Three making related books sit in a pile on a blue background.

Long time readers will recall that before I was working as a craft Designer, I was a Librarian. You might also recall that in the past, I would combine my love of crafting and librarianship to share book, tv show & movie recommendations, highlighting titles that feature making in some way or are otherwise explicitly crafting books. I’ve been taking some time away from the blog, but once I realized I had THREE fresh book picks for you, clearly it was time to start sharing recommendations again. I enjoy getting to hear about new books and sharing them with you all, particularly when I have an extra copy of one of the books to give away!

(Entry details for the book giveaway are at the bottom of this post.)

To Make by Danielle Davis with pictures by Mags DeRoma

A copy of To Make by Danielle Davis

Review copy provided by Katherine Tegen Books.

To Make is Davis’ first picture book, coming on the heels of a crafting-related middle-grade novel, Zinnia and the Bees (another great crafty pick). As a Librarian, I worked primarily with younger adults and teens, so picture book reviews always felt challenging to me. However, I can tell you recommending this particular title is easy. I could look at the beautiful illustrations in To Make all day! That combined with heartfelt messages about patience and the value of making things from one’s own perspective really got me. Highly recommend.

P.S. Even if picture books aren’t your thing, it’s the ideal gift for childless maker aunties like me to give early elementary age kids along with a big jar of messy craft supplies… 😉

Knitstrips by Alice Ormsbee Beltran and Karen Kim Mar

Knitstrips by Alice Ormsbee Beltran and Karen Kim Mar

Giveaway copy provided by Abrams. I’d coincidentally purchased my copy before connecting with them.

Knitstrips feels like the beginner knitting book I needed as a middle schooler. Here’s how the book flap describes the concept behind Knitstrips:

“Dive into four themed ‘comic books’ unlike any knitting book you have ever seen: OMJON (One More, Just One More) explores knits that you never want to end. Focus Pocus celebrates clever techniques that deliver big results. STASH (Skeins That Are Special and Here) offers a bevy of patterns designed with yarn treasures in mind. Finally, Bucket List present knits-of-a-lifetime. All use a unique approach called Interactive Knitting, or IK, that lets knitters knit it their way, in their size, with any yarn. Everyone is welcome, so come on in!”

An interior shot of Knitstrips by Alice Ormsbee Beltran and Karen Kim Mar

This book offers folks interested in knitting a chance to learn about the craft from square one, in an illustrated format. Knitstrips uses a unique approach to pattern writing. My critique of their approach to pattern writing is this: if you learn to knit from Knitstrips alone, you’ll be able to knit the 21 patterns that are provided in its unique comic book format, but transitioning to working with traditional knitting patterns could be challenging down the road. (Honestly, though, I don’t think it will be that hard if you’ve knocked out this book’s 20+ knitting projects by then.)

I have a few favorite things about Knitstrips. First and foremost, this book presents diverse faces, designers, and designs which is refreshing and important to see. It also gives square one knitters a single source from which they can learn to knit, no private lessons with crafty acquaintances or constantly referencing YouTube videos required. There are 21 patterns plus a bonus pattern in this book, plus little as-needed tutorials and tricks including illustrations sprinkled among the patterns to help you learn new techniques.

An interior shot of Knitstrips by Alice Ormsbee Beltran and Karen Kim Mar

I love that this book exists. I have vivid memories of learning to knit from one lesson at age 8 with my grandma, and then crying as I had only vague written instructional materials and memories to work from afterward. I couldn’t turn to YouTube to remember anything or learn more when I was ready (it was North Dakota in the ’90s, pals), and I was lucky enough to have had my grandma teach me a little. This book can help you learn to knit on your own, and I think that’s incredibly valuable.

This Long Thread by Jen Hewett

This Long Thread by Jen Hewett

Review copy provided by Roost Books/Penguin Random House.

A little more about the book from the publisher:

“In early 2019, the craft community experienced a reckoning when crafters of color began sharing personal stories about exclusion and racial injustice in their field, pointing out the inequity and lack of visible diversity within the crafting world. Author Jen Hewett, who is one of a few prominent women of color in the fiber crafts community, now brings together this book as a direct response to the need to highlight the diverse voices of artists working in fiber arts and crafts.

Weaving together interviews, first-person essays, and artist profiles, This Long Thread explores the work and contributions of people of color across the fiber arts and crafts community, representing a wide spectrum of race, age, region, cultural identity, education, and economic class. These conversations explore techniques and materials, belonging, identity, pride of place, cultural misappropriation, privilege, the value (or undervaluing) of craft, community support structures, recognition or exclusion, intergenerational dialogue, and much more.

Be inspired by the work and stories of innovative people of color who are making exceptional contributions to the world of craft. The diverse range of textile artists and craftspeople featured include knitters, quilters, sewers, weavers, and more who are making inspiring and innovative work, yet who are often overlooked by mainstream media.”

Some of the illustrations from This Long Thread by Jen Hewett

Obviously out of the three books featured today, this is my pick for adults. The stories of how professional and hobby makers came to their craft are inspiring. The maker origin stories I’m most familiar with tend to mirror my own or feature individuals who look like me. It’s important to read firsthand accounts from folks in your creative community who have had different experiences than yourself, and this book offers that in depth.

As a professional maker, I think what stood out to me were the journeys professionals took to make making their jobs. Some folks attended formal art school programs, others worked their way up, job by job and connection by connection. It was necessary for some to learn a craft to contribute to a family business at an early age to help ends meet. It’s endlessly interesting to see where our experiences overlap, differ, and sometimes combine to create the modern maker.

Overall, This Long Thread is a must-read for me. It introduces readers to wonderful personal stories of making, as well as makers and craft mediums they may not have known before. Bonus: This book is great for reading in chunks if attention span isn’t your strong suit these days.

Enter to win a copy of Knitstrips!

You don’t have to take my word for it – enter to win a copy of Knitstrips to read for yourself. Giveaway is open to U.S. only. Enter in the box provided below or here.

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Opinions are my own, review copies provided by publishers.

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