Archive for the ‘Crafts & Hobbies’ Category

Gift Ideas: Film & Television, Music, Photography, Fashion, Crafts

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Let us be your personal shoppers!

ABC’s booksellers don’t just sell books: as well as being voracious readers, almost all ABC staff members are personally responsible for buying the books for one or more sections in the stores. That means you’ll always find someone who can put exactly the right book in your hands when you need it. We asked our buyers for their tips for the best gifts for the upcoming holiday season, and they came up with some great ones: new books, classic books, magazines, games, merchandise, and stationery.

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Film & Television, Music, Photography, Fashion and Crafts as supplied by Ester, Nyjolene, Marten and Sophie.

Even more gift ideas can be found here and here!


Quilty Pleasures: Kaffe Fassett and the History of Patchwork

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

The Colorful Craft of Kaffe Fassett

Kaffe (pronounced ‘kayf’) Fassett is a world-renowned and much-loved American textile designer and artist who started his long career in an unlikely place: on a train. On a visit to the wilds of Scotland, he was captivated by the palette of the landscape, and bought armfuls of Shetland wool in the colors he saw around him. On his way home,  he asked a lady in his train carriage to teach him to knit, and not so very long later, his first knitwear designs had been commissioned by Vogue.

Kaffe grew up in California, at his parents’ family restaurant, Nepenthe. Set on a sunny peninsula above the Pacific Ocean, the building was designed by a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright and became a popular haunt of the colorful, crazy and creative set of the 1950’s and 60’s; Kaffe was surrounded by painters, artists, sculptors, dancers, writers and film stars. A love of  form and color bloomed, and the energy and exuberance of this rich childhood milieu found its way into his art.

At nineteen, he won a scholarship to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston but, inspired by his conversations with Christoper Isherwood, he left for London and set up home near Portobello Market at the height of the swinging sixties.  Fassett had actually started out as a minimalist painter, a fact which shocks anyone familiar with his designs, but was so enamored of the colors of the market, particularly the fabrics, that he switched to working in needlepoint. Then came the visit to Scotland, the spreads in Vogue, and commissions from fashion houses, films stars and royalty.

In 1988 the V&A hosted an exhibition of Kaffe’s work, making him the first living textile artist to have a one-man show at the museum. He has written more than thirty books and hosted television and radio programmes for the BBC and Channel 4, including his own very popular series, ‘Glorious Colour’. He has also worked with Oxfam on a project that works with villages in Guatemala and India to produce fabric designs for sale in the west.

As well as knitting and needlepoint, Fassett works in mosaicrugmaking and paint; but these days, he concentrates on patchwork. It appeals to his two great passions, pattern and color. He’s skilled in a variety of media, but Fassett is actually far less concerned with the technical aspects of making things – and would insist that he is technically mediocre in everything he does – than with the thrill to be had from solving the puzzle of organising colors into pleasing patterns.

He exhorts his fans to go crazy with pattern and color, to let loose and dare to experience them in unexpected and unconventional ways. He now devotes his life not just to the production of his own pieces, fabrics, books and designs, but to sharing his passions with as many people as possible by talking about his work all over the world. His love of color and pattern is infectious, and that’s why we are thrilled that Kaffe Fassett will be visiting our Amsterdam Treehouse to present his autobiography Dreaming in Color, on Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd.

To Fassett, quilting is a thrilling puzzle of pattern and shape. To most of the rest of us, it’s a dowdy sort of hobby, albeit with practical results, that’s been around for maybe a couple of hundred years. Read on to find out how the humble quilt has a history long as infinite spools of thread and as varied and colorful as patchwork itself.


CANCELLED – Win tickets to Julia Cameron’s lecture on creativity!

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Unfortunately Julia Cameron has cancelled the event, so there are no longer tickets to be won

In co-operation with Bliz Events, The American Book Center is giving away 5 pairs of tickets worth € 90 each for Julia Cameron’s lecture Creativity & Divinity”, taking place in Houten on Friday, May 11th, 2012.

Julia Cameron is a novelist, playwright, songwriter, poet, and the author of the ABC Evergreen The Artist’s Way. First published in 1992, The Artist’s Way is credited with helping millions find and express authentic creativity in their lives, in their work and in the world.

