Tag Archives: book review

Book review: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Back in July, I went to #BlogHer15, a blogging conference which just happened to be right here in New York City.

Anyone that knows me in real life knows that I’m a sucker for freebies. (It’s actually a pretty bad habit, especially when you live in a New York City apartment.) While I was in the vendor expo, I came across the Best Buy Wedding Registry booth. There was line to take a photo with someone I wasn’t all that familiar with in exchange for a free cookbook. Since I love to bake, it seemed worthwhile to spend a few minutes in line.

Sally McKenney and Marie Segares at #BlogHer15. Sally's #Baking Addiction by @sallysbakeblog, book review by @ucrafterSally McKenney even autographed my book.

Sally's #Baking Addiction by @sallysbakeblog, book review by @ucrafterShe seemed nice enough so I looked her up when I got home, and found out that her blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction, is filled with some incredible yumminess.

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Since then, I’ve read through the book, also called Sally’s Baking Addiction, and today I’m sharing my review.

Sally's #Baking Addiction by @sallysbakeblog, book review by @ucrafterSally’s Baking Addiction is a visual delight. In the opening section, Sally shares her list of kitchen essentials and provides more details about the ingredients (such as which brands and types of peanut butters she used).

The book primarily consists of recipes – 76 in total. In each recipe, there’s a “Sally Says” section that includes tips or more details.The book also includes vibrant photographs (usually two or three for each recipe), and it’s organized into eight chapters:

  • Breads & Muffins includes 9 recipes,
  • Breakfast includes 8 recipes,
  • Brownies & Bars includes 10 recipes,
  • Cakes, Pies, & Crisps includes 10 recipes,
  • Candy & Sweet Snacks includes 10 recipes,
  • Cookies includes 10 recipes,
  • Cupcakes includes 8 recipes, and
  • Healthier Chocies includes 11 recipes.

One of my favorite details about the book is that Sally includes information about how (and how long) to store each item after baking at the end of the recipe.

Like me, Sally has a fondness for peanut butter and chocolate, Nutella, and bananas. The recipes lean heavily towards the sweet side of things. (The book’s subtitle is Irresistible Cookies, Cupcakes, and Desserts for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix.) I would say the title of the “Healthier Choices” section is a bit dubious, but that’s ok. I don’t think any one is picking up this book with the expectation of finding anything remotely healthy inside!

Other than the tendency towards super sweet (which may or may not be your baking preference), there isn’t much I didn’t like about this book.

Sally's #Baking Addiction by @sallysbakeblog, book review by @ucrafter

I made the Brown Sugar Glazed Apple Bread, and it was a hit. I actually skipped the glaze because I thought we might go into sugar shock, but in my younger years, I probably would have added it.

One thing I didn’t like about the book is that when ingredients are divided, it wasn’t noted on the ingredients list. So, when making the extremely delicious apple bread, I actually added all my chopped pecans into the batter because when I glanced over to the ingredients list to check the amount, it didn’t indicate they would be divided. That’s a relatively minor flaw.

I would highly recommend Sally’s Baking Addiction if you enjoy baking sweet treats – especially over-the-top sweet treats! It has great pictures, recipes that cover a range of goodies, and helpful storage hints. If you aren’t into super sweet desserts, you should skip it as there won’t be much for you inside.

Canning BasicsFull disclosure: A free copy of Sally’s Baking Addiction was provided by the Best Buy Wedding Registry. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Book Review & Giveaway: Doris Chan’s Crochet Lace Innovations

Hairpin Lace, the Crochet Speciality of the Month for May, 2015 on Underground Crafter

Welcome to my themed blog series, Crochet Specialty of the Month! Each month in 2015, I’ll feature a specialized crochet technique, stitch pattern, or project type through several posts.

As part of this month’s focus on hairpin lace, I’m sharing a review of Doris Chan‘s Crochet Lace Innovations: 20 Dazzling Designs in Broomstick, Hairpin, Tunisian, and Exploded Lace, along with a giveaway sponsored by Potter Craft/The Crown Publishing Group!

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Book Review

Crochet Lace Innovations by Doris Chan -  book review and giveaway on Underground Crafter

Doris Chan is well known for her flirty crochet garments and her focus on lace. Crochet Lace Innovations, first published in 2010, is a pattern book that explores three specialized crochet techniques (broomstick lace, hairpin lace, and Tunisian crochet) along with what Doris calls “exploded lace” (crocheting lace patterns similar to what you would see in thread in yarns with a larger hook for a better drape).

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The book opens with an introduction where Doris shares her passion for crochet. This is followed by a How to Use This Book page.

The next 3 sections, Broomstick Lace, Hairpin Lace, and Tunisian Lace, include an overview of the crochet lace technique along with a written and illustrated tutorial and a list of tips for success. The next 3 sections focus on variations of exploded lace: Exploded Motifs, Exploded Doily Lace, and Exploded Lace Trim. The book closes with a section called Garment 101, where Doris shares detailed annotated patterns for Jacket 101 and Skirt 101. Finally, there is a resources section which includes a guide to crochet stitch symbols and abbreviations, and links to yarns, tools, and crochet websites.

  • Skill level: This book is geared towards an intermediate to advanced crocheter. There are 8 easy patterns, 6 intermediate patterns, and 7 experienced patterns.
  • Techniques: There are 3 broomstick lace patterns, 3 hairpin lace patterns, 4 Tunisian crochet patterns, and 11 exploded lace patterns.
  • Project types: There are 8 top patterns (including jackets, vests, sleeved tops, and a poncho), 4 skirt patterns, 4 wraps/stoles/scarves, 2 belts, 1 dress, and 1 collar.

