The Nani Iro Sewing Studio by Naomi Ito

The simple and comfy-looking patterns from the cover of the book is what got my attention. Nani Iro is the name of Naomi Ito’s very well-known fabric brand. As a watercolor artist and textile designer, she creates beautiful fabric designs in a painterly style.

This book contains 18 patterns that can create a basic wardrobe: blouse, skirt, pants, jumpsuit, shirt, hat, two coats and several types of dresses. There’s advice and examples for mix and matching them as well as fabric specifications and suggestions for each pattern. There’s also a sneak peak into Nani Iro’s studio, showing fabric types, colors, and even the team of women working there, showcasing their favorite outfits using patterns from the book.

Really loved these minimalist and clean designs. These patterns look natural, romantic and breezy. Perfect for indoor use and, while I wouldn’t probably venture outside wearing the cocoon dress, most patterns would look lovely for informal occasions and weekend getaways. With the right fabric choice, their elegance can make them perfect for an evening out.

If it wasn’t clear by now, these patterns are not tight-fitted garments, they are very loose fit. Consider if this is a style you would like to wear. Another thing to keep in mind, is that their biggest size (XL) is for someone up to 67 in. tall, 29.5 in. bust, 33.5 in. waist and about 41 in. hips. Their over-sized nature can help to stretch that limit but if not, you’ll need to make adaptations. Other than that, I think this book is wonderful. I specially enjoyed that it is more than a pattern book, it gives you tips on how to combine them, what fabrics suit them and for what occasions and weather. Really lovely pictures and enough inspiration to get you sewing.

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Portfolio: Beginning Composition by Kimberly Adams

Artists without knowledge of good composition, wondering about how to create well balanced and visually appealing art can start their journey with this book. As it is mentioned in this title, “composition is a broad subject”, so it’s best to digest in small chunks.

This book introduces readers to the principles of design and other basic principles in a practical way. Concepts are explained with words but also shown visually (most of the book consists of watercolor, acrylic or oil paintings analyzed). This approach is very suitable for beginners, it makes it easier to understand and put into practice.

Composition analysis with advice and tips is provided for landscapes, portraits, still life and florals. There’s a chapter, almost at the end, that focuses on how to use photographs to create paintings with good composition. With only 128 pages, this book is easy to read and holds a lot of information to get you started creating more appealing paintings.

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Knitted Animal Friends by Louise Crowther

Book cover

Did you know that there are those who start knitting their Christmas gifts around July? I found that fascinating. On the north hemisphere, that means summer time, which felt like a weird time for knitting but I tried it nonetheless and let me tell you: wow, knitting outdoors with good amount of sunlight was indeed a great experience. I also enjoy knitting indoors, surrounded by fluffy yarn during cold dark days. Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, handcrafts have a great reputation for enhancing well being and mental health, so kudos to you if you practice any kind of handcraft!.

Knitted Animal Friends is a wonderful book for knitters who are looking for more than just a cute softie (cuddly stuffed toy). You get patterns for 13 different animals (cat, dog, horse, mouse, fox, squirrel, hedgehog, pig, racoon, hare, duck, ram and owl). Cute characters indeed, but you can also knit their wardrobe!. Patterns for little shoes, sweaters, pants, scarves, bags, etc. All animals have a standard shape and size, so mixing and matching accessories as well as body parts is possible.

From a technical point of view, the book is also gorgeous : instructions are clear, perfectly organized and displayed. It is most suitable for intermediate and experienced knitters, as it contains more advanced techniques. What I loved the most about it, is how customizable these softies are. Did I mention that each animal has a name and character description?, extra cuteness. A delight to own and play with for sure (not just for kids, they look great as decoration too).

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Hart & Seoul by Kristen Burnham

Do you like Kpop, Kdramas? Do you fantasize “What would it be like to meet a kpop member or a korean actor. Not as a celebrity, but as a person I can greet across the street?”. Yes?, you’ll love this one,

If you are still reading this instead of squealing while searching for a copy of this book, you are probably not thaaaat into Korean entertainment, but you are hoping I’ll tell more about the romance and story in general.

Merilee Hart is a teenager living with her father, escaping reality and her life troubles through art. One day, she meets the nephew of her next door neighbor. Their first encounter starts off on the wrong foot. As both of them struggle to deal with their personal life’s circumstances, they become close and learn to lean on each other. With some bumps and twists along the road, their sweet and innocent love begins to bloom.

The story was entertaining. I never get tired of light-hearted romance with all of its clichΓ©s and typical plots (shoujo manga readers are well used to this). Fair warning, it can feel like a fan fiction at times. It might make you cringe if your experienced heart and brain can’t handle it. It has dialogue bits in korean and many references their culture, but I’m not well-versed in Korean affairs, just general knowledge, so I can’t say much about it.

I’m pretty sure that any K-fan would love to indulge in this romantic story between a Kpop star and an ordinary girl. Oh, and seems like this will be a book series, so expect more!

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Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan

Happy New Year everyone!!! wohooooo *throws confetti vigorously* . Okay, enough chit chat let’s get serious: Introversion. This is a subject that has gained popularity in recent years, mostly in the way of humorous comic strips, memes and all kinds of jokes about staying at home and dreading social events. I love reading, laughing and sharing them all across social media… but truth is, there’s something sad about it all. As an introvert myself, I often feel I’m missing out on things and opportunities just because I don’t dare to grab the spotlight, be bold and become a confident social butterfly. It’s frustrating and makes me curse this introversion along with shyness, highly sensitivity and so on. Can I change? Am I doomed to watch from afar and envy those non-sweating fellow humans? Well, Jessica Pan might be able to help you with those questions.

This book reads like a memoir. A full year of an introvert doing extrovert stuff. A full frigging year! Why? because she also had that burning question “What if I was an extrovert?“. Alright, here comes the advisory note: If you tend to get emotionally disturbed when reading a book that hits home, remember that she will be telling, in detail, her experiences doing things like improv in front of a crowd. Can you handle reading about that? Then you are good to go.

This book is full of humor and humanity. I could relate to her and feel her worries. I cheered for her in every step of the journey and got butterflies in my stomach when she dared to try things I think of as embarrassing.

The best part, is that through her journey, I realized how extroverts get shy and nervous too, that we can all boost our confidence and people skills. That it will be a struggle, but we can do all those fun things despite our irrational fears. But most of all, that it’s always worth going out of our comfort zone for a moment, than regretting not doing so for the rest of our lives.

I would definitely recommend it to introverts out there asking the same question to themselves: What if I was an extrovert?. With a mix of humor and self-help worthy material, this is a great gift for yourself or your dear introvert.

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The Urban Sketching Handbook: Working with Color by Shari Blaukopf

If you know your watercolor basics (but hey, ipad + procreate is a popular option too) and want to sketch outdoors, but struggle to get things looking nice, like “why can’t I get perspective right?”, “how can I draw people?”, “it doesn’t have the same mood” etc, then I would recommend you to check out The Urban Sketching Handbook series. They have several books focusing on different aspects of urban sketching and, in this case, color.

First chapters have brief explanations on materials, how to choose your colors, watercolor techniques (washes, glazing, wet on wet, splattering, dry brush), skies, mixing greens for trees and shrubs and mixing darks and shadows.

The following chapters explore color and value, limited colors (1 or 3 color palettes), color relationships (how to express moods with color/ color temperature), neutral colors, how to catch the mood and atmosphere of a place, using expressive colors and using other media (like pens, gouache, pastel or even ipad). Each chapter consists of inspiring watercolor artworks by different artists + their personal tips related to the chapter in question.

At the end of the handbook, there’s a nice art challenge list to get you started and experimenting. What I loved the most about this book, is that it’s mainly filled with tips from different artists. It’s inspirational and specially useful for intermediate artists.

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Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts by Michelle Brown

Do you remember the illuminated bookmark I made several months ago?. Okay, it’s this one:

Illumination is the art of decorating text with all kinds of ornaments or images. Think about medieval manuscripts and the popular Book of hours (which is not just one book, but how this type of religious manuscripts were called).

If you are familiar with it and wish to have more in depth knowledge about techniques, processes, materials, nomenclature and styles used for making illuminated manuscripts, then Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts can satisfy your curiosity. This is a revised edition of a book first published in 1994. Think of it as an “anatomy guide” full with terms, easy to read explanations and beautiful images. It also feels like a dictionary to accompany your studies.

It is a technical book, so I wouldn’t recommend it for the casual reader. However, explanations are easy to understand and you don’t need to be an scholar or researcher to benefit from it. If you are an autodidact, this book would be perfect to help you understand many terms you might encounter in other related texts. Anyone trying to gain a deeper understanding of illuminated manuscripts can benefit from it.

