Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Scott Miller

Psionic Press

I have played Mahjong for several years.  Many of my fellow purists follow the rules set out by the NML.  Other groups make up their own games and rules and if you want to join, you can be their guest.

Scott Miller has written the definitive tome “Mahjong from A to Zhu.  In his book there are over 40 versions of Mahjong, which includes many “esoteric” games.  We are initially introduced to Core Rules, Tiles and Equipment, Wall information, and Game Play.  This is followed by an extensive list of information that he contributes to convey that the game is both a challenge and a fascinating compilation of rules, patterns, scoring, etc.

Whether one is a novice or an experienced player, this book tell its all.  Rack em up and ENJOY!

Razine Wenneker


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Beautiful Bead Weaving
Fran Ortmeyer & Carol C. Porter
Design Originals

These authors have hit a home run with this book.  I have previously reviewed their book “Bead Weaving on a Loom” and this one also meets my expectations. They present a wonderful array of patterns for lovely beaded loom jewelry.

The mini loom is featured and one is instructed on the continuous warping process.  We are also introduced to the standard loom, its parts, and the continuous warped method in addition to the multiple warp method.

Increasing and decreasing techniques are also presented. These are followed by additional techniques along with various interesting patterns.

There are many creative possibilities presented for on-loom beading.  Each beader can look forward to many fun hands-on bead weaving experiences. Clear pictures and instructions guide the beader every step of the way.


Jewel Loom Inspirations
Julianna C. Avelar

This book presents a myriad of “quick and fun beading and jewelry projects.”  I consider myself a creative person and look forward to each day creative opportunities when I sit before my various looms and shimmering beads.

All of the necessary beading components are listed in this book.  There is also a section describing the stringing materials, adhesives, findings, tools, etc.

The Jewel Loom is the loom of choice for the various projects in this book. Its light weight properties makes it very portable.  Excellent visual instructions enable the beader to quickly warp the loom and proceed to weave their “masterpiece.”

Both the beginner and advanced beader can learn and utilize several new techniques. Lovely bracelets, necklaces and other unique beaded accessories are doable.


Deb Bergs
Design Originals

Lovely array of beaded bags utilizing the “brick stitch.” Diagrams provide the beader with the basic steps to create the brick stitch, join the seams and add a fringe. One can also work the various patterns in peyote stitch.

Nothing is left to chance. The author gives us all of the visual and verbal tools to complete each pattern. Size, color charts, and finished bags are vividly displayed. One can make his own statement when incorporating a strap or various elements on them.

I would highly recommend this book to all bead enthusiasts. Your finished articles will receive lots of OH’s and AH’s. Plus, your bags will be a joy to have or to gift.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Emilie Ramon
The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group

This book with its overwhelming array of patterns is a bead weaver’s delight. I just purchased a Mirrix Tapestry Loom and can’t wait to warp it and incorporate some of these designs into my woven beaded structures.

It is very interesting how the author completely changes the appearance of many of the pieces.  She has a wonderful eye for design and modifies many of her patterns with the introduction of new colors and hues.

She utilizes Miyuki delica cylinder beads in all of her woven structures.  These beads are readily available in a wide range of colors which can be purchased in either bags or tubes. Fil One-G-0.25 mm. beige nylon beading thread is recommended. But, I have used Fireline 6lb S-Lon,C-Lon, Nymo B thread.

Enjoy!  This is an exciting book for every bead weaver to explore. By the way, keep on beading and you can complete more than a bracelet with this wonderful compilation of patterns.


Thursday, December 8, 2016



With Adrienne Gaskell
Kalmbach Publishing Company

I had been eagerly awaiting receipt of these two DVDs after I learned of their availability.  My experience was solely with making the wonderful Kumihimo braids on the Marudai, but had never incorporated beads into their silky structures.  Now, I had no excuse for not determining the braid pattern, measuring out my cords, filling same with my favorite beads, wrapping the tama, adjusting the counter weight, and just following the wonderful visual and extremely well-articulated directions on these two DVDs.

Adrienne Gaskell is a wonderful instructor.  She conducts workshops all over the country for people interested in learning all of the intricacies of this wonderful creative art happening.  The viewer is taught all of the steps to create these beautiful beaded braided  cords on these two recently published DVDs.  If one cannot take a workshop with Adrienne, these DVDs provide a one-on-one experience of “how to” bead kumihimo.  We are taken through the planning stages regarding measuring and determining length of each cord for bead braiding  necklaces and bracelets.  How long to cut cord?  She gives us a very definitive answer.  Can be particularly frustrating when necklace cord ends up the wrong length.

We are instructed how to create several visual clues on the marudai to keep us on track and important information about documentation, winding tama, movement of hands across the mirror, threads, beads, counterweight, needles, etc.  DVDs also provides a lively discussion of the use of a bead spinning tool which is an indispensable aid for the kumihimo bead weaver.

I would highly recommend both of these DVDs.  In fact my new RCA compact DVD player is just the right tool for them.

