- Barbara Broome
Every year the holidays start sooner and sooner with advertising bombarding us about all the great deals and discount gifts, but you don’t have to plan a big shopping trip to spoil your loved ones. Handmade gifts can be more fun, exciting, and thoughtful to give than the newest gadgets and gizmos.
If you would like to get crafty but don’t know where to start, try looking for inspiration on Pinterest. CRRL has its own robust Pinterest page, chock full of all sorts of good inspiration. Our “Stitchin’ the Day Away” board is filled with ideas, as well as tips and tricks in case you get stuck. If you shy away from needles, yarn, and thread, check our “Dare to D.I.Y.” board. It has a wide range of projects using glue guns, drills, paint, and hardware. The “So Good You Can Eat It” board can help you find more delicious giftable goodies, as well as helping you plan those big family dinners the season is known for.
Another good spot to find inspiration is Craftgawker.com. Similar to Pinterest, it is full of links to projects. You can search or browse by type of craft or just look through the latest projects. While Pinterest can sometimes lead to broken links and poor tutorials, Craftgawker is more carefully vetted. Clicking on the picture takes you straight to the website or blog the tutorial is from. You can create an account to save favorites or just browse the newest projects.
For the ambitious crafter who is interested in engineering some more complex objects, Instructables is an excellent resource. You’ll find simple tutorials, such as How to Make Pom Poms and Recycling Wax Candles, and more complex projects, such as how to create custom Wine Bottle Stoppers. There are things for all skill levels.
The easiest option for handmade giving would be food. Everyone loves to eat, and there are a multitude of options for kitchen confections. The library has a vast selection of cookbooks for cookies, candies, preserves, and snacks. Add a fun package and bow, and you are ready to go! We have a great list of giftable favorites here. There are also plenty of recipes to be found on the Internet. A great resource is allrecipes.com. It has thousands of delicious-looking recipes that can be browsed or searched by type or ingredient.
Knitting and Sewing
If you are a knitter, crocheter, or yarn lover you might have already heard of Ravelry, but if you haven’t, it is an amazing website. Ravelry has made a unique space on the Internet for anyone who creates with yarn. It does require users to sign up for a free account, but once on you will have access to a huge pattern and yarn database, a great community and forums for all sorts of crafters, and information on techniques and tricks. You can even limit your pattern search by yardage! Fewer stitches mean quicker knits, which is great for last-minute gifts. Knitty.com is another good knitting website. It is a free online knitting magazine with lots of patterns and tips. You can make a quick and easy scarf such as The Baker Street Scarf or a Calorimetry hat.
The Purl Bee, run by Purl Soho in New York, is a great blog filled with both knitting and sewing patterns. Their projects are quick to make and can easily be made in multiples. Try their Classic Cuffed Hat, great for all ages, or their Father’s Day Tie, a great gift any time of year.
A good website for sewn gifts would be the Sew Mama Sew blog. If you look at their tutorials tagged “Gifts,” there are a number of really good ones. These great Jewel Box Coasters would be a lovely gift for a new homeowner, or the Easy Tablet/eReader Cover for the reader in your life.