Book review Book reviews Non-fiction Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog AMIGURUMI STYLE CROCHET: MAKE BETTY & BERT AND DRESS THEM IN VINTAGE INSPIRED CROCHET DOLL’S CLOTHES AND ACCESSORIES by Cara Medus (@penswordbooks) A fabulous gift for fans of dolls and 1950s fashion #Bookreview #crafts

Hi all:

This is a bit different, although I did bring you a craft book a little while back. I couldn’t resist this one, because as soon as I saw the cover it reminded me of a doll I had to get once I saw it, although it wasn’t that long ago (a few years). Here she is:

My Catalan doll

She is actually not crocheted but knitted, but you’ll probably know what I mean when I share the book. By the way, as I was writing this I realised I’d never named her, so any suggestions are welcome as well.

And here comes the book:

Amigurumi Style Crochet: Make Betty & Bert and dress them in vintage-inspired crochet doll’s clothes and accessories by Cara Medus

Amigurumi Style Crochet: Make Betty & Bert and dress them in vintage-inspired crochet doll’s clothes and accessories by Cara Medus

Crochet Betty, an amigurumi-style doll, with patterns for her fifties outfits ranging from shopping to movie-going. There’s a detailed explanation of how to make the basic doll Betty, and also her cute cat Bert. Each section has patterns for a selection of stylish removable garments and accessories on a fifties theme, with a few added extras for Bert too. Come with Betty as she channels her inner Audrey Hepburn at the movies, or takes off on holiday in the glamorous footsteps of Grace Kelly.

Author and crocheter Cara Medus

About the author:

Cara Medus has made and drawn things for as long as she can remember, but has been seriously crocheting for about 10 years. She became technical editor on ‘Simply Crochet’ magazine when it launched in 2013, and loved the geeky side of crochet; patterns, charts, numbers, you name it!

Cara now freelances for ‘Simply Crochet’ and as a crochet designer, and develops training material for crochet designers and tech editors. She often designs garments, but has enjoyed a recent return to amigurumi, as she is more able to match this with her love of illustration. It’s been a joy for Cara to discover Betty and Bert for this book //or book title// and launch them on some new adventures!

Cara lives in Bristol with her husband and sons where she does a bit of singing, yoga and coffee-drinking on the side.

My review:

Rosie Croft from Pen & Sword sent me an early paperback copy of this wonderful book from their White Owl line that I freely chose to review.

I casually discovered this book perusing through the Pen & Sword catalogue, and having long been a fan of crocheting (although I don’t dedicate it too much time, to be honest), I couldn’t resist. Betty, the doll and main character, is wonderful, and her cat, Bert, even more so.

I had to share a review of this book now, because although I haven’t had a chance to try my hand at creating Betty and her wonderful outfits, I thought it would make a fabulous Christmas present, not only for fans of crocheting, but for anyone who loves crafts, dolls, and especially the fashion of the 1950s.

The book is beautifully illustrated, with plenty of photographs of the doll, the details of the making, the stitches, and in an appendix, at the end, there is a list of abbreviations, information of the stockists (especially useful for those living in the UK, although I’m sure it might be possible to order online), detailed diagrams, charts, and symbol keys, and chapter one is dedicated to the basics.

As chapter one explains, it is useful to have some experience in making these types of dolls (yes, amigurumi comes from the Japanese, as you can guess), but the stitches are not very complicated, and there are plenty of instructional videos available for those who might need a bit more guidance (in fact, the author shares patterns and guidance on her own website). Even if you’re not strong at crocheting, this is an inspiring book for people who are creative and enjoy drawing characters (I thought those characters would make great illustrations for children’s books), decorating cakes (it reminded me of fellow blogger, author and artist-baker Robbie Cheadle and her Sir Chocolate series of book with her wonderful fondant characters, you can check the first book here), and the accessories are easier to make and would also be happily received by other dolls, I’m sure!

In case you’re wondering, the book contains six different outfits, with one chapter dedicated to each one, the chapter about the basics, and one dedicated to making the doll. The six outfits (all with cat incorporated and plenty of accessories) are: Betty at home, Betty at the movies (a red carpet occasion), Betty goes on holiday, Betty’s boudoir, Betty goes dancing, and Betty goes shopping.

Here you can see my picture of Betty goes on holiday (as you can see, she does it in style):

Betty goes on holiday

This book is a joy, and I recommend it to anybody interested in this type of crocheting, dolls, illustrations, crafts, or looking for a special kind of gift. Looking through it brings a smile to my face, and I’m sure it will do the same for you, and that is something we sorely need at the moment. A fabulous gift and a fun project to take on.

Thanks to Rosie, Pen & Sword, and the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep safe, and always, keep smiling!

Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview CRAFT YOUR OWN HAPPY: A COLLECTION OF 25 CREATIVE PROJECTS TO CRAFT YOUR WAY TO MINDFULNESS by Becci Mai Ford (@beccimai27) (@penswordbooks) Inspiring, positive, a great gift #crafts

Hi all:

I bring you something a bit different today. I hadn’t realised Pen & Sword also published crafts books, and when I mentioned it in relation to a crocheting book (more on that to come), Rosie Croft suggested I had a look at this book. I realise it won’t be available until the end of the month, but as I know some of you like to plan their gifts, I thought I’d bring it to you now.

Craft Your Own Happy A collection of 25 creative projects to craft your way to mindfulness by Becci Mai Ford

Craft Your Own Happy: A collection of 25 creative projects to craft your way to mindfulness by Becci Mai Ford

Craft Your Own Happy is a collection of mindful craft projects to make you smile! Perfect for those moments when you need a bit of self-care and relaxation time.

