Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker

Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Embroidery sampler pillow against quilted background

Practice simple embroidery stitches while creating a boho stitch sampler in an abstract, modernist style. Use a Cricut Maker with a free cut file to mark and cut this faux hoop art pillow. It makes a great decoration or quick gift, too.

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. This post is sponsored by Cricut, but all opinions and thoughts are my own. My sewing machine sponsor is Baby Lock. Additional materials for this post were generously provided by Fairfield World and Taunton Press.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Embroidery sampler pillow against wood background

Ever since I got a Cricut Maker last year, I have been on a little bit of a sewing spree. As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts about the Cricut Maker Rotary Blade (here and here), the Maker has been my dream machine. I love the ease of cutting fabric (even into complicated shapes like an adorable bear softie) without a stabilizer with materials that are included in the Maker box (that is, the Rotary Blade and the FabricGrip Mat). Using the Washable Fabric Pen makes it easy to mark up your fabric with sewing lines for attaching pieces, or to create embroidery lines.

Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Embroidery sampler pillow against bedspread with embroidered pillow

Since adding the Maker to their machine line up, Cricut has really stepped up their game by offering lots of projects for sewists in Cricut Design Space. Like, seriously, hundreds. They’ve also started carrying fabric in their online shop, including designer samplers, genuine leather (in addition to faux leather), quilt panels (in case the patchwork part of quilting isn’t so much your thing), felt, and even pre-cut fabric (if you want to jump right into sewing with less cutting).

Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Cricut Sewing Kit in box

And, of course, once you start carrying fabric and catering to sewists, you need to add tools, right? For this project, I used the Cricut Sewing Kit, which includes a set of fabric shears, thread snips (which are perfect for embroidery, too), seam ripper, thimble, measuring tape (because I know personally I can never have enough of these!), and pins with a pin cushion. If the Cricut has inspired you to do quilting, you may also want to consider the Rotary Cutting Kit.

Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Cricut Sewing Kit out of box

Let me back it up a bit to tell you more about today’s project. A while back, Taunton sent me a review copy of Boho Embroidery: Modern Projects from Traditional Stitches by Nichole Vogelsinger. I have always loved hand embroidery since childhood, but I never really had the patience for the detailed projects that were popular then. Once I got old enough to have the patience, my eyesight wasn’t good enough for the detailed work that complex embroidery projects required. Boho Embroidery inspired me to take more of a freeform approach to embroidery, and that’s where I got the idea for this sampler pillow. I don’t have lots of wall space, so while hoop art is, in theory, awesome, there’s no real place to hang it in my apartment. A pillow seemed more practical so I decided to make a faux hoop using my Cricut Maker! I didn’t have to worry about making drawing a perfect hoop circle because the Cricut can do that for me.

Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Supplies for embroidery

My sampler is very simple. I used the Washable Fabric Pen to make the circle for the hoop outline and then I freeformed a variety of stitches (which are labeled below). If you’d like to have a more structured sampler, you can add more embroidery lines with the Washable Fabric Pen to your cut file by choosing Customize before you cut.

Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow

Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter

Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Embroidery sampler pillow against quilted background

I created a simple, pieced pillow using fabric from a Cricut Riley Blake quilt kit. The centerpiece of the pillow is a faux hoop art circle featuring an abstract, modernist embroidery sampler.

Finished Size

  • Approximately 7” (18 cm) before stuffing.

Tools

Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Cricut Maker with supplies

Materials

Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Cricut Sewing Kit out of box

Instructions

Mark and Cut Your Fabric

  • Press your fabric with your EasyPress 2 with EasyPress Mat, or iron with other heat-safe surface.
  • Open the Boho Stitch Sampler cut file in Design Space.
  • Select Customize to add additional embroidery lines if desired. Click on Make It to start your project. Place the fabric on the mat, install the Washable Fabric Pen, and then follow the instructions for cutting.
  • Remove your fabric from the mat. Use the fabric shears to cut away the unused fabric to save for a future project.

Create Your Embroidery Sampler

  • Place your marked piece of fabric into the embroidery hoop, using the circle as a guide for the hoop.
Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Fabric on top of embroidery hoop
  • If you’re using your Cricut BrightPad, plug it in and turn it on. Adjust the illumination level based on your embroidery floss and fabric colors, and the ambient lighting in your room.
  • Create your sampler using your chosen colors of embroidery floss and your favorite embroidery stitches. Use your thimble if necessary and trim threads after knotting on back with the thread snips.
Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Sampled stitches in progress
Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Embroidery sampler removed from hoop
  • After you finish doing the sampler stitches inside of the hoop, remove your fabric from the hoop and use your EasyPress 2 or iron to press it flat. Then work the back stitch around the marked circle to create your faux hoop.