At this point, my interest is general and only focused on the artistic side of illumination. If I was to specialize on medieval illustration and try to recreate this wonderful style accurately, then I would definitely rely on this book because of its good balance between text and images plus modern explanations.

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The end of hiatus

Book Blogging Tales #1 by MIssHoneybug -
"The end of hiatus"
Optimistic: "It's okay, let's pick up from where we left" "better late than never".
Pessimistic: "No one will remember me. Do I even have followers?. Does anyone care?"
Story teller: "As you might have noticed, I went away for 6 months. Truth is, during that time I found a job, had exams, got new puppy, moved to new apartment, had to take care of blablablbla....".
Existentialist: "To blog or not to blog... Why do I blog? What is life?".
Procrastinator: "I need a special post for my comeback... I'll get to it...later".
Goner: "...".

Did you identify with any of these types? I think I’m an optimist with a hint of procrastinator (perfectionist actually, but those two go hand in hand sometimes).

Yes, I’m back. Life happens, but then you just stand up and keep reading!.

For all the authors who have contacted me during the past several months, thank you for your patience! I’ll be answering back little by little.

For all my readers, I have so many stories to tell you! about books, blogging, art and life. I missed you.

Miss Honeybug with heart

The Art of Visual Notetaking by Emily Mills

The Art of Visual Notetaking: An Interactive Guide to Visual Communication and Sketchnoting is a 128 pages workbook that teaches you how to take notes incorporating visually pleasing elements like simple drawings, fun lettering, symbols and even colors.

Probably many of us have done this to some extend, we hear certain words from a lecture and start doodling them all over the page. The difference here is, when you take visual notes, those doodles are sequentially organized like a road map and make sense!.

Now, why would you need a book when you already know how to doodle?. Well, it’s not the same to make a couple of doodles during a 1hr conference than to mindfully pick the most important points, doodle them and make them look good and understandable.

In this book, Emily explains all you need to know to start visual notetaking. To name a few, the importance of creating visual content, types of visual notes, tools, lettering styles, drawing basics, composition, listening cues, layouts, visual library, etc. There is plenty of space after each lesson so that you can practice right away.

Personally, I would have loved to see more examples in different styles and about more interesting subjects. The information provided is great for those without experience at all, but it lacks the eye-candy that entices you to try it. Which I would consider specially important to get beginners and casual readers (not those who already made their mind to learn this skill) excited about learning.

Would recommend this book to anyone interested about taking visually pleasing notes, but specially for those whose job requires to take notes and present them to others. Sketchnoting, as it is also called, can be a job by itself. So, I would also recommend it for artists, designers, assistants, journalists and those interested in broadening their professional skills.

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Out of the Woods: A Journey Through Depression and Anxiety by Brent Williams

This book’s title already tells a lot about its content, but the “how it is told” is what doesn’t show and deserves more attention. It makes it, in my opinion, a top choice when looking, for the first time, for books about anxiety and depression.

First of all, it it a graphic novel illustrated bt Korkut Γ–ztekin where the main character is the author of this book and the story is his own journey. The combination of text and images helps explain this serious and complex subject in a friendly and approachable way. Specially good for sufferers, as images are easier to digest than a typical book.

I really liked the illustrator’s style and approach. 700 watercolor illustrations with a color palette that resembles our MC’s mental state. Muted colors dominate the beginning of the story, when our MC feels at his worst, and as his mind begins to heal and strengthen, those colors slightly change towards more pleasing, brighter tones.

What I liked the most about this autobiographical story is that it doesn’t go into too specific details, yet gives us a very complete image of this illness. I would compare it to a first-aid kit, it has a bit of everything you might need to know at first. The story show us what happens inside his head as well as outside in his everyday life. It also tells about the different options for treating these conditions; from pills to alternative solutions. It’s very neutral approach, it doesn’t entice the reader to try one or another, it simply shows the options and what worked and didn’t work for the author. I really appreciate how unbiased it felt.

It is a great read for those trying to understand people with anxiety and depression and specially good for those who suffer from it. It feels like a fellow friend telling you about his journey, without reservations. You can feel identified with the author’s experiences and even realize things you didn’t think would be related to depression or anxiety. A very important read in this time and age where these conditions are suffered by many.

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