Celebrating colour and craft books I've read lately

I love a good book, and I especially love a good book or two for Christmas. For me, they provide the perfect excuse to escape the washing up (it’s honest if nothing else) and provide entertainment if there’s something on the telebox that I’m not that into. So when my presents are plenty of books, there’s little chance of moving me off the sofa for the afternoon, which sounds ideal to me.

This Christmas was one of those book rich Christmases, and as well as the craft books which are later in this post, there’s a couple that celebrate colour and pattern which are quite apt for me. And to accentuate the celebration of colour I’ve photographed all of these on my new scarf, full of ‘my’ colours and handmade by my mum, who’s clearly been paying attention to my posts as it’s finished off with handmade pom poms - I told you pom poms would be big, didn’t I?

Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours

Now this is a fascinating book. As you can see on the cover it’s billed as “The book Charles Darwin used to describe colours in nature on his voyage on the HMS Beagle” - I mean, a book to help you describe colours, really. At the start of the book, which was first published in 1814, it says it has “proper coloured examples of the different tints.” And sure enough a few pages on there are proper examples of greys, blacks, blues and more with names to match.



Each colour has a number and a name, as well as description of its make up. For example “No. 9. Ash Grey, is the characteristic colour of Werner’s greys; he gives no description of its component parts; it is composed of snow white, with portions of smoke and French grey, and a very little yellowish grey and carmine red.”

Now I will no longer have the excuse of knowing what colour I’m talking about. And I have the vision of myself carrying this around Michael-Portillo-like (but without the clashing outfits) while on the hunt for the perfect home decor!

Spectrum, Heritage Patterns and Colours

Not content with colour, now I’ve got pattern too. Sheer heaven!

This book, which draws on the V&A collection and comprises patterns that “simply felt exciting” though I’m sure that narrowing the selection down was even harder than choosing the photos for the year book I’ve just finished. The book aims to be “both a compendium of beautiful patterns for inspiration and a functional tool”, and really is celebration of pattern and colour and no doubt, is just a splash in the ocean of the V&A collection.

It covers patterns and colours from the 15th century through to the 21st century, and while I’ve only dipped in and out of this book, I’ve a feeling that that’s something I’ll be doing for a long while yet - I could be a while!

V&A Spectrum Heritage Patterns and colours

Ah yes - I thought you deserved to see my scarf without it being adorned with a book, fab isn’t it? Strangely though, I almost bought this wool for my wrap, that I’m going to make up as I go at some point. I thought it looked familiar, and more familiar than me just liking it and having seen it before - then it struck me, it was the same as my new scarf…

My new hand made scarf

Granny Squares Weekend, Emma Varnham

I do like a Granny Square, and quite early on in my crochet adventure decided these would probably be my thing, especially for their transportability. I’ve been looking for ideas to take me beyond blankets and I think this book will do just that. I love the bag on the cover - which also reminds me of a patchwork bag I had (and could have made myself) many years ago. There’s coasters, fingerless mittens and even a bobble hat that might tempt me at some point, but not until my current project list has reduced a little.

Granny Squares Weekend

12 Months of Crochet with Red Agape, Mandy Sullivan

Ah, just look at that creation on the cover. But what’s also great about this book is the lesson in colour which it begins with, as it seems putting colour together to look this good, isn’t that easy. The book’s also split into seasons, so if you fancy a spring project, it’s easy to find just the thing. And funny I mention spring, as the project (apart from the one on the cover) is a Spring Wreath - we’ll see, most likely not this spring, but maybe.

12 months of crochet with Redagape

And the blanket on the cover, that’s called the Hexagon Starlight Dancer Blanket and is an Australian summer snowflake, which Mandy assures isn’t as hard to complete as it looks. There’s an autumn tote bag, and a crocheted bouquet. My project list really doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

Modern Quilts, Block by Block, Emily Dennis

There’s 12 quilt projects in this book, and once again i’m a goner. I’ve not even finished cutting out the quilt I started last year, nor even blinked at the ones that would follow and yet here I am planning more. My excuse, well apart from they’re lovely, is that they’re very me. If I ever get them finished my bed will look like the reverse of the Princess and the Pea, instead of sleeping on all the mattresses, it’ll be the quilts on top of me (until I get too hot, and throw them off of course!)

Modern quilts block by block

The challenge of course will be deciding which one, and then resisting the urge to buy material to use.  I’ve a thing at the moment for stars with quilts on.  That said my current favourite is called ‘Hopscotch’ but it’s quite likely that it’s bright colours are swaying me away from the star version, called First Place.  What else I like about this book is the project gallery at its start, which allows me to drool over and compare all of the quilts at once.  What I wish it had though, is the quilt’s names, not just the page numbers on the pictures.  I’m sure I’ll cope though.

Secret Garden, Johanna Basford

This was an inspired present choice by MOH, which is also code for he had no idea what he was buying as I put this in his Amazon basket and he paid for it.  The best kind of presents, well apart from those that come in small boxes from the jewellers.  I like Johanna’s colouring books, and you might remember I met her at an adult colouring evening with Staedtler back in 2016, and she was lovely and quite obviously very talented but totally unassuming too.

secret garden adult colouring book

And how could I resist a garden-based colouring book, a secret one at that. I hadn’t spotted the treasure hunt element to this, and if I’m honest, I’m still undecided about that. I’m sure I’ll cope, but perhaps I need to sit down and spend some more time using it to relax me after often a frantic day at work.

Have you read any of these, or read any great craft books lately? I probably shouldn’t ask, as I’m sure you’ll tempt me to try a few more, and add even more projects to my project to do list!


