Crafts & Hobbies
Anybody interested in DIY projects or maker culture or just getting back to basics should take a gander at the Foxfire series of books. Beginning in the late 60s and continuing on through today, a class at a rural Georgia high school decided to take a different tack at English class and create a magazine.
They had no money so the venture needed to pay for itself. As there was little market for poetry or short stories found in ordinary high school magazines, they decided to print folklore and folk ways gathered from people in their own community. It was the beginning of something amazing.
Beautiful in its design and content, Ashley English’s Handmade Gatherings offers splendid ideas for entertaining year-round and to intrigue all ages. She includes not only delicious recipes for earthy yet traditional foods, but she also finds crafty ways to feature the glories of each season.
Candy Crush Saga, the tile-matching clone of the classic game Bejeweled, is the most popular “free” game on Android and iOS. As a hardcore mobile gamer, I'm here to tell you there are far better alternatives to Candy Crush with deeper gameplay, better graphics, and, in a few cases, actual game narratives.
For me, the sign of a good craft designer is a distinctive style. Norwegian designer Tone Finnanger started her company, Tilda, in 1999 at the age of 25. With her background in graphic design, her books are full of projects for both the fabric and paper crafter. Lovely, soft colors and whimsical dolls and animals populate her books. Check out her Sew Pretty series and Tilda’s Fairy Tale Wonderland to fall in love with Tilda’s fanciful style.
I could not resist the cover shot of the sleepy baby wearing the hat with shamrocks hanging on each side. It is just too cute. Photographer Tara Renaud complements the projects of Sandy Powers’ Baby Crochet with utterly adorable photos. This book has 20 crochet patterns for newborn babies up to 24 months. The patterns range from hats, bunting, booties, sweaters, diaper covers, and afghans to adorable “cocoons.” The book has creative designs for both boys and girls.
In the course of dealing with an older house and raising a family on a budget, I’ve read quite a few do-it-yourself books, but never one like Made by Hand, by Mark Frauenfelder. For example, they’ve never started with a mad dash to a tropical island. That’s where the author, his wife, and young children headed after the dot-com crash left them looking for a simpler, presumably cheaper life. After all, they were writers and theoretically writers can telecommute from anywhere, even the second most gorgeous island in the world.
Have you ever wanted to become a writer and brave the strange and confusing world of trying to sell your work to the publishing industry? Do you feel you might need a refresher course in creating a marketable thriller or romance novel? If you are curious about improving your writing technique to make your work more compelling, concise, or appealing to publishers, you may benefit from How Not to Write a Novel, a writing guide from Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman. This guide is a compilation of examples of common writing mistakes that can make novels confusing, boring, or unappealing to read. Humorous and well-organized, this book is both a great educational resource and a good comedic read.
Leave it to Cory Doctorow, author, blogger, and technology activist-extraordinaire, to weave a story that successfully blends coming-of-age woes, homelessness, national politics, copyright law, cooking, gadgetry, love, overcoming homophobia, civil disobedience, film-making, mashups, public speaking, the judicial system, beer and coffee brewing, cryptography, and oh so, so much more into a wonderfully geeky, heart-wrenching, page-turning bang-up novel that people of all ages should read. This book is full of such big, exquisite ideas to learn about that you’ll be Googling your fingers off through the entire story and I mean that in the best way possible. You will learn reading Pirate Cinema and you will love this as much as you love the characters.
As a long-time user of Instructables, I can attest to the certain charm that comes with being able to find a recipe for bacon-topped caramel cupcakes and directions to build a robot, all in the same place. Instructables is a website born from several creators in the MIT media lab. What started as a project focused purely on engineering prototypes has branched into a website featuring user-generated D.I.Y. projects in a near mind-boggling array of categories. There are projects that range from wood-fire heated hot tubs to a collection of recipes on “What to do with Day Old Bread.”