Best Practice – Resources

Ready for another installment of my Best Practices series? I can’t believe I have stuck with this series for six weeks  now!

I have worked as a paralegal for so many years (17!), and I’ve always found it important to have the right resources at hand. This carries over to my creative world too. There are lots of resources available, from books to magazines to the Internet.

(my new favorite resource – the Fat Quarterly e-zine!)

I especially love using the Internet and fellow bloggers for resources and inspiration. But I also like to have the actual books and magazines when learning the terminology, materials, tools, new techniques, and just looking for inspiration.

Finding what works for your needs can be fun. A couple things I like to look for in my resources: high quality pictures and illustrations (eye candy!), useful tips, intermediate to advanced techniques, and a variety of fresh, modern projects.

Sewing / Quilting References

When I first learned how to quilt in 1999, I took formal classes at the local quilt shop. I guess I was lucky to have access to such a fabulous shop because so many people nowadays seem to be either self-taught or are learning from free sites on the Internet. I’m a visual learner, so I like to hear and see the steps done and then try them myself.

Anyway, after those classes, I bought this quilting encyclopedia to have by my side as I made quilts on my own.

It’s an older book, but still great reference, from tools to techniques to piecing to quilting.

I progressed to using baby quilt books, since they provided easy to follow instructions for great projects.

These days, my sewing interested have expanded from sewing quilts to patchwork goods for our house and bags and clothes. Who doesn’t love Anna Maria Horner’s Seams To Me sewing book?! Every girl has to have this on her shelf!

I love the basic sewing techniques in this book to guide you through the charming projects that will stretch your sewing skills beyond of quilting. I adore Anna Maria’s voice and perspective – fun and free. There are no rules here; just guidelines to help steer you in the direction of success with your modern projects. I also especially like that this book is spiral bound so I can lay it flat.

Another sewing book I love is Amy Karol‘s Bend-the-Rules-Sewing book. It’s full of clever, modern projects with a fresh twist, from bags to aprons to table linens to aprons. I love her illustrations, and the multiple pictures or ideas she presents for each project.

Knitting and Crochet References

I learned how to knit and crochet when I was about 10 years old, but I ended up setting crafts aside while I was in college.

I relearned both knitting and crochet over 10 years ago, so I bought a couple reference books to have on hand. My absolute favorite resource book is the Knitters Companion because it serves like a mini encyclopedia (or a paperbook version of Google) when I get stuck and need to look up something quickly. I also really like that it’s spiral-bound so I can lay it flat if I need to follow along.

I always need help figuring out how to interchange yarns, since I often don’t have access to the yarn used in a pattern. So I especially love those particular pages!

Embroidery References

I used to do more embroidery and needlepoint in years past. At one point, I had to narrow down my hobbies, which is mainly sewing these days.

(Doodle Stitching by Aimie RayKids Embroidery by Kristin Nicholas, and Colorful Stitchery by Kristin Nicholas)

But I was so happy I had these reference books on my shelves when I made my mini friendship quilt for my recent blog giveaway. I needed a refresher on how to stitch words and flowers.

Color References

I think we would all agree how much fun it is to learn about the color wheel, how to use it, and how to make projects with the color wheel in mind.

I love the color exploration sections in Joelle Hoverson’s books. She provides a simple yet artsy narrative on combining various colors to achieve a different feeling.

I found this cool book at the local yarn store. I haven’t had much time to spend studying it, but it has amazing examples of different color combinations based on how you turn your color wheel.

Drawing Resources

I also have a pile of drawing and design resources, but I haven’t had much time to spend on those art techniques since the design and drawing classes I took last year.

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I know, there are zillions of great craft reference books and pattern books on the market. I could write a separate post reviewing each one of these wonderful creative books. (I do have a couple new sewing books I plan to review soon, so stay tuned for more on that.) Having these particular resources on my shelves has given me access to techniques and inspiration right at my fingertips! Feel free to share your favorite resources in the comments or link to your blog.

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Previous posts about my Best Practices:

Filing

Notetaking

Bobbins, Pins and Folding

Business Cards

Carry Your Product

Craft Night

The first Friday night of every month is craft night at my church, where everyone is welcome to use the big banquet tables in the fellowship area to spread out their craft projects, whether they are working on knitting, crochet, quilting, scrapbooking or painting.

Last Friday night, Rebecca was working on a scrapbook for her mother. She filled up several beautiful pages of memories from her mom’s life.

Aimee sorted her 2007 photographs and brainstormed ideas for a scrapbook of her daughters.

Kathi crocheted two dishcloths. (she is a fast crocheter)

I made these little journals, which I think will make cute gifts, and I finished sewing the binding on a quilt.

Mini journals

I was so inspired by Kathi’s quick and easy dishcloths that I made one tonight and started a second one. Instant satisfaction!

Easy dishcloths

Craft night is a great time to lose yourself in a project, socialize with your friends, brainstorm ideas with other creative people, and snack on chocolates, of course. I am already looking forward to next month’s get-together.