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Beltane 2008

Micro Reviews: When Ya Got Something to Say but It Ain't a Lot

Making Stuff for Kids
by Victoria Woodcock, Ziggy Hanaor, Safiya Waley, et. al.
reviewed by Renée Rigdon

I have a shameful secret. One I have hidden for a long time, but I think it is time to let it all out.

My son hates crafts. He is five years old and could care less about glue and pom poms and yarn and (please don't judge me) glitter. That said, I think he will enjoy this book. Making Stuff for Kids is divided into sections by age level ranging from "Teeny Talents: Ages 3+" to "Tough Cookie: Adults only!" with a great instructional section at the beginning. In fact, my only complaint about this book is that the tutorial is lumped in at the front of the book rather than interspersed with the projects. No matter how much sense that makes, I always hate having to flip to the front of a book to check my technique. Over all though, with projects ranging from EGGHEADS by Camilla Stacey, to KNITSTER POUCH by Victoria Woodcock and Claire Montgomerie, to building your own knitting rig in FRENCH FANCY, there are crafts in this book to fit kids (and adults) of absolutely any age. It is a great follow up to the original Making Stuff book, reviewed awhile back. For the adults in the room, flip to the last two sections to find projects that you'll enjoy as much as your brats darling angels will.

Stitch Graffiti: Unexpected Cross-Stitch
by Heather Holland-Daly
reviewed by Zabet Stewart

While the big heart on the cover is a huge turn-off for me (definitely something I would pick up only grudgingly at a bookstore), I didn't let that stop me since I didn't have to pay for this copy. (Hey, there are perks to the job.)

Cross stitch is easy, and it's so easy that people find that intimidating. "Just make an X?" You suddenly call into question your entire knowledge of how to make an X, the Latin alphabet, and the English language. I know this for a fact because the first time I cross stitched anything I called my LYS, ReBelle, about five times to ask very stupid questions just to double-check myself. (Thank you, Sarah and Robyn, for not forbidding me to call the store any more.) Heather Holland-Daly lays out the basics very well, covering every stupid question I had and more that I (thankfully) wasn't stupid enough to think of. The non-adventurous will find this very reassuring. The rest of us will probably read the first page, extrapolate and/or assume the rest, and go on. That's ok, too.

The book has 25 designs and an alphabet, all best described as "whimsical" (lots of leggy flowers, slightly lopsided hearts, and swirlies). The alphabet isn't done in that traditional sampler block lettering, but could be described as elfin—again: leggy, and with curled-up toes on the feet. I can somehow see this being very popular with the post-menopausal, cropped white hair, big dangling earrings and flowing layered clothing wearing crowd, the ones who have recently realized they don't have to be defined by their husbands or children, and have taken up consulting a tarot card reader or joined a women's spirituality group. They will nod their heads firmly at the wise sayings ("Imagine World Peace," "Follow Your Truth," "Home Is Where My Bed Is," "On A Bad Day There's Always Lipstick," and so on), their faces will light up with genuine joy at the daisies, posies, and flutterbies (oh, dear Gods, how I wish I were kidding—flutterbies), and they will wink at each other for understanding the secret meaning of the spider on page 65.

I must admit that I like Holland-Daly's attitude that anything can be a cross stitch canvas. (I would swear she mentions cross stitching the her screen door, which I think would be awesome, but flipping through the book I can't find that now—perhaps I am hallucinating?) And really, I have no problem with the designs (other than the cute overload, but whatcha gonna do? oh yeah, found The AntiCraft) or her instruction. It's the book title, "Stitch Graffiti." Who the fuck decided on this? From experience, I can tell you there is only about a 1.5% chance it was the author. Whoever it was, they have obviously neither seen graffiti nor the content (nor the cover!) of this book. Looking at the back of the book, it's described as "stylish, witty, and playful." Ok, that's mostly fair. This is, of course, assuming, you have the wit of a tube of lipstick, but otherwise I'd say that's accurate. So why isn't the title more reflective of the content? I can think of a few things off the top of my head that would be better suited. Stitch Doodles: Beyond Vera Bradley. Quirky Stitches: Designs to Keep You Smiling Even Though the U.S. Has Led The Word To The Brink Of Global Disaster And Is Refusing To Do Anything About It As If She Were Not At Fault. Playful Stitching: Convince People You Are More Youthful Than You Look Without Botox.

In the meanwhile, if you're a beginning cross stitcher looking for a little more instruction than Julie sends out with her Subversive Cross Stitch patterns, this book is for you. Also? Reviewing this book has finally taught me to spell "graffiti" correctly. No more grafitti for me!



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