5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
When I started reading this book I found it really frustrating. Flintoff, who is a journalist, seemed to be just putting together a whole load of disparate articles under a very loose banner, i.e. 'how I changed the world by making my own clothes', and marketing it as a finished, well rounded thing. Trying to read it like this, with some sense of continuity, it totally doesn't work. The thread that ties the articles together is just too tenuous, and I found myself reading a chapter and then really not understanding why it made its way into the book.
About half way through I abandoned the idea of trying to read it as a coherent whole and got on much, much better. Flintoff's writing is quite dry and self-deprecating. At times, particularly in the sections where he is trying to find himself through exploring religions I found him a little too Jon Ronson'esque. I love Jon Ronson's writing, but if I want it I'll read Ronson's own work.
Where Flintoff shines is when he really engages with the subject and sticks to the main premise of the book, i.e. the idea of making his own clothes. I loved the sections where he talks about craftsmanship and what it means to make things and how that gives him spiritual succour. I believed it when he wrote it, and that sense of authenticity really touched me. I also thoroughly enjoyed reading about his encounter with the artist Billy Childish. By the end of the book I was much more in tune with what Flintoff was trying to do, whereas at the beginning I didn't care. So I guess it works. It hasn't made me want to make my own underpants, but it has certainly got me thinking about production and waste in the clothing industry and hopefully making better (as in better for the planet) buying decisions in future. The bibliography at the back of the book was very helpful if any of the issues Flintoff raises interest you further, and I liked the way he had annotated the bibliography with his own findings and ideas.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2010
What looked like an entertaining take on consumerism turned out to be an ill thought out collection of articles, wandering from recycling clothing to exploring different religions. Maybe the problem is that the author lives in a city, whereas I'm out in the sticks: a car can drive through the village where I live in the space of a single yawn. Many of the recycling/re-use/repair ideas presented here are just part of normal life here, although we don't get quite the same opportunities to drop names. It's a shame that the author doesn't give directions for his clothing projects: instead we simply learn that he made this, he mended that. It's the sort of book I'd expect to find in a doctor's waiting room - short chapters, saying very little, merely passing time.
And the challenge of crocheting in public! How revolutionary! I've been knitting and crocheting in public for thirty years now...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2010
I hoped for explanation of nettle weaving, a subject on which this journalist has made himself well-informed. He can make trousers. He knows where to get nettle yarn and knows something about research at de Montfort University in Leicester as well as early 20th century work in Vienna.
All the above was from the man's article in The Ecologist online, which doesn't give any info about how to make trousers or detail to help find the college research.
Nor does the book.
It's a charming, irritatating, chapter by chapter set of thoughtful feelings about the world, & action taken in response. Rather like a Prince Charles speech with a more relaxed voice & better dress-sense. Peak oil comes into it. Clothes come into it. I skipped the bits on religon but would enjoy reading a book like this again.
Just don't expect a reference book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2011
The title of this book caught me but like many other reviewers I was irritated by the chopping and changing and you maybe right that it is more like a blog. His search for spirituality has a long way to go yet.
However I grew up in the 50's and lived on a farm for most of my young married life. We made our own clothes, knitted, painted, built our own house,grew vegetables and milked by our cow by hand and although I still crochet and grow my own veggies as much as possible, life's too short to knit my own knickers (how uncomfortable can they be ) Jean-Paul should get out of London into the country and catch up with reality. Three cheers for Clarkson I like his style, he is completely useless at do-it- yourself, according to James May, but at least he gives many people something to grind their teeth about!!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
With this assortment of loosely connected articles snipped from the loom of his life John-Paul Flintoff has woven a patchwork quilt with many colours and different fabrics; some bright and vibrant with a fine and pleasing silky texture, some mundane and workmanlike like practical cotton or linen, others as dull and uninteresting as coarse sacking.
Being a journalist, he does not tell us anything significant or instructive about sewing, other than that he has done some. So don't expect this to be a book about sewing, it is more of a biography mixed in with some philosophy. However, it is entertaining, or at least most of it is. The chapters are many, and short, and usually rather shallow, and in my opinion they feel to be about the right length and tone for a catchy article in the weekend supplement of a newspaper. I guess it is a hard habit to kick.
He does have some very interesting themes on ecology, religion and politics, and just when one thinks he is taking them somewhere useful the chapter ends, and in the next he skips away onto something completely unrelated. This I found irritating, and it made me think that perhaps he is merely re-hashing other people's bright ideas, but not doing enough research or thinking enough about them to develop depth or add value. For me, I think one of the most cogent bits was written by his wife, and this made me wonder if she was the clever one supplying him with the ideas.
