Graphic for the Peachy Books blog post 5 Creative Crochet Books with a background of yarn balls in assorted colours
Blog Roll, Lists, non-fiction, The Gallery

Friday Favourites: 5 Creative Crochet Books

I just did the math, and I have been crocheting now for 35 years. That explains why my wrists groan under the worsted weight of cotton, an 11-gram hook, and a moderately tight stitch.

I try to limit myself to small timespans: two hours or breaks every 45 minutes. Instead, I get tangled up creating something and don’t want to stop until I see my vision through. Art is like that for me, all-encompassing and urgent.

With the majority of my time spent typing, playing with my yarn, and sometimes my Ukulele, I may need to get some repair work on these wrists in a few years. At least that should buy me some more time.

I’ve heard loads of people claim how they wish they had learned to crochet, or how it has always been a goal to do so. To all of them and you who may feel the same way, I say do it!

There are plenty of avenues for learning the craft these days, and with all the spare time people may continue to find themselves with, given our current pandemic situation, this is the time.

Get a beginner’s book, watch a YouTube channel, search for tutorials on blogs. There is no reason everyone can’t learn to do this with the will and a heavy dose of patience. Practice and time produce stellar results, and it won’t take 35 years!

Start slowly and give yourself the space to make mistakes; that’s how you learn best. I know I spent the first two years making scarves with only one or two stitches repeated. Accept your mistakes gracefully instead of getting frustrated. I’ve seen people get really discouraged when they have to rip back their work to fix an error, some even giving up in shame, which is silly, in my view. Repetition produces a better result, that is simply what practice looks like.

Get comfortable holding the yarn, maintaining consistent tension, and keeping a proper stitch count in place of rushing into making something you are not skilled enough for yet. That will only produce annoyance and disappointment. 

Before you run off to find some yarn and a hook – I love Clover hooks (in case you were looking for an opinion) – I hope you’ll be able to draw some fibre art inspiration from these 5 Creative Crochet Books.

Crochet 101 by Deborah Burger is the right place to begin. Starting with a proper foundation gives you the knowledge and the confidence to be better faster, and in our world of instant gratification, that is the best you can hope for when learning something new.  

Detailed chapters explaining all the necessary techniques needed to become competent in the art of Crochet are here, along with clear tutorial photos showing the appropriate placement of hands and yarn.

I really cannot say enough about this book, with its thoroughness, organised layout, and cute practice projects. I have bought it for two of my nieces and recommend it as an excellent place to start a journey into a beautiful and time-honoured hobby and skill.

Crochet One-Skein Wonders by Judith Durant & Edie Eckman has 101 projects! Woo hoothat’s what I’m talking about! If you are going to buy a book, you might as well get one stacked with practical patterns, and in this case, you would need no more than a skein’s worth of yarn to boot. 

With all of the free instruction online these days, as heavily doused in advertising as most patterns are, you may wonder why one would even get a book? For me, I hate to be a slave to technology, so I like the feeling that if I am ever without power, I could be just a candle away from crocheting as my ancestral grandmothers did. Between my books and my yarn, I’ll never be bored. 

These small and creative options are the perfect handmade inclusion to elevate a gift to the next level and are sure to be well-received treasures. 

Mindful Crochet provides you with an explosion of colour, a feeling of lightness, and a sense of grounding. Calming patterns using bright and cheery hues give you a sense of joy and peace whilst creating something beautiful.

Emma Leith has put together a thoughtful book that includes tips and wise words about the importance of being mindful and how you can achieve it. With today’s ever chaotic world this book makes the perfect crochet companion on a search for health and wellness.

Read the full review, including some delightful projects I made from this soothing collection, in The Gallery.

Granny squares are some of the most satisfying projects to make in crochet. Finishing a section in one session gives you an accomplished feeling that you miss when sitting down for hours with the endlessly repeating stitch of a simple blanket or scarf.

Use a basic stitch pattern leaving colours combinations to shine, or choose something more detailed to tell a story, as the options in this 3D Granny Squares book do. Adding one of these special themed squares to a simple granny square baby blanket would be just the thing to take it to the next level.

The hardest thing for me will be choosing which one to make first!

One of the biggest booms for the hobby of crochet has come via the popularity of the Japanese art called Amigurumi.

Mainly consisting of a single stitch repeated in a spiral, these creative toys can be a great tool to get people interested in learning the craft.

I love this book for its sea creatures and their actual likeness to the real deal! Kerry Lord is an amazing talent, and you can’t go wrong with any of her fascinating and fun menagerie patterns.

Do you crochet, knit, or enjoy any other fibre arts? Have you ever received a handmade item from someone, that you treasure? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Image of a mural in Northern Ireland showing 2 boys standing in front of a war torn complex with heaps of debris, with a red title on top reading: Summer of 69, which says: Don't miss Murals of Northern Ireland, a companion post to my recent review of Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe.
Blog Roll, non-fiction, politics, The Gallery

The Gallery: Murals of Northern Ireland

If you haven’t already read it, you can find my review for this riveting book here.

