Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Taught Myself Crochet kit

book cover

I Taught Myself Crochet kit
by Boye

Paperback: 32 pages
Released: 2010

Source: Bought at Walmart.

Kit Description from Back Cover (slightly modified):
Even beginners can crochet beautiful things.

Kit includes:
  • Complete instructional DVD
  • Special section of tips and techniques for left-handers
  • Boye crochet hooks, sizes F, G, H, I, K
  • Afghan hook, size I
  • Plastic tapestry Yarn needles
  • Stitch marker rings
  • Bulky knit yarn bobbins

book coverNote: I own the 2010 version sold at Walmart which includes an instructional DVD. The book has a lady with a blue crochet sweater on the cover (see right), but the rest of the kit looks like the top picture.

Includes 16 Patterns:
(11 Beginner patterns, 4 Easy patterns, 1 Intermediate pattern)
  • Cro-Hook Cool Coasters
  • Easy Crochet Bag
  • Easy Scarf
  • Cell Phone Case
  • Color Block Mesh Poncho
  • Hairpin Lace Skinny Scarf
  • Ruffled Skinny Scarf
  • Broomstick Lace Pillow
  • Wavy Baby Blanket
  • Bright Nights Wrap/Throw
  • Mesh Scarf With Posies
  • Girl's Wrist Warmers
  • Summer Stripes Throw
  • Summer Strips Pillow
  • The Gift Poncho
  • Soft Sage Camisole

My Review:
The I Taught Myself Crochet book was pretty bare-bones, but it did get the basic necessary information across. It explained the different Boye crochet products and what they're used for (steel crochet hooks, aluminum crochet hooks, jumbo crochet hooks, afghan hooks, CroHook, and two sets). It explained the different yarn weights, what hooks are good to use with the different yarn weights, yarn weight metric equivalents, crochet hook sizes, and a long list of crocheting abbreviations.

The book taught how to do a slip loop, chain stitch, slip stitch, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, treble crochet, increasing and decreasing, joining yarn and changing colors, finishing techniques, gauge, afghan stitch, how to use the cro-hook (needed equipment not included), how to make broomstick lace (needed equipment not included) and how to make hairpin lace (needed equipment not included).

Clear black-and-tan illustrations were included, though I would have liked more of the steps illustrated. It's great for a refresher, but not enough for an absolute beginner who's never crocheted, knitted, etc. The instructions were very good, but I guess I'm a visual learner when it comes to crocheting. There was also a tan-tinted photo of what a square of each stitch would look like, however it was difficult to see due to the coloring. All of the basic stitches (slip loop to treble crochet) were also taught for left-handers.

The patterns look fun, but this book didn't teach you how to read the patterns. You might be able to muddle through them with frequent looks at the included abbreviation chart, though. Three of the patterns required equipment not included in this kit.

The DVD included with this kit was Learn to Crochet with Erin Elkins. The DVD was 11 minutes and 47 seconds long. We were shown how to do a slip knot, chain stitch, slip stitch, single crochet, double crochet, and finish off the yarn ends on your piece.

It was easy to see what the presenter was doing, however, she sometimes didn't do what she told us to do. (For example, she described a "yarn over" as putting the hook under then over the yarn, but sometimes she did the opposite. She never explained why she sometimes didn't do it the way she said to, so I'm assuming she just goofed.) Because of this, I found the DVD more confusing than helpful.

Personally, I found naztazia's YouTube videos, How to Crochet - Part 1 - Basics for the Absolute Beginner and How to Crochet - Part 2 - Basics for the Absolute Beginner, very clear and much more useful. She also taught more of the basic crochet stitches.

The hooks included with the kit were easy enough to use, but I've since bought a full set of Susan Bates hooks and I much prefer them. The book and DVD didn't explain how to use the included stitch marker rings or bulky knit yarn bobbins. (I learn pattern-reading and the use of stitch marker rings from another book, Crocheting in Plain English.)

Overall, this kit was a cheap way to see if I'd enjoy crocheting, especially since I had the additional help of the YouTube videos. I'm sure I'll use the book to refer back to about abbreviations and to double-check how to do the various stitches (now that I've done them some). However, this probably wasn't the best set to get in a longer-term perspective.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Great Turning Point by Dr. Terry Mortenson

book cover

The Great Turning Point:
The Church's Catastrophic Mistake on Geology--Before Darwin
by Dr. Terry Mortenson

ISBN-13: 9780890514085
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Master Books
Released: September 28, 2004

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Publisher's Website:
Many people in the Church today have the idea that “young-earth” creationism is a fairly recent invention, popularized by fundamentalist Christians in the mid-20th century. Is this view correct? In fact, scholar Terry Mortenson has done fascinating original research on this subject in England, and documents that several leading, pre-Darwin scholars and scientists, known as “scriptural geologists” did not believe in long ages for the earth. Mortenson sheds light on the following:

  • Before Darwin, what did the Church believe about the age of the earth?

  • Why did it believe this way?

  • What was the controversy that rocked the Church in 19th-century England?

  • Who were the “scriptural geologists”?

  • What influences did the Church contend with even before Darwin’s book?

  • What is the stance of the Church today?

This book is a thoroughly researched work. The history of the Church and evolution is fascinating, and it is interesting to see not only the tremendous influence that evolution has had on the Church, but on society as well.

My Review:
The Great Turning Point is a look at the historical background of an ongoing debate in geology relating to the age of the earth and the origin of the various rock layers. The author explained the intellectual, religious, and cultural context of the debate, including what Bible commentaries were saying about Genesis. He also explained the marks of geological competence in the early 1800s. Personally, I found this section the most interesting.

The second part took a closer look at Granville Penn, George Bugg, Andrew Ure, George Fairholme, John Murray, George Young, and William Rhind. The author gave a short biography for each person and talked about how knowledgeable they were in geology, what they said about geology, their attitude toward the study of geology, their view of the relationship between Scripture and geology, about their writing, and more.

The book contained quotes from the writings of the scriptural geologists and of those against them so you could hear their positions in their own words. The information was well-footnoted so you could see where the quotes and information came from. The language was formal, and a lot of information was covered (information-dense). It took concentration to absorb everything, but it wasn't difficult to follow. If you're interested in this subject, then this book contains some very good information.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from the Introduction
Geologist H.H. Read prefaced his book on the granite controversy a few decades ago with these words, "Geology, as the science of earth history, is prone to controversy. The study of history of any kind depends upon documents and records. For the history of the earth's crust, these documents are the rocks and their reading, and interpretation are often difficult operations."

This book analyzes one such controversy, an extremely important one at that, during the first half of the 19th century in Britain, which has sometimes been called the "Genesis-geology debate." At that time a tenacious and denominationally eclectic band of scientists and clergymen (and some were both) opposed the new geological theories being developed at the time, which said that the earth was millions of years old. These men became known as "scriptural geologists," "Mosaic geologists" or "biblical literalists."

The label "scriptural geologists" is preferred since three of their book titles used these terms and it was the most common label used by their contemporaries and by later historians. However, we need to be aware of the label's liabilities. It has not always been used carefully, resulting in confusion and inaccurate analysis. Calling them scriptural geologists obscures the fact that some of them were competent geologists while others were not (and did not claim to be). Conversely, it sometimes is and was used by opponents to imply, erroneously, that these men all developed their objections to old-earth geological theories solely on the basis of Scripture. Also, at least one of their contemporary critics, an old-earth geologist, also described himself by the same title. Finally, a few of their contemporary critics and several later historians have lumped scriptural geologists together with their opponents under this label. So it is necessary to have a clear view of what they believed.

