BOOK REVIEW SATURDAY, January 10, 2015




New Variations for Vibrant Strip-Pieced Projects


I reviewed a softcover copy of this book. 

Designer, Jane Hardy Miller’s first book, French Braid Quilts: 14 Quick Quilts with Dramatic Results, published around 2010, remains one of my all-time favorites.   I am also a fan of her books, French Braid Transformation and French Braid Obsession: New Ideas for the Imaginative Quilter.


That’s why I was holding my breath when her new book, French Braid Quilts with a Twist came across my desk . . . I mean, how many ways are there to braid a quilt? Miller’s new book didn’t disappoint.


Look, after 3 previously published solid books on the same design, I’m not as surprised or bowled over by the varied results of a braided quilt design, and over the course of 5 years (since the first book was published), I’m the first to admit that I’m jaded. While a couple of the new designs in the book didn’t move mountains for me, I liked the other ones quite a bit (but that’s just a taste thing, a personal taste thing, and not a pronouncement on the designer’s work).

For instance, I loved the Triplex quilt, not so much for the overall design, but for the technique used and learned in making it.


The Parquet quilt fooled me. I was like, “Well, this is the same old . . . “ but it wasn’t. Again, I loved the technique and how this braid chumps the eye.


Her French Braid Stars captivated me. I had to examine the pattern to see how it was pieced. (Fabulous color choices, by the way, Jane). It’s hard to believe this, too, is a French Braid quilt, isn’t it?


The other quilts seemed to be variations, sometimes very subtle variations, on the same traditional braided quilt theme, not that there’s anything wrong with that . . . but, for me, while beautiful, they didn’t pack the punch that the slightly more complicated quilts did (and they are not that much more complicated, by the way, but just a bit more detailed, which made them more visually appealing to me). I told you I was jaded.

11052_118__88801.1407095624.1104.1280 11052_104__73081.1407095624.1104.1280

I have to give a shout out to the opening tutorial section of the book. It is wonderfully done. You really could be a moron and master any of these quilts using the designer’s quilt construction guidelines.


Now, if you have been looking at the images here and thinking, “this is too complicated for me,” you’re being foolish.   These quilts are made with simple strip piecing (and don’t forget that fab tutorial).


11052_015__84325.1407095622.1104.1280No matter what you skill level, you’ll be able to get a braided quilt out of this book. And for me? French Braid Quilts with a Twist is going to live right along Jane Miller’s other books on my bookshelf.

I Really Like this Book!

  • Author: Jane Hardy Miller
  • Publisher: C&T Publishing 
  • ISBN: 978-1-60705-882-3
  • Pages: 80
  • $24.95

Ask your local shop owner or independent bookstore to order your copy, FIRST. 

Or you can buy the book here:




And since we’re talking French, and I am a writer,  I would be remiss in not posting:




Deceptively Simple Strip-Pieced Quilts


I reviewed a softcover copy of this book. 

As a former math teacher I guess it’s a no brainer that quilt book author, Robert DeCarli, would call his new book of strip-pieced quilts, Remarkable Rectangles.

There are 15 different quilts in the book that are simply made (well, not that simply – there is a lot of sewing and point matching in these suckers) from easy-to-piece strip sets (that’s the easy part). Now, whether you like these quilts or not, I love a designer who looks for inspiration everywhere. You might not notice at first glance, even though the designs look comfortably familiar, but when I reveal the spoiler you will hit your forehead with the palm of your hand and it will all become clear what inspired Mr. DeCarli. The designs look like designs you might find on a woven coverlet (which reminds me…warp the loom).


Yup, inspired by overshot weaving designs, using the same principle as a traditional Irish Chain quilt or Bargello patchwork, these quilts are pieced from easy-peasy strip sets that are then crosscut and sewn back together in a very specific order.   You can find patterns a little easier than these to construct, but not all that much easier. These quilts will just take you some time and concentration.

Personally, I don’t really care for the boxy, pixelated look of some of the quilts like the Monarch, or Snowball and Pine Tree quilts, but a few of the others, using the same technique and without a curve or triangle in sight, really appeal to me.

For instance, I love the movement in the blue and cream Ezekiel’s Wheel quilt. Now, this is a small, small quilt. Only about 36”x36” but I think it would be really cool as a full or queen quilt, too. You would still get all that movement and kind of an optical illusion when walking past it.


Indian Beadwork  makes me think of a quilt inspired by Tramp Art. I like it.




