the forewood on Page 2 of  Volume 2:

‘The joy of creation is always greater than the undoubted pleasure of looking on. The sad fact is that the vast majority of mankind are onlookers, only the rare few are doers, but those who have the most fun will be those who do rather than merely look on’.

After a brief introduction to Cardboard and Wood Craft, Pedro suggest many projects using these mediums, including: Paper Sculpture; Corrugated Paper Craft; Cardboard Houses, Boxes, Nativity Scenes and Letter Portfolios (which really defines the age of this book!); Papier Mâché; Stained Glass Designs; Action Animals, Toys and Figurines; Nesting Boxes; Whittling; Wooden Boxes; Chip Carving; Gesso Craft; Marquetry; and Wood Batik.

The section on Cloth and Textiles has a similar approach- an introduction to various techniques, followed by more detailed instruction and projects, including: Wax Crayon Decoration; Cloth Stencilling; Silk Screen; Designing Monograms; Printing Cloth with Textile Blocks; Potato Prints; Batik; Shibori; Solar Printing; and Hand Embroidery.

Metal crafts include: Repoussé; Stamping and Working Metal; Tin Can Craft; Sheet Metal Sculpture; Copper Craft; Metal Etching; Plant Holders; Wirework; and Iron Craft.

There are more wonderful sentiments about the integration of arts and crafts in the forewood to the third volume (Page 2- see photo below). This book covers even more crafts: Weaving using Cardboard, Box and Hand Looms; Raffia Work and Rug Hooking; Basketry and Rush Work; Jewellery Making; Pottery; Glass and Plastic Sculpture; Colour Cement Tile Work; Puppetry; Shadow Play; and Mask Making; Costumery and Set Design.

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While written for art educators and therapists, these volumes with their clear presentation, using simple black-and-white photographs (with the odd colour plate) rather than complex text, mean that they can be used by anyone, regardless of age, language and technical ability and serve to provide plenty of inspiration rather than in-depth instruction!

An Alphabet of Animals by Isabelle Brent 1993;

A beautiful book with 26 stunning animal portraits from A to Z.BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (793)

Isabelle’s paintings are full of brilliant colour; patterned and colourful borders and backgrounds; and gold leaf, reminiscent of medieval illuminated manuscripts. The text highlights the special unique properties of each animal. It is a truly beautiful publication, whose subject matter and presentation cannot but inspire future artistic endeavours.

I love the imagination and illustrations of the following books! They are all fantastic spurs to creativity and artistic inspiration!

Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You by Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black 2005;BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (798)

In this comprehensive field guide, ‘Arthur Spiderwick’ describes the creatures of the invisible world (complete with scientific nomenclature), only accessible to those gifted with ‘the Sight’, and categorises them according to their home environment:

Around the House and Yard: the helpful Brownies and troublesome Boggarts, mysterious Changelings and light-fingered Pixies; and the fiery Salamanders and Stray Sods;

In Fields and Forests: the fatal Cockatrices; capricious elves, diligent leprechauns; man-eating Manticores; nebulous Sprites; magical Treefolk and curative Unicorns;

In Lakes, Streams and the Sea: Wailing Kelpies, curious Merfolk, musical Nixies, massive Sea Serpents and constantly hungry Trolls of the waterways;

In the Hills and Mountains: From diminutive Dwarves to Giants and Ogres, Goblins and Hobgoblins and even Deep Cavern Knockers;

In the Sky: The fearsome dragons, regal griffins, glorious regenerative phoenix; and

Outside at Night: The nocturnal Banshees, frozen Gargoyles, roguish Phookas and luminous Will-o’-the-Wisps.

I love the notated illustrations of the mythical creatures and watercolour paintings of their environment  throughout this book, as well as the ‘scientific’ approach to their study, reminiscent of natural history books of the early 1900s.

The Goblins of Labyrinth by Brian Froud and Terry Jones 1986/ 2006;BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (799)

This is a similarly fanciful and imaginative tome, based on the ‘archaeological discovery’ by Brian Froud, in an unspecified remote corner of Olduvai Gorge, Northern Tanzania, of a 60 Million year old earthenware pot with runic inscriptions on the underside edge of the rim, which in turn led him to a further discovery of 43 notebooks about ancient goblins. Their huge diversity; descriptions and images; and peculiarities and habits are documented in this amazingly creative book! I love the imagination and great sense of fun in this book!

