Friday, 25 October 2013

Hoop-la!, a give-away & some thoughts on blog-hops


Today I have a book review for you - a stop on the blog-hop of Kirsty Neale, as she launches her papery new baby, Hoop-la, out into the world.

When Kirsty wrote to me asking if I'd like to be part of her blog-hop to launch her new book, Hoopla, I watched the promotional video (twice! Because it's adorable - scroll to the bottom of the page I've just linked to, to watch it yourself) and then very happily agreed. Hoop-la is a book all about framing your creativity with an embroidery hoop. It's not a new idea, but the book feels fresh and full of inspiration, thanks to Kirsty's wonderful imagination and how ridiculously talented she is when it comes to executing an idea with a crochet hook, a knitting needle and a sewing machine. The video is visually impressive, but it wasn't until I looked through the book that I fully appreciated quite how diverse the projects included are.


This book appeals to me because, as you may have noticed, I have a personal weakness for incorporating sewing into things for the wall (which is why I often favour making an English paper pieced wall hanging over a quilt, which I'm rapidly running out of cupboard space for). While I'd still love to appliqué cushions and PE bags with intricate pictures, now that my children are older, we don't have as much of a place for these things, but the walls feel as though they offer an exception to this. I feel wall-sewing takes up less visual and physical space. Each piece of sewn wall-art is framed, so it doesn't spill out into the rest of the room and overshadow everything; a stand-alone story of its own. The downstairs cloakroom wall takes my feelings about how liberating creating things for the wall is and amplifies it, offering a place where, in England at least, it's perfectly normal for people to hang odd curiosities on the wall. Is it like this in all countries, or is this an English thing, I wonder? In ours, we have a framed hologram of some orange and pink roses, Brora cashmere colour charts, some family photos with hand-written lines from songs or poems beneath them (all, I'm ashamed to say, mounted and hung on the wall in a more ramshackle way than I'd feel happy with anywhere else in the house) and a shelf containing poetry books because we ran out of room on our main bookshelves. I also have my Company magazine award in there too because my husband jokingly suggested I put it in there when I arrived home with it and it's ended up staying! So if I ever want to have a picture of an appliquéd sausage dog on the wall of my downstairs cloakroom then that would feel okay too.

Framing things in the conventional way can be expensive and Kirsty's book reveals the humble embroidery hoop as offering a low-cost alternative that, left bare, has an appealing Scandinavian look, but Hoop-la! is also packed with ideas for decorating it.


A hoop also offers a solution for keeping your work taut and wrinkle free - when I created these pictures I really struggled to keep the background crisp - an embroidery hoop would have been the perfect solution.


The book offers up an incredibly wide variety of ideas and incorporates not only sewing, but also knitting, crochet, embroidery, patchwork, screen printing, cross-stitch, sashiko, photo printing...


There's everything from pictorial hoops (Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, animals, children...); to storage solutions (a place to hang jewellery, a vase, a chalkboard, a stationary holder, key racks, photo holders); children's interactive play hoops (a doll with interchangeable clothing, tooth fairy hoops, noughts and crosses boards, hanging mobiles); to display pieces (such as hoop clocks, hoop mirrors and Christmas wreaths); ways to make a diorama picture scene (a bear in the woods); to using a hoop as a mount for a fully 3D fabric-moose-head! I love the idea of the storage hoop pictured above for keeping scissors and seam rippers to hand near the sewing machine.



The hoops are also used in inventive ways - a picture of a giraffe spans threes vertically placed hoops, while a sausage dog is seen through two horizontal hoops, humorously emphasising its stretch limousine body which couldn't be contained by one hoop alone.


In another, a girl stands in a larger hoop, holding a balloon which floats above her in a tiny hoop, a string running between the two. One of my favourites is the solar system represented through hoops - my son would love this. There are templates for all the images used to create the hoops, although it's worth remembering that they'll need enlarging on a photocopier by 200% to create them at the same size as the hoops in the book. Instructions tend to be limited to one page and are brief, but comprehensive enough to easily complete the project and, for me, a book like this is more about inspiration, so I'd favour more pictures and less text anyway, so I feel this balance works well. I should say that I've shown here the more off-the-wall or for-children ideas, but there's plenty of ideas for more minimal hoops. One of my favourites is a simple, cross-stitched ampersand.