The Ludwig’s Corner quilt is cool, featuring a clean, 2-color design. It’s also only one of a just couple of quilts in the book that is a not a small quilt, lap throw, or wall hanging size. Most of the quilts are little.



Kathy’s Star reminds me of a Bethlehem Star inspired quilt (although I know the two look nothing alike). Maybe it’s the unforgiving choppiness of the block edges?  th-1


While I’m not wild about the colors (and who cares? We can change the darn colors if we like), I do like the Thirteen States and Double Compass quilts, too.

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Now, I wouldn’t for a minute, consider any of these quilts to be “modern quilts” but know that there seems to be a lot of negative space in these designs on which to embellish with your quilting.


In the back of the book, the designer includes several modifications to the blocks or quilts that would allow adding appliqué to a the piece or, with a few twists and turns, a new quilt design is created (frankly, you guys, you should be twisting and turning all of the blocks in the patterns you create to see what you come up with on your own).


I’m kind of digging this book and would love to see what the average quilter-on-the-street can come up with using these designs in terms of color and color placement, etc. All of the quilts in Remarkable Rectangles, have the ability to look as conservative and traditional as a coverlet or as bright and colorful and you can imagine! Go for it!

I Like this Book!

  • Author: Robert DeCarli
  • Publisher: That Patchwork Place
  • ISBN: 978-1-60468-355-4
  • Pages: 96
  • $26.99

Ask your local shop owner or independent bookstore to order your copy, FIRST. 

Or you can buy the book here:



23 Sophisticated Designs


I reviewed a softcover copy of this book. 

Before I even get into the patterns in the new book by crocheter/knitter Yumiko Alexander, I want to give her props for her color choices. I like the olivey greens, rusty oranges, and faded roses. Of course, she uses other colors, more mainstream colors, in her designs but the general color palette of the book appealed to me.   (Of course, with all Interweave published yarn books, the projects are nicely photographed).


Now, for the projects. Look, I don’t think this is a beginner’s book. I think the fact that the descriptor “sophisticated” is in the title means you have to know how to hold a set of knitting needles. Many of these patterns take a little knitting needle know-how. What struck me when I first just rifled through the pages was that “these knitted things look like they’re crocheted!” And I was right. When I went through the book, reading each chapter, I found that the designer intentionally designed her knitted pieces to look crocheted. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, it is just what it is, and she is the designer/author  of the bestseller, Rustic Modern Crochet.


Each of the projects can stand on their own and, of course, are the standard fare of shawls, hats, a vest, a cowl (of course), some freaky headscarf, a cool poncho, and fingerless gloves (you know, I’ve never actually seen anyone wearing fingerless gloves. Ever. Judging by the sheer amount of fingerless glove patterns in every knitting book, website, and magazine to cross my path lately, you might think glove wearers were born without phalanges at all.   You know it’s been awhile since I’ve felt the warm touch of a woman and am basing this question strictly on the current knitting and crochet patterns: Do women still have fingers? Just sayin’).



I like that the designer had chosen different weights of yarn to give her designs dissimilar textures and silhouettes. For instance, I love the super chunky Winter Rose scarf, but I also love the delicate fans and feathered Waves of Grain shawl.




The Wisteria vest is a keeper. I’m liking that drape and, well, shape, of the piece. Plus, you can be a larger sized human and still wear it comfortably. (I loathe the pattern books that are exclusive to the skinny mini body – Hello? The majority of us can be a little chubby now!) Oh, I think you’ll like the English Garden shawl, knitted with a combo of stockinette and textured squares.





Several of the other featured shawls and scarves are just delicious. I love the kinda’ lacy, Baby’s Breath scarf, and the Garden Path chunky ruffle scarf (good for a newbie knitter – but not as a first project). The lusciously colored Bricks cowl rocks my world, as does the leaf-knitted Lotus, among others (like the  Lily of the Valley caplet knitted in a fan and feather combo).









On the flip side, what the hell are these? (And for all that is holy in heaven above, they’re called LICHEN! I’m not kidding. LACE LICHEN. ‘Lichen’ they are growing up your damn arm. ‘Lichen’ a fungus among us!) Nothing a little cream from a dermatologist couldn’t help with, I’m sure.




All in all, this is a substantial pattern book, that is full of really pretty, well thought out patterns that are clear to read in an uncramped layout.   I don’t think all of these designs are what I would call ‘sophisticated,’ but many are and most are worth knitting and dreaming about and wearing or gifting.