Dr Ernest Drake’s Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons edited by Dugald A Steer 2003;

I also plan to make a dragon one day! Similar in style to the last two books, this book is based on the scientific study of ‘dragonologist’, Dr Ernest Drake.BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (800)

His authenticity and credibility is backed up with supporting evidence in the front of the book like his library card and a letter in an envelope addressed to the reader, as well as spells to catch a dragon. This comprehensive description of everything to do with dragons (Locations; Species; Natural History; Life Cycle; Behaviour; Finding, Tracking and Working with Dragons; Scientific study; Dragon script; Useful spells and charms; and history) includes: World maps; Samples of skin, wing membrane and dragon dust; Pop-out diagrams; Personal record books; Secret envelopes; and Riddles and puzzles. Another highly imaginative and creative book!

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary by Caspar Henderson 2013

Based on medieval bestiaries, this paperback focuses on amazing unique creatures, which actually exist and still survive in our modern world, two thirds of which are marine.

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Alphabetically ordered, they range from critically endangered Axolotls (a type of salamander) to Zebra Fish, the populous darlings of scientific study due to the speed of the development of their embryos. This book highlights the wonder and miracle of our natural world, despite the devastating impacts of humans! It was also highly informative! While I learned so much more about the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish and the Nautilus, I knew nothing about Sea Butterflies or Goblin Sharks or even Xenoglaux, the Long-Whiskered Owlet!

Cerebral Inspiration

The Watkins Dictionary of Symbols by Jack Tresidder 1997;

Traditional symbols have served as a visual shorthand for artists and craftspeople to express their beliefs and ideas about human life for thousands of years, predating writing and representing universal fundamental concepts in many primitive societies and cultures.

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This book contains 1000 symbols from myth, literature and art, from a range of cultures throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas and are arranged in alphabetical order. It is a valuable starting point for artistic inspiration, as well as a fascinating element of mankind’s history!

The Crafter’s Devotional: 365 Days of Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Unlocking Your Creative Spirit by Barbara R. Call 2009;

This book is jam-packed with inspirational ideas to break the crafter’s block!BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (816)

This scanned page (page 9) shows the way it is organized:BlogColorDesignReszd40%Image (817)There are just so many ideas, that really you have to read the book yourself. Some of the ideas, which resonated with me, included: Wordless Journalling (Day 15); Miniature Collaging (Day 17); Women’s 7 Senses (Day 50); Going Back in Time (Day 67); the Scamper concept (Day 167-168; Page 144 – see photo below); and Gratitude Journal (Day 359).

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I would love to try making air-drying clay rubber stamps (Day 6 and 7); House journals (Day 29); Altered Books (p 51); Sisterly Creations (Day 62-63); Finding Your Animal Totem (p82) and Write For  100 Years from Now (p113); Happy Birthday (Day 221; Page 187; Sun Printing (Day 234; Waxed Paper Batik;  Tiny Tin Treasure Troves (Day 310) and Paper-Aging Techniques (Day 346). There are also a number of artist interviews throughout the book.

Bibliocraft: A Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects;

I love this book, which I bought (ironically!) when I was working for the Digital Repository of the Deakin University Library. It was right during the time period, when the library was converting from a storehouse of books with lots of bookshelves, which were discarded, to a digitally dominated learning space with comfortable lounges and discussion areas!BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (820)Books have always been a constant source of inspiration for me, but the advent of the internet means increased accessibility to a wide range of libraries and library collections:

State and neighbourhood branch libraries for borrowing out hard copies, as well as magazines and videos;

University libraries for students, though often borrowing access by the public can be organized for an annual fee;

Research libraries: For example, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has 12 different libraries and study centres in New York City alone; The Library of Congress, Washington, DC, is the largest library in the world, while The British Library contains many early printed books and a Historic Bindings Database. All are becoming increasingly digitized, which is a wonderful boon to artists further afield.

Special collections: Historic maps; ornamental penmanship; and early printed books and illuminated manuscripts; and now

Digital libraries: For example, the World Digital Library www.wdl.org/en; Flickr Commons www.flickr.com/commons and Europeana www.europeana.eu.

