Thursday, 15 January 2015

Reflecting on 2014

Looking back on our bestsellers for the previous year is always enjoyable – some surprises (both good and otherwise!) and lots of feel good stories that I would like to share.

Australian authors have 11 of our top 50 books which is no surprise given the creative, quality work from Loani Prior (more below), Di Ford (Primarily Quilts), Wendy Williams (Wild Blooms & Colorful Creatures) Nicole Mallalieu (The Better Bag Maker), Jennifer Clouston (Foolproof Crazy Quilting), Carolyn Konig (Creating Heirlooms), Kass Hall (Zentangle Untangled) and, of course, Gloria Loughman (Radiant Landscapes).

            The Better Bag Maker       Wild Blooms & Colorful Creatures   Primarily Quilts

The wonderful Loani Prior and her aptly named Pretty Funny Tea Cosies was No. 1 for the year. Loani worked hard at most of the Craft & Quilt shows, which of course helped sales, and her new book pulled her previously published works (HowTea Cosies Changed the World and Really Wild Tea Cosies) into the top 50 as well. A fantastic new book does help sales, but it is also interesting to see 16 of our top 50 are what publishers describe as “backlist” and more than two years old.

Pretty Funny Tea CosiesReally Wild Tea CosiesHow Tea Cosies Changed the World 

The sublime Yoko Saito had five books in the top 50 with these titles first published in Japanese, then French (from Quiltmania) and now in English, at last. My personal favourite is 120 Original Embroidery Designs – absolutely stunning! Floral Bouquet Quilts is another beauty, but I am getting ahead of myself since that just arrived!

120 Original Embroidery Designs       Japanese Taupe Color Theory       Floral Bouquet Quilts

Probably the surprise for the year was Secret Garden coming in at No. 2. Ironically, I was gifted Millie Marotta's Animal Kingdom (similar to Secret Garden, sorry, Joanna!) along with a lovely set of Derwent Inktense pencils for Christmas and I had the time to play a bit. Now I understand the allure of these wonderful books. I can’t wait for Johanna Basford's  Enchanted Forest to arrive in February both for the sales potential and new challenges for my pencils.
 Enchanted Forest     Secret Garden     Millie Marotta's Animal Kingdom

There is plenty more to look back on but I had better stop.

Happy New Year for two weeks ago and a bit in advance for all our Chinese friends!


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Knitting for Tommy

Knitting for Tommy is a fascinating book, more history than ‘how to’, that looks at the knitting craze that swept the home front in Britain during World War I. 

Filled with wonderful period illustrations, the story brings the efforts of thoughtful knitters of that period into historical perspective.


And there are even original patterns for a range of socks, mittens, vests …

These would be perfect for the texting generation.

Times have changed or have they? 

For the Empire and for Freedom
We all must do our bit
The men go forth to battle
The women wait – and knit

This is certainly a thoughtful little book from our turbulent past.


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Back in Print, at Last!

For the last year or so we have had to tell disappointed customers that some of the best embroidery books from Country Bumpkin were not available pending reprints. Well, a partnership between the original publisher in Adelaide and Search Press seems to have addressed the reprint issue.

Three classic titles are now available again: AZ of Embroidery StitchesAZ of Embroidery Motifs and AZ of Stumpwork.

A–Z of Embroidery Stitches         A–Z of Embroidery Motifs        A–Z of Stumpwork

And in March 2015 three more are due to come out: AZ of WhiteworkAZ of Crewel Embroidery and AZ of Needlepoint.

A–Z of Whitework  A–Z of Crewel Embroidery  A–Z of Needlepoint


Monday, 22 December 2014

Colouring Book Craze

Colouring Book Craze

If you thought colouring books were for pre-schoolers or primary students at best, think again. We have been putting a wide range of colouring books into recent catalogues and customers cannot seem to get enough.

Publishers of course are on to the craze and delivering classy, intricate designs aimed at adults. We are not quite sure if this is a doodle-doing situation or are these designs being used for other projects from embroidery to paper crafts.

The Celtic Colouring Book is one of my favourites and is just one in a new series from Search Press. 

The samples of finished items are truly beautiful and there are 100 designs to choose from.


Others titles in the series are The Angel & Fairy Colouring BookThe Art Nouveau Colouring Book, The Chinese Colouring Book and The Flower Colouring Book. My husband can spend hours pondering a Sudoku puzzle – I wonder if he would find these books of interest as mental therapy?


Thursday, 18 December 2014

A Peek at Our January Catalogues

We are closed from Christmas Eve until 5 January, but I do plan to come into Can Do Books mainly to use our excellent space for cutting fabric and sewing, sewing, sewing! If the phone rings, well maybe, but I intend to have some time for myself and my passion.

Which leads me to some gems in our next month’s catalogues which will be mailed in early January and are already online as PDF files. 

The Sewing Bible of Clothes Alterations is a step-by-step guide on how to alter clothes by Judith Turner and is a beauty.

Cover for The Sewing Bible for Clothes Alterations

This no-nonsense book has excellent line drawings on all the basics which are ideal for beginners and a great refresher for more accomplished sewers. My challenge will be to get my op-shop addicted daughter to slow down long enough to sit in front of the machine and the endless stream of treasures that need minor adjustments.