This is a book where it feels as though the author has literally allowed her life to be overrun with hoops and ideas for how they can used - as I looked through the pages I could sense the thrill that she must have had in creating the book and, with such diverse and idiosyncratic hoop uses, I'm imagining that the ideas for more hoops must have suddenly appeared in her head at odd and unexpected times and been such fun to come up with. Hoop-la! feels entirely free of lack-lustre page-fillers, but instead it is a lively, characterful and definitive look at the unassuming embroidery hoop (at least I feel it's definitive, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a 'Let's Hoop-la Again', including another 100 ideas that I'd be equally as surprised and delighted by). Kirsty, you are a hoop genius. I salute you.


If you'd like to win one of Kirsty's original straight-from-the-book hoops to have on your own wall, then just leave a comment on this post - she's offering up the chalkboard embroidery hoop which would be perfect in a kitchen, child's bedroom or office. She's very kindly said that she's happy to send it internationally, so that anyone can enter. I'll announce a winner next week.

If you'd like to buy your own copy you can find it here (this link is an Amazon affiliate link - it means that if you buy the book after clicking on my link they give me a tiny cut of the profits. It doesn't increase the price for the buyer...it just means Amazon share their profits with me). If you'd rather this didn't happen but would like to buy the book, simply open Amazon in a new tab and type the book title in independently.

Florence x

NB. From a reader's perspective, I'm wary of blog hops. I worry that rather than the review coming from a place of genuine I-bought-this-book-last-week-and-I-love-it! enthusiasm, they may sometimes be written as a part of the mutual support and kindness which is such an intrinsic and wonderful part of our blogging community. This is fantastic in many ways, but less fantastic when you're encouraging people to buy a book that you love more on the basis of who it was written by than what's inside the pages, because very few people are lucky enough to have a huge surplus budget for buying craft books. It feels important to me to share here only what I'm genuinely enthused by and to put enough photos in a review post to give readers an insight into whether it's a book they might like too...because just because I love it, doesn't mean everyone will. I only review books that I've bought myself; that I've been sent on the basis that if I don't love it, I won't review it; or where I've seen enough of a preview to know that I will love it and so can agree to receiving a review copy without that understanding in place. So I wanted to reassure any sceptics (or is just me that's sometimes sceptical about this) that I've reviewed this book because I think it's fun, wonderfully executed and is unique in its focus and because when I watched the promotional video for the book I felt instantly inspired, which is ultimately what I really want out of any craft book. If you buy it, I hope you enjoy it too. x

54 comments:

  1. I've just added this book to my 'what I'd like for Christmas' list! It looks really fun & creative - thanks for the review! x

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you! Another book for my Christmas wishlist!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This book is already on my Amazon wish list. I love the stag in the hoop - would love to make this!

    http://asaucystitch.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
  4. It looks fantastic. I'm off to put it in my amazon wish list. juliex

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sounds like an interesting and fun book!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow this book looks like it was written just for me. I have just purchased heaps of second hand hoops I was going to

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love so many of the hoop ideas ... What a gorgeous book. Some blog hops can make you feel a wee bit cynical, but in this instance it's such a wonderful book and so inspired I think it deserves all the attention it can get. Such a lovely review too (I am a big fan of the two hoop sausage dog).

    www.uandmii.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great review, the book's on my wish list too. I love the sound of the solar system hoops! Rx

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for a really great review. This book looks as if it is full of lots of really fun projects. I would never have thought of incorporating storage solutions into hoops. how clever. I will defintiely be putting it on my Christmas wish list.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love the creative ideas for hoops!! Seems like a great book. Thanks for the giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The book is already on my wish list in Amazon. I love embroidery hoops, I use one to carry my wedding rings !!

    ReplyDelete
  12. It looks like a great gift (for myself!)! :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I bought the book yesterday - so sorry or I would have clicked on your affiliate link! I like this kind of blog hop as it really gives you a good view of what's in the book - useful as so few craft books tend to be stocked in bricks and mortar shops and the "look inside" feature on amazon is quite limited. So thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a great book! I think I'll put this on my Christmas list like everyone else! And thanks for the giveaway. Oh and thanks for lovely end note ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh my goodness, this book is so cute! The projects are adorable - love the stag heads and the pencil holder in particular.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This book is fabulous... I particularly like the "three hoop giraffe". Definitely going on my Christmas wish list!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Such clever ideas, I love the pen pocket one especially! Thanks for sponsoring this giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love the bear in the woods and the giraffe, I am definitely tempted to treat myself to this book :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Soooo cute, I'm getting back into embroidery so even if I don't frame things with hoops she has so many wonderful ideas - yes I just bought with Amazon 1 click.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm so tempted to buy this book! I already have some hoop art on my wall but it's no where near as creative as the ideas you've shown here. Love it!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you for the great review and all the pictures. The book looks lovely - it's now on my Christmas wish list! I definitely need a sausage dog on my wall!
    Tessa

    ReplyDelete
  22. Looks like a wonderful book - and I love the dachshund hoop(s)!!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. What a great book. Thanks for the chance!