There is a chapter on using library catalogues, Library of Congress headings and keyword searching; copyright laws and legalities; and finally, a list of some recommended library collections for specific needs: General Visual Resources; Home Economics; Craft History and Culture; Printed Ephemera; Book Arts and Bookbinding; Costume and Fashion; Arts and Design; Children’s Books; Medieval Manuscripts; Science and Technology; Maps and Cartography; Quilts; Knitting; Lettering, Penmanship and Typography; and Performing Arts and Film. I cannot recommend this book highly enough as a source of inspiration!

Also included in the book are projects inspired by the library with instructions, including: a Marbled Fabric Pouch; Decorated Papers and Watermark Pillows; Ornamental Penmanship and Cartouche Embroidery; Calligraphy and Penmanship; a Secret Message Snowflakes and Patterned Stationery Set and an Arts and Crafts Ex Libris Set; a Quilled Willow Pendant and a Paper Town Garland; a Kittens Pockets Dress with Kittens and a Cyanotype Bed Throw; Antiquarian Animal Votive Holders and Japanese Heraldry Coasters; and a Wool Rose Fascinator and Felt Dogwood Blossoms for Millinery. The appendices include a stitch guide and sources for supplies.

And finally, books on other craft people and sage advice about craft businesses!

The Crafter’s Companion: Tips, Tales and Patterns from a Community of Creative Minds edited by Anna Torborg 2006;

A very inspiring book, featuring interviews with 17 different craftswomen, who discuss their endeavours under the headings: Why I Create; Inspiration; and Workspace; with a representative project of each artist’s original designs, with photographs, patterns and detailed instructions (at the back of the book).BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (827) Their crafts include: Patchwork and Quilting; Toy and Bag making; Embroidery ; Felting and Knitting; and Paper Crafts.

I particularly liked the work of toymakers: Anna Torborg, Fiona Dalton, Tania Ho and Myra Masuda and would love to try making the latter’s Elephant Pouch. Again, there is a list of sources in the back of the book.

Inside the Creative Studio: Inspiration and Ideas for Your Art and Craft Space by Cate Coulacos Prato 2011;

I love reading about other artists’ and craftspeoples’ studios and gleaning useful ideas from them for my own sewing room!BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (833) This book is organized into six chapters, with 6 studios in each, titled:

Chapter 1: A Room of One’s Own;

Chapter 2:  Organization and Storage;

Chapter 3: Flea Market Flair;

Chapter 4: Small Space, Big Style;

Chapter 5: The Power of Light and Colour; and

Chappter 6: Make It Your Own.

There are floor plans, photographs, tips and hints; colour symbolism; discussions on lighting or open studios; and checklists for needs and storage! There were some great ideas from rods to hold ribbon spools and underseat bookcases; wire baskets to organize fabric stashes: wooden card filing cabinets and muffin tins to hold stamps or beads respectively; and clear plastic drawers for easy access.

While not all necessarily applicable, the huge diversity of studios has appeal for a wide variety of situations. I could easily set up shop in Gina Lee Kim’s studio. Merely reading this book and viewing all the wonderful art spaces is stimulation and inspiration enough for renewed vigour!

Mollie Makes: Making It: The Hard facts You Need to Start Your Own Craft Business 2014;

The title says it all! While inspiration and artistic practice are fundamentals, so too are business skills, which enable your ability to continue to follow your passion and pursue your art/ craft! Chapters, complete with expert advice from key players and fellow artists, cover:

Chapter 1: First Steps: Customer profiling; Building Your Brand and Developing a Logo; Setting up a Website; and Online Marketing;

Chapter 2: Taking the Plunge: Company Structure; Working from Home or Away; Financing Your Business; and Writing a Business Plan;

Chapter 3: Creative Conundrums: Costs and Pricing; Sourcing Raw Materials; Staying Inspired; Making Connections (Networking and Mentoring); and Protecting Your Intellectual Property;

Chapter 4: Spreading the Word: Using Social Media; PR Material; Writing a Press Release; Feature Articles; Getting Professional PR Help and Photographing Your Product;

Chapter 5: Sell, Sell, Sell: Craft fairs; Online Market Places eg Etsy; Selling from your own website, selling to shops and Opening your own shop; Running Workshops; and The Customer is King

