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A. Miles (Al Khor, Qatar)
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Knitting Smitten: 20 Fresh and Funky Hand-knit Designs (Simple Makes)
Knitting Smitten: 20 Fresh and Funky Hand-knit Designs (Simple Makes)
by Jessica Biscoe
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

3.0 out of 5 stars Neither Fresh nor Funky. Comfy, though., 14 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Domestic crafts seem to be having a bit of a revival at the moment, so the Simple Makes imprint has jumped on the bandwagon with a series of books claiming to update traditional crafts for the Fresh, Fly n Funky young hipster about town.

That's all well and good in theory of course, but insofar as all they've collect a load of old beginner's knitting patterns from the 50s and wrapped them in some contemporary graphics, not so much in practice. . I'm not that up to speed with young folk any more, but I'm prepared to bet not that many of them have that much of a use for a dog's bow tie, egg cosies or coin purses.

On the other hand, perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe all the hipsters in Dalston are wearing knitted headbands and pom-pom necklaces in da club. , so I'd better give 'em the benefit of the doubt and 3 stars.


Fresh Prints: 25 Easy and Enticing Printing Projects to Make at Home (Simple Makes)
Fresh Prints: 25 Easy and Enticing Printing Projects to Make at Home (Simple Makes)
by Christine Leech
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More a guide to basic printing ideas than a design book., 14 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Really, I think a rather misleading book, on several levels.

I was expecting from the chic cover and title something slightly more contemporary than the 70s Scandinavian block printing inspired ideas within: The owl, leaf and pinetree prints will be familiar to anyone who went to primary school in the last quarter of the 20th century.

Likewise, the methods, whilst admittedly fulfilling the 'easy' part of the authors brief, fall short for me on the 'enticing' , being again pretty much stuff you did when you were at school, potato printing and that malarkey with string and glue, among others. Greeting cards with leaf prints.

And I don't know if you remember the stuff you made when you were at school, but I bet you wouldn't put it on display in your home today. Even your Mum only put it on the fridge to make you happy. When you consider that the stuff in this book, which has been made by a professional printmaker and photographed to look its best, doesn't really look any better than just OK, and you get to the crux of the issue for me: The author is suggesting that you can make attractive homewares using just printers ink and a few household objects, but if she can't, God knows what yours and my stuff would look like.

On a more positive note, this is a really good primer for easy printing techniques, clearly explained and laid out and inks apart, the raw materials are easily gathered. The 100% scale stencils are a good idea too. It would be handy for a primary/DT teacher to own, or for a parent who wanted to do some fun textile projects at home with the kids. But if you're expecting to run up some Orla Kiely stylee retrochic fabric prints,as suggested by the cover, you're barking up the wrong tree.


nico less E-Cigarette E-Shisha Starter Kit
nico less E-Cigarette E-Shisha Starter Kit
Price: 10.35

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Vaped before a live audience, 14 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As other reviewers have hinted at, even at the entry level price this sells at, it's still somewhat overpriced and below the bare minimum 'starter kit' it promises in the blurb. It's a single standard atomiser with a USB charger in a blister pack, and thats it. No fluid, no instructions, no carrying case. I could only recommend this if you wanted to try vaping and wished to spend the least possible money on the experiment. For anyone wanting to do this long term as an alternative to smoking, I would spend a bit more money (For a start, you need at least two of them, one to charge and one to use)

As for this in action: I've tried quite a few of these devices, and none of them have worked for me (I think because no liquid really replicates the taste of a cigarette) This one in use is really no different from the others, but it does seem quite flimsy and would need to be in a case of some kind if you were carrying it in a bag.


Galt Dr Miriam Hammer and Pegs
Galt Dr Miriam Hammer and Pegs
Price: 14.63

4.0 out of 5 stars It's Trad, Dad., 14 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I really like the toy itself, which is well made and colourful and most importantly has the right 'give' in the action so that the act of hammering is suitably challenging and rewarding. However a star off for the idea that 80s agony aunt Miriam Stoppard has somehow 'devised' this classic toy, the leaflet of patronising play advice included, and the fact it's at least twice the price of anything comparable on the market.


Rapesco Stapler, Heavy Duty Stapler Zero-02
Rapesco Stapler, Heavy Duty Stapler Zero-02
Price: 13.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish stapling, 14 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It might seem counterintuitive to review a stapler almost purely on it's aesthetic qualities, but as this is from the very reputable Rapesco company, I think we can take it's technical excellence as read.

I'm spending a lot more time in my home office/man cave/solitary drinking cubicle these days, and doubtless it's the part of the ghouse that's had the least love and money showered on it over the years, a depressing melange of stuff i've liberated from work, Poundland storage boxes and sub-ikea birchette-effect collapsing bookshelves. If I have entered my solitary drinking years, I need somewhere a bit more cheerful than this to be miserable in. Perhaps get a private eye vibe going, with this splendid 1940s style stapler, modelled I think (or perhaps of a similiar vintage to) the classic moderne staplers of the Swingline company in that period. Very hefty with a brushed steel finish, and with a 15 year guarantee, will probably outlast me. This is actually getting a bit existential for stationery, so I'll sign off now.


