Affordable Spendour, by Diana Phipps. I've already read this cover to cover - I read the fluff first, you'll note. It wasn't on my wishlist, Bill just found it on Amazon when shopping for others I did request, and I'm so glad he did! It practically qualifies as another Harry Potter book, it's so completely fun and unexpected. It is a detailed 'how to' decorate your house in very grand fashion but on a shoe-string, Amy Dacyczyn style. What Phipps didn't have photographs of, she drew charming sketches to illustrate, just like Dacyczyn, a graphic artist. I don't know if anyone these days would cover their walls in fabric, though Phipps says it's more economic in the long run than paint, particularly in older houses. Other tips include how to paint surfaces to make them look like various types of wood, how to make concrete blocks look like ceramic tiles and so on. This woman has had an interesting life, born Countess Sternberg, living her 'formative years' in a castle in Czechoslovakia (now in the Czech Republic) to which she has returned thanks to the post-communist government's restoration programme. Her marriage into a wealthy American family in 1957 was short-lived. I'm reminded that, after all, if a life has only 'ups' and no 'downs', it can hardly be called 'interesting', can it? Makes me think all her hard work is all the more admirable. It sounds as though her mother (also a Countess) was equally as artistic. Thanks to a link at the Frugal Scholar (who also likes Phipps' books), you can see what her London living room looked like.
Cute and Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench and Maria Clayton. My friend Lucy owns this book, but I didn't figure I wanted to borrow it long enough to do any of the projects. I'll probably regret this selection - the projects in this sort of book get dated quite soon - but at least I didn't pay for it! If I actually make anything out of here, I'll be sure to let you know!
Material World: the Modern Craft Bible, by Perri Lewis. I think I got the idea for this book when browsing a book shop in Cockermouth last year. Given that there are a couple of craft groups I attend and contribute to, anything else I can learn and share will be brilliant, a way to give back to all those lovely women who enrich my life. Looking at the Table of Contents on Amazon.com (because I did an 81 minute run this morning and I can't face another trip up the stairs just now) I can tell you what crafts are in it. I already know quite a bit about: Embroidery - Cross-stitch - Macrame. I know a tiny bit about Patchwork and even less about Tailoring or Jewellery making. I've never gone near Decoupage - Printing - Encrusting (gluing stuff on, I think) - Quilling - Millinery - Embellishments - Paper cutting - Leatherwork - Applique.
HINT: The 'Look Inside' feature on Amazon can satisfy a lot of curiosity and sometimes save you buying a book (or make you want it more). If you can't 'Look Inside' on Amazon.com, try Amazon.co.uk and vice versa. It's just now occurred to me that Amazon.ca (Canada) might also work for this.
One Summer, by Bill Bryson. This was given to us by Vivien and Steve. I've only read the first few pages. It's a double score in that Bill and I both love Bryson's books and it happens to be about the summer of 1927 - splat in those inter-war years. Thanks so much, Vivien!
Couture Sewing Techniques, by Claire Schaeffer. This is rather a laugh, given that I'm not that conversant with regular home sewing techniques. One thing (one of many..don't get me started) that has been disappointing about the sewing class Lucy and I are taking at Newcastle is that the teacher is very much from the 'short cuts' school. Lucy and I are both a bit suspicious of some of her means and would rather learn the 'long way' first. I don't think I'll try too many of these ideas right away, though I'm dead keen to practice thread-sewing the stitch lines of my patterns.
The Power of Style, by Annette Tapert and Diana Edkins. This book is almost embarrassing to admit to but it isn't quite as daft as the title might suggest and if women's magazines are going to dumb themselves down into adverts, pablum and more adverts, a person has to feed this hunger somewhere. OK, the internet should be sufficient, but I still love books, and this one is read and bookmarked! The reason I don't think this is a foolish book as that it gives short biographies of 14 women, some of the names were very well known, others completely unfamiliar: Daisy Fellowes, Rita Lydig, Millicent Rogers, Pauline de Rothschild, Mona Bismark, Slim Keith, Babe Paley, Gloria Guiness, C.Z. Guest, Elsie de Wolfe, Diana Vreeland, the Duchess of Windsor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Coco Chanel. These women led incredibly privileged and artful lives but there is much in their stories which is heart-breaking. I was reminded that very rich men are often very not nice; several of these women weren't particularly nice either. What else did they seem to have in common? A decided preference for white flowers...
HINT: If Amazon won't let you Look Inside, the reviewers' comments are often very revealing. Also, if the book has been out a while, Google the title, and some nice blogger will tell you quite a bit (like the whole list of women included in this book). Also, you may get more ideas for other books, ie The Power of Glamour about a whole host of screen stars from the 1930s...
The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter. Or should that be 'Tails'? I wrote about visiting Hill Top Farm, Potter's home in the Lake District,
The Art of Manipulating Fabric, by Colette Wolff, Robbie Fanning and Rosalie Cooke. I'm not sure if this counts as a sewing book, it might be more of a textile artist's book. I've yet to try any of the techniques so I can't say as yet how well they are described. I have already read large chunks concerning tucks, darts, quilting, smocking and cording...and that's not even the beginning of it. An amazing book to grow into, hopefully.
So that's it, the book gifts. I can't even remember all the books I've bought myself this year...