After spending a week with Patrick Radden Keefe‘s powerful book Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, recounting The Troubles, I am left thinking of the horrors the Irish people in the North had to contend with during those trying times. My thoughts sent me on a mission to look for the murals that represented the suffering.

Living in a warzone is tragic, no matter where on the globe. People do their best to try and get by, to make it out alive. Art can be a reverberating gift of solace during times of strife. Asserting a silent yet resonant voice through pictures is a way for humanity to share its grief while creating something new and beautiful, even as things are falling down and dying around them. The murals that one could find on the buildings in the North during this conflict spanning thirty years – some of which are still there today – were one such outlet.

Children shown in wore torn rubble during the summer of '69, around the time when 'The Troubles' began
Children shown in wore torn rubble, during the summer of ’69, around the time when ‘The Troubles’ began

Paramilitary murals for either side of the religious and territorial divide were menacing reminders that violence could be around any corner, especially if you were caught on the wrong block.

Mural depicting UVF 1st Battalion soldiers
Mural of the UVF 1st Battalion soldiers
East Belfast Battalion of the UVF black and white mural
Black and white mural for the East Belfast Battalion of the UVF
IRA mural and memorial
IRA mural and memorial

Funerals were one of the things you could count on during The Troubles, in fact, some would say it was the only time they got to socialise with friends and family if things were too heated to venture out. 

Depiction of a mural honouring an IRA soldiers passing with a 21 gun salute
Depiction of a mural hounoring an IRA soldier’s passing with a 21 gun salute at the funeral

A brilliant irony amidst this powder keg of religious conflict between the warring Christian factions in Ireland was the solidarity found between the Catholic Republicans and the Palestinian followers of Islam. Palestinian flags were erected proudly in the Republican neighbourhoods to show reverence to the commonality of their struggle.

Palestinian solidarity mural in Norther Ireland
Palestinian and Republican solidarity mural
POW mural showing solidarity between Palestinian and IRA captives

Artistic tributes meant to lionize the heroes of the cause are tangible proof and validation of the bloodshed. Political prisoners who gave their life for the freedom of Ireland, as noble or destructive as they might have been, are immortalised on these walls for the younger generations to venerate.

Mural and memorial of Bobby Sands
Mural memorialising Bobby Sands, Irish Nationalist who led a fatal hunger strike that changed history
Mural of Irish Nationalist and IRA soldiers who lost their lives in battle.
Mural depicting Irish Nationalists and IRA soldiers who lost their lives in battle during ‘The Troubles’

With the mark of a new century, Ireland is more peaceful than she’s ever been comparatively. In the North, however, troubled waters receded could return in a flash. With the UK’s Brexit from the European Union threatening to explode smoldering battlefields, and as walls and militarised checkpoints jeopardise harmony, one can only pray that the streets will remain calm.

The Greater Village Regeneration Trust introduced this commemorative painting to mark the centenary (1921-2021) whilst covering a paramilitary mural that remained. A less intrusive demarcation as a sign of the times, lest we forget how bad things were for so long.

New Mural in South Belfast of Norther Ireland commemorating the centenary 1921 - 2021, and encourage solidarity
Paramilitary mural painted over by new artwork commemorating centenary

I was inspired to make some art of my own after spending an afternoon sifting through these paintings of pain and remembrance. I am saddened to think that a simple bookmark such as this, hanging out of a child’s storybook as they trotted home from school, could have caused an uproar decades ago. I’m hopeful that the Irish lay to rest the tired sectarian battles of their past to live for the health and regeneration of her future.


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Cover for the Explore the Mythology of the Solar System post in The Gallery on Peachy Books
Blog Roll, non-fiction, The Gallery

The Gallery: Mythology of the Solar System

Image of the Where is Our Solar System with a crochet shooting star bookmark

Reading Where Is Our Solar System? was a wondrous voyage through space for me and my little lad. In case you missed my review, you can find it here.

One of the most interesting parts was learning about the mythology that surrounds the solar system, imagined by ancient peoples to make sense of the vast expanse in the sky. 

Where Is Our Solar System? begins by sending us back thousands of years into the fields of ancient China, where farmers were terrified when amidst their workday, the sun-streaked sky suddenly turned to blackness. The farmer’s concluded that a dragon was eating the sun. The only recourse they had was to scare the dragon away, and they did so by making the loudest ruckus they could muster by beating drums, chanting, and banging pots and pans. The cacophony did just the trick, and after only a few moments, the sun was back and blazing in her rightful splendor.

Chinese mythological dragon eating the sun, meant to explain the solar eclipse
Flag of the Qing Dynasty, representing the hungry dragon

Ancient Greeks were also affright by the shrouding of darkness resulting from a solar eclipse and rationalised the amazing occurrence as a sign of angry gods. This was observed as a bad omen: that the people would soon suffer devastation and destruction.

