August 3, 2012

This isn't Fiction - Feeling crafty (Guest Post)

Books about crafting are one of many segments in the non fiction genre. Since I've personally never been the craftiest person (unless you count the brief phase when I made my own greeting cards a few years back) I've invited Rikki from Rikki's Teleidoscope over to share her experiences with getting crafty through the help of books. 

In Birgit's series of posts about non-fiction I am talking about craft books today.
The number of craft books that I have read or looked through is countless. I am the type who gets interested in something very quickly, wants to find out more and often drops the subject again after it turns out to be too time-consuming, too complicated or too messy. Three areas that I have stuck to (at least theoretically) are beading, crochet and digital scrapbooking. Don't think that digital scrapbooking can't be considered crafting just because it is done on the computer! There are lots of possibilities to turn digital designs into tangible projects for the home or to give as gifts.

I was thinking about the various types of craft books there are and came up with four general types of books.
1. Books teaching technique(s)
2. Project books
3. Books teaching or explaining the history/background of a craft or materials
4. Inspirational books without practical value

I have read all four kinds of books and even though I love browsing the Internet for inspiration (Pinterest anybody?) I am not particularly interested in inspirational books. Often they show what other people have done with supplies that you will never have a chance to match. Especially books about home decor with flea market finds, repurposing and up-cycling are rather useless – at least to me. They look nice, certainly, and might give you ideas how to train your eye when you go treasure hunting, but spending money on that? Just look at the countless blogs out there showing you the same thing for nothing.

Books about the history or background are usually very interesting for some people, but not a necessity for the average crafter. I don’t need to know the history, origin and process of creating beads in order to be a good beader (though some of the knowledge might help).
Whereas inspiration and background info can be found on the internet easily, when it comes to tutorials and projects I often prefer the printed book. I can take it with me to my craft table, browse through it in bed and can take it with me.

Books teaching techniques are especially useful to the newbie who wants to start learning a craft, but might also appeal to the advanced crafter. They might not be THE eye-catcher and possibly look rather boring (illustrations with a crochet hook and some yard are not very attractive to look at) but without learning techniques there is no craft. You won’t be able to crochet without knowing how to make a single crochet stitch.

In my opinion project books are the books that will appeal to most crafters. They give enough inspiration for own creations and the projects usually are flexible enough to be adapted to the crafter’s taste. Yet they give detailed instructions so that even when you have no ideas of your own you can still create something beautiful. They are the best of both worlds.

Just for the heck of it, I will give you one recommendation for each of my three crafty hobbies, so if you ever feel inclined to start one or the other, you are all set right away:
Beading: The Encyclopedia of Beading Techniques by Sara Withers (you can find my review here)
A great book for beginners especially.
(Digital) Scrapbooking: Clean and simple scrapbooking by Cathy Zielske
There are not many books for digital scrapbookers out there, but this book will help you get started with scrapbooking in general and the ideas are easily adapted.
Crochet: Stich ‘n Bitch Crochet: The happy hooker by Debbie Stoller (you can find my review here)
THE book for beginners.
And now, have fun crafting!


  1. I've never been good at crafting and this is one of the reasons I admire people who are :)

  2. Thanks for the invitation to write a guest post, Birgit.

    Ally, everybody is crafty, you just have to try.

    Birgit, you need to show us your greeting cards, I am sure you took pictures, no?

    1. Thanks for being my guest, Rikki!
      And unfortunately I don't have any photos of the cards I made, plus all those cards have been given away to family and friends, so there's nothing left in any of my bottom drawers (I think). And somehow I never thought to snap some pics for posterity (besides, that card-making phase was years ago and I didn't even own a digital camera back then).

  3. I have a lot of crafrty books! My mom loves making jewellery and I used to do it too. Now... I need to learn how to sew!

  4. It was on your blog, Rikki, that I was first introduced to the craft of digital scrapbooking. I like it a lot more than regular scrapbooking, because there are so more possibilities. I didn't know you also liked beading? I've got the Happy Hooker book on the shelves, but have always been more a knitter than a lover of crochet, but it is indeed a nice book to have :)