What I like about this book:

  • Doris has a conversational style but isn’t too chatty.
  • The designs are striking and the photos make you want to pick up your hook and start crocheting!
  • There are schematics including for the garments and there are stitch symbols for most patterns in addition to US pattern abbreviations.
  • This book allows you to explore several different crochet techniques while making women’s garments and accessories.

Some challenges about this book:

  • A true beginner to some of the special techniques may find the illustrations difficult to use as a primary learning resource. Luckily, there are many online tutorials for broomstick lace (you can find a roundup here), hairpin lace (a beginner’s roundup here), and Tunisian crochet.
  • There isn’t much discussion about under layering. It would be great if Doris would have shared more ideas about how to layer to wear these designs in real life.
  • Like all mostly pattern books, your enjoyment will be based on how many of the patterns you want to make. Check out the Ravelry source page for the book here to see thumbnails of all designs included in the book.

Overall, I would recommend this book to an intermediate to advanced crocheter (or an adventurous, confident, and patient beginner!) who enjoys crocheted women’s garments and accessories. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Giveaway

So, has this review left you itching for your own copy of Crochet Lace Innovations? To enter, visit the Ravelry source page here and leave a comment letting me know which pattern you would crochet first. This giveaway is open to U.S. readers only. Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, June 2, 2015! Please note that only entries in the Rafflecopter widget will be counted, so be sure to log your entries there.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Full disclosure: A review copy and giveaway copy of Crochet Lace Innovations were provided by Potter Craft/The Crown Publishing Group. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Blog tour giveaway and review: Knits for Boys

Knits for Boys review and giveaway on Underground Crafter

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I’m happy to join the Knits for Boys blog tour today, even though it’s NatCroMo and I usually keep my content 100% crochet in March. (You can find the full blog tour schedule here.)

I made the exception because there are a lot of great things about the book, and some of it is even applicable to crochet! Read on for my review and a giveaway, sponsored by Stackpole Books, that will give you the chance to win your own copy.

Book Review

Knits for Boys: 27 Patterns for Little Men + Grow-with-Me Tips & Tricks by Kate Oates from Tot Toppers and When I Grow Up is more than just a knitting pattern book. It’s a great guide to knitting for children and for adjusting garment patterns.

The book opens with an introduction where Kate explains that her book features not only “classic designs with a modern edge” but also great suggestions for making knits that children will love.

Every child is unique and has his own style and preferences, and the various designs and options in this book give you plenty of ways to create knits your boys will want to wear.

Expand Your Knitting Skills

Kate also shares her four steps for creating customized projects for boys:

  • Flatter Them With Fit,
  • Tempt Them With Texture,
  • Captivate Them With Color, and
  • Offer Them Options.

Naturally, she provides more detail than I have about how to follow each of these steps, most of which are great tips for gift knitting (or crocheting) in general.

Kate then shares a 25 page section, Grow-With-Me Sizing and Styling, which includes detailed information about gauge, blocking, taking accurate measurements, adjusting patterns (for fit and for style), sizing charts and growth patterns for children, and adding pockets and hoods. Kate also includes 9 detailed tips for creating designs that children can grow into. While Kate always writes these notes in reference to knitting for boys, many of the tips are applicable to knitting garment in general, and certainly the stylistic suggestions also apply to crocheting for children.

The next section, Materials, Techniques, and Abbreviations, is 7 pages long and provides some great tips on yarn substitution and written (and sometimes photographic) instructions for several techniques including I-cord, multiple cast on and bind off methods, wrap and turn, buttonholes, and zipper installation.

The next 3 sections focus on patterns. Grow-With-Me Projects, includes 8 patterns for tops and and a set of long johns (with top and bottom). Touch Me Texture includes 10 patterns for accessories and tops. The Color Collection includes 11 patterns for tops and accessories. Each pattern includes lovely full-page photos as well as numerous smaller pictures. Most patterns include notes and all of the garments include large schematics. Kate includes details in her patterns that will allow knitters to easily make all of the adjustments she describes in the earlier sections. For instance, she labels each part of the pattern to indicate which part of the garment is starting and whether it is an increase or decrease row. The book closes with a visual index that will help you find a cherished design later.

As with all pattern books, your enjoyment will probably be increased if you like the designs, and you can find great pictures of all of them on the Ravelry source page here. However, because this book includes so much more than just patterns – discussions of the math of knitting, a primer on customizing garment patterns for picky recipients, etc. – it is well worth purchasing if you are new to creating garments and want to know more about the details.

Kate’s writing style is conversational but not overly chatty, and you feel like you might be taking a class with her. The patterns are in contemporary colors and are vibrant but not too “fussy” for the average young man. I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars for a knitter who likes to make projects for children, or one wants to learn more about customizing garment patterns for style and fit.

Giveaway

Stackpole Books has been generous enough to provide an additional copy of Knits for Boys: 27 Patterns for Little Men + Grow-with-Me Tips & Tricks to one U.S. reader! To enter, let me know what pattern from the book would you knit first in the comments. (Here’s the link to all of the patterns.) Don’t forget to log in on the Rafflecopter widget so your entry is counted. Be sure to enter by Sunday, March 22, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Good luck!

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Full disclosure: An electronic review copy and paperback giveaway copy of Knits for Boys were provided by Stackpole Books. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.