Ancient Greeks terrified by the solar eclipse, as they feared it the result of angry Gods set to put forth devastation and destruction
Ancient Greeks feared retribution from angry gods

The belief of the early Hellenic’s was that a group of immortal gods and goddesses were the rulers of the world. One of the mythological explanations they held was that the titan Helios, the personification of the sun, would drive his horse-drawn chariot up into the sky every morning – sunrise – and would drive it back down in the evening – sunset.

Greek God Helios and his chariot soaring to the sun
Greek god Helios and his chariot

The moon was almost as important as the sun to the ancient Maya. They told the story of a fierce moon goddess, Ix Chel, who would battle the moon down into the underworld every night, and the sun would rise in its place; hence why you never see both the moon and the sun in the sky at the same time.

Mayan Moon Goddess Ix Chel
Mayan Moon Goddess Ix Chel

Five planets were discovered through the naked eye of stargazing ancient Greeks: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. There are eight planets in total, and all except Earth and Uranus are named after ancient Roman gods (who were based on the original gods of Greek Mythology).

Statue of Mercury, the quick-footed messenger god
Statue of god Mercury

This beautifully speckled and luminary planet is named after the Roman quick-footed messenger god, Mercury (identified as Hermes in Greek Mythology,) since due to its positioning, it is the fastest planet to orbit the sun.

Planet Mercury
Statue of the Roman goddess Venus
Statue of goddess Venus

This shining glory, the only planet to be named after a female deity, is named after the goddess Venus, (known in Greek mythology as Aphrodite) as it was the most brilliant planet known to ancient astronomers.

The fiery red planet Venus
Planet Venus
Statue of Roman god Mars
Statue of Roman god Mars

It is a commonly held belief that the planet Mars was named after the Roman god of war (duplicated after the Greek god Ares) because of its red colour, representing bloodshed. The planet’s two small moons were named Phobos and Deimos, after the two horses that the Greek god of war, Ares, used to pull his red chariot.

Picture of the planet Mars
Planet Mars
Statue of Roman god Jupiter
Statue of Roman god Jupiter

This gigantic planet with the red spot is 2.5 times larger than all of the other planets combined and is named after the most powerful of the gods, Jupiter (vis-a-vis the Greek god Zeus).

Image of the planet Jupiter
Planet Jupiter
Statue of Roman god Saturn
Statue of Roman god Saturn

This, the sixth planet from the sun, and adorned with beautiful rings, is the slowest to orbit, which may be why it was named after the Roman god of time, Saturn (counterpart of the Greek Titan Cronus.)

Image of planet Saturn
Planet Saturn
Statue of Greek god Uranus
Statue of Greek god Uranus

Uranus, with the exception of Earth, is the only planet that was named after a god of Greek mythology, as opposed to Roman. To ancient Hellenic people, Uranus was the primal god personifying the sky. According to myth, he was the grandfather of Jupiter and the father of Saturn.

Image of the planet Uranus
Planet Uranus
Statue of god Neptune
Statue of Roman god Neptune

This frigid planet is the furthest away in orbit of the sun and was only just discovered via mathematical equations in 1846. In keeping with the tradition of planets being named after mythological deities, it was decided that it would be assigned the moniker Neptune, the Roman god of the sea (equivalent to the Greek god Poseidon,) which is likely because of its enormous size and blue colouring.

Image of the planet Neptune
Planet Neptune
Photo by Pits Riccardo on

Ours is the only planet not to be named after ancient stories, but instead was given its title after the Germanic word ‘erde’ or the English word ‘erda’ which means ‘the ground.’ Earth’s official scientific name is the Latin phrase ‘Terra Firma,’ meaning for ‘firm or solid ground:’

Image of planet Earth
Planet Earth

If you have ten minutes to spare, this is a fun video explaining how the planets received their names. Don’t forget to follow the creator, Name Explain, on Twitter, if you enjoyed it.

Name Explain describes how the planets got their names

I would love to hear of any mythological stories that you may have been told about the solar system, space, or astronomy, so please let me know in the comments down below!

Blog Roll, The Gallery

The Gallery

Come on in to The Gallery, where we will celebrate the artistry of books and writing. Here is where I will share with you any inspiring book-related art that I come across, any bookish art that I create myself, as well as posts that feature art specific to any of the books I’ve reviewed.

Often, after finishing a book I spend some time ruminating over everything I’ve learned, and how a book has made me feel, and this section will be for the posts that I create to process these musings; where I’ll provide visual representations, and detail my thoughts. Feel free to join me in the comment section to explore ideas, dive deeper, and discover all the beauty there is to see in to the books we’ve enjoyed.

Image of a grand library with a ceiling painted with various depictions of books
Photograph by Susan Q Yin