Let me just start by saying that this book is utterly immense, and I'm a little bit in love with it. This is a craft book with a difference - almost every crafty tome I've ever read has a pretty straightforward layout of two parts; a series of techniques and instructions followed by a section full of step-by-step projects. There's not usually an awful lot to just sit and read, and while beautiful photography is obviously an essential part of any craft manual, I always feel like they're missing.... something. Material World breaks the mould completely, and ticks every box on my list of requirements for the 'perfect craft book'.
The one thing that makes Material World unique is that it's absolutely stuffed with fifteen completely different crafts - most books are written to celebrate one individual technique, be it crochet or cross stitch, but Perri Lewis has taken fifteen of her favourites, and made them accessible to everyone. From paper-cutting to leatherwork, there's a little something for everyone, and more importantly, nothing is overly complicated - instructions are written simply and concisely, and what's even more useful is that there is an indicator of how easy and how long each project will take. Personally, I've lost count of how many times I've sat down with a new project, only to find that actually, I'll need three months rather than three hours to complete it. At the end of each project, you'll find a page or so of 'extras' - further inspirational ideas on how to take your newly learned technique forward and use it around your home or wardrobe.
One of my favourite things about Material World was the 'masterclass' feature that appears within every project - pages and pages of tips, tricks and interviews from the worlds greatest crafters, from Mr. X Stitch, embroiderer extraordinaire, to Lee May Foster-Wilson, the creator of Bonbi Forest. There's nothing more inspiring or invaluable than hints from people who are at the top of their game when it comes to crafts, and I went away with a gazillion new blogs and links bookmarked on my laptop.
I mentioned at the beginning of this review, that Material World is so much more than a collection of projects, and this is the crux of what makes it such a great read. Scattered throughout the book are several short pieces of writing on various issues, from how to unlock your creativity to the introduction to craftivisim. I particularly enjoyed the piece on craft being beneficial to mental health and wellbeing, and found myself nodding along in agreement. I first began to crochet after the birth of my eldest child, from the depths of post-natal depression. As he slept, I hooked and stitched; crafting hats and blankets, and weaving the strands of my mind back together until I resembled myself again. To this day, the place I find most relaxation is curled up on the sofa, tea nearby and hook in hand - there's something about the repetition that calms me, and helps me focus my thoughts.
I love this book. I love absolutely everything about it, and I can honestly say I've never felt that way about a craft book before. Perri writes with such enthusiasm and vigour, that it's impossible not to get caught up in her love affair with crafting and making. The techniques and projects are written in such a way that a complete craft novice wouldn't be intimidated whatsoever, and I was pretty excited to see the wonderful art of macrame making an appearance - mostly because I've been wanting to try it for absolutely AGES. (Outdoors plant hangers, anyone?) In fact, I was so taken with the idea of cross-stitching a hessian bag (seriously, HOW have I not thought of this before?!), that I've already started my own stitchy-makeover. Let's just say, it's a slow progress....
Disclosure: This isn't a sponsored post, and I wasn't paid to write it. I was, however, sent the book to review, which you can purchase from all good book retailers.