I know it wasn't too long ago that I shared some favorite recent reads. But those were mostly fiction and since then I've brought a pile of good nonfiction home from the library and I thought I should share them with you. I think any of them would make great gifts, too, if you're looking for ideas.
"Here's to books, the cheapest vacation you can buy."
The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood was recently recommended to me by Dana. I don't really consider myself a quilter, though I have sewn some patchwork throws. They're fun and cozy and I don't follow "rules". This book is perfect for someone like me. Sherri's attitude about cultivating a beginner's mind and celebrating mistakes is so freeing, as are techniques like "ruler-free" patchwork and piecing (every quilt I've made has been made with rulers and the thought of putting them away seems so rebellious!). The quilts pictured in the gallery sections of the book are gorgeous and inspiring and I love that this isn't a "here's how to make a quilt that looks just like this" sort of book. It teaches techniques and inspires you to create your own, unique works of art (that happen to be fun and cozy, too). The book also includes this gem: "even 'failures' are not wasted effort but the worthy steppingstones of transformation". Good advice whether you're a quilter or not.
As long as I'm on a quilt roll, I'll skip down to Heather Jones' Quilt Local: Finding Inspiration in the Everyday. I think the subtitle says it all. Inspiration is all around you. Every day. The quilts in this book were inspired by things as ordinary as the pattern on a water tower and the tile in a fast food restaurant's bathroom. There are instructions for creating 40 quilts, but also tips for creating your own quilts from inspiration in your world. The book is beautiful and it's such a reassuring reminder that inspiration doesn't need to come from somewhere exotic; you can find it in your own backyard (again, good advice whether you're a quilter or not).
I've been following Sarah Owens on Instagram for a while. We first connected because of roses. At the time she was the Rosarian at the New York Botanical Garden and I enjoyed her flower and garden photographs. I soon discovered that she is also a baker (her artisan bakery, BK17, runs as a CSB, or community supported baking) and later discovered that originally she was a ceramacist -- she's one talented woman! This fall her book Sourdough was released. Oh, is it beautiful. Arranged seasonally it shares not just recipes, but a way of creatively thinking about baking, eating and living. And it's not just bread. I can't wait till spring when I can forage for burdock stems and try out the recipe for Burdock Burgers and in the summer if I have an abundance of scarlet runner beans (last summer's harvest was disappointingly small) I'll try making Scarlet Runner Bean Hummus. Don't worry if you have trouble with gluten, the point of this book, and in Sarah's journey into baking is that by using whole and sprouted grains and natural fermentation you heal your body's digestion. So inspiring on many levels, this book will not disappoint (you can buy signed copies from Sarah's website here).
On my blog I've shared a couple fabric designs I've been working on. Next year I plan to release a collection of designs and offer them for sale on Spoonflower. Haven't heard of Spoonflower? It's a genius company that produces custom fabric, giftwrap and wallpaper. If you're an artist or designer (or even if you're not... you can upload photographs and have them printed as fabric, giftwrap or wallpaper) you can have your designs printed either for yourself or for sale to the general public. If you just like working with fabric or are looking for unique giftwrap or wallpaper you can purchase independently designed products through the site. The site is constantly running design contests and it offers a lot of support for designers, budding designers and non-designers to make creating fabric (or wallpaper or giftwrap) fun and relatively painless. In some ways, though, it's hard to know where to start. The Spoonflower Handbook provides a great overview and includes over 30 projects that help you to understand all that's possible with the site. Very inspiring!
Finally, I spied Bright Bazar by Will Taylor on Sharon's bookshelf in her recent book-themed post and knew I'd have to check it out. If you love quirky, colorful decorating, you'll enjoy this book. Perfect for poring over on a dark, dreary winter day; the colors and lighthearted style will be sure to cheer you up.
What about you? What books have been inspiring you lately? Do you have any titles on your holiday gift list (for giving or receiving)? I'd love to hear about them!