Friday, December 28, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing by Linda Labelle

The past several years have seen an explosion of hand dyers offering their yarns to knitters. Many knitters are tempted to try their hand at designing unique colour-ways but have no idea where to begin. Linda Labelle’s new book The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing: Beautiful Color and Simple Knits is the perfect introduction to this complex art.

Beginning with an introduction to color theory, yarn preparation, and the basic techniques used throughout the book, The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing is organized according to dye type. Moving from kool-aid and food colouring to commercial dyes, each dye method is reviewed and illustrated using lots of pictures. The dye technique is followed by a pattern designed to utilize the newly created yarn. Although the patterns are fun, their main purpose is to illustrate how the newly dyed yarn looks once knit up, showcasing the dye-effect. Patterns include socks and hats, ponchos/shawls, gauntlets and even a lace sweater.

Scattered throughout The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing are interviews with seven professional dyers. The beautifully photographed sections show the dyers at work in their studios, surrounded by stunning yarns. Labelle discusses dyeing with some of the yarn world’s luminaries; Cheryl Schaefer from Schaefer Yarn and Karen Selk of Treenway Silks. Darlene Hayes of Hand Jive Knits shares her techniques and tips with her instructions on using eucalyptus, a product available to anyone (by order through a local florist), to create a beautiful natural dye.

Labelle assumes her readers are absolute beginners and provides instructions on everything from choosing the right gloves to complex dyeing methods. It is this careful instruction which makes The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing an excellent choice for anyone interested in learning dye methods.

ISBN10: 0307352536
ISBN13: 9780307352538

160 Pages
Publisher: Potter Craft
Publication Date: November 13, 2007


Thursday, December 27, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

The Greek gods and goddesses have left Olympus and moved to modern-day London, residing in a tumbledown house and are thoroughly sick of one another. To make matters worse, their power is waning. Apollo, bored and self-centered as always, has been up to his old tricks turning mortal women who refuse him into trees. This flagrant waste of power is a no-no and in a bid to teach him a lesson, his aunt Aphrodite convinces her son Eros to shoot Apollo with an arrow of love during his first stint as a television psychic. When Artemis hires Alice (the recipient of Apollo’s love) as the gods’ cleaning lady, all out chaos ensues and the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

Marie Phillips’ first novel has an intriguing premise – what if the Greek gods lived among us, performing their tasks but still needing to make a living? Her answer, Gods Behaving Badly, shows promise but falls a bit flat in the execution. There is much humour and irony to be found here: Aphrodite’s ring-tone is ‘Venus’ and she spends her days as a phone-sex operator; Artemis is a dog-walker repeatedly stumbling across her brother Apollo’s indiscretions as new trees appear in the park; Zeus is a crazy old man whom Hera hides in the attic; Apollo’s lack of attention to his job has led to global warming; and the entrance to Hades is a London tube station.

Her counterpoint to the gods – Alice and Neil – fall flat amidst the hyperbole that infuses the gods’ characters. Alice, the quiet cleaner, floats through much of the novel without touching readers. Providing Alice with more presence would have added credence to Neil’s quest to save her and ensured reader’s empathy lay with the mortals. It is only in the later part of Gods Behaving Badly that Alice really comes to life and at that point readers may no longer care what happens to her.

Ben Stiller’s production company ‘Red Hour’ has optioned Gods Behaving Badly to produce a TV comedy series.

ISBN10: 0316067628
ISBN13: 9780316067621

288 Pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: December 10, 2007
Author Interview: YouTube
Author Website:


Monday, December 10, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Work Shirts for Madmen by George Singleton

“If you can’t make sense of life, you can at least scratch your head and laugh at it.” – Michael Ray Taylor on how southern writers approach literature, Nashville Scene

Harp Spillman has lost count of the years spent living in the bottle. He’s ruined his reputation as metal sculptor, joked himself out of a lucrative career as a freelance ice sculptor and is now living off the good graces of his wife Raylou. When a commission of twelve-foot-high metal angels made out of hex nuts for Birmingham, Alabama gets approved (although he can’t remember applying), Harp realizes it’s time to hang up the bottle and return to the mig-welder. Fate decides he needs some moral support and sends him the Elbow Boys, although Harp wonders if isn’t just another of Raylou’s schemes…

Confused? Don’t be surprised - George Singleton’s writing epitomizes Michael Ray Taylor’s quote from Nashville Scene, this is Gonzo fiction at its finest. In Work Shirts for Madmen, Singleton paints with words using wide brush strokes; readers may not always know what is going on but there will be a vivid picture running in your head while you try to figure it out. With novels and short stories chock full of unfathomable characters and surreal situations, Singleton’s forte is his uncanny ability to keep readers laughing even while their hearts are breaking. Many of Singleton’s characters seem to have just stepped off a film set; I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Elbow Boys showing up in Tarantino’s next movie. And Harp’s ice sculpture creations melting at the Republican convention begs to be captured on film.

Even though there is such a strong cinematic quality to Work Shirts for Madmen, beneath all the laughs and eccentricities at its heart this is a novel about making sense of life after hitting rock bottom. Whether you’re attracted by the title or fiction featuring anteaters, make sure to grab this one for a day when you need a dose of surreal, you’ll be awfully glad you did.

Check out largehearted boy for George Singleton’s picks of music to accompany to accompany Work Shirts for Madmen.

ISBN10: 0151013071
ISBN13: 9780151013074

336 Pages
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc.
Publication Date: September 17, 2007
Author Website: