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text 2018-01-11 15:47
Am I being (too) mean?
Amateur Gemstone Faceting Volume 1: The Essentials - Tom Herbst

Yesterday afternoon an artist friend acquaintance of mine introduced me to her new neighbor.  As you know, I play around with rocks, and because this new neighbor is also a lapidary, my friend wanted to introduce us.  Fine and dandy.

 

After two or three minutes of pleasantries, the new neighbor mentioned that she wanted to get into faceting, that she had done some freehand work but wanted to do more.  I contributed that I have a faceting machine.

 

She immediately invited herself over to my house so we could play with it together.

 

Um, isn't that supposed to be my job?  The inviting, I mean?

 

I said nothing, partly because I was a little astonished at her cheek.

 

She then went on to say that she had done some work for a guy in California who sent her "Andara crystals." 

 

I blurted out, "They're glass. Andara crystals are glass."

 

"Oh, no, these are the real ones from California," she insisted.

 

"They're all glass," I told her.  By this time I was a bit testy, since I absolutely despise the scammers who sell this shit.  And I will not be a party to enabling other scammers.

 

I purchased the Amateur Gemstone Faceting book when it was advertised by the author Tom Herbst on the U.S. Faceters Guild email list, to which I have been a subscriber for many years.  I also purchased the second volume of this phenomenal guide.  I can't say that I "know," Tom, but I have certainly read a lot of his posts to the list.

 

I acquired my faceting machine from a friend who literally would have thrown it in the trash if I hadn't taken it off his hands.  At the time, I had no idea what it was worth -- way, WAY more than I could have afforded if I'd gone out to buy it! -- and frankly I just haven't had the time necessary to learn all of its ins and outs.  I've played with it a little, but not much.

 

As I mentioned in my post earlier about my acquisitions at the Mesa Flagg Gem and Mineral Show last week-end, I picked up an inexpensive chunk of amethyst that I intend to do some practicing on.  I could just as easily practice on some "andara" crystal, since scrap glass is very inexpensive and easy to come by. 

 

But that doesn't mean I'm going to let some virtual stranger into my studio to use my expensive equipment to mess around with her bullshit.

 

I see since starting this post that she has sent me an email, probably to further extend her invitation into my studio.  I'm just not into that crap.

 

Besides, I have a two-day show coming up this week-end, so I really don't have time for her.

 

 

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review 2017-12-09 15:19
Plum Dandi Knits
Plum Dandi Knits: Simple Designs for Luxury Yarns - Alicia Plummer,Melissa Schaschwary

by Alicia Plummer, Melissa Schaschwary

 

As the cover and description would indicate, this is a book of knitting patterns. What's unique about it is an emphasis on stitch patterns that create romantic designs that are very fluid, like nature.

 

My one complaint about it is that a lot of the patterns are for 'accessories'. I counted 2 patterns for leg warmers, one flared, 1 pair of warm looking socks, 4 shawls, one with a massive cable design, 2 patterns for fingerless gloves with interesting textures plus a pattern for enclosed mittens, an interesting headband that I'll certainly make, 2 scarves, a sort of cabled hat with a big fluffy ball at the top plus 2 more hats, one that the texture pattern made me think of dragon scales, and a cabled blanket.

 

This wouldn't be bad if there were more patterns for pullovers and cardigans. Apart from the above there was a patter with delicate stitch patterns in a cardigan and shrug, a striped pullover vest, a turtleneck pullover, an interesting patterned cape that I would make longer, and one other pullover with a lovely pattern going down the sleeves which I am very likely to make. No jackets or dresses, which might have benefited from the sort of design that has gone into the projects offered.

 

There's an extensive stitch glossary, including some unusual ones like the long-tail cast on that I haven't seen elsewhere. I'd say this book is for the more experienced knitter. There are plenty of pictures in color and the stitches are illustrated with clear drawings.

 

Overall a good knitting book, but I'd like to see more patterns for everyday clothes. You can only make so many hats and scarves before you have too many, no matter how cool the designs.

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review 2017-08-14 13:23
Contemporary Cables
Contemporary Cables: Classic Aran Reimagined in Current Styles - Jody Long

by Jody Long

 

I love cable knitting and the sweaters that result.

 

This is a collection of patterns for twenty-one different projects, each of them interesting in their own way. As with most knitting books, patterns for women dominate, though two of the three men's patterns are particularly interesting! No children or babies in this one.

 

Measurements and all instructions are very clear, giving both US sizes for needles and metric. The description says medium to advanced knitters, but I didn't see anything too complicated. Cables are actually very easy!

 

The patterns diverge from traditional into some creative combinations and there are at least three of them that I'm looking forward to knitting for myself. Full color pictures of all the finished designs and extensive charts to show texture or crossover patterns.

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review 2017-07-07 11:44
Holiday Cookies
Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season - Elisabet der Nederlanden

by Elisabet der Nederlanden

 

The introductory chapter tells of the author's Swedish background which bodes well for great cookie recipes. Then before we get into the cookie recipes, we get some technique pointers to make them come out well and the icing recipe that works best for decorated cookies.

 

The cookie recipes start with classics. Gingerbread men, decorated shortbread, swirl cookies and a few less familiar.

 

We then get regaled with the author's ideas for a Cookies Exchange Party, which sounds great fun and a chance to make some fancy cookies like Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies, Almond Ricciarella Cookies, Espresso Thins or especially tasty selections like Malted Milk Chocolate Cookies.

 

The third chapter gives us some warm holiday spice or fruit and traditional holiday cookies from several countries. Eggnog Madeleines, Cinnamon-Sugar Palmiers and Swedish Pepparkakorare are included among the International treats.

 

Then, speaking of treats, Holiday Confections is our next chapter and includes ideas for fancy wrapping gifts of cookies or confections along with recipes for holiday themed treats like Peppermint Bark and Apple Cider Caramels, as well as less traditional treats like Chocolate-Hazelnut Fudge and Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Squares.


Chapter 6 is all about decorating with cookies. The classic Gingerbread house and Christmas tree shaped sugar cookies with decorative icing are featured along with cookie tree ornaments and Candy Cane Cookies. If you really want to impress, the 3-D Christmas Trees made of stacked cookies and the Stained Glass Snowflakes would add something special to any holiday decorations.

 

There are resources for finding speciality equipment or ingredients in the back for the Americans, thought the rest of us will have to do our own sleuthing.

 

The color pictures throughout the book could entice any occasional baker to make the extra effort to do some extra baking this holiday season. The attention to detail in gift wrapping makes baking a present for the relative you never know what to buy for a definite attraction, as long as they aren't diabetic! Overall this is an excellent holiday baking book and probably the only one you'll ever need for cookies.

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review 2017-07-05 11:29
Embroidered Garden Flowers
Embroidered Garden Flowers: Botanical Motifs for Needle and Thread (Make Good: Crafts + Life) - Kazuko Aoki

by Kazuko Aoki

 

This is a lovely needlecraft book with advice on how to draw flowers with colored threads, in embroidery. It is loaded with full color pictures that show what can be accomplished with a few well-chosen stitches.

 

Hints are given about how to keep the shapes and colors in the artist's eye so that the image can be closely depicted in the stitches. About halfway through the book, instructions are given for how to embroider the beautiful flowers. Materials, stitches, everything you need is covered. Even the color numbers for DMC embroidery silks is included.

 

Detailed instructions are laid out for the specific flower designs in the pictures, but the reader is encouraged to use the same methods for embroidering flower designs from their own gardens or a field guide. There isn't a lot of text, but the little there is explains everything you need to know!

 

Overall an excellent tutorial on making these lovely designs.

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