With the exception of the lichen and the  “Anatevka’s Go-Go Girl” Batchelor Button head scarf, which is no way to snag a batchelor, by the way (which means you still have 21 other good-to-great patterns to choose from), this book is a winner.


I Really Like this Book! 

  • Author: Yumiko Alexander
  • Publisher: Interweave
  • ISBN:978-1-62033-+630-4
  • Pages: 128
  • $27.99   $18.49 at the link

Or you can buy the book ON SALE here:



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Quick and Easy Fabric Design Using Fresh Produce and Found Objects


I reviewed a softcover copy of this book. 

Oh, GAAAAWD WHHHHHY?!?   Why do I get sucked into these books, projects, techniques, and ideas that I will probably never try (but, oh, how they appeal to me)?

Julie Booth

Such is the case with Julie Booth’s new book, Fabric Printing at Home. I’m hooked. Hooked, I tell you!


Not since Lynn Krawczyk’s book, Intentional Printing, have I been more tempted to plunge into the artsy-fartsy chaos of messy textile printing and yards of self designed fabric!

Here’s the thing: When I think of having to carve wood forms, master batik, or regret that I never pursued Masters in art, I get the cold shivers, but the fabric printing we’re talking about here, the techniques in this book, are all created using fresh produce (yes, like broccoli) and found objects (yup, Dollar Store crap and rubbish you find lurking in the junk drawers of your house) to make interesting and wonderful uniquely printed textiles. This, I can do!


The projects are easy, you don’t need a degree in science or design, and the results are fun and as simple or complicated as you like. There are a lot of in-color, step-by-step photographs to take you from idea to completion while playing with the various mediums, “tools”, and techniques. Besides printing with veggies, you are going to learn how to make and use rubbing plates, some print blocks, stencils, and mix recipes for fabric resists.  All of these techniques are presented in a very clear, easy-t0-follow format so you won’t be afraid to jump in!


Another bonus to working with this book is that there is no major outlay of cash for specialty supplies. Of course, you’re going to have to set up a workspace, and decided on “dye” fabric paint (yes!) or maybe cheap tubes of acrylic paint (yuck). Will you use off the rack fabrics (not so great) or wonderful, color thirsty PFD fabric? For the record, you really can fabric print design on the cheap or the extraordinary depending what you’ll be using your fabric for and the outcome you want. I LOVE over-dyes and prints on prints – fabrics printed on pre-printed fabric or dyed fabrics that are dyed again. Once you learn these techniques, you can go as mild to wild as you can handle both financially and creatively. I should mention that the instructions for creating printing surfaces and “stamps” are very clear, well photographed, and dummy-proof (which means I can do it).


I’ve seen a lot of fabric printing examples in my time (so often muddy and uninspired), and that’s what I was expecting to see when I opened this book. I didn’t. Then I feared I’d be reading a ‘Printing for Idiots’ primer. What I found was some delightfully printed and whimsical design ideas. There are also some cool hand done ‘blenders’ to be printed, too. Whatever your bent, you should be able to find a compatible design technique in the book.


Yes, your kid or grand-kidlettes can do many of these exercises right along with you with a little simple guidance and supervision, but once your little dears are off to school or back with there parents, you can have some real fun taking your fabric printing ideas and combinations to the limit.


Oh, shoot. I guess I’m off to the market to buy a for the first time since 1972.rutabaga21

I Like this Book! 

  • Author: Julie B. Booth
  • Publisher: Quarry
  • ISBN: 978-1-59253-952-9
  • Pages: 128
  • $22.99

Ask your local shop owner or independent bookstore to order your copy, FIRST. 

Or you can buy the book here:



How to Sell Your Crafts and Make a Living


I reviewed a softcover copy of this book. 

If you’re into making crafts and thought that you might be interested in making some dough off of your creative work, then you will want to pick up a copy of the 2015 Crafter’s Market.

You might think this is a book designed for the new crafter because of the article after article on the ‘business’ of crafting in the book but don’t be fooled. The 2015 Crafter’s Market is also a resource for the seasoned crafter and crafters who might have already been selling their art and crafts for years. Every crafter and maker can benefit from the listing guide of places to market their crafts, be they quilting, jewelry making, paper crafts, sewing, yarn and needle crafts.