Assemble the Pillow

  • Once your sampler piece is completed, trim down the fabric with your hoop art to measure 5” (13 cm) square, with the faux hoop centered in the middle.
  • Pin the short fabric rectangles to the sides of this square.
Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Pinned front of pillow with pin cushion, scissors, and measuring tape
  • Sew the rectangles in place using a 1/4″ seam.
Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Pillow being sewn on Baby Lock Jubilant machine
  • With your EasyPress 2 or iron, press the seams towards the darker fabric.
Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | First panels sewn to pillow top
  • Pin the longer rectangles to the sides of the fabric piece.
  • Sew the rectangles in place using a 1/4″ seam.
Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Pinned fabric on front of pillow
  • With your EasyPress 2 or iron, press the seams towards the darker fabric.
Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Pieced front of pillow
  • Position the square piece of fabric on top of the seamed piece of fabric with the right sides facing.
Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Backing fabric
  • Sew both pieces together using a 1/2″ seam and leaving approximately 3” (7.5 cm) open.
  • With your fabric shears, cut the triangle out on each seamed corner as shown in the picture.
Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Pillow inside out
  • Pull the right side of the pillow out through the 3” (7.5 cm) opening.
Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Unstuffed pillow turned right side out
Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | partially stuffed pillow
  • With thread and needle, fold over the seams of the opening and hand sew closed.
Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Pillow next to bag of Poly-Fil

Enjoy your pillow!

Boho Stitch Sampler Pillow with Cricut Maker Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Embroidery sampler pillow against faux fur background

Book Reviews and Giveaways: Color knitting roundup

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I recently received several books focused on color knitting techniques from publishers for review.  Each book is great in its own way, but all three take very different approaches.  I’ll start with a short review of each book, and then I’ll talk about how they compare to each other.  And then, I’ll have a giveaway for my review copies :).

Book Review: Fearless Fair Isle Knitting

I received a review copy of Fearless Fair Isle Knitting: 30 Gorgeous Original Sweaters, Socks, Mittens, and More by Kathleen Taylor courtesy of Taunton Press.  As the title suggests, this book is specifically about the stranded colorwork technique named after the Scottish Fair Isle.

This book is written in a very conversational tone.  Kathleen’s approach is to reduce the anxiety and stress a new Fair Isle knitter might experience through the use of humor and step-by-step instructions and photographs.  She frequently compares the “fearless way” of Fair Isle knitting with other (presumably fearful and anxious) ways.

Fearless Fair Isle Knitting is essentially organized into two sections.  The Fair Isle Basics chapter covers increasing and decreasing, joining yarn and adding colors, chart reading, using DPNs or circular needles, tensioning for floats, blocking, steeking, and fixing mistakes.  The steeking section is particularly detailed and includes pictures of different methods.  Not only is Kathleen unafraid of steeking, but she even advocates knitting your sweater sleeves together with steeks in between to cut out later.  After reading this section, you will feel fairly relaxed and ready to approach Fair Isle.  (I know I did, and I’ve never had a desire to even attempt Fair Isle knitting before.)

The rest of the book is devoted to the projects.  Each of the remaining chapters features one Fair Isle design which is shown in at least three different projects (except for the complex Dragon Ride, which is only shown on my favorite project, the Dragon Ride Shawl).  There is an interesting variety of projects, including

  • 6 women’s garments (sweaters, cardigans, vests, and the Nordic Snowflake Dress, which I love),
  • 4 children’s garments,
  • 4 bags,
  • 4 hats,
  • 5 mittens/mitts/gloves (including another favorite, Genevieve’s Graduation Gloves, in two variations),
  • 2 pairs of socks,
  • 2 men’s garments,
  • 2 scarf/shawls, and
  • 1 holiday stocking.

The book is very focused on Fair Isle knitting, so Kathleen assumes that the reader has comfort with the basic knitting stitches and techniques, including cast on and bind off methods, increasing, and decreasing.  The patterns include instructions for blocking, assembling, and steeking when applicable.

I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars for an intermediate knitter who has wanted to take the plunge into Fair Isle knitting but was too afraid to do so.  For the general knitter, I would give the book 4 stars.

 

 Book Review: Knitting: Colour, structure, and design

Trafalgar Square Publishing was kind enough to send me a review copy of Knitting: Colour, Structure and Design by Alison Ellen.  This book is an exploration of knitting design, with an emphasis on construction, fabric structure, and colorwork.

Alison has been a teaching knitting design workshops for 30 years, and the book is written as though you had an inside tour into her classes.  The book would also be of interest to anyone working with freeform knitting.

