Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Review: Schnibbles Times Two, by Carrie Nelson

Schnibbles Times Two: Quilts from 5Schnibbles Times Two: Quilts from 5" or 10" Squares by Carrie Nelson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I. Love. This. Book. Carrie Nelson's Schnibbles Times Two: Quilts from 5" or 10" Squares is one of my favorite new additions to my quiltmaking library. Is it the designs? Partly. Is it that it uses those cute little precut packs we love so much? Partly. Most of my love, though, is engendered by the way the book is written. With all of the quiltmaking books on my shelf, I have never sat down and read word-for-word the basic quiltmaking instructions section that's always included. I ordered Schnibbles last summer after reading about it on several blogs. The day I got it in the mail, I sat out on my back patio with a glass of ice tea and the book in my hands and a stack of magazines beside me. I expected to take about 10 minutes flipping through the designs and then moving on to the magazines. After paging through the patterns and realizing how much I was enjoying her descriptions of the development and naming of each one, I went back to the beginning to read her introduction, and then the basic instructions. I never got to the magazines. She is a hoot. She has a way of giving the same kinds of directions as every other quiltmaking book but in a way to make you actually enjoy reading them. To whit:

"Mise en place (meeze on plahs) means to have on hand all the ingredients, already measured and prepared, so that you can cook efficiently and without interruption. We do the same thing with quilting, we just call it...what do we call it? Whatever, that's what we're going to do now," (p. 8). I love someone who approaches what we do with tongue firmly in cheek, but still taking it seriously. That's a tough balancing act and I think Carrie does it extremely well.

This book was also the first book on precuts that I've seen which actually tells you how to approach the fact that many of them come with pinked edges. I never knew whether to measure from the outside point or the inside angle. She tackles that topic in a sidebar and I loved her for it. Thanks, Carrie!

Before I ordered the book, I had a slight hesitation about buying a book that simply presents every pattern twice--one using charm packs, one using layer cakes. But yes, while I should be able to do that math myself, it's so much easier to let someone else do it. Plus, it's interesting to see how different a pattern can feel when you simply change the size of the pieces.

The patterns in this book are light-hearted, and although they're based on traditional blocks they certainly have an approach to them that falls neatly into the "modern quilting" category as well. This book has launched a lot of quilt-alongs and chatter on the blogs: you hear about Schnibbles everywhere now. In my opinion, that's with good reason. The patterns are approachable without being simplistic. Some are good for beginners while others will challenge beginners to advance further in their skills. For advanced quiltmakers, you'll still find plenty of inspiration in the colors and designs, and while you may find the patterns easier to put together, if you're looking for a challenge you will find plenty of opportunity for great quilting designs.

While I'm giving this five stars, I would say my only slight gripe with it is the same gripe I have with most other books based on pre-cuts. Almost without exception, they require two packs of whatever--two charm packs, two layer cakes, two jelly rolls. I understand that's the economy of size--you can only do so much with 40 5" squares, after all. And I know you can add from your own stash, of course, but I don't often have the right mix of colors to be able to get the equivalent of another coordinating charm pack. I'm just not much in the habit of buying two of whatever catches my eye. Maybe I should start. The fabric manufacturers are nodding their heads in excited agreement right now.

That slight gripe aside, my copy of Schnibbles Times Two is already bent and worn from being read through so many times. I'm just waiting to clear the decks of other projects before I make one of these, but it will happen before the year is out. Schnibbles Times Two: Quilts from 5" or 10" SquaresCarrie Nelson

View all my reviews