Book Reviews

ZERO WASTE SEWING: 16 PROJECTS TO MAKE, WEAR AND ENJOY

By Elizabeth M Haywood
(Cootala Press 2020)
Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt

This practical manual by Elizabeth Haywood is a great introduction to the world of zero-waste sewing. Zero-waste sewing is making clothes without wasting any fabric. The pattern pieces are designed to completely fit within the dimensions of the fabric; there are no offcuts and no waste. It’s an inherent practise for traditional clothing where fabric was hand-loomed and precious, such as kimonos, sarongs, kilts, ponchos and saris.

This book lays out clear step-by-step instructions and patterns to make your own zero-waste garments. Each piece is unique and echoes traditional designs. From tops, dresses, jackets and pants, you’ll find something that suits your style. If you’re dipping your toe into zero-waste sewing, creating a slow wardrobe for yourself or just looking for a new sewing adventure, there’s plenty in this book to try, inspire, wear and enjoy.

FROM WHAT IS TO WHAT IF: UNLEASHING THE POWER OF IMAGINATION TO CREATE THE FUTURE WE WANT

By Rob Hopkins
(Chelsea Green Publishing 2019)
Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt

Rob Hopkins is a visionary and a do-er. He is the co-founder of the Transition Town network and Transition Town Totnes. In this book, Hopkins explores the vital role of positive thinking and imagination for creating a better world. He asks important questions: How can we create a better future if we can’t imagine it first? And how can we imagine it, if we don’t make the time and space to imagine? Our modern lives are so busy and full of information, screens and hurry, that we don’t create any space to think and dream and imagine.

If we all get on the bandwagon of thinking that the world is broken and there is no hope, and then fill the void with mindless distraction, we are unable to pull ourselves out of it. But if we see the positive and imagine the future that we do want, then we can create it. Hopkins explores projects across the globe that are creating a new normal; projects that are based on imagining another way of doing things and then making it happen. From What Is to What If is a call to action to reclaim our imagination and use it to dream up and create the world we want to live in.

FIRE COUNTRY: HOW INDIGENOUS FIRE MANAGEMENT COULD HELP SAVE AUSTRALIA

By Victor Steffensen
(Hardie Grant Travel, 2020)
Review by Emily Stokes

After such a dramatic Australian summer of devastating bushfires, what Victor Steffensen has to say in Fire Country is now more significant than ever. We not only need to know this information, our lives and the future land management and health of our farms, wildlife, national parks and the Australian bush may depend upon it.

Tracing the history of Indigenous cultural burning, Steffensen takes us through the key elements of reading the land, addressing how and when to burn, and how this practice can eventually restore the land to better health, where uncontrolled bushfires are no longer a risk.

Steffensen spent many years with the Aboriginal elders of Cape York, learning and practising Indigenous fire management. In Fire Country, these experiences are beautifully interwoven with his life story, mixed with some tough life lessons, push-back from government authorities and his stubborn resolve to make a difference and bring his incredible ecological knowledge to Australians everywhere. Steffensen describes the evolution of the firesticks workshops, which bring together local Aboriginal communities, landholders, government representatives and interested Australians to be initiated for sharing this complex cultural knowledge.

KOMBUCHA, KEFIR AND NATURAL SODAS: A SIMPLE GUIDE FOR CREATING YOUR OWN

By Nina Lausecker and Sebastian Landaeus
(Smith Street Books 2020)
Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt

As naturally fermented drinks gain popularity across mainstream society, this book is great for those wanting to experiment with creating their own kombucha, kefirs and sodas. Whether you are a beginner or more advanced, there is loads in there for everyone. With well-defined step-by-step instructions and clear photography showing each ingredient, how to use it and the techniques involved, you are sure to be rocking the fermentation process in no time.

This book covers the more popular drinks such as kefirs, kombuchas and ginger bugs with loads of variations for each mixture. Recipes include apple cider, apple cider vinegar and mead, as well as grain-based ferments including amazake, rejuvelac and svagdricka. This is a really fun book for anyone wanting to explore the wonderful world of fermented drinks, that are good for your gut and you.

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