Category Archives: Learning

Learning a new skill at home

Full disclosure, we’ve had about eight goes at writing this introduction. We are living in a crazy time at the moment with many people unwell, everyone in isolation and unable to see extended families or friends. We try as much as we can to look on the bright side and have been heartened to see that our local community is full of kindness where people are helping each other as much as they can. We’re aiming to offer a silver lining too with daily dinner inspiration (there are so many cookbooks on the market that are seriously turning this ‘non cook’ into a wannabe chef! – be sure to follow along on Facebook and Instagram and share your dinner ideas too). 

This week we are all about helping you fill the spare time you have on your hands while we all sit this virus out at home. There are so many things you can learn to do.
We’ve had a little dig around and have found six great new books that will help you broaden your skill sets. What is it you would like to learn?

From Clay to Kiln by Stuart Carey

This one is for these of you that have always wanted to have a go at pottery but perhaps haven’t worked with clay since kindergarten. From Clay to Kiln is a must-have guide for anyone working with ceramics, from absolute beginners, weekend crafters and students, through to practising ceramicists. In this book, Stuart Carey invigorates and encourages you through all stages of the pottery process. Covering all the information you need about tools and materials, he takes you through preparation and hand building, throwing and finishing your vessel, to glazing and firing. You will gain an in-depth knowledge of how clay works and how to apply your skills to the wheel and beyond. With simple step-by-step tutorials, clear visuals and Stuart’s helpful hints and tips, you can jump straight in with confidence and create a piece of pottery that marries beauty, form and function. Including stunningly beautiful photography throughout, this is a book to inspire.

Mend and Patch by Kerstin Neumuller

These are skills that are sadly lacking in our generation but with the times we are in, perhaps will make a resurgence as we all take the pace of life down a little. 

Throwing away holey, yet beloved, clothes can sometimes be one of the saddest things, but what if you were able to fix those holes and extend their life? With Mend and Patch, you can learn to take care of your clothes, mending, patching and repairing so you can cherish all your garments. In the furthest corner of Kerstin and Douglas’s store, Second Sunrise in Stockholm, Kerstin has set up a mending studio and so when it’s quiet in the shop she can sit there by the sewing machine and give a new lease of life to people’s favourite jeans. Some prefer discreet and invisible mendings, others want them to be highly visible and so, with time, mending becomes a part of the history of the clothes and the people who wear them. Mend and Patch arms you with the skills and ideas you need to mend your own clothes, truly making and keeping them your own, whatever the wear and tear. Find out emergency tips for mending in a hurry, enhance your clothes with decorative ‘mends’ and learn to mend for and with different materials, including leather, cotton, wool, silk and of course, denim.

Clean Code by Robert C Martin

Okay, this is something many of us put off. Coding. Sounds tricky. Isn’t really. Well…that’s what we are hoping. Many of our community run their own businesses and websites are (and even more so) going to become an increasingly important component of those. Knowing a little coding will surely be of benefit. Also, this isn’t the newest book (it was published in 2008) but it is an extremely pragmatic method for writing better code from the start, and ultimately producing more robust applications.

Even bad code can function. But if code isn’t clean, it can bring a development organisation to its knees. Every year, countless hours and significant resources are lost because of poorly written code. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Noted software expert Robert C. Martin presents a revolutionary paradigm with Clean Code. Martin has teamed up with his colleagues from Object Mentor to distill their best agile practice of cleaning code “on the fly” into a book that will instil within you the values of a software craftsman and make you a better programmer – but only if you work at it.

Eloquent Ruby by Russ Olsen

Yep, another coding book. It’s an important skill so we thought we’d give you another option. Ruby is the language powering sites including Booko, AirBNB, Shopify and Zendesk. The developer community around Ruby is famously welcoming and inclusive with the community motto derived from demeanor of the language’s chief designer Matz: “Matz is nice and so we are nice”. The language has a focus on developer happiness making it a great place to begin your journey into writing software.