During her lecture Julia will remove every myth and monster that you hold dear that stops you from living your most creative life! Discover and recover your creative self. Stop telling yourself that “It’s too late”. Stop waiting until you make enough money before you do something you love. Stop thinking it’s just your ego whenever you yearn for a more creative life. Release the beliefs that dreams don’t matter, that your family and friends will think you’re crazy, or that creativity is a luxury you can’t afford. Julia will teach you how to do all this and much more! To find out how to enter the draw to win a pair of tickets, see our blog.

On May 12 and 13 Julia will also give a workshop on The Artist’s Way!

For a chance to win a pair of tickets to the lecture, just answer the following question:

Name an activity that Julia advises in The Artist’s Way to let your creativity flow.

Send your answer in an email to before May 6th. In the subject line, write “Julia Cameron Prize Draw”.

Date: Friday May 11th
Time: 19:00 – 21:30
Venue: Theater Aan de Slinger, Houten
Note: please bring a pen and a notebook
Normal Ticket Price: € 45; tickets at the door: € 50
More information: Bliz Events

Gift Ideas for this Christmas: Crafts, Children’s Books, and Science Fiction & Fantasy

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Let us be your personal shoppers!

ABC’s booksellers don’t just sell books: as well as being voracious readers, almost everyone you’ll meet at the cash desk at ABC is personally responsible for buying the books for one or more sections in the store. That means you’ll always find someone who can put exactly the right book in your hands when you need it. We asked our buyers for their tips for the best gifts for Christmas, and they came up with some crackers: a sackful of ideas to suit every taste and budget. There are new books, classic books, magazines, games, puzzles, and even cuddly toys. Here are just a few of their ideas. Follow the links to find more ideas on:


Science Fiction & Fantasy

Or, to see all of our gift ideas for 2011, see the other posts!


Pleun’s New Look at Christmas

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Do you know that feeling that the holiday season is lurking around the corner and you have no idea what to do this year? In the end you end up with family and friends around the dinner table eating the same menu for the oompfth time, looking at an impersonal Christmas tree and sending cards that are not quite what you had envisioned?

Not that there is anything wrong with that, but why not make it a little more special this year? Change things around and maybe find yourself pleasantly surprised at the end of it.

So where do you start? Well instead of just having a Christmas tree with factory ornaments why not make some yourself? I know we are all busy and have full lives but maybe it will be fun?! Have the kids involved and with this so called horror winter coming up stay inside and be creative. And who better to guide you then Martha Stewart, the woman who made crafts her business in life?! In her new book Handmade Holiday Crafts you can find so much inspiration. From stylish Christmas stockings to special ornaments -  it’s in here! And don’t be intimidated by how she does it. She is a magician and even if your projects turn out looking half as nice it is still going to be a big success! I especially liked her chapter on gift wrapping where she uses a lot of natural products to embellish the presents to make them extra special.

If you are a fan of retro then maybe The Farm Chicks Christmas is more up your ally. A 1940’s – 1950’s inspired book that gives you that special feel of yesteryear. Not only tips on how to decorate your house in a fun, playful way, but also some mouthwatering recipes like chocolate-covered peanut butter balls. You can also find some very cute stickers in the book to liven up some personal gifts. Another great book in this line is Have Yourself a Very Vintage Christmas. It has a lot of fun background information on how they celebrated Christmas in the last century. Also some very nice ideas for greeting cards that are not corny at all!

Betty Crocker has been an American institution for years now. And the Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook is also a bit of a classic. Of course there are some lovely main courses in here, but let’s be honest: it is the cakes and bakes thatshe is most famous for. I must honestly say not all the treats in here give me the Christmas vibe but they are nice and – I am sure – tasty enough to try out. I really liked their recipe for peppermint bark and especially the different twist they give it. What I also like about this book is that it is not only about food but that there is also a beverage chapter. I mean, Hot Cappuccino Eggnog?! I say yummy!

This year it is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay who has his own Christmas cookbook out. Somehow, when I think of Christmas, Gordon “Loudmouth” Ramsay does not pop in mind, but fair is fair, this book has some great recipes. I love his chapter on party food where Pumkin Tartlets with Sage and Thyme are definitely going to be baked in my oven. There are also some great set menus so you don’t have to think what will fit and compliment each other. He even made a list with every menu what you have to do in advance, the day before, etc.. This makes it so much less stressful and easier to plan. All in all a great book with a lot of inspiration.

Every year on the first floor at The American Book Center in Amsterdam we change things around so that we have one bookcase full of holiday books for the festive season. You can find them near the cash desk.  At ABC The Hague you can find the holiday books by the stairs.

By Pleun.