No sooner were we home than we were off again, choosing to spend a night in our favourite Sofitel rather than bolt up and down the M4 in a single day. I’ve already posted about our Chelsea Flower Show fun, but as I looked through my photos, I came across another story I thought I’d share.


When we’re in London, we usually find ourselves with half an hour or so to spare. What better way to spend such time than in a bookshop? Waterstones Piccadilly, usually and unsurprisingly, I head straight for the craft shelves.


Now, the last time I’d been in here, I’d left feeling very critical. Not only was it a fairly poor selection on offer, but the organisation was such that I’d been unable to find what I was looking for. On Tuesday, I was glad to find a totally revamped and enlarged section with plenty to catch my eye.


I’m always keen to see what new trends are appearing, clues to what I might be seeing on a showbench this season perhaps. On this occasion, I was pleased to see some traditional skills featured with several serious books about what is actually a technical and highly skilled subject. Upholstery classes were always popular, though in recent years they’ve mostly been filled with people wanting to do up an old chair rather than those who wanted to acquire the technical skills.


Papercraft is always popular and amongst the collage, origami and papercutting books were quite a few titles with maps as the theme, like this one


and this one. I have a thing about maps and I spent a while looking through these three in particular, thinking that perhaps they belonged on the art shelves rather than the craft shelves and, dare I say it, at least one of them would have been better placed in the children’s section.


I suppose it’s tricky to work out what goes on which shelf…is there a Dewey decimal code for Duct Tape I wonder?


With limited time, I took a few titles from the shelf for a closer look (no chairs in the shop any more sadly) and starting with Roped In wondered what other creative things could be done with rope beyond making bowls as shown on the cover. Unsurprisingly there’s some macramé in there and a few knotting ideas, but generally speaking, the content is a bit thin.


Opening it at a random page revealed a surprising project for a book about rope craft… I wonder how these books come about? How many copies are sold? IMHO, it’s a prime example of a book that needs to be seen and considered in the hand before buying. Thank goodness for bookshops!


I couldn’t resist moving along to the textile-y shelves of course, where there’s always a few familiar titles. But good grief - the Textile Artist’s Studio Handbook? A mixed range of reviews reveal exactly what one might suspect - that any attempt to cover the huge subject of “learn traditional and contemporary techniques for working with fiber, including weaving, knitting, dyeing, painting and more” in 176 pages is not going to be exactly comprehensive, is it? Perhaps it would have been fairer to have described it as “an overview” or “summary” of techniques? Another book that needs to be seen in the hand before buying.

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Did I find anything to impress, then? Well, yes. Little Loom Weaving was a good summary of patterns and finishes that I’d been looking for since I went to Ardington last month. Had I been returning straight to the hotel it would have come home with me (along with Greenfeast, possibly Fanny Zedenius’ Macramé book and almost certainly the new Sling Braiding book by Rodrick Owen) but heading straight for lunch with Edward and then on to Chelsea, the thought of carrying a bag of books with me all day was too much. So I simply found the staff responsible for the Art and Craft section of the store and said how much I appreciated the changes they’d made.

And because on that occasion, I felt rather shabby for using their extensive craft section as a library, I’ve made all the links here to Waterstones!