The Introduction explores different ways of approaching knitting construction.  Alison says,

Experimenting with knitting is not something many of us have time for; it is simpler to follow a knitting pattern.  However, if you enjoy being creative, it is worth putting aside some time to play and see what happens.

If you see some of yourself in that quote, this might be a great book for you.

Knitting from Pre-History to Present reviews the recorded history of knitting and discusses how it was primarily a functional craft up until the end of World War II.

Stitches and How They Work includes illustrations and written and charted instructions for several knit and purl combination stitches, cables, entrelac, lace, zig zags, increases and decreases, short rows, circles and squares, and bias and modular knitting swatches.  Pictures of different samplers are shared and there is explanation of how the fabric texture and structure is impacted by the different techniques and stitch patterns.  Some color play is introduced in this chapter.

Techniques is a brief chapter exploring different methods for holding the yarn and needles.  Alison encourages flexibility here.

Colour features more samplers and explores stripes, slip stitches, Intarsia, and Fair Isle/jacquard knitting.  Here is also where Alison talks about color theory.  She has an interesting 4-step color exercise that is intended as an introduction to design.  She also talks about dyeing basics, including how to wind the yarn into hanks, dye yarn using natural and chemical dyes, and dip and tie dye methods.

The Materials chapter reviews different yarn fibers with an emphasis on natural (animal and plant) fibers.  There is also a brief introduction to spinning, and a discussion about the different ways yarn twists.

Joining, finishing, edges and extras, as the name suggests, talks about techniques for joining, seaming, casting on and bindig off while also providing instructions for button holes, tubular knitting, and preventing holes in your work.  For most techniques in this section, there is an illustration, photo of the hand in action, a swatch, and a written description.

Knitting patterns explains tension (gauge) and the math behind sizing patterns.  The patterns are all for tops and include 6 modular designs, 2 entrelac designs, 3 children’s garments, a shell jacket, and a zig zag waistcoast.  The projects are shown in white space, without models.  There are fairly detailed instructions for construction.

Knitting: Colour, structure, and design is not a book about how to design perfectly fitted sweaters, nor is it a book with stunning patterns that will go viral on the internet.  It is a book written for your inner knit nerd – the one who asks why the yarn, colors, stitches, and textures come together in a certain way.  I would recommend this book for someone who takes a contemplative approach to knitting – who likes to swatch and play around with yarn to see what happens.  If you are interested in learning more about designing, this book will provide you will a lot of background on all of the elements of a knitted fabric.

I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars for a confident knitter who learns well from written descriptions and who likes to create small projects or swatches.  I would give the book 3 out of 5 stars if you are looking for patterns or a “how to become an overnight sensation as a knitting designer” book.

 

 Book Review: Teach Yourself VISUALLY Color Knitting


I received a review copy of Teach Yourself VISUALLY Color Knitting by Mary Scott Huff from Wiley.  Like the other books in the Teach Yourself VISUALLY series, this book has limited text and emphasizes step-by-step photographs and charts.  This book takes an encyclopedia approach to color knitting and explores many techniques briefly.  Mary assumes you already know the knitting basics and aims to help you differentiate the types of color knitting and provide you with basic skills for each technique.

Why Knit In Color? gives an introduction to color theory and terminology.  The chapter includes a pattern for rainbow reptiles, knit snakes worked in various color combinations to illustrate primary, secondary, tertiary, and analogous colors.

Color Knitting Yarns shares the properties of different animal, plant, and synthetic fibers, with particular emphasis on how the different fibers react to dye and the color options available.  Mary also discusses the structure of the yarn (plys, texture, weight, and dyeing method) – again, with an emphasis on why certain yarns might work well with different types of colorwork.

In Explore Stripes, Mary shares tips for joining new colors and jogless knitting.  She also includes patterns for a striped hat, vest, and turtleneck, as well as 12 color charted stitch patterns using stripes.

Discover Slip-Stitch Patterns starts with swatches showing the possibilities of slip stitch knitting for colorwork.  Mary includes tips for slipping stitches whether working flat or in the round.  She includes a hat, mitten, scarf, and baby cardigan pattern using slip stitches, as well as 12 charted stitch patterns using slip-stitches.

The next chapter, Discover Stranded Colorwork, explores different stranded colorwork traditions such as Fair Isle and Scandinavian.  As you might imagine, since Mary is also the author of The New Stranded Colorwork, this section has a little more detail and includes pictures to demonstrate strand orientation (a fancy phrase for “which yarn goes on top”) and float tensioning.  She also talks about misconceptions about stranded colorwork and shares some more information about steeking and working in the round.  This chapter includes patterns for a blouse, waistcoat, and cardigan, as well as 12 charted designs for stranded colorwork.