Chapter 6: The Nitty Gritty: Hiring a bookkeeper or accountant; tax; card and online payments; Managing Cash Flow; Insurance; Consumer Law in brief; and Employing Staff. There is a list of useful websites for each chapter in the back of the book.BlogColorDesignReszd40%Image (825) I cannot stress how important and valuable this small book is, not just for artists and craftsmen, but for the establishment of any business. It is however particularly beneficial for creative people who, by the sheer nature of their creativity and right-brain thinking,  find the business aspects and self-promotion quite daunting and challenging! I’m talking from personal experience here!!! And finally,

How to Teach Art and Craft by Trisha Goodfield 2010.

Teaching art and craft and sharing your experiences and special skills with children and adult beginners is often much more lucrative than selling the hand-crafted product, whose huge number of production hours is often not reflected in the consumer price! People will pay however for tuition and given the price per person per hour is financially affordable for an individual and a class is often made up of a number of individuals, all paying that lesson price, then it is often possible to make good money from giving lessons and workshops.

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The author presents this book by posing a series of questions, along with sub-questions within the text :

What to Teach: Demonstrations and Classes; retreats and conventions; Classes based on Technique or Specific Projects;

Where to Teach: Teaching from Home; Community Groups; Craft stores; Libraries and Meeting Rooms; Adult Education; Craft Shows; Retreats and Conventions;Schools; Online; Magazines; and Outdoor Venues;  as well as Council and Government Regulations; Insurance, Tax and Permits; Pricing Classes (including the cost of materials, preclass preparation; travel; and Insurance and taxes); and Promotion and Marketing (including preparing a portfolio or resume; Flyers, Brochures and Business cards; Networking and Social Media; Interviews and Follow ups; and Boundaries concerning what you are prepared to do or not do!)

Who are you teaching: Teaching Children and Adult Learners; Adult Learning Styles and Teaching Strategies; Personalities and how to manage them like the latecomers (White Rabbit), the Professor, who knows it all (!), the Diva and the Chatterbox; and Dealing with different cultural and generational attitudes, values and beliefs; and finally,

How to Teach: Learning Objectives; Planning your Introduction; Learning Strategies; Nerves; Demonstration Skills; Handouts; Reinforcement/ Feedback; Listening skills; Questions and Answers; Lesson Closure and Evaluation; Lesson Plans and Formats and Further Teacher training.

While many of these ideas are common sense and instinctive, this book is a very worthwhile and valuable summary and reminder of all aspects of teaching art and craft.

I hope this small selection has whet your appetites. Next month, I will be looking at some of my favourite Drawing and Art Books! Next week, we return to my monthly Feature Plants with a post on Lovely Lavender!

Craft Books: Colour, Design and Inspiration: Part One

As you all know, I am a keen craftswoman with quite an eclectic range of interests from drawing, printing, paper craft and photography to a wide variety of textile crafts including knitting and crochet; felting and dyeing; embroidery; appliqué and patchwork; dressmaking; soft toy making and textile history and culture; so this year, I am concentrating on the wonderful books in my craft library, starting this month with those concerning: Colour, Design and Inspiration!

Unfortunately, because this is quite a large post, I have had to divide it into two parts. While many of my embroidery books contain chapters on colour theory, design and inspiration, the books featured in this post have been chosen for their detailed coverage of this topic.

Colour

Collins Artist’s Little Book of Colour by Simon Jennings 2007

This is a very practical guide for artists to the huge subject of colour, covering not only its history and origins, but also providing a Colour Index, a visual reference source of all the most popular artists’ colours for oils, watercolour, acrylics and gouache.BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (739) The authors reviewed more than 1500 colours from 11 of the world’s leading paint manufacturers and selected 400 colours for the index, categorizing them by name, medium, pigment, hue and variety.

As can be seen in these colour charts from pages 82-82 (photos below), the same-named colour may vary in hue according to the medium and even within one medium, between different manufacturers. BlogColorDesignReszd40%Image (740)BlogColorDesignReszd40%Image (741)In the back is a guide to the main suppliers, as well as notes on pigment standards and colour terminology.

Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay 2002

A far more romantic approach and treatment of colour, this paperback is ‘packed with stories, anecdotes and adventures. A full rainbow…as vivid as the colours themselves’ according to the Express. I couldn’t have put it better myself, which is precisely why I have quoted them!!!BlogColorDesignReszd40%Image (744)

Victoria writes so well and shares her fascination and passion for the world of colour so easily with the reader. She scours the world for little-known facts about colour from the Neolithic ochre mines of the Luberon in France or Sienna in Tuscany, Italy to the aboriginal ochre traders from Arnhemland and the Tiwi Islands in the Top End; Alice Springs in Central Australia; the Flinders Ranges in South Australia and the Campbell Ranges in Western Australia.

For example, the colours, Black and Brown, are steeped in prehistory and stories in this particular chapter range from prehistoric cave art, charcoal willow and early mascara to the history of lead pencils, including Derwent Pencils and the Pencil Museum in Keswick, Conté’s crayons and Chinese pencils; the manufacture of Egyptian and Chinese inks (the latter, also known confusingly as Indian ink) from soot, mixed with gum or resin respectively, and medieval inks from wasps nests, producing galls in oak trees; and natural dyes (again, the fading oak galls and alum; and the darker, more permanent logwood) and the dubious use of mommia brown, made from dead Egyptians!

There are so many more fascinating stories, illustrated with line drawings and a few colour plates, about the other colours: White, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet, that this book is essential reading for anyone interested in history, art and colour!

The same author has also turned her attention to the semi-precious  and precious gemstones and jewels, including Amber, Jet, Pearl, Opal, Peridot, Emerald, Sapphire, Ruby and Diamond (the last four being precious gemstones), with equally fascinating histories and anecdotes. Buried Treasure: Travels Through The Jewel Box by Victoria Finlay 2006 (photo above)  is another terrific read!BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (744) - Copy

The Natural Paint Book: A Complete Guide to Natural Paints, Recipes and Finishes by Lynn Edwards and Julia Lawless 2002

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This book deals exclusively with natural paints and finishes with chapters on the story of paint; the environmental and health consequences of our choices concerning paint products; and a swag of natural paint recipes using quark (milk curd, the basis of casein paints), lime, borax, cellulose glue, linseed oil, plant dyes and tannins, beeswax, egg yolk and egg white, gum arabic, gesso, and even lager beer!

The book then details a large number of creative decorative techniques and effects, including roller fidgeting; shading; colour washing; layering; sponging; creating texture with a roller ; stippling; dragging and combing; rag rolling, frottage and bagging;  stencilling; wax resist; freehand painting; glazework; oil finishes; liming with wax; distressed casein; clay, Venetian  and coloured natural gypsum plasters; and frescoes.

There is a section on the art of Feng Sui; the principles of decoration (space, style and features, light and lighting, colour, materials and harmony and contrast), as well as design suggestions for interior decoration of each room of the home. This is a very useful book for artists wanting to make their own paints, as well as people wishing to use natural paints in their homes.

I have already covered Colour in Nature by Penelope Farrant 1999 in my post: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/08/01/our-beautiful-earth-part-four-natural-history-books-reference-guides/.

Design

While many of my books on embroidery, knitting and appliqué have separate chapters on the principles and elements of design, I have always loved the following book:

The Textile Design Book: Understanding and Creating Patterns Using Texture, Shape and Colour by Karin Jerstorp and Eva Köhlmark 1988;

I have always loved this practical and inspiring book!BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (751) While specifically written for textile designers, its exercises with sketching unconventional and natural materials; colour; texture; patterns (including stripes, squares, borders and stylised decorations) and design simplification are pertinent to any design medium from painting to collage; fabric and clothing design and dyeing; knitting and weaving; embroidery, patchwork and applique; pottery and jewellery, glass and paper craft; and even interior design and architecture.

Alice Starmore’s Charts for Color Knitting by Alice Starmore 1992/ 2011

While specifically written for knitters, I found all the charts in this book very applicable for cross-stitch (and weaving) as well.BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (752)

There are traditional (Norway, Sweden and Finland; Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania; Russia; and South America) and adapted patterns from textiles and other arts like Japanese porcelain and Celtic Metalwork (Celtic; Greece; the Caucasus; Middle East and Far East) and Alice’s original, topical geometric and nature-inspired patterns covering:  Birds and Flowers; Sea and Shoreline; and The Inner Landscape.

