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Winter Making by Emma Mitchell - book review

Fay Dashper-Hughes

Although this book was released in November 2017, I am only getting around to reviewing now because I have made/used three of the projects.  If you know me, you know that I won't review something until I have given it a good road test. 

I bought this book from Loop London the day after it was launched in the same shop.  I bought it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is a multi-craft book with crochet patterns in it and I feel that this needed supporting.  All too often the woollen craft part of these types of publications is knitting so it’s refreshing to have crochet in there instead.

Secondly, the other crafts feel very natural and environmentally friendly.  The author, Emma Mitchell is very much inspired by nature and this is oh so apparent if you follow her on Instagram.  This is the kind of crafting that I like.  Taking my inspiration and raw materials from nature whenever possible.

My version of the Hawthorn Wrist Warmers.  I used undyed Bluefaced Leicester (BFL), some skinny Merino single wool that I dyed using Wilton's icing colurants and some leftover Shilasdair yarn that I had in colourway Hawthorn - appropriately.

What’s in the book: Well the whole premise is essentially about helping to make the dark winter months bearable.  It’s a lovely mix of crafts from baking, gin production (oh yeah!), crochet, jewellery, leaf preservation, garland making, drawing…

Each projects spans a few pages with great photos and instructions.

What really stands out?: The photography is particularly beautiful making this not only a great resource but also a great coffee table book to sit and gain inspiration from during a ten minute cuppa break.

Who would like the book?: Whether you are new to crafting or an old hat, I think that this book is suitable for all.  It is full of so many projects, spanning so many crafts that it is highly unlikely you won’t get something from it. 

Do you have to be in the depths of winter to appreciate it?: I don’t think so. Whilst the projects in the book are based on winter crafting, many of them can be transposed to different climates and times of year.  Baking isn’t a winter sport.  You are just as likely to want to preserve summer leaves as winter ones and it isn’t difficult to change yarns from wool to cotton or linen to make the Pantile Shawl a summer suitable crochet project. 

I think that this is a good all year around crafting book though some are more suited to the winter months such as Hedgerow Bird Snacks and Home-made Firelighters.

What have I made/used from the book?: I have now crocheted two of the five patterns in the book (Hawthorn Wrist Warmers and Fennel Cowl) and really enjoyed both of them.  Both patterns were easy to read and play about with – it’s rare that I will 100% stick to a pattern.

My friend Bec made the Home-made Firelighters and gave me some to try out.  I only needed two to get our log burner going and they were excellent.  It felt even nicer to light the fire with hand-made firelighters than the usual shop bought ones.  Needless to say I will be making these for our home shortly.

What else will I make from the book?: 

  • I like the idea of using a nature diary as a means of improving my drawing skills.
  • Home-made firelighter.
  • Hawthorn Gin. Enough said!
  • Hedgerow bird snacks. Again this is a neat way of me controlling what my local bird population has on offer.  We feed the birds from about November to April and they are very grateful for it.  We have a thriving bird population in our garden with many species visiting on a daily basis.  It woudl be nice to make them specific home-made food.
  • Woodland wreaths because I love the idea of foraging for fallen twigs and branches etc and possibly mixing this up with the other craft technique in the book for preserving leaves.
  • Forcing blossom could be a great way for me adding a splash of colour when I record the podcast and showing off what is happening with the seasons in my part of England.

That’s quite a big list. 

Is the book good value for money?: I feel like the list price of £14.99 is good value.  You can buy it cheaper than that, but I was pleased to be able to support a yarn shop when purchasing it rather than further line the pockets of a retail giant such as Amazon.

If you have this book or buy it, I would love to see what you make from it.  You can ctach me on instagram as @knitithookit and @crochet_circle_podcast.  Emma Mitchell has also set up the #makingwinter so that you can share photos.

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