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Sunday, 21 August 2011

Queen of Crafts - The Modern Girls' Guide to Knitting, Sewing, Quilting, Baking, Preserving and Kitchen Gardening by Jazz Domino Holly

Feeling the itch to stitch and the urge to preserve? Well then, get your craft on with crafter-about-town Jazz Domino Holly. As the daughter of rock-royalty and founder of the Shoreditch Sisters Women's Institute, Jazz is the perfect guide. Have fun and impress your friends and family with your crafting skills as you learn how to: unravel the mystery of knits and purls and whip up a Girlie Bow Headband; fix your stitches and sew a string of Heart-Felt Bunting; feel the heat in the kitchen and bake a batch of Queen of Crafts Jam Tarts; preserve tradition and fill your empty jars with delicious Oh My Darling Clementine Marmalade; get green-fingered and plant a Herbal Tea Garden; become your own beauty expert and mix up a pot of Get Lippy Lip Balm. Jazz will show you how to make all these things and many, many more. 

In recent years, handicrafts such as knitting, crochet, stitching and the art of making gifts to give have had a huge revival. Updating clothes with added embellishments and customising shop bought products are becoming more popular and this book celebrates all of these ideas.

There are three main sections to this book: handcraft, which include woolcraft, stitchcraft and patchwork; kitchencraft, which includes baking, preserving and kitchen gardening; and homecraft, diy beauty, make do and mend and gatherings.

Alot of these crafts are crafts which have been passed down through the generations. My nan taught me how to knit, and my mum taught me how to crochet and cross stitch and I am trying to teach my daughter to stitch. These crafts can be used in many ways to customize outfits and in this modern world are useful techniques to have, to mark your own individuality and style.

I would say that this book gives a good introduction to knitting, it has a guide to the tools and equipment needed and how to knit and purl. There are also basic patterns for knitting scarves, headbands, snoods and blankets. There are also instructions for making tassles and pompoms which can be used to embellish items.

The needlecraft section includes a list of what should be included in a needlework toolkit, a glossary of basic stitches and basic techniques such as seams etc.There are patterns to make a pincushion and needle book. Machine stitching is also covered, with patterns including laptop cases, knitting and stitching bags, making yo-yos.

Patchwork covers both hand stitching and machine stitching and concentrates on cushion covers and quilts.

I enjoyed reading through the handcraft sections and learnt lots, however I believe that this book only gives an insight into the crafts and that complete beginners may need further instruction to become accomplished in the crafts. 

The kitchencraft section covers baking, preserving and kitchen gardening. There are recipes for quirky baking - making basic sponge cakes and decorating them using icing etc. The preserving section looks making jams and chutneys. The kitchen gardening covers growing your own herbs but also using them in things like scented bags. Flower arranging also has a quick mention.

The final section, Homecraft, looks at diy beauty tips, going back to store room and natural products to make your own skincare products. There is also a section on make do and mend, mending and customising items you already own; sewing on buttons, mending torn clothing and making your own items from fabric  you may already own and junk box jewellery.

I found really useful tips throughout the whole book, the little tricks and hints that are passed down the generations - e.g. the saucer test for testing jam for setting point. 

Throughout the book, there are lists of the basic equipment and tools needed to begin the craft - giving details about different equipment available on the market and what to look for when purchasing equipment. There are many photographs and hand drawn diagrams which accompany the text, showing stitch details and also finished projects to give an idea of what you are working towards.

The book would make a perfect gift for teenagers who enjoy being creative, there are ideas for parties to share ideas and making creative projects. It is a great book to give an introduction to many different handicrafts, but I think that it should be used alongside other books which go into the techniques and crafts in depth. The book is very inspirational, very girly and the cbright colours, wacky page layouts and very modern project ideas will appeal to teenagers and young women alike. 

Thank you to the publishers, Penguin, Fig Tree, for sending me the book to review.

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