Country house decor and a good book

On the train to Birmingham last weekend, despite having my travel-crochet with me (as in crochet that’s easy to carry about) something else was calling me, and that was reading a book I’d downloaded onto my iPad that very morning. After flicking through the paper, the book one, and it was one I kept wanting to get back to. Even to the point that I had it on my phone too, and made sure it was where I’d left off so any valuable time I could muster for reading wasn’t wasted.

The book? The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper.

It wasn’t one I’d heard much about, or an author I’d read before, but when I read the description I thought it was a book that could be read relatively quickly, and despite the subject matter had the potential to be entertaining. And I wasn’t wrong, but let me tell you a bit more.

A leaf plate and a polished mahogany table
sherry on the sideboard

It’s one for the romantics and chicklit fans:

Stephanie and Jamie are meant to be. The problem is they're both with other people...

Stephanie doesn’t believe in fate, true love or living happily ever after. She’s content enough being engaged to Matt. But then she meets Jamie, who understands her more than anyone else ever has.

Jamie is happily married to his childhood sweetheart Helen and believes in everything Stephanie doesn’t. So why does he have such a strong connection with Stephanie?

When Stephanie and Jamie meet one fateful weekend in 2006 it will change everything...

Ten years. Two people. One epic love story.

the breakfast table

The main characters were likeable and believable and while the plot is, I think, well signposted it makes it no less of an enjoyable read. I believe in the kind of attraction, or strong connection that forms the basis of this story, but that doesn’t mean it’s a fairytale, or a smooth road. Life, even for these characters, is tricky and the emotions and bravery, or not, feel real - that’s what I think makes this book work.

good advice from words on the wall

So a good read, and good for a weekend away, though I was pleased I finished the book at home. And the photos from this post, well in my imagination, they fit with the book - you’ll just have to read it when it comes out in March 2019, to see if you agree.

Now, where’s my crochet?

What I've read lately, on holiday

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post like this, and mainly because while I want to read as much as I can it all comes down to time, and the amount available. And there hasn’t been much of that lately. But a slow week away in Italy last week provided some of that much needed time, and in that time I clocked up four books which is quite a few, even for me.

I’m the sort that once I get into a book it becomes all consuming and I’ll need to finish it and quite often I’m happy to forgo the routine of daily life, such as sleeping to make that happen, which is something else to be wary of in everyday life, or else I’m likely to re-enact the photo below at my desk.

Photo by  Aziz Acharki  on  Unsplash

What I like about books, as well as the stories and adventure without moving, is the emotions they evoke, and one of the books in this post had tears rolling down my cheeks…

1 The Sapphire Widow, Dinah Jefferies

I’m a fan of Dinah Jefferies’ writing so it’s no surprise that this was the book I started on. I’d read, and loved, The Tea Planter’s Wife previously, and I was hoping for something equally as gripping, and I wasn’t disappointed - I’m not sure I ever will be with one of Dinah’s books if I’m honest. The story is once again set in Ceylon, but 1935 for this book. It’s a story of love and betrayal, but don’t worry I’m not about to share if there’s a happy ending, or not.

Louisa, the central character is the daughter of a successful jewel trader, and that’s the sapphire connection. The story starts to gather pace and (even more) grip-ability when her husband dies unexpectedly. As with all the best stories, there’s a tricky path to navigate, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this one, whether you’re a Dinah Jefferies fan already or not.

2 The Mersey Daughter, Annie Groves

My other go to genre for reading is females in a war time setting, and this book has plenty of that. There’s Kitty who joins the WRENS and leaving Liverpool to do so, there’s Rita who’s sent her children to a farm outside of Liverpool. Rita’s also a nurse and her husband has gone AWOL with his latest fancy woman. There’s her mother-in-law too who has a secret daughter, and there’s the warmth of an extended Liverpool family, and the bombs that rain down on the city.

This is the first Annie Groves book I’ve read, and I’d certainly read more, as there’s definitely the emotional pull in these stories, but this wasn’t the book that had tears rolling down my cheeks as I read, but it came close.

3 The Plus One, Sophia Money-Coutts

It was obvious from the start of this book that it was yet another genre, and one that would easily fit into the chick-lit category. I’ve seen one review online which describes it as jolly, and that’s fair I think. I enjoy a good, upbeat, happy story and this one was more likely to have me in tears of laughter, so this wasn’t the one that made me cry either, but it was a quick and energetic read.

Polly, the main character works for the society magazine Posh! as a trainee journalist, and there’s a feel of Bridget Jones-ness to this book, so if that’s not your thing, this isn’t likely to be either. It is mine, and the writing evokes vivid pictures which I’m sure I’d replicate if I was in the same situations in real life, and I’m thinking the country visits rather than the adult entertainment, before you ask.

4 A Moment of Grace, Patrick Dillon

So if none of the other three on this list made me cry, it must be this one. And it was. This book is beautifully written, and full of the emotion I mentioned before, there’s love, much love in fact, but also raw emotion as it tells the story of Nicola’s last thirteen months; the day of diagnosis when their life changed forever, though to the decision Patrick and their children made to let her go. It’s a story with fight and realism, and tears, mostly mine. There’s also hope, and particularly how Patrick wanted the house to be right for when Nicola returned, truth of an everyday and ordinary life, and how quickly that can change.

Patrick Dillon is an award-winning architect and writer, his wife of 28 years Nicola Thorold was Executive Producer at London’s Roundhouse and awarded an OBE for services to the arts. It’s a compelling read, and more so I think because these are real people and real lives.

And that’s not all, I’ve started a fifth book which unbelievably could be my first Marian Keyes book. I’m hoping that I’ll have some time this week to finish this one, and who knows maybe there’ll be more - I hope so, reading is definitely good for the soul.