Book Review

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The Gentle Art of Domesticity: Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art & The Comforts of Home
by Jane Brocket

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Some books inspire by showing you how to do things. Most knitting books fall into this category, since knitting is often fueled by the question, "How do I do that?"

But some books, a rare few, inspire simply by showing. And this gorgeous and unusual book from British blogger Jane Brocket falls squarely in the latter category. It is a vivid, evocative, inspiring, and intelligent exploration of creativity within the domestic sphere.

A Yarnstorm is Born
Jane Brocket began her blog Yarnstorm in 2005 after spending many years as an isolated practitioner of the "gentle domestic arts" as she calls them. For her, these arts involve many different forms, from knitting to baking, jam-making, stitching, sewing, and generally making things.

"They can be enjoyed by anyone with an interest and the ability to thread a needle, break an egg, choose a color or wield a pair of scissors," she explains. "They don't require complicated skills, qualifications, training, or equipment...What they do require, though, is a conscious choice to do something 'old-fashioned' and 'quaint;' to choose not to buy and consume endlessly, but to make and create for a change."

The Book
In this book, you'll find a collection of essays and observations on the gentle arts, all accompanied by the lush and intensely colorful photographs Brocket's blog readers have come to expect. The essays are arranged around common themes: inspiration, color, texture, patterns, practical, style, comfort, luxury, sharing, nature, and travel.

You'll find musings on everything from tea to chocolate (and which movies lend themselves best to the consumption thereof), the exploration of color through a crocheted blanket, the domestic novel, and even the work of artist Stanley Spencer. Knitting and yarn are present as part of a much larger domestically creative ecosystem.

While Brocket does share a few tempting recipes, it's important to note that this is not a traditional how-to book. Nor is it a book that intentionally sets forth Brocket as the penultimate domestic diva to which we can all only aspire (although I'll admit her life does look pretty idyllic). No, it's an inclusive and eclectic celebration of the pleasures of thinking, observing, dreaming, and creating.

Inclusive Beauty
It is a beautiful book. Under the covers, rich, vivid photographs abound—but always complemented by words, lots of lovely thoughtful words that will make you smile, ponder, and sometimes even jot down ideas for later. Throughout, Brocket writes with a warm, intelligent, and inclusive spirit.

With so many essays on so many topics, you could be brave and try to read the book from cover to cover. Or you can do what I do: Keep it on your bedside table and pick a random chapter to read each night before bedtime. It will put your mind in a perfect place for sweet, restful dreams.

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