    ReplyDelete
  24. The book looks great - I've just added it to my ever-growing Amazon wish list. I love the pencil holder and blackboard hoops in particular, they'd be a pretty and practical addition to my office!

    ReplyDelete
  25. This book looks very interesting, who would have thought a hoop could be so useful!
    I have just reorganised my jewellery and I have 2 hoops with pretty fabric in on the wall and I have hung all my earrings into the fabric. I can now see all my earrings and choose which to wear!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks for the chance to enter. We've recently started a stitch and bitch group and are looking to expand our library so we'll definitely be looking at this book!

    ReplyDelete
  27. HI Florence a fabulous post, thank you. I have the book which is fantastic - would love to win the hoop, fingers and toes crossed. It has certainly made me look at hoops very differently now. Love your blog Florence, always fun and inspiring. Have a great weekend.
    Lots of love
    Dorothy
    :-)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    ReplyDelete
  28. This would make an excellent teen gift for Christmas for my daughter who has just gotten into hoop art. Thanks for the review as I would not have known about it otherwise!

    ReplyDelete
  29. You did a great, balanced review - no need to worry at all about bias, etc : ) I am not crafty - so I can see from your review that I wouldn't buy this book for *myself *- but I can also see clearly what type of book it is, so that I can keep it in mind for gift shopping for crafty friends : ) Perfectly done!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Oh my gosh what a neat book! I got quite excited about several of the hoops and I'm definitely adding it to my wish list for Xmas!

    I agree with you about blog-hops too. I've been asked to do a couple and it puts you in a quandry - its nice to be asked but it does sort of place some sort of obligation on you in turn. I think that even if you personally aren't thrilled about the book, it's possible to judge whether that's because it's awful or just down to personal taste. If the latter then it's possible to do a positive review by supplying enough images of the projects that people whose taste it is can fall in love with the projects themselves. The thing I noticed though, was that the blog hops didn't generate nearly as much traffic or comments for giveaways as I would have expected - and it wasn't just my blog as I went snuffling around the others on the list (some quite big ones too) to see how it was going. I guess it must be worth the publisher's while to hold them but it was interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Oh! another lovely addition to my wish list!

    ReplyDelete
  32. What a great idea-It sounds a great book and as hoops seem to be the in thing at the moment, it would be a shame not to take a step on the bandwagon! :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. I already have this book and love it! It has to be my favourite book ever!. I have bought it for my daughter too for Xmas.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This looks a great book with some lovely ideas!
    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book, I love the look of it and it might just be great for sharing with my 9yr old who has just started doing some stitching. Thanks for your thoughts on the blog hop too, I worry about reviews on craft books (especially online sites) if the person hasn't made anything from the book, looks and content are great but I want to know do the patterns work!

    ReplyDelete
  36. What an amazing idea, they're all such cute things:)

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thanks, this looks right up my alley. Another one for my Christmas list I think.

    ReplyDelete
  38. On my amazon wish list for Christmas already!

    ReplyDelete
  39. What a wonderfully quirky idea! pondering if my Christmas presents this year could be entirely hoop-based...

    ReplyDelete
  40. This book is already on my Christmas wish list, it just looks lovely to leaf through and take inspiration from.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Glad to read your review as this is a book I already thought I would like....and now I KNOW I will. Definately on my christmas list.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Ooh I love these ideas. I'm feeling very inspired. I will certainly put this book on my wish list!!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Yes yes yes ! I really want this book now!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Who knew you could do so much with such a simple round space? So creative and fun!

    ReplyDelete
  45. I am just now reconnecting with embroidery, having been overwhelmed by the stuffy choices available when I was a kid. The projects in this book are so inventive and inspiring - I'd love to try my hand at a few of the 3D options.

    ReplyDelete
  46. How could anything be cuter ... and why didn't I think of it! I cannot wait to see the book.

    ReplyDelete
  47. So cute! Great concept! Thank you for the chance!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Thank you for the review. This book is amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  49. Oh I love this hoop, would be great for our new kitchen!

    ReplyDelete
  50. I am loving the reviews of this book! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  51. I'm glad you did this review. I was actually not interested in the book at all until I read this review and saw more of the projects that are included. I am now considering purchasing it or putting it on my Christmas wish list. So thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  52. Ohhh! This book looks interesting, I've always wanted hoops but dont embroider so this may be a way I get to indulge!! :) Great book! Thank you!

    Jerra xx

    ReplyDelete
  53. Ohhh that chalkboard hoop is cute!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...