The scriptural geologists held to the dominant Christian view within church history up to their own time, namely, that Moses wrote Genesis 1-11 (along with the rest of Genesis) under divine inspiration and that these chapters ought to be interpreted literally as a reliable, fully historical account. This conviction led them to believe, like many contemporary and earlier Christians, that the Noachian flood was a unique global catastrophe, which produced much, or most, of the fossil-bearing sedimentary rock formations, and that the earth was roughly 6,000 years old. From this position they opposed with equal vigor both the "uniformitarian" theory of earth history propounded by James Hutton and Charles Lyell, and the "catastrophist" theory of Georges Cuvier, William Buckland, William Conybeare, Adam Sedgwick, etc.

They also rejected, as compromises of Scripture, the gap theory, the day-age theory, the tranquil flood theory, the local flood theory, and the myth theory.Though all but the myth theory were advocated by Christians who believed in the divine inspiration and historicity of Genesis 1-11, the scriptural geologists believed their opponents' theories were unconvincing interpretations of Scripture based on unproven old-earth theories of geology.

Read excerpt from chapter one.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

To Be Perfectly Honest by Phil Callaway

book cover

To Be Perfectly Honest
by Phil Callaway

ISBN-13: 9781590529171
Trade Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Released: May 3, 2011

Book on Publisher's Website

Source: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Veteran author and speaker Phil Callaway is no stranger to daunting challenges. He has been laughed at—repeatedly—by large crowds of people from Halifax to Hong Kong. He fathered three children in three years, spent much of last year on airplanes built by the lowest bidder, and flipped an out-of-control ATV, which doesn’t mean he sold it for a profit. So who better than Phil Callaway to boldly accept a challenge that would make the average person run and hide?

Phil promised to tell the truth for an entire year, and he wasn’t joking. Twelve months later, his journal was crammed with successes, near-successes, and outright failures. During his year-long experiment with veracity, he made a disastrous financial investment, fielded hundreds of intrusive questions from friends and strangers, attended a thirty-year class reunion, and waded into possibly the most revealing—and hilarious—situations he has ever documented.

Find out what happens when a follower of Jesus does his level best to always tell the truth. There is no doubt you’ll be entertained. But don’t be surprised if you are left with a question: how might your life be changed if you sold out to the truth—with no exceptions?

My Review:
To Be Perfectly Honest is a humor book about Christian living. My main problem with the book was that I thought it was about insights (illustrated by true stories) into the unexpected benefits of always telling the truth. That took up only about 10-15 pages in the book. The rest of the book was mainly about getting a laugh out of the reader.

The author stated that he didn't feel that jokes counted as lies. So a book about telling the truth contained deliberate lies for the purpose of getting a laugh. Not so much a problem in theory, but I sometimes had a hard time figuring out when he was telling a true, naturally funny story and when he was lying in order to make the reader laugh. While I love to laugh and find life quite funny, I unfortunately didn't understand or enjoy most of his humor.

Why did I read this book? I don't struggle with telling the truth. Nonetheless, I was interested in the subtitle's claim of "One man's year of almost living truthfully could change your life. No lie." Since the humor was a flop for me, it's too bad that I didn't even get any new "honesty" or "Christian living" insights out of the book. Every time he had an "aha!" moment, I was thinking, "You mean, you didn't know that?" But I guess I gained the insight that not every longtime Christian knows these things.

I should mention that I was bothered that the author felt that telling the truth was an excuse to be cruel or arrogant toward others. (For example, he said mean things about his wife's cooking and justified it as being truthful. He refused to laugh at someone else's jokes if he didn't find them funny, which he used to do just to be polite. He never understood that you can find something both nice and truthful to say in "be polite" situations.)

And while I appreciate the author's willingness to be open about his struggles as a Christian and while he did come to some good conclusions, I didn't like his attitude toward practically everyone in his life (made me glad I didn't know him) and I didn't agree with every Christian insight he came to. (I'm glad he no longer feels the need to pretend about his feelings when praying to God since that's pointless, but I don't agree that God's pleased by him being openly angry at Him. Phil's angry because he thinks he knows better than God about how things ought to be done, but, well, that didn't go over too well with God in the Garden of Eden.)

There were some discussion questions at the back of the book that focused mainly on telling the truth and the insights Phil gained. They, like this book, seem geared mainly toward those who lie frequently.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.