Rapesco, Heavy Duty Punch. 4400 Hole Punch
Rapesco, Heavy Duty Punch. 4400 Hole Punch
Price: 107.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Heavy Duty Indeed., 14 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A hefty mother designed, I would imagine, primarily for professional use in copyshops and universities to present dissertations and whatnot: The holes are set to match standard 4 hole files.

It's designed to last a lifetime, the parts susceptible to wear easy to replace whilst the main chassis could probably shrug off the building collapsing around it. Theoretically portable, in the sense it doesn't need to be mounted on a worksurface, but you wouldn't want to be lugging it about the gaff too often.

Claims to get through 150 sheets at once, though my palsied old limbs were struggling at 75. the double-handed handle spring- loaded to return to the vertical and the chads* are collected in easily removable receptacles underneath the worksurface.

So, all in all a top piece of professional kit: However, in the unlikely event that you have a domestic need to produce many hundreds of punched paper sheets on a regular basis, bear in mind that this isnt really suitable, either aesthetically or dimensionally, for use in a home office. It's big and unprepossessing.

*That's what they're called. Not a lot of people know that.


The Supermodel and the Brillo Box
The Supermodel and the Brillo Box
by Don Thompson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Freakonomics of the art world., 2 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
One theory about modern art holds that it originally came about because of the invention of cheap colour printing in the 19th century. Once anyone could afford to have a copy of The Laughing Cavalier on their wall, traditional art began to lose its cultural cachet: Modern art was purposely difficult to like and 'understand' so that only the wealthy and a n educated elite would be able to appreciate it.: Thus whenever the Daily Mail started hooting about how a pile of bricks had cost the taxpayer million quid, they where both missing and reinforcing the point.

This changed again a century on, where art collectors were no longer from the ranks of a cultural elite, but from new money, philistines who saw art purely in terms of investment and conspicuous consumption: Modern art was no longer difficult to understand. In fact, there was barely anything to understand. Jeff Koons made art whose aim was to echo the look and feel of high end consumer goods: Damien Hirsts assistants painted hundreds of spot paintings which proclaimed nothing more but their existence as products.

The end result however, was the same, an art world that was of almost no interest to the vast majority of people kept going by a few hundred megawealthy buyers across the world,

All thats interesting, at least to me, and I thought this book would be about the way that fine art has changed in response to its market. And while the first part of the book does touch on this, it's really more about the mechanics of how prices are fixed i galleries and such, which I found a little boring , though that's not the books fault.

In summary, more for fans of populist economics books than for those interested in art.


Ambi Toys  Pounding Apple
Ambi Toys Pounding Apple
Price: 15.54

4.0 out of 5 stars Simple, quality toy., 2 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A fairly simple cause and effect/ hand-eye coordination toy, but it went down well with the tester, for a little while at least. I don't really worry so much if toys don't engage the little lad's attention for sustained periods of time, as he'll usually return to things on his own schedule, and I'm sure he'll get some use out of this.

From Daddy's point of view, it's a wittily designed, well made and fairly substantial toy that should outlast his attentions and be handed on I think. As it's of such good quality and so nicely packaged, it would make a good gift.


Galt Dr Miriam Shape Sorter
Galt Dr Miriam Shape Sorter
Price: 14.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dr Miriam is a timelord., 2 Jun 2014
This review is from: Galt Dr Miriam Shape Sorter (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A perfectly nice old-school wooden shape sorter, double ended and with a child-friendly magnetic lock to empty the shapes from within. A star off for Galt and TV's Miriam Stoppard's dubious claim to have 'designed and developed' this range of wooden toys, most of which were first produced about a century ago, and the extremely patronising booklet of play advice within.

Also, as another reviewer has pointed out, this isn't the most competitively priced version of this toy on the market.


Pixnor Colorful LED Bluetooth Dancing Water Speakers for iPhone, iPad, Cellphone, PC (Black)
Pixnor Colorful LED Bluetooth Dancing Water Speakers for iPhone, iPad, Cellphone, PC (Black)
Price: 26.17

2.0 out of 5 stars Pointless, not wireless, 26 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
'Non-wireless' versions of these speakers are available under a variety of brandnames for 9.99 As you'd expect at that price, they're hardly hifi, but when I saw these 'wireless' versions, I thought they'd be good for playing in the garden at night, as the lighting effects are pretty good in the dark. I had imagined that the 20 quid premium over the originals would be justified by the storage batteries, etc they'd need to use.

However, they're just the original 9.99 jobs with a bluetooth connection. they still have to be plugged into your PC or a usb charger, and the cables are only a few feet long, so essentially the bluetooth function is redundant. You're therefore being charged a 200% markup for a feature thats virtually pointless.


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