Saturday, 13 January 2018

Book Review | Making Winter by Emma Mitchell

Flat lay of a Making Winter book, necklace and preserved leaves

Back in November I visited Loop in London with some friends. One of the highlights of this beautiful shop for me was its window display by Emma Mitchell.

Making Winter display at Loop in London

As part of the launch of Making Winter, Emma prepared the most exquisite window display. I had already planned to buy the book during our visit but if I had been in any doubt, the window display would have won me over. I have now made three of the projects from the book and so in today's post I wanted to share my thoughts on the book and the projects I've made.

First impressions
I really like the book. I am drawn to the paired-down aesthetic of the photography and layout of the book. I am also attracted to the argument running through the book - that being connected to nature and making are vital to successfully navigating the long, cold Winter days and nights.

Overview
The book begins with an introduction by Emma setting out the key premise of the book using a mix of evidence and her own experience to articulate the benefits of nurturing connections to nature and creative all the time but particularly in the darkest days of the year.

Emma then offers 24 projects to carry you through the season. These are divided into 5 sections; Nature as nurture, Croodle, High days and holidays, The greyest days, Looking ahead to Spring. Emma is multi-crafitual (if that's a word!) so the projects span baking, jewellery making, sketching, crochet and more.

The projects

To-date I have made three of the projects from the book

1. Preserving berries and leaves
2. Chocolate pots
3. Necklace

My first attempt at preserving berries and leaves were a complete fail. I suspect this was completely my fault because I didn't use enough glycerine and didn't pin down the items sufficiently. Not deterred, I tried again, using the gyclerine more liberally and and they were better, but not 'right'.
Preserved leaves

Next Autumn I will certainly do this again as I think it's such a lovely idea to capture and preserve beautiful colours through Winter.

On the other hand, the chocolate pots - made within minutes using the microwave - were an instant success. A perfect store cupboard sweet treat on a cold, gloomy afternoon.

Chocolate pot


I enjoy doing a little bit of jewellery/stitch marker making and I love crochet so the next project I tried was the crochet necklaces. I found the project straightforward and very effective. I used some scraps of variegated lace-weight yarn left over from another project and a 2 mm hook. Here it is below alongside the examples in the book. 

Crocket necklace sat on top of a book showing the same necklace

 Like other projects in the book, I think its helpful not to be a beginner. The instructions are sometimes sparse and having some prior knowledge is quite helpful. As an example, once you've crocheted the piece for the necklace the instructions tell you to "iron it". Actually carefully washing and blocking it out with pins gives you a much better result.

Whilst I haven't done any of the watercolour or sketching projects in the book so far, it definitely inspired me to pick up watercolours again before Christmas and I will certainly do so again.

My thoughts
It's a hugely inspirational book, packed with lots of very achievable projects. Unlike many coffee table books that look beautiful but offer little of substance, this book is a 'good read' and I have on a number of occasions sat down to read during a quiet moment.

On the downside, I do think that some of the projects could be disorienting if you don’t have prior experience of that particular discipline so I don't necessarily think it's a beginner-friendly book. I also have a particular bug-bear with the crochet projects which lack the detail and rigor we are used to in patterns published in other books, magazines and on Ravelry. For example you aren't told the required gauge or the finished size of the object. This might be OK for some people but even as an experienced crocheted I do like to know these things before starting on a project

Overall
Whilst I have had a little grumble, I do heartily recommend the book. I am very pleased to have it in my crafting library and know that I will use it repeatedly for years to come.


If you've got the book, I would love to hear what projects you've made from it x


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