Allover patterns; single motifs; and vertical panels and horizontal borders are included for each section and there are practical instructions for incorporating all these into unique designs. The book starts with a section on Designing Patterned Sweaters and finishes with a A Word on Colour. This is an excellent source book for all craftspeople interested in design.

Inspiration

Sources for inspiration are infinite and only limited by your imagination! Where you find your inspiration is really determined by your art practice, as well as your interests. For example, I really enjoy hand embroidery, so some of my sources listed below include books involving line and repetition of pattern, as embroidery is really drawing with thread. For example, books on Mehndi (Henna Art), Celtic Artwork, Pen Illustrations, Zentangles and Mandalas. I also find tattoo art and the abstract patterning of linoprinting inspirational. My interest in toymaking is inspired and informed by books about fantastical creatures, medieval bestiaries, symbolism and children’s novels. My interest in gardening, nature, birds, archaeology and history; and reading, many books of which I have already described in previous book posts, also inspires my work and let’s not forget that modern-day marvel, the internet, including Pinterest, which encompasses information and inspiring ideas from all over the world and over many different time periods. Here is a brief selection of some of the books in my library, which I have found useful, but first, a final word:BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (763)As with the previous book, cross-fertilisation of ideas from a number of different art and craft practices is very beneficial. For example, I have two tiny Paper Salon Catalogues, (photo above and below) which illustrate the various patterns of rubber stamps, available for purchase and used to decorate stationery, greeting cards, envelopes and invitations.BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (762) While excellent for advertising, I also have found them to be a wonderful source of ideas for embroidery patterns, and while the patterns are obviously trademarks of paper salon, the designs can be tweaked for originality and will often be thus anyway with the different type of medium and techniques. Here is a sample page, page 7 of the pink book:BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (761) which I used for my French cushion design, a gift for my neighbour’s 60th French-themed birthday!Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-15 16.19.29Nature

Another useful pattern book, complete with a downloadable CD, is: 5000 Flower and Plant Motifs by Graham Leslie McCallum 2011, which includes designs from different geographical areas, historical time periods and artistic styles (Mesopotamian; Egyptian; Greek; Romanesque Byzantine; Medieval; Islamic; Chinese; Japanese; Folk; Art Nouveau and Art Deco) and subject areas: Flowers and Leaves; Fruit and Vegetables; Nuts, Seeds and Cereals; and Trees.BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (764) The designs can be copied, enlarged, traced or developed further for creative use in any field from embroidery to ceramics, woodwork and metal work. There are also a number of border patterns and an index in the back.

This book is an excellent source for inspiration, especially if you are a keen gardener as well!  From this book, it’s a short hop to combining those patterns with the following book:

2000 pattern Combinations: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Pattern: For Graphic, Textile and Craft Designers by Jane Callender 2011

BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (768)Slightly more complex, this book discusses a huge variety of technical aspects: Tiles, Tessellations and Grids; Basic Geometric Shapes and their Positioning; Bold Geometric Designs; Colour Theory; Symmetry;  Varying Scale, Tonal Contrasts and Building up Colour; Borders and Corners; The Use of Diagonals and Checks; Abstraction; Disguising the Repeat and Hiding the Motif; Backgrounds; Emphasing Line; Overlaying Colour and Playing with Tone; Shadowing; Shibori; Dots and Splodges; Links; and Damask Patterns.

Art Forms in Nature by Ernest Haekel 1904/ 2014;

Ernest Haeckel (1834-1919 )is a favourite of mine for his meticulous and other-worldly illustrations of life’s miracles.BlogColorDesignReszd2517-11-30 11.40.12While the book begins with chapters on his professional life and his devotion to art and science, as well as instructions for viewing his pictures, and finishes with biographical notes and a list of plates, the majority of the book is devoted to Haeckel’s amazing artworks, reproduced on 100 black-and-white and colour plates, which inspire a sense of wonder and an appreciation of the beauty of nature and all its inhabitants.

Artistic Designs

The Mandala Book: Patterns of the Universe by Lori Bailey Cunningham 2010

This is a fascinating book, which explores universal patterns and geometric forms in nature: circles and radials; dyads; triangles and squares; pentagoms and hexagons; and patterns including branching, cycles, waves and fractals.BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (774) Its explanations are based on the concept of the mandala, which is defined as ‘an integrated structure around a unifying centre’( page 6), a symbol of unity and wholeness in many religions, and an expression of life itself.

