Over the last few weeks I've been lucky enough to have been sent a couple of new books to review, the first being 'Kirstie's Homemade Home' by Kirstie Allsopp. For those outside the UK, the book is based on a television series, in which Kirstie visited a variety of craftspeople to learn skills such as glass blowing, wallpaper printing, knitting, sewing and even soap making. All of this is documented as part of the renovation of Meadowgate, a dilapidated property in north Devon in much need of restoring.
I have to begin by admitting to being a little dubious when any celebrity suddenly turns themselves into a self appointed expert, but in this case, I am swayed by the fact that I like Kirstie, I think she comes across on screen (and on Twitter) as a likeable person. Kirstie is, in this case, not professing to be an expert here, that's the point, it's all about learning and giving something new a try. And anyone who manages to bring crafts onto a more mainstream platform is doing a good thing in my view.
Now, I haven't read the book from cover to cover, but what I have done is to read through the reviews to date which have been posted on Amazon, and refer back to the book in order to address some of the questions raised.
The book itself is split into three sections, the first, being very prettily photographed, skips from room to room in an interior design forté. The second section is the craft projects and the third is packed with shopping tips and suppliers. There is quite a lot covered in this book so it doesn't matter if you have seen the television series or not, the book aims to stand alone. If anything, the book probably covers a bit too much, and is in danger of veering into 'jack of all trades, master of none' territory. One reviewer says there are only 23 craft projects, I actually think 23 is a fair amount and probably about average for a craft pattern book (as an example for comparison, Anna Maria Horner's 'Seams to Me' has 24). It is also mentioned that there are no christmas crafts included. The book does clearly state it is based on the first series, 'Homemade Home', (which another reviewer described as meaning it was out of date, in answer to that, have you any idea how long it takes and the work involved in publishing a book?!). 'Kirstie's Homemade Christmas' was a separate series in itself. But while there are indeed no specifically Christmas themed projects, there are many which would make suitable gifts. For me, the true feel of the book is captured within Kirstie's introduction. It doesn't set itself out to be the complete answer, the aim is more to ask questions and inspire.
The second series of 'Homemade Home' is due on our screens here in the UK soon (and fellow craft bloggers may well recognise one of the craftspeople featured).
'Kirstie's Homemade Home' by Kirstie Allsopp, published by Hodder & Stoughton, October 2010