The book is good in parts, less good elsewhere, and bad in just a few. Being episodic it does allow one to dip in and out without losing any plot, so it is ideal for those of us who do most of our reading on public transport.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is a very enjoyable, if slightly irritating read if you don't take it too seriously. I mean in the sense that this is written to be a bit shocking, a bit humourous, a bit "Aren't I mad?" in a journalistic way. Yes, its good if it does bring any one persons attention to the silly way we live now, and they decide to do something about it. Hopefully, it will it will make a difference somewhere and by the sound of some of the reviews, it has already pointed some readers where they hadn't looked before - at the wasteful ways we live, how much our clothes truely "cost" ect.
Several things really stood out for me though as I read this, and they wouldn't necessarily seem very important to the author or perhaps even a reader? One, he didn't give the lady from the agency a slice of cheesecake? Why not, I want to know, this is the sort of basic kindness and thoughtfulness which is at the heart of any religion - give of yourself, rather than seeking some answer in strange foreign religions, its much more basic and how good works in the universe.
Also, I did notice that the author said he met his wife in the late 80s, which makes him younger than me (I met my partner in the late seventies). He says his contemporaries all wanted to do things like go into banking - banking, well yes, that must be an age thing, we would have laughed in our young adult days at doing anything so "straight and boring". Yes, we were Idealist (or at least most of us?) but this was pre- Thatcher and we were had not got into money, desiger goods, naked ambition and stuff as the answer to life. What a difference those ten years must have made.
So, yes many "solutions" the author comes up with are actually a return or rethinking of old ideas. And yes, we did make our own clothes in the sixties and seventies, no cheap stuff at Primark or anywhere else. It was a skill still taught in schools and therefore even when you bought a garment you know how good the quality was or not, admired how it was cut and put together, not just the name on the label and how much it cost. Still, the return to making clothes for oneself has started, I teach Textiles at degree level and there is more interest than ever in this subject. I am an optimist by nature so hope sense prevails in the end, recycle, think before you buy and love beautiful cloth, it is the very fabric of life.
on 19 March 2014
This is identical to 'Through the eye of a Needle'. The book admits this in VERY small print but this information is omitted in the summery of the book by the seller.
Mr Flintoff is a journalist who is writing about his journey to making his own clothes and being more aware of his impact on other people and the planet.
Very admirable, unfortunately much of what he writes is superficial and takes some pressure groups at face value without analising the validity of their claims.
Thought provoking, irritating and naive. I could have written a book with more accurate analysis but with poorer prose.
He does make some fleeting interesting points. Why don't we write to our MPs and badger them about the issues that concern us and ask them what they are doing about it (constructively of course)?
He does question our constant consumerism.
His journey is interesting if shallow and at times a bit 'Blue Peterish'.
Is it a worth while read? Yes, but not one to keep on the bookshelf.
Whilst this book rambles somewhat while searching for a single theme which it never really finds, the journey is not an unpleasant one, rather like an aimless stroll when there are no pressing calls on one's time. Yes, the world is heading for disaster; we accept this quite early on. The resort to religion is a common one, but the urge to make clothing out of nettles is perhaps less so.
My uneasiness at the whole endeavour crystalised towards the end of the book, when the author quotes a rather critical article about him written by his wife. I realised I was on her side. I am not entirely sure I learned from this book what the author had intended me to and I don't think I'd read a book like it again, but this killed a few hours fairly pleasantly.
Thematically this book is all over the place, touching on politics, climate change, craft, religion, self-sufficiency, alternative energy and other issues without any particularly coherent order or resolution. From that point of a view, it is probably not entirely "successful". And yet I found this story of one man's search for meaning incredibly moving. As someone who lives with depression, is prone to navel-gazing and would consider herself creative, I was particularly keen on Flintoff's examination of the meditative quality of craft and the healing power of creativity. This is a gentle, genuinely empowering look at how people can take small steps that can change both their state of mind and, ultimately, the world.
on 15 November 2014
I unfortunately didn't read all the reviews before purchasing this item. It is the same book as "through the eye of a needle" published by the same author a few years earlier. I enjoyed reading the latter and was interested in books by the same author. I think it should be clearly stated on the web site that they are identical (apart from the title). After all, many people often purchase further books by the same author if they have enjoyed reading the first one. A bit of a con I feel.