There are some wonderful photographs and images in this book, which really get you thinking and inspire a myriad of possibilities for the next artwork! The book finishes with a selection of mandalas to colour in.

The Celtic Art Source Book by Courtney Davis 1988

The Celts were masters of symbolism and decorative stone and metal carving and knotwork.BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (777) Like the Islamic faith today, copying or portrayal of the works of the creator (plant, animal, fish, reptile, bird, mammal and man) was forbidden, so the artistic representation of natural creatures is highly stylised and abstracted, with body parts intertwined in intricate patterns.

I love the abstract patterns, the spirals and clever interlacings and the symbolism and mythology behind their artwork.  This book describes key patterns and knotwork designs, like the Thread of Life, the Sacred Dance and the Celtic Cross, as well as spirals, the cosmic symbol; zoomorphic ornamentation and Celtic myths and legends.

Throughout the book are wonderful black-and-white and colour illustrations of their artwork, including borders and calligraphy.

The Art of Mehndi by Sumatra Batra 1999

There are some wonderful symbolic designs and patterns employed in the art of mehndi or henna body painting, which has been practised for over 5000 years in India, North Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East.BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (782) Spanning many different countries and religions, it encompasses a wide variety of styles from the fine floral and paisley Indian patterns, the larger floral Arabic motifs drawn on hands and feet, and the bold geometric shapes of African designs. This book describes the history, use and customs and symbolic meanings in each area, including its use in the contemporary Western world, as well as giving practical advice about its manufacture, application and techniques.

However, the best part of this book are the patterns themselves: the individual motifs; spirals and vines and designs for fingers; wrist cuffs, armbands and anklets; hands and feet; necklaces and chokers; and even designs for the back! It includes a list of resources in the back. Not only is it a much more acceptable (in my mind anyway!) and less permanent and damaging  alternative to tattoo art, but like the latter provides much inspiration for other art forms involving line work like hand embroidery and graphic art.

I loved the images in this book and could easily wear them in an appropriate situation, especially if I was younger! Maybe, I am a closet tattoo wearer after all, but I still prefer the monochromatic nature of henna art- to my mind, it is far more elegant, understated and visually appealing then the multi-coloured mishmash of contemporary tattoos!

One Zentangle a Day: A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration and Fun by Beckah Krahula 2012

Another way to get the creative juices flowing is Zentangle Art. BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (785)A more sophisticated and contemporary form of doodling, this meditational art form is also often monochromatic in nature, but can also involve colour. Zentangles are defined as ‘miniature abstract works of art, created from a collection of nonrepresentational patterns on a 8.9 cm square piece of paper called a tile’ (Page 13).

The Zentangle process is described on page 25:BlogColorDesignReszd50%Image (786)

It is unplanned, limitless and judgement-free, as there are never mistakes, only a constant unfolding of surprises. Below is my free-form zentangle:BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (787)

Materials can include thick art paper zentangle tiles (Tiepolo) and sketch pads, drawing pencils (2H and 2B) and white pastel pencils; black pigma micron pens (sizes 005, 01 and 05), Sakura gel pens, watercolours, gelatos (opaque paint sticks), Inktense colored pencils and water-soluble oil pastels, copic sketch markers, Pentel colour brush sets, an ampersand clayboard, plexiglass, gum Arabic and a protractor, although zentangles can really be drawn with anything on anything! Here is my Zentangle Tortoise:BlogColorDesignReszd75%Image (793) - CopyThis book progresses over a six week period with daily practice with chapters on the basics; tangles and value patterns;and  geometric and organic patterns; to understanding and using colour; defining and using style; paper batik and zendalas; and techniques for monoprinting, creating ensembles, painting fabric and using resin, and the use of calligraphy and folk patterns, as well as providing an inspiration gallery in the back. My daughter Jenny is a very accomplished Zentangler, as can be seen on the cover of her CD of original songs.BlogCreativity140%ReszdImage copyChildren’s books, art books, in fact any books, are wonderful sources of inspiration and are the subject of my next post next week. Until then… Happy Dreaming!