Razine Wenneker   

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Are you a crossword, word game, Sudoku, dot-to-dot, word puzzle, or any other type of paper/pen game player?  If so, you will love the Pilot Frixion ball erasable gel roller pens.  They come in an assortment of colors and tips. Make a mistake – no problem, like magic, the erasable top comes to one’s rescue.  I recently worked a dot-to-dot book on a four hour flight to California.  Didn’t mind the cramped seats, poor ventilation, and coughing and sneezing surrounding my space.  Had my favorite Pilot Frixion Ball Gel Roller erasable pen and I was able to enjoy my trip with this wonderful instrument?

Word of caution though, don’t sign any checks with this pen for over $1.00.

Razine Wenneker     


Beth Kemp

Barron’s Educational Series

This beginner’s guide to making flat braids includes a Kumihimo square disk.  The book is a unique reference source on a subject that has captured the creative imagination of worldwide weavers.  I too was introduced to this exciting “gathering of threads” technique many years ago and have collected a substantial assortment of books and videos on this subject.

Beth Kemp’s book offers the braider all of the information necessary to lead them on this explorative journey.  Each chapter describes step by step visual and written instructions on how to proceed with the construction of the various braids.  All materials are listed and basic techniques are presented in beautiful illustrations and easy to follow instructions. 
I was particularly captivated by the spectacular “Sunset Splendor” necklace.  But, one can always start with the simple “Friendship” bracelet project and proceed from there. 

I would highly recommend this book as a “fabulous” introduction of creative Kumihimo braiding possibilities.

Razine Wenneker

Friday, November 4, 2016

Jamie Cloud Eakin
JCE Publishing

When I started creating loom beaded jewelry several years ago, there was a scarcity of definitive books about the technique. I recently received this book and it is truly a start to finish and beyond product.

The first chapter begins with an introduction to the various types of looms. The following chapters cover information pertaining to the process, finishing, edging techniques, project, etc. Chapter 7 takes the reader on an adventure beyond traditional loom work with wonderfully instructive and boldly colored illustrations. Many well-conceived projects are presented.  The section entitled “projects beyond tradition” are an amazing example utilizing dagger beads instead of delicas. The end results are mind boggling examples outside the norm.

Each project contains instructions, supply list, and finishing techniques. I agree as I read the last part of a project that one has to carefully pull and pray that each warped thread yields to our nimble fingers.

Chapter 10 on Troubleshooting soothes our wrinkled brow. Reminds me of the section in  the instruction book that came with my microwave oven. If you are having trouble “do the following,” and you might easily continue on your bead weaving adventure.

Jamie Cloud Eakin
JCE Publishing

I love tassels. They are flirty, fluid and great conversation pieces. Many of my Kumihimo jewelry is completed with these swinging beaded tassels, which add an interesting appendage to the finished project.

Jamie Cloud Eakin introduces the beader to a myriad of these playful tassels in this book. We learn about techniques and designs of various projects. There are minimum tassels containing less than seven fringed strands followed by instructions and illustrations of the standard tassel. The Pom Pom tassel would be a great addition to any young girl’s backpack.  “What fun?”

The instructions and illustrations in this book are excellent. I can’t wait to enhance my beaded jewelry with this extra special beaded tassel touch.

Eve Leder
Kalmbach Books

The author has written an easy to follow beading book. After the introduction and basics section, one is introduced to the various beading stitches. I have explored many videos in an attempt to master these stitches. With this book, one doesn’t have to stop or pause.  The ladder stitch, right angle weave, cubic right angle weaves, herring bone, square stitch, circular brick stitch, and peyote stitch are all introduced and incorporated in the beautifully photographed examples.

All materials and tools are listed along with some helpful learn, practice, and apply notations. We are invited into an exciting visual class room.  The student is rewarded with a lovely assortment of beaded jewelry and beading experiences. This book goes well beyond Beading 101.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Greatest Dot to Dot     
Monkeying Around
David Kalvitis

I recently got hooked on doing dot to dot puzzles.  The big box of puzzle books arrived the other day from Monkeying Around.  Many challenges were initially presented.  First, the surface of my desk had to be cleared away of all the notes, catalogs, scraps of paper, and sundry items.  Second, the top desk drawer had to be rearranged so I could find my mechanical pencil, erasure and ruler.  Third, I had to decide where I would begin as Monkeying Around gave me a huge variety of dot-to-do-choices.

The clever travel size “The Greatest Newspaper” dot to dot puzzles consists of 8 volumes.  They vary from sets of numbers, connect dots, odd/even, no dots, stars, and the alphabet. There is fun for all ages as one completes a puzzle and progresses on to a slightly more difficult one in each book. Several of the puzzles also have a very small section which is already completed – sort of like a teaser.

The larger dot-to-dot books cover a wide range of captivating puzzles.  Some are very straight forward (almost like follow the leader,) and others are more complex.  There are single page puzzles, dot-to-dot adventures and multiple page puzzles to tackle such as the four page foldout consisting of over 2100 dots.  Some puzzles present visual clues to follow while others consist of arrows, points on a compass, and various coordinates to connect.

If one has any “how-to” questions, Monkeying Around has a wonderful puzzle solving blog on their web site at www.MonkeyingAround.com/
There are also free samples to download and print for starters.  There is also an app for the Little Book puzzles. 

All I can say is “wow!”  David Kalvitis is a master dot to dot puzzle creator.
Pick up your tools and may your amazing journey begin.

Razine Wenneker