Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Life-Changing Magic

Thanks to Blogging For Books who provided me with a free copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Konda for this review.

I suspect that Japanese norms for housekeeping and interior design may be regarded as spartan by American standards. Nonetheless, this reader was drawn to Marie Kondo's book because my living space is in need of some serious help as the "stuff" of my 48 years threatens to overwhelm my home.

Kondo's advice for tidying your living space, and subsequently your life is this: forget finding the right storage system. What you really need to do is get rid of most of your stuff.

Perhaps I have oversimplified and slightly exaggerated my summation, however that was my first impression of Kondo's words. (And I will admit I was at once horrified and convinced she had hit the nail on the head.)

The book is uncluttered and neat, streamlined in its advice. As I read Kondo's precise and methodical account of her own discovery of her KonMari method for keeping her living spaces tidy, I frequently looked around at my own living room only to realize I was, in fact, in possession of many items that held little, if any real meaning to me.

According to the book, the standard for deciding what to keep (and thus what you will need to have room for) are those things which bring you joy. Kondo advises actually handling each and every possession, from clothing to books to mementos and asking yourself, "Does this give me joy?" If you hesitate or the answer is "no," get rid of it.

I suspect that many of us are guilty of collecting items for the sake of acquisition only and that many of the items in our homes and lives do not serve to bring us joy. I know that is the case for myself. I suspect that is why so many people have tidied their living spaces only to find themselves surrounded again by clutter within a few weeks or months.

If you find yourself in that position, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up may be the solution you are looking for. You may find it inspiring to hear Kondo say that once you tidy, truly tidy according to her method, you will never have to do it again. (Be warned, it may take up to six months of dedicated effort if your possessions are overwhelming your space!)

I find this succinct little book to offer a promising solution to the clutter accumulating in my home. I am going to re-read Kondo's advice and then I am going to take on the life-changing project of tidying up my home!

From the publisher . . .

This best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

About the author . . .

Marie “KonMari” Kondo runs an acclaimed consulting business in Tokyo helping clients transform their cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration. With a three-month waiting list, her KonMari Method of decluttering and organizing has become an international phenomenon. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a best seller in Japan, Germany, and the UK, with more than two million copies sold worldwide, and has been turned into a television drama for Japanese TV. She has been featured on more than thirty major Japanese television and radio programs and in the Sunday Times, Red magazine, You magazine, and the Times, who has deemed her “Japan’s preeminent guru of tidiness, a warrior princess in the war on clutter.”

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Knockout Knits Packs a Punch!

I was very excited to receive a review copy for Larua Nelkin's Knockout Knits from Blogging For Books. As an avid knitter, I am always on the lookout for new accessory items which knit up quickly, especially as the gift giving season approaches. Knockout Knits not only provides knitters with a wide variety of accessories to knit, it also challenges readers to experiment with new techniques to add an extra element of interest to the experience of knitting and to the final piece.

The book is broken into three main areas of emphasis: wrapped stitches, lace, and knitting with beads. Within each section, Nelkin arranges projects from small and easy at the beginning to larger or more complicated projects at the end. With an introduction to each technique leading off the section, knitters will get a sense of the variety of effects each technique can offer. Even though I had done some basic knit stitches using the wrap/drop technique, Knockout Knits was the first time I saw the variety of ways this technique could be switched up to such different effects for some stunning end results. (Folly Cloche, I'm talking about you!)

Another technique I have always wanted to try but had not had the opportunity is knitting with beads. Nelkin's introduction and step-by-step guidance through the working of patterns with beads has given me the courage to cast on my yarn and go for it!

Patterns in Knockout Knitsare clear and easy to follow. The photographs are eye candy for fiber fanatics and fashionistas. Nelkin provides easy-to-read charts where appropriate. And, as mentioned earlier, the range from easy to progressively more challenging projects provides something that a knitter of any skill level can dive in and accomplish.

If you are a knitter looking for some great holiday gifting ideas, Knockout Knits is a sure hit!

From the Publisher:

An abundance of knitted luxuries--summery lace shawls, warm and wooly hats, a trio of cool knitted bracelets, and stunning beaded gloves--designed to grow your skills.

Who doesn't love to knit accessories? They're fast, often require only a skein or two of yarn, and make amazingly versatile gifts for friends and family. Small knits are also the perfect way to try something new--an unusual stitch pattern, wild multi-colored yarn, or even a touch of sparkle. Laura Nelkin is well-known for designing these fun-to-knit little projects introducing her students and fans to advanced techniques with her signature "You can do it!" enthusiasm. In her first book, she shares her 3 favorite types of knitting using wrapped stitches, lacework, and beads. Each chapter begins with a quick knitted cuff to lay the foundations, then gradually ramps up to more complicated designs. The result is an all-new collection of wearable, feminine knits with a slightly rustic aesthetic. Give them as gifts, stockpile for a chilly day, or dress up a casual outfit--these are knockout projects to enjoy knitting again and again.

About the Author:

Laura Nelkin, a prolific independent knitwear designer, graduated from Cornell with a degree in Apparel Design. A former design director, Laura sells her knit pattern and kit line to yarn stores worldwide and teaches workshops around the country and online with Her patterns have been published through Nelkin Designs, and in The Rhinebeck Sweater, Scarf Style 2, Knitscene, and Knitty. Laura lives near Ithaca, New York. Visit her at