Thursday, April 15, 2010

Show and Tell: Your Local Library


We've done Spotlights on lovely stores, favorite fabrics, and cool items. I thought it would be fun to switch gears a little and focus on useful resources. Today, I want to share with you one of my favorite sources of inspiration: my local library!

In Nashville a few years ago, I started checking out a half-dozen sewing, knitting and craft books at a time, and just felt giddy about the opportunity to peruse these books at my leisure without having to commit to purchasing them. It's the same magic feeling about the library I had as a kid when I became an avid reader. All these books, and I can take whichever ones I like home! This is also a great way to take books for a test ride before purchasing the ones you really can't live without.


I'm a little bit more organized in how I go about this process now. The Seattle Public Library has a fantastic website where you can search for books throughout the city's libraries and put holds on the ones you'd like to check out. The Nashville library has a very similar system, as do most libraries around the country. Last week, I got an email that 3 of my requested books were waiting for me at my local branch. When I went to pick them up, I swung by the small craft section and grabbed a few more books that looked interesting.

As soon as I got a free moment, I started sifting through them. Then just after breakfast on Sunday morning, I had a quiet half-hour with my coffee to go through them some more (don't you just love those precious "alone" moments?). I decided which books fit my style and needs, and which others didn't (and which ones MUST go on my wish list!!). I also made mental notes about which patterns I needed to copy for future experiments and projects.


When I've selected which pattern I want to work with or which techniques/instructions I want to save, I either scan or photograph it. I have a folder on my desktop in which I save PDFs of various patterns, projects and instructions. This allows me to return the books to the library sooner than later so that others can use them for inspiration! On the newer crafty books, there can be a hold list of 28 or so! Most libraries also have photocopy machines for this purpose.

Note: Most of the patterns in these books are for personal use only, so if you copy them in any way for your own projects and education, make sure you don't share them, and don't make anything for sale from them. The copyright and legal disclaimer for any book is usually on the inside of the first page or cover. You can read more about the law on Library Photocopying here. The gist of it is: not for commercial advantage and for purposes of private study, scholarship or research.

Here's an example of the types of projects I've saved for experimenting:


Do you use the library for inspiration? Do you check out craft books, or other types of resources?

As an aside, I loved discovering Betz White's Warm Fuzzies and Debbie Bliss' Baby Knits for Beginners this week, both beautiful books with great projects that are definitely going on the "must purchase" list. I was a bit disappointed by Martha's Encyclopedia of Crafts. It's a gorgeous volume with lovely projects and helpful techniques, but not overwhelmingly applicable to my lifestyle and the type of stuff I like to work on. I think the Sewing & Fabric Crafts book will be more up my alley, I have a hold request on it right now! I also cannot wait to get Denyse Schmidt's Quilts and Rashida Coleman Hale's I Love Patchwork!

Angel-mini-button I definitely use the library a lot! Right now I have Alterknits Felt and Beginner's Guide to Needle Felting checked out.  I love your idea of having a file online of patterns you'd like to try!


  1. I have about 6 craft books sitting on my coffee table right now that need to go back to the library (Seattle too) I finally stopped buying so many craft books because it was so expensive and I usually only wanted to look through them for inspiration, maybe make one actual project and then move on to the next thing. The library is amazing, I just need to start going there more often.

  2. Hi Tara, thank you for the comment. It's so nice to know that someone local (for me!) reads the blog. :) I checked out your blog too and you are so productive!! I like your stuff, I put you on my blog reader. I hope you keep visiting here!

  3. Here in South Africa, craft books are very expensive, so if i manage to find one at a library (which is rare indeed) I do make a PDF copy of it. What Ive also done for ages is make PDFs of blog tutorials, ideas, patterns etc and then save them in various folders .. like clothes, quilts, toys, etc ... that way when im looking for an idea or pattern I just look in my bazzillion folders and Im sure that i will find something. That way I dont have to troll through my VERY long list of blogs in my faves and try to remember where i saw something.

  4. Hi Cleo! I love the idea of creating PDFs of tutorials and instructions you find in various blogs, what a great idea. It may help out the frustration I have with my blog reader which is: no search function! I can't search through the items I pinned, so it seriously limits the purpose of pinning items in the first place. Anyway. PDF. Great idea! :)

    Thanks for visiting!!


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