I actually found the articles easy enough to swallow, although sometimes a little over-simplified, and Huffington Post-esque generic. The topics covered in the book are essays like, Making It as a Crafter, Branding Strategies, Crafting a Social Media Presence, Finding Success on Etsy (good luck with that one), Indie Craft Shows, Wholesale and Consignment Sales, Pricing Your Work, Crafting a Book Proposal, etc.


There are no magic craft sales potions in spite of all of the sage wisdom in each featured article. For those of us who want to dip our feet into the Craft Show or Trade Show waters , or even want to start selling our handmade wonders full time, you will find this book very worthwhile (…you just have to read it and not keep it on your bookshelf. Be prepared for a learning curve and don’t going buying that new condo just yet).

While important and rich in content, the actual book is printed all in black and white and on 332 pages of pulp paper (I love that smell).  It is designed to toss at the end of the year for the 2016 Crafter’s Market.


Always the cynic, you know that I have to put my 2-cents in here and warn you: If you think you’re going to take a stab at making a living from your craft, you had better be a trust fund baby or have a “Pet Rock” idea in your pocket.  I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but making a living at your craft is hard, damn hard, if not impossible. I think that the majority of us who will want and benefit from the 2015 Crafter’s Market already know that and are hopefully prepared to put in the time, blood, sweat, and tears.

I like the book. I think there is a lot of good stuff in these pages and worth the price.   Think of it this way: If you sell just 6 of your crafts at a retail price of $9.99/each, not only will you have paid for your copy of 2015 Crafter’s Market, you will have already made your first profit!

I Really Like this Book!

  • Edited By: Kelly M. Biscopink
  • Publisher: Fons & Porter
  • ISBN:978-1-4402-3978-6
  • Pages: 332
  • $27.99 $24.18 at the link

You can buy the book ON SALE here:





Join the Sew Inspired Quilt Shop and Studio in January 2015  for entertaining lectures and workshop with Mark Lipinski!

Friday, January 16, 6:00 PM. 

Lecture: A Bull in a China Shop.  Tickets on sale now; seating limited.


 The above photos are from Empire Quilters in New York City

Saturday, January 17,  9:00 AM until 5:00 PM


    Workshop: Mark’s Stars and Stripes Quilt of Valor. Now enrolling.



FREE lecture Saturday evening:  The Slow Stitching Movement!

MEDIUM Slow Stitching

Register for both lecture and workshop


Sew Inspired Quilt Shop and Studio
8 Wilcox Street Simsbury, CT 06070
(860) 651-8885






Surface designer, author (Intentional Printing: Simple Techniques for Inspired Fabric Art) , teacher, and fabric designer (Red Rooster Fabrics), Lynn Krawczyk, talks about her Slow Stitching Journey in a new podcast on The Slow Stitching Movement website. Find her podcast here:



The Slow Stitching Movement Podcast’s are sponsored by

Aurifil and





Then visit the Slow Stitching blog . . . . 


 A brand new Slow Stitching Blog will be posted on Sunday! 



Sold out Slow Getaway

Yes, The Slow Stitching Movement Getaway is now sold out but we would love to have you sign up for either our waiting list for this event or for advance notification on future Getaway events.   Just fill out the Registration Form (don’t send any cash, unless you would like to buy a T-Shirt)  and you will be put on the the waiting list.

Just click to be put on the Waiting List




I am a slow.v3





In the magazine world, if you don’t like a book, you don’t review it. I promised to be honest. I’ve based my whole patchwork reputation on “no B.S.” . . . and it’s not easy. Boy, I really wrestle with myself on whether or not I am going to review a book I don’t care for, but if books are so graciously sent to me for review, I feel that I have an obligation to the publisher to review all that are sent. Given I do not depend on advertising for my blog, I don’t need to only review the books I like (and would give fabulous reviews to) for fear of hurting an advertiser’s feelings, and threatening potential revenue. On the other hand it pains me, genuinely pains me (yes, sleepless nights), when I receive a book I’m just not crazy about.

Now, listen…because I don’t care for something NEVER implies that YOU shouldn’t care for it. Mine is only an opinion, one opinion of many who are sent review copies. The goal of any kind of reviewer is to develop an audience, be transparent with their likes, dislikes, taste, quirks, and aesthetic, and let the reader compare their opinions against those of the reviewer.

If you agree with my take on a book most of the time, for instance, you can begin to trust my reviews and know if I like something, you probably will, too. If you don’t generally agree with my assessments of a book, and disagree with most of my reviews, then you know that you want to buy only the books that I hate for your personal library.