In Investigate Intarsia, Mary shares tips for changing colors, organizing your yarn supply for different colors, and weaving in ends.  This section includes patterns for a tunic, sweater, and tea cozy.  There are 8 charted intarsia designs.

Explore Entrelac provides an introduction to the architecture of entrelac and explores why you would use flat or circular methods, whether to knit even or decrease blocks, and then shares tips and step-by-step instructions for entrelac in the round and flat.  The patterns in this chapter, for socks, a tote, and a tam, are all worked in the round.

The next chapter, Make Modules, explores modular construction using squares, rectangles, triangles, and curved shapes.  Mary discusses changing colors, size, and knitting direction within one module to create different effects as well as joining methods and edgings.  This chapter includes patterns for a scarf, a shoulder bag, and a skirt, as well as  12 charted colorwork patterns for modules of different shapes.

In Embrace Embellishment, Mary shares ideas for adding bits of color to other projects using embellishments.  She defines embellishments as functional, decorative, structural, integral, and/or applied, and provides examples of each type.  The patterns in this chapter are for a cloche with a knitted applique flower, a cardigan with yarn embroidered details, and a fish shaped handbag with colorful fins, as well as 12 embellishments including a tassel, flowers, embroidery designs, and edgings.

Enhance Your Color Knitting Skills focuses on the technical details which will improve your color knitting.  This chapter explores steeking, hems, chart reading, buttons, cast on and bind off methods, seaming, wet splicing to join yarns, and blocking.  These techniques are transferable to other knitting projects.  The book ends with an Appendix which includes the list of terms for pattern abbreviations, a bibliography, and a list of suppliers.

This book provides an overview of different color knitting techniques, and can serve as a nice pictorial reminder of different tips and tricks.  As with most books that attempt to cover a lot of ground, there isn’t enough detail in any one section to serve as a definitive guide.  The projects are varied and each demonstrates a particular technique.  This book is helpful as a reference guide but may not have enough detail in some sections for a newbie to color knitting.  If you learn best from photographs and can piece together the steps in your mind without a lot of text, this will be a great book for you.  If you have some exposure to different colorwork techniques but need to be reminded of tips and tricks, this would also be a helpful book.  I give this book 4 stars for an intermediate knitter looking for a single book to explain different colorwork techniques with plenty of patterns and stitch examples.

 

The Comparison

As you can probably tell from my reviews, each of these books is really targeting a different knitter.  All three books are directed at intermediate knitters, and none includes any information about “the basics.”

While all three are technique books, I would say that Fearless Fair Isle Knitting: 30 Gorgeous Original Sweaters, Socks, Mittens, and More has the strongest pattern collection.  The other two books primarily use the patterns as a vehicle for demonstrating a method or technique.

Fearless Fair Isle Knitting is only exploring one technique, so you would need a great interest in Fair Isle/stranded knitting to be engaged by it.  Teach Yourself VISUALLY Color Knitting is a primarily visual exploration of different color knitting techniques that can serve as a quick reference guide.  Knitting: Colour, Structure and Design gives a much deeper exploration into knit fabric.  This is a book that you will need to sit down and read, but where you will learn a lot that can be useful for any project.

As far as writing style, Fearless Fair Isle Knitting feels like your funny friend is teaching you a new technique for your birthday; Knitting: Colour, Structure, and Design feels like you won a free private lesson with an accomplished designer and teacher; and Teach Yourself VISUALLY Color Knitting is more about the images than the text, so you don’t really get a sense of the author’s “voice.”

If I didn’t live in New York City apartment, I would probably keep all three in my collection!  But, since I have limited bookshelf space, I decided to keep the most general book, Teach Yourself VISUALLY Color Knitting, because it would be helpful to show in my knitting classes.

Full disclosure: A free review copy of each book was provided by the publisher. Although I accept free books for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. This also post contains affiliate links. You can read my affiliate and review disclosures here.

The Giveaways

Since shelf space is at a premium, I’ll be giving away my review copy of Fearless Fair Isle Knitting, courtesy of Taunton Press, and Knitting: Colour, Structure and Design, courtesy of Trafalgar Square Publishing.  These giveaways are open to all readers here on Earth (intergalactic shipping is just getting too costly).  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, June 23, 2012.

Yarn stash kit 2

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I managed to finish two small projects last week, and I promise to give them both the full photo treatment on FO Friday.  I also finished and joined all 375 squares on my sister’s blanket on Sunday during The Walking Dead season premiere.  Now I just need to add the borders and weave in the millions of ends.  (Insert dramatic sigh.)

