Here’s something you might not know about me: I know how to crochet! I’m not the most skilled or professional by any means, but I like making something concrete with my hands, especially to give as a gift. If you always wanted to learn to crochet but just can’t get the hang of it, here are some resources you might try to get started.
First, get a handle on the basics with Complete Crochet Course : the Ultimate Reference Guide by Shannon and Jason Mullett-Bowlsby. This reference work has something to offer all skill levels, and has lots of step-by-step photography to give a full visual experience. You could also take a chic approach with Modern Crochet: Patterns and Designs for the Minimalist Maker by Teresa Carter.
Now, I don’t know about you, but slogging through a long scarf or a giant afghan is not always the way I want to craft. If you’d like to follow my path into the crochet world, you might like Amigurume Eats : Make Cute Scented Crochet Foods by Allison Hoffman. Amigurumi is a Japanese-inspired style of crochet which creates miniature crochet dolls, food items, animals, and much more, all with a very cute aesthetic. You can also add some whimsy to your projects with Creative Crochet Projects by Stephanie Pokorny. This newer title offers projects of gradually increasing difficulty and a lot of playfulness, from hats and scarves to toys and more!
If you’re hoping crochet will help you relax and be present, you might like Making with Meaning by Jessica Carey. This title focuses on intention, making time for crafting, and letting repeating stitches create a mindful and free practice.
There are many more avenues to explore in the world of crocheting, including making various clothing items for a stylish crafted wardrobe, so don’t be afraid to keep exploring!
As I write this, many of us are at home doing our part to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Schools are not meeting in person for a few weeks, and many are going stir-crazy, wondering what to do with the extra “together” time at home.
I have an apt book to recommend: Play the Forest School Way: Woodland Games, Crafts and Skills for Adventurous Kids by Jane Worroll and Peter Houghton. (I love that the author of this book about being in the forest is named Jane. It’s so Tarzan.) Playing in the outdoors is something we can do with our families to get out an enjoy ourselves while still avoiding the spread of sickness among friends and neighbors.
This book is aimed at parents of primary school-age children but many of the activities can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Those of you who enjoy crafting will find ideas for making nature jewelry and whittling, among many other suggestions.
The idea of a “Journey Stick” is shared, where you collect items on your nature hike, affixing them to a stick (I imagine a hobo stick with a kerchief tied to the end). Use the found objects to re-tell the story of your outing or create a brand new one from your imagination!
For now, these ideas should be enjoyed in solitude or with the immediate members of your household, but you can remember and use them later while camping or with outdoor groups when it is safer to socialize again. With a little creativity, we can not only survive this quarantine but thrive if we learn to appreciate our immediate surroundings in ways we haven’t taken the time to do before.
If you like this book, you may want to check out A Year of Forest School: Outdoor Play and Skill-Building Fun for Every Season by the same authors.
The World of Geekcraft: Step-by-Step Instructions for 25 Super-Cool Craft Projects by Susan Beal and Jay B. Sauceda is one of my favorite new craftbooks. What really sets this book apart from the other zillion hip craft books on the shelf is the wide variety of crafts (it’s about time a craft book included fuse beads!) and the cool extras such as the craft designer’s own websites and inserted text explaining the stories behind the geekiness.
Have I made anything from this craftbook? Nope.
Have I still checked it out from the library multiple times? Yes.
And do I really really hope that someday I will make something from it? YES!
Here are a few of the things I wish to make:
•Coraline Mystery Sewing Box by Susan Beal
•Oregon Trail Cross-stitch by John Lohman
•Buffy Fuse Bead Portrait by Shayne Rioux
Some of my other favorite geeky craft books are the The Star Wars Craft Book by Bonnie Burton and The Muppets Big Book of Crafts by the Muppet Workshop
If your idea of paper crafts stops at safety scissors and Elmer’s glue, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Whimsical, sophisticated, playful and beautiful describe the paper crafts found in Home, Paper, Scissors by Patricia Zapata and will open your eyes to the many possibilities of papercraft.
Take those bright-colored bowls on the cover of the book – they’re quick and easy (and fun!) to create, using colored paper from your paper shredder, a solution of glue and water and a bowl for a mold. You’ll find a variety of projects from a fanciful, fluttery mobile, to placemats to tealight covers. There are also several innovative and attractive boxes to hold everything from favors to stationary to gifts. Decorative and useful, from craft to art, you’ll never look at paper quite the same again.
No, we’re not trying to push the start of the Christmas season even earlier than it already is (Halloween is plenty early) We’re just reminding all crafters out there that if you’re going to make any presents this year, the best time to start making them is now. Handmade gifts are probably the nicest, most thoughtful gifts you can give, but they take time. Here are some great resources for ideas and inspiration.
Closely Knit: Handmade Gifts for the Ones You Love by Hannah Fettig
Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures by Amanda Soule
Crafty Chica’s Guide to Artful Sewing by Kathy Cano-Murillo
Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts by Martha Stewart
Bag Bazaar: 25 Stylish Bags to Make in an Afternoon by Megan Avery
Craft Challenge: Dozens of Ways to Repurpose a Pillowcase by Suzanne Tourtillot