Readers' Favorite Craft Books

I do love a good craft book!

Unfortunately, there's only so much time in a day and only so many crafts I can try out. If only I didn't have to take care of those pesky chores, like mopping floors and doing laundry, I'd have more time for craftier fun!

I thought I'd ask readers to share their favorite craft books so you can get a wider range of topics beyond just the books I've read.

If you want to read about my favorite craft books and magazines, you'll find my reviews here.

Jan Messent's World of Embroidery

Deborah Kirkpatrick
Houston, TX

If you have ever wondered what processes some artists utilize to come up with their beautiful works, you've come to the right place. Jan Messent's World of Embroidery shows the step-by-step construction and the analysis of design from beginning to end. Although this book will not show you techniques, it will show you how to think about your work before you begin.

This book is primarily focused to aid those who have interest in creating and designing their own original work. She shows in detail how the language of color, texture and design can work with or against the subject matter. Some of the exercises she illustrates seem a little contrived, but I believe that many works of art are operating in the same manner, just on a subconscious level.

You also are shown the works of many amazing artists, using embroidery, needlepoint and textile techniques. If for no other reason, buy the book for the amazing eye candy that it provides. As a mixed media artist, I highly recommend this book to all other artists and craftsmen, be they novice or advanced. Her process may not be your process, but it makes you more thoughtful about your work and the work of others.

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Drawing MasterClass: A Comprehensive Guide to Drawing Techniques

by Pat
(Saint Paul, Mn)

Drawing Master Class, a Comprehensive Guide to Drawing Techniques published by Quantum Publishing is truly a comprehensive book. Written and illustrated by many artists it covers virtually every possible technique for art done by hand. I use it as a reference manual rather than as a "class" and have never failed to get ideas for getting an effect when I am working on my own special decorative projects. Sometimes I just browse to look at the pictures.

The book is divided into sections: introduction, nude drawing, drawing flowers and drawing animals. Right now I am working on a design for an embroidered wall hanging and while my artistic ability has never been all that great, I am finding that I am liking the layout of this piece more than previous ones I have worked on.

I think this book would be nice for the budding artist as well as anyone working on crafts ranging from chair painting to fancy ornamental Christmas ornament to quilters laying out a zoo animal themed blanket for the newest addition to the family. In craft, as in art, it's all about the layout of the thing, and I like trying different techniques to personalize my hand crafted creations.

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Celtic and Old Norse Designs by Courtney Davis

by Jane H

Celtic and Old Norse Designs (Dover Pictorial Archive) is another of the great design books published by Dover. I find it very useful because it is an historical reference, very straightforward and easy to understand.

The authentic images from these ancient cultures can be used in a variety of projects by artists and crafters of any level of expertise. They would be of interest to painters, book artists, needle artists, embroiderers, jewelry makers, wood carvers, and many others.

The information in this book arouses curiosity in the subject, and a longing to learn more. The introduction to the designs explains the successive eras of designs, and how the Celtic and Old Norse cultures influenced one another. The origin of each image, whether from a church door, a psalm book, a weapon, or a household object, is clearly stated, along with its country or area where it was found or can be seen.

I used one design to make a Saint Patrick's Day card for an online friend, and several others to do fabric paintings for a Nordic themed wall hanging. I can envision using this reference many times in the years to come. The designs are strong, clean, bold and timeless, and the book is a delight.

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"The Handweaver's Pattern Directory" by Anne Dixon

Having recently purchased Handweaver's Pattern Book: An Illustrated Reference to Over 600 Fabric Weaves by Anne Dixon, I can't recommend it highly enough.

It's certainly a niche book, appealing only to those who like to weave and have a loom with at least four shafts (though one can fake a four-shaft loom with four rigid heddles...), but for the people in that category it's a gold mine.

It features over 600 patterns, sorted by basic type--everything from all the fun you can have with tabby weaves through twills and huck to elaborate rose paths. The book is written for those who have a basic grasp of the procedures of weaving and how to read weaving drafts; though there is a techniques section, nothing is explained in any great detail.

It'd be fine for someone who has a teacher, or another book that goes into techniques more deeply, and it does include explanations of handy tricks like how to weave a floating selvage when necessary. It's not something to drop in the lap of a pure beginner.

Conversely, even an advanced weaver will find plenty of use for the book, as no one can keep every single interesting pattern in her head. "The Handweaver's Pattern Directory", with its clear photos of every single weave (yes, even tabby), is basically a huge sampler that you didn't have to weave yourself, and as such is invaluable.

The only quibble I have is that some of the author's color choices are odd, and that's purely a matter of personal taste.

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Best Ever Craft Book For Kids by The Staff of Paragon Publishing

by Janet
(Boston, MA)

As I do babysitting on weekends, I prepare myself for rainy days when the kids say, "I'm bored!" I am not a big believer in sticking kids in front of the TV, so I like to have something for them to do. Crafts are always a hit.

Best Ever Craft Book for Kids is the best book I have seen for children. The projects are fun and exciting to do. A lot of them are doable with the basic stuff I carry in my crafts bag. Most do not call for specialty supplies. My favorite feature of the book includes using stuff recycled from around the house.

The sun dial made from a paper plate is the cutest thing. Box-making and dying fabric is really cool if you have the time. They also teach string art, cross-stitch, paper boats and roses, face-painting; I could go on and on.

I tried the crafts book by Rosie O'Donnell and frankly, to anyone who has crafted, there was just nothing new or very exciting to do. Perhaps this book is so good because it is a collaborative effort of an entire staff of people. Whatever the reason, it is worth every cent I spent on it. The kids I sit for all wonder if I have "The Book" with me when I come to sit for them.

Kirstin's Comment

Best Ever Craft Book for Kids is a really awesome book! There is lots to make and do. This is in most libraries at public schools. This might be just my opinion on this but, I love this book and it's great for children and I recommend that you read this and maybe even make 1 or 2.

You can make lots of things like clay models, yarn dolls,photo albums. Really there is a lot to do in this very book. Sorry but I just have to say that Looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove this book!!!

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