For well over 3 years, I have been posting up to 20 links per day or every other day, on the Mark Lipinski’s Fan Pageon Facebook. Of course, in Facebook’s never ending quest to make lots of money, Facebook seems to have abandoned their mission of a real social networking site and it has become more about Facebook revenue.

Several months ago, Facebook, without warning, had implemented a new business model. As a result, the vast majority of “LIKErs” who have been faithful readers of this Fan Page have been blocked from receiving my posts, time and time again, from getting all or a few of the postings onto their timeline feed.

The reason is, Facebook would like pages like, Mark Lipinski’s Fan Page, to pay money every day, and on every post, in order to advertise and lure readers like you, onto the Fan Page.

With out “BOOSTING” a post, only about 5% of people who clicked LIKE on the Fan Page are actually seeing anything I post — and it could be random – sometimes you get a post, and sometimes not. Basically, it sucks for all of us. I am finding that we are all better served if I posted my tips, ideas, links, and jokes, etc. to my blog. You can subscribe to my blog (only if you wan to) and get an email each time I post a grouping of ideas, links, etc.

I AM NOT shutting down Mark Lipinski’s Fan Page on Facebook and you are welcome to follow me there, too. What I am doing is putting everything that used to be on the Fan Page individually onto my blog, AND there will be a daily link to the idea blog on the Fan Page, just as there were multiple links to the various blogs that I’ve always linked to in the past. It’s not that different, really. It will save me a lot of time, and guarantee those who want to see the creative posts will actually get to see them. And Facebookers, will STILL have to click on “GET NOTIFICATIONS” in your Facebook Settings if they want to see what I post on Facebook (sometimes that works, but not all of the time).

Actually, my new model gives you at least TWO ways to get all of the ideas, etc. PLUS you can PIN them and they will be TAGGED so you can find them again in the search bar even years later. – through the FACEBOOK FAN PAGE and YOUR CHOICE (not mandatory) to subscribe to the blog and get email postings that way.






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Categories: Book Reviews


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7 Comments on “BOOK REVIEW SATURDAY, January 10, 2015”

  1. Carolyn
    January 10, 2015 at 8:26 AM #

    Mark always enjoy reading the blog. The book reviews are great. I do miss the creative mojo…😟 but I understand….. I haven’t knitted in a few years but the pictures are tempting me …..big time…. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. zoe
    January 10, 2015 at 8:30 AM #

    Loved your book reviews. My favorites were French Braid Quilts with a twist & Rustic Modern Knits. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sally Maxwell
    January 10, 2015 at 10:44 AM #

    I, too, am motivated to pick up my knitting needles again! I prefer easier pieces that I don’t have to consult the pattern for every row, but I do see something that I could handle. And maybe I need to stretch my skills a bit? I’ve often thought that learning pattern language or abbreviations is like learning a new language…et maintenant, nous sommes tous charlie, n’est -ce pas?

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 10, 2015 at 12:14 PM #

      I think you are right on track, Sally! EXPAND ELEVATE KEEP LEARNING! It doesn’t mean you have to become a devotee of more knitting or more difficult patterns, it just means you are moving beyond stagnant and exercising your brain, at the very least! 🙂


  4. January 10, 2015 at 11:58 AM #

    Thank you Mark. Je Suis Charlie as well. With so many quilt stores closing, my options are to either hand quilt (they’ll never get done), learn how to do this on my Bernina (which means lap or crib sizes) or break down and buy a long arm. Love the fact that you incorporate knitting, crocheting and other crafts in your blog. Keep up the great work.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lissi
    January 11, 2015 at 1:45 PM #

    “Always the cynic, you know that I have to put my 2-cents in here and warn you: If you think you’re going to take a stab at making a living from your craft, you had better be a trust fund baby or have a “Pet Rock” idea in your pocket. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but making a living at your craft is hard, damn hard, if not impossible. I think that the majority of us who will want and benefit from the 2015 Crafter’s Market already know that and are hopefully prepared to put in the time, blood, sweat, and tears.” – Thank you for these words! I’m sending a copy of 2015 CRAFTER’S MARKET How to Sell Your Crafts and Make a Living to my older sister, along with this quote from you. It’s good to have encouragement AND realism! As always, I truly enjoy your posts; it’s one of the highlights of my inbox!


  6. January 11, 2015 at 8:11 PM #

    Happy to read your book reviews. Your opinions are always welcome because they save me from buying books that aren’t worth the time or money!


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