It’s easy to write correct Ruby code, but to gain the fluency needed to write great Ruby code, you must go beyond syntax and absorb the “Ruby way” of thinking and problem solving. In Eloquent Ruby, Russ Olsen helps you write Ruby like true Rubyists do-so you can leverage its immense, surprising power. Olsen draws on years of experience internalizing the Ruby culture and teaching Ruby to other programmers. He guides you to the “Ah Ha!” moments when it suddenly becomes clear why Ruby works the way it does, and how you can take advantage of this language’s elegance and expressiveness. Eloquent Ruby starts small, answering tactical questions focused on a single statement, method, test, or bug. You’ll learn how to write code that actually looks like Ruby (not Java or C#); why Ruby has so many control structures; how to use strings, expressions, and symbols; and what dynamic typing is really good for. Next, the book addresses bigger questions related to building methods and classes. You’ll discover why Ruby classes contain so many tiny methods, when to use operator overloading, and when to avoid it. Olsen explains how to write Ruby code that writes its own code-and why you’ll want to.He concludes with powerful project-level features and techniques ranging from gems to Domain Specific Languages. A part of the renowned Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series, Eloquent Ruby will help you “put on your Ruby-colored glasses” and get results that make you a true believer.

Home is Where You Make It: DIY ideas and styling secrets to create a home you love – whether you rent or own by Geneva Vanderzeil

They say home is where the heart is and this little book will help you learn a few skills to make sure that home reflects the personality of the people who live with you. Beautiful and practical DIY projects, styling hacks and design tips for both owners and renters from the founder of one of the world’s most popular lifestyle websites. Add style and individuality to your home with DIY, even when you’re renting. Home Is Where You Make It channels the simplicity and beauty of modern living. This is your room-by-room guide to making and DIY-ing your own place, with hundreds of clever styling hacks, repurposing and up-styling ideas, and easy weekend projects to create the home of your dreams.

Mad About The House: 101 Interior Design Answers by Kate Watson-Smyth

This is Kate’s second book and it is a gold mine of insights and tips from this fabulous writer.

This is a companion to the best-selling book by the founder of the UK’s number 1 interiors blog, this easy-to-use dictionary of interior design answers all those questions you wanted to solve but were afraid to ask. The book begins with the most important questions of all: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? And When? The aim is to answer these before you start any decorating scheme and you will avoid the most common mistakes, save money and, most importantly, create a home that works for you and the people who live there. It is the super-practical guide that allows you to dip in and out so you can solve all your decorating dilemmas.The chapters focus on Walls, Floors, Ceilings, Windows, Doors, Skirtings, Furniture Layout, Lighting, before finally a round-up of Fixtures and Fittings. In addition to the no-nonsense practical answers, there are checklists and step-by-step guides to key decorating challenges – everything from How to Hang Wallpaper, to Arranging a Gallery Wall, and Removing Stains from Carpets and Soft Furnishings. You’ll love Kate’s writing style and if you want to hear more from her you can also check out her podcast with Sophie Robinson here.

Stay Safe and Enjoy!

The Human Skills We Need In an Unpredictable World

The more we rely on technology to make us efficient, the fewer skills we have to confront the unexpected, says writer and entrepreneur Margaret Heffernan. In this Ted Talk she shares why we need less tech and more messy human skills like imagination, humility, bravery, to solve problems in business, government and life in an unpredictable age.

Before Avatar…a curious boy

James Cameron’s big-budget (and even bigger-grossing) films create unreal worlds all their own. In this ted talk, he reveals his childhood fascination with the fantastic from reading science fiction to deep-sea diving and how it ultimately drove the success of his blockbuster hits.

How generational stereotypes hold us back at work

Today’s workforce has a number of different generations within it. But are our assumptions about each other holding us back from working and communicating better? Social psychologist Leah Georges shows how we’re more similar than different and offers helpful tactics for navigating the multigenerational workplace.