Do you ever feel like you spend too much of your day staring at screens, feeling anxious or stressed out? If the answer is yes – then you need this book! The cute colorful projects have all been designed with the feel-good-factor in mind. Crafting can help to take you away from the worries and pressures of your daily life, and give you back those moments of slowness and focus which can help to reduce anxiety.

Unlike other craft books, this is a book that you can dip into and find projects based upon how you are feeling. So you can craft to suit your mood! There are 25 beginner friendly projects to choose from including cross stitching, embroidery, paper craft and more… Why worry when you can craft happy!

Author and craft specialist Becci Mai Ford

About the author:

Becci Mai Ford is a smiley maker who loves color. A keen crafter who enjoys making a mess, Becci started crafting at a young age and hasn’t stopped since! She is now the founder of Ellbie Co. a mindfulness craft kit company that aims to spread happiness through making!

Inspired by all things cute and a desire to combat anxiety by crafting. Becci currently works in Brighton out of her tiny rainbow filled office space (The make happy corner!). Where she designs new crafty projects, blogs and tries her best to brighten as many peoples days as possible. She is making life up as she goes along – and so far it’s been a lot of fun!



My review:

I thank NetGalley and Pen & Sword books for providing me an ARC e-book copy of this book (and thank Rosie Croft for recommending it to me).

I am not a great expert in crafting. Quite the opposite. Although I love crafted and hand-made objects, I have very little skill, and I am quite clumsy (I can do very basic knitting, and I am not too bad at crocheting, but that’s about it), so it is not something I pursue often. These days, though, with the forced lockdown due to the pandemic, many people have turned to doing craft projects at home, either on their own or with their children, and as I have been interested in Mindfulness (and meditate regularly) since I attended a workshop six years ago, this book seemed to tick several boxes.

The author of the books sells craft kits, has appeared on TV, and has been interviewed by many well-known UK magazines, and she explains that she saw this book as an extension of her craft kits.

The book is divided into a number of chapters: Basics (where she gives basic instruction on embroidery for absolute beginners); Chapter 1. Anxiety makes, which includes: daily ritual embroidery, flower wall decoration, needle felted unicorn keyring, relaxing rainbow cross stitch); Chapter 2. Get outside, including: clay leaf ring dish, gratitude stones, ocean scene resin necklace, pressed flower phone case; Chapter 3. Happy home: kawaii concrete planter, pompom footstool, resin art clock, yarn wall hanging; Chapter 4. Gratitude makes: the grateful game, clay diorama, kawaii felt card, origami lucky paper stars, peg prompts; Chapter 5. Tidy mind makes: macramé jewellery organiser, kawaii taco felt headphone organiser, kawaii toast make-up bag; Chapter 6. Self-care crafting: embroidery patch, ‘you are enough’ felt banner, kawaii tassel necklace; Chapter 7. Hibernate: heated hand warmers, honeycomb quilted cushion, eye-mask; and a section with the templates of the projects included in the book.

The author explains in the introduction her personal experience with stress and anxiety and how, after trying more standard forms of mindfulness, she realised that to stop her mind from racing and making her anxious what really worked for her was to keep herself busy doing something that was not only not too taxing for her brain, but also something that she enjoyed and made her and others happy. That’s how she started crafting and this book has projects that would suit all levels of skill, although she breaks them down into easy-to-follow steps, so even I would dare to try some of the most complex ones.

She uses a big variety of materials (resin, cement, paints, wood, buttons, shells, sand, tree leaves, cotton, and wool…) and as you can see from the list, creates a large variety of objects, some very simple, and some more elaborate. I particularly liked the fact that she provides practical advice (she warns readers of messy projects, tells us how long they might take, and also explains which ones can be done over a long period of time and are suitable to just work on for a few minutes a day), and she includes projects that are fast and easy to complete, and some that might take a long time to finish, so readers can find something that suits their mood at any given time. She includes a list of materials at the beginning, breaks down each activity into individual steps, illustrating each step with its own image. I am sure those readers who are creative and imaginative when it comes to crafting would find plenty to inspire them here. And many of the projects are eminently suitable for team working, so if you run out of ideas of what to do when you are looking after children or stuck in the house with your nearest and dearest, I’d recommend picking this book up.

The author is full of encouragement and positive advice, that although common-sense and not new or ground-breaking we often forget in the whirlwind of our daily lives. I particularly enjoyed the way she emphasises that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to crafting, home decoration, or even happiness, and how little things can make a big difference.

Just a couple of quotes from the book:

For me, I think a happy home is a home that doesn’t live in the pages of interior design magazines. A happy home is where you have made your own mark on the environment. A happy home is a place where you can look around and see the love and meaning in the objects surrounding you and a place that actively connects with your personality.

Self-care consists of all the things you do to take care of yourself, to protect your mental well-being. It isn’t about doing specific activities; it is about doing what is right for you in order to ensure your mental wellness.

In sum, this is a book for people who like crafting, or who’d like to try it but don’t feel confident enough, for those looking for something different to keep their minds occupied, and it would make a great gift to people who might benefit from these kinds of activities, even if they have never given it a thought. No degree of expertise is required, and I found it inspiring and full of positive energy as well. Although I read it in e-book format, due to the nature of the projects and to the section of templates, I recommend getting a paperback copy if possible. Don’t forget to visit the author’s website for more information and to check some other projects.

Thanks to the author, to NetGalley, and to the publisher for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click and keep reading, reviewing, smiling, and always to stay safe.


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