A Year Between Friends

A Year Between Friends

It’s been a while since I saw a book I felt compelled to feature here, but then a copy of A Year Between Friends landed on my desk the other day. Do you remember 3191 Miles Apart? (If not, that link won’t help!) It was the blog of two friends — Maria Alexandra Vettese (“MAV”) and Stephanie Congdon Barnes (“SCB”) — that took the form of missives between them about their lives in Portland ME and Portland OR, 3191 miles from each other. They stopped blogging a couple of years ago to concentrate on this book, and while I haven’t exactly read it cover to cover, it appears to have been well worth it.

Just like the blog, the book is a combination of short letters, casual photos, craft projects and recipes, but in this case, it’s organized by month. January, for example, contains a letter from each of the friends; a few pages of scene-setting photos; recipes for buttermilk scones, a Good Luck Frittata and Warming Up Tea; musings on a winter home; a tutorial for making and using beeswax spoon oil; another for felted patches for mending socks; and a winter day trip from each of the Portlands. Whereas June contains the letters and photos, recipes for Summer Strawberry Pie and Raspberry Ripple Yogurt Pops, an essay about solstice in Maine and a tutorial for sun-printed napkins. There’s a lot of natural dyeing, some hand-stitching, even thoughts on cleaning out closets and cabinets. Perhaps the most valuable tutorial of all, though, will be the pinecones. Do you remember when I posted about their leather pinecone keychain way back when? I still get inquiries about how to make it, four years later. While the version in the book (complete with templates) is written for silk-backed wool with a ribbon instead of a lobster clasp, I feel like it could be easily adapted for leather (and might have to give it a try).

There have been a lot of very formulaic craft books lately — a series of project tutorials in a nearly identical presentation, some better than others. This book is much more intimate: smaller and thicker, paperback, filled with the personal photos and personalities of these women, and I look forward to spending more time with it.

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PREVIOUSLY in Books

12 thoughts on “A Year Between Friends

  1. Hello Karen, this looks like a great book. Can you tell us how to make the leather pinecones? Is there a pattern for that? I just visited some friends and would love to make them some as a thank you!

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  2. Thanks for the sneak peek! I’ve been seeing this one pop up on social media, and just reserved a copy through my library (my fave way to preview craft & style books lately) — looking forward to reading it, and who knows, maybe making one of these famous pine cones.

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  3. oh wow this is so dreamy and now I’m going through the book tag on FA!!! will you be getting more books in before the holidays? I am scoping out those japanese pattern books *heart eyes*

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  4. I am not being critical, just observational but it is starting to look to me like all books are done by the same photographer. Beautiful overhead shots of objects on weathered wood or natural fabric with cups of coffee neatly placed alongside. It is getting difficult to discern books from one another. What do I know? My craft scene is downright messy.

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