There is also a lovely book, Wardrobe 101 for Mums, which is more an inspiration for us all than a practical sewing guide. 

Wardrobe 101 for Mums

It has lots of celebrities and some hugely interesting wardrobe ideas. This is a really positive book about the joys of dressing well and enjoying life.

In the last few months we have been regularly been asked for books on makeup and are really pleased to offer Makeup by Australia’s own Liz Kelsh. The book blurb says “you’ll find everything you need” and this looks to be an apt description.


January is of course sale month and there two great catalogues full of the most amazing items in all craft areas and plenty of general interest titles as well. The break to sew will need to be good since it will be a busy month when we are officially back to work on 5 January.

Happy Christmas to one and all!


Thursday, 27 November 2014

*%^&#^@* Technology

After the highs of thinking good things about our technology (a craft show in Adelaide run remotely and fully integrated to our inventory database server plus adding exciting new books with enhanced features to the database and online), there comes the ugly reality. 

Never think technology is actually on your side! In the last week, we have been invaded by a very nasty virus that has crippled our server and made life extremely stressful. Thanks to excellent support from our good friends at LIV IT, we managed a work-around to put together the December catalogues over the weekend and will be mailing on schedule this Friday – an early thank you to Highway Press and their mailing houseso please, please, please…!
Hopefully we will be back to some semblance of normality on the technology front by Monday as well and should have the December PDF catalogues online soon after that. 

Thankfully, the web site order function is working brilliantly, but a few minor gremlins are appearing mainly related to images. Again, these should be cleaned up shortly.
Amazingly, we are processing and dispatching orders with the usual same day service, but will be relieved when the makeshift process needed to achieve this has reverted to our excellent systems.
By the way, the virus is rumoured to have come from the “Russian Mafia” which is a bit of an oxymoron, I would have thought. Getting the problem fixed is the first priority then we need to find out how it happened. The lesson is to be even more vigilant with protection measures – you might think about your own situation!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Wonders of Technology

Ah, the wonders of technology! Book publishers are becoming increasingly inventive in the products they are creating and how these are being promoted. Books published by Quiltmania have a handy “look inside” feature highlighting content that has been specifically selected with quilters in mind. Michelle Yeo’s Of Needle, Thimble and Thread is just one example.
Search Press, using a different technology, also offers enhanced “look inside” features to give crafters more information about the content and look-and-feel of books. 
The Textile Artist: Appliqué Art is just one good example of what is available.

Of course, we are putting these links into our product descriptions online and have even tried a little experimenting of our own. We have created two trial catalogues  Gift Ideas for Crafters and For Fibre Artists – using Issu one of the interesting page turning technologies available. Try linking to one of these and let us know what you think. Perhaps we need to move away from the current layout for our catalogues which works well in print and PDF format … something to think about in the quiet time, whenever that is!!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

New Projects for Noro Yarns

Knit Noro 1 2 3 Skeins has just arrived and is stunning with all those yummy Noro yarns and 30 great projects. The projects can be made with 1, 2 or 3 skeins, so it is possible to make some beautiful items without investing a fortune.

As a teaser, here are four projects.
The Garter Ridge Shawl requires three skeins and shows the lovely photography and stylish layouts used for the projects – the final result are illustrated in colour, of course, often with the front and back of the garment, and of course there is the pattern details.
 Garter Ridge Shawl

 Garter Ridge Shawl


The Open Back Vest uses two skeins.

 Open back vest

The lovely Flower Broach uses only one skein.

 Flower Brooch

Finally, I just loved the colours in the Twig Lace Shrug and it is a three-skein project. Yet another one for my “to do” list!

 Twig Lace Shrug

Happy knitting

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Going On Bear Hunt!

Dear me, but this new book brings back very fond memories of evening baths for the kids and then a book for them before bed! Wow, that was 25 years ago!
To celebrate the anniversary this classic has been republished with eight realistic press and play sounds to bring the story of the bear hunt to life like never before. You'll love it as much as the children.
We're Going on a Bear Hunt.
We're going on a bear hunt.
I can picture some of the little ones under the cover when the bear arrives but giggles will certainly follow.
Be ready for many readings of this wonderful story and endless playing of the accompanying sounds.

We're Going On a Bear Hunt

 We're Going on a Bear Hunt

I do love the wonderful range of children's books coming across my desk.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Knowledgeable Knitter

When I first heard that Margaret Radcliffe had a new book coming, I was very excited to see what she would deliver after her wonderful Circular Knitting Workshop. I thought that the book with a subtitle of “Understand the Inner Workings of Knitting and Make Every Project a Success” would surely be something special. Margaret’s The Knowledgeable Knitter has not disappointed!
Knowledgeable Knitter
The Knowledgeable Knitter

Her writing is easy to understand and supported by wonderful illustrations and step-by-step photos.
Weaving Live Stitches to Dead Stitches
Weaving Live Stitches to Dead Stitches
I agree with one of the advance reviews: “The ultimate resource for knitters who don’t just want to know how, but are also curious why … the perfect blend of practical and theoretical information …” This book is destined for my own reference shelf which is not a big as some might imagine!