Some Christmas gifts for gardeners and crafters

 I have been sent a few books to review and a card game so on this lead up to the festive period I thought I would do a write up.  I have not paid for these products and I have not been paid to write about them.  My words and opinions are as ever my own.

Winter is always a good time for me to catch up on some sewing so whilst the books might not be completely garden-related: I spend a lot of time sewing when I am not sowing so that is tenuous enough link for me (my blog my rules). My followers on Instagram (blackberrygarden) will be used to seeing my various sewing projects in progress and completed.  It feels like this Winter and festive season will be darker than usual so having some projects on the go is always a good thing.   There is also rather a fun garden-related game included in this batch.
First up is Sewing Animal Dolls by Tina O'Rourke.  This is a great book if you want to get into the world of making animal dolls and wardrobes of clothes for them.  Not only are the dolls great to make for yourself they also make wonderful gifts.
Tina talks us through the basics of what you will need to make up the projects.  Tina uses 'fat quarters' of fabric and of course you can use those odds and ends in your stash as well.  There was a time when I was first sewing that I could not understand how people built up a stash of fabric.  I now look in my sewing room and cannot understand how they can be avoided (believe me I tried - only buy what you use, oh - look at that bargain.... and so it begins).
Tina explains carefully all the skills needed to fully complete the dolls and the pattern pieces are all laid out nicely to be traced.

I loved this book and I fully intend to make some of the projects within it soon.

Sewing Animal Dolls by Tina O'Rourke is published by Pen and Sword White Owl

Colourful Fun Embroidery by Clare Albans
I am currently in embroidery mode.  I sometimes knit, I sometimes cross-stitch and tapestry, but at the moment it is embroidery that is my go-to project when I am watching TV in the evening.  I find just watching TV without doing something else at the same time difficult, I usually have a project on the go.
This book is full of wonderful fun projects.  Some take longer than others but all are interesting and explained well.  I had never thought of making bunting for cakes, but as a firm believer in bunting and its power to cheer up the most cheerless of days; this is something I am going to have to try.
Clare explains the techniques needed and there are good photographs to show you step by step the process.  Some of the projects are simple and others are more complicated.  I particularly liked that you can also adapt the ideas to create projects with your own personal touch.  This is a very good book for encouraging and inspiring.

Colourful fun embroidery by Clare Albans is published by Pen and Sword White Owl.

Craft your own happy by Becci Mai Ford
If ever there was a time when we need to craft our own happy, that time is now.  This book is full of great projects to stretch our imaginations and keep us occupied through the Winter months and beyond.  Chapter One is called 'Anxiety Makes'; Becci says that these projects are ones that can take a little longer at your own pace and that they are good for those days when you "feel a little anxious and need a moment of peace".  I can fully identify with this thought.  I know one of the things I like crafting as it stills my mind.  If I have to focus on what I am making then I cannot be worrying about that worry that is haunting me.  When I am in knitting mode I often like to knit cable patterns and fairisle patterns as they are totally absorbing of my thoughts.
What I really like about this book is its approach.  There are 25 projects and that in itself would have made it a good book, but that there is considered thought-pieces as well makes it rather special.
The projects are diverse, which means there must be something that will appeal to just about everyone (she says bravely).  There is embroidery, resin necklaces, clay bowls, macrame and more.   The Peg Prompts on page 90 is a particular favourite that I must do.  

Craft your own happy by Becci Mai Ford is published by Pen and Sword White Owl.

Lastly, but not leastly, is this rather fun card game 'Village Green' by Peer Sylvester
The game is subtitled 'a game of pretty gardens and petty grudges', which made me smile.  
The idea of the game is to create the best village green. There are Village Cards, Green Card, and Award Cards and you build up your village green either in competition with other players or there is a one player version as well.  You do this by creating a 4 x 4 grid with the cards and there are rules about what can go next to what and what you can place where.   When the game is complete you get a score for each visible card.  It is a good way of spending some fun time.  There are not many garden-related games out there, which is a shame, so I am happy to encourage this one.

The Village Green by Peer Sylvester is from Osprey Publishing 


  1. Thanks for those lovely ideas ! Love the cards game :) and the others too in fact :P Have a great evening !


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