Since the last yarn stash kit project worked out so well, I picked up another one for my subway commute: A Hat Fit for a Fella by Shana Kreikemeier (available for free on her website here).  I originally bought the yarn intending to make my dad a cabled hat for the holidays to go with this amazing aran knit sweater he bought years ago from Ireland.  Hopefully, this hat will be finished in time for this year’s holiday season.  (Cue up sad trombone.)

It is remarkably difficult to photograph white yarn on circular needles on a cloudy day.

As for reading, I had a bit of a lull over the last week.  I couldn’t get into the free Kindle edition of Oscar Wilde‘s Intentions.  The typos just drove me nuts because each mistake interrupted the flow of the writing.  The Kindle Fire sat idle for a few days, but on Monday night, I started reading a Kindle review copy of Fearless Fair Isle Knitting: 30 Gorgeous Original Sweaters, Socks, Mittens, and More by Kathleen Taylor.

The book is officially released today, so I hope to have a review up shortly.  (I have a growing stack of books I need to review soon!)

For more Work in Progress Wednesdays posts, visit Tami’s Amis.  For more Yarn Along posts, visit Small Things.

Book review: Sweet Shawlettes by Jean Moss

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I first read about Sweet Shawlettes: 25 Irresistible Patterns for Knitting Cowls, Capelets, and More by Jean Moss via the Knitgrrl‘s post as part of the book’s 24 day blog tour in January.  It sounded great, so I immediately wrote to Taunton Press to see if I could get my hands on a review copy.  They were kind enough to oblige, and let me say that I’m very pleased with this book.

Sweet Shawlettes starts off with a well written introduction, and Jean’s writing style throughout is wonderful.  You feel as though you are sitting down for a seminar with a master teacher as she shares her knitting skills, and also her knowledge of fashion and textile history.  The patterns are overall quite striking.   I always try to list my favorite patterns for each book I review, but once I got up to 14 on my list (out of 25), I thought it was safe to say that the patterns are pretty awesome!  (Pictures of each project are posted on Jean Moss’s Ravelry Designer page, which is available even if you aren’t a Ravelry member.)

Ok, I’ll stop gushing for a moment and share some facts.  In terms of project breakdown:

8 patterns (32%)

11 patterns (44%)

6 patterns (24%)

9 patterns (36%) include charts in the patterns (for lace, cables, and/or colorwork).  11 patterns (44%) use some crochet (usually single crochet) for finishing or detailing.

The book is organized into four sections.

  • Country “designs look to nature but with a romantic, quirky slant.”
  • Couture designs have “an eye toward avant-garde minimalism.  The mood is cool and funky… with the spotlight on statement pieces that take you seamlessly through the day and into evening.”
  • In the Folk section, “time-honored textiles…inform [Moss’s] contemporary designs.”
  • Vintage patterns turn “to fashion through the ages for the design sensibility… [taking] us on a brief journey through costume history.”

If you’ve read many of my reviews, you know that I tend to prefer “technique” books over “project” books.  But Jean has done an amazing job of sharing many techniques through her projects.  Appendix I (Techniques and Stitches) includes information on attaching beads, directions for alternative cast on methods, and tips for colorwork and finishing.  There is also a section with pattern abbreviations and needle and hook sizes.  (Chart symbol keys are listed within the patterns using charts.)

I also loved the Project Index, which includes a small photograph of each project.  Jean’s introductions for each of the patterns are well written and informative.  She also sprinkles great information throughout the book, such as notes on the historical cultural significance of various colors.

Overall, the book is well organized and well written, with wonderful photography that actually allows you to see the details of each piece.  The projects are geared towards an intermediate knitter, but there are plenty of easy projects to help develop an adventurous beginner.  Although the patterns are, in a sense, limited because they are all neck coverings, there is such a range of projects (from scarves, to shawls, to capelets, to cowls, etc.) that the book feels quite varied.

I give the book 5 out of 5 stars for any intermediate knitter who is interested in learning new techniques, or enjoys making items for women.

I usually offer a giveaway for my review copy, but I’m not quite ready to part with Sweet Shawlettes, so for now the book will remain in my collection…

Full disclosure: A free review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. Although I accept free books for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. This also post contains affiliate links. You can read my affiliate and review disclosures here.

Update: The wonderful folks at Taunton Press read my review and decided to offer a free copy to one of my readers (since I wasn’t willing to give up my copy!) This giveaway is open to anyone with a U.S. address.  The winner will be chosen at random.