Crochet: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide is so comprehensive—covering every essential technique and laying out instructions and step-by-step photography for more than 50 projects—I was actually beginning to get crotchety leafing through it, trying to find one darned thing (so to speak) that the magisterial committee of author-experts might possibly have neglected to mention. However, it’s all there, the whole kit and caboodle: hook, line and slipknot, every yarn completely spun and beautifully illustrated. With everything you’ve always wanted to know about patterns and embellishments, anything you’ve never even thought to wonder about openwork or popcorn textures, you’ll be ready to get going on dozens of gift ideas, from the practical (socks, hoodies) to the whimsical (teddy bears, finger puppets). It’s all here, one stitch at a time, all ready to save nine.
DARE TO SHARE
It’s not often that I find myself reviewing a book that I can say has already changed my life. The transformation is not earth-shattering, nor has it resulted in any measurable realignment of the cosmos. On the contrary, the whole point Austin Kleon makes so brilliantly in Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered is that the best ways to affect a dramatic change in your life—so that people will notice the really cool things you’re up to—are small. Ingeniously modest. Eminently doable. Quotidian. Cumulative. And ultimately irresistible. In one concise chapter after another, Kleon takes on the entire range of assumptions artful people tend to make about their own art-making, launching a good-natured assault on fruitless myths, gently dismantling bootless neuroses and finally offering something that adds up to a new vision of creativity, a manifesto for the imagination’s quest to reach fellow human beings. At a crucial turn in this fabulous little wallop of a book comes the simple directive, “Share something small every day.” That “something” oughtn’t be your Instagrammed latte or a selfie, but something “useful or interesting” about your work. Put enough somethings out there, and a lone artist or entrepreneur can soon be a productive part of a creative community.
TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES
As a civilizing principle, gardens have always been places where we have dominion, where nature bows to our will. But thanks to a growing eco-consciousness, the worm is literally turning. What might a garden look like that welcomes as many living things as possible, that not only admits wildlife, but beckons it? That is the question answered in spades (I couldn’t resist) by author Tammi Hartung in The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Food in Harmony with Nature. Through a fertile counterpoint of facts, anecdotes and delightful hand-colored drawings by Holly Ward Bimba, Hartung makes us more mindful of every stage of the process through which our garden vegetables flourish in the presence of the wild. Lovingly, sweetly, intelligently, the book opens up new physical and spiritual ground, on which our gardens will grow best on account of the presence of insects and animals, not in spite of them. From the management of manure to proper protection from real pests, no garden stone is left unturned.