The Toaster Project: Or a Heroic Attempt to Build a Simple Electric Appliance from Scratch

Thomas Thwaites chose an interesting thesis project: build an industrial object on your own from absolute start to finish.  He attempts this with sort of perverse success and good humour. He deconstructs an inexpensive toaster and then sets up his parameters. He travels to several places on a student’s budget for raw materials and resources several different people to gain ideas on how to manufacture a single toaster. While he is semi-successful in that he has semi-functional toaster, he is too afraid by its odd construction to turn it on.

The book is written in the same sort of voice as A.J. Jacobs. Mr. Thwaites struggles to sustain the voice through the whole book, even though the book is rather short.  The end seems rushed, possibly because he had a deadline for his thesis.

The Toaster Project: Or a Heroic Attempt to Build a Simple Electric Appliance from Scratch by Thomas Thwaites

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Things I Learned from Knitting


Now, I am not sure if I read to many of her books in a row, but Things I Learned From Knitting: …whether I wanted to or not was not my favorite of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s books that I had read so far.  There are a few things that are recycled from the other books (or vice versus). This is a super easy read, but not very much depth.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

All wound up


Yes, after I read Yarn Harlot,  I went to the library and put all of Yarn Harlot’s books on hold.  This is why I have trouble with the 30 hold and check out limits.  Anyway,  All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin, is just as funny as Yarn Harlot.  Again Stephanie Pearl-McPhee talks about the frustration of patterns, and the irritating questions non-knitters ask knitters.  I empathize with her stories about her knitting stories as they run very close to my quilting stories.

Ms. Pearl-McPhee also has a remarkable ability to laugh at daily life. She includes a story about her husband getting trapped in his pick up truck that is hilarious.  She also is able to capture with clarity those little voices we all  have, the petty ones that wonder why are people so unwittingly rude, as she makes up things to say to people’s odd questions when she knits in public.  She also reminds of the things our moms ingrained in us: that we should have a clean house, we should get dressed in the morning and so on. 

Yarn Harlot


Although I only have knit one thing, I loved Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter.  There are so many parallels between knitting and quilting, or really any crafting activity.  Her chapters about her stash were hilarious, her frustration with certain patterns was hilarious.  When she triumphantly achieved a new knitting skill after several pages of funny struggle, it reminded me of all the quilting skills I have achieved through huge effort.  And when she talks about her first baby blanket she ever made: for her first child and uses it for a blatant metaphor for parenting in general, I loved it. She also nearly had me crying when she talked about one of her experiences as a doula.  I haven’t had such a range of emotions for a long time from a book.