The other day I had the radio on, and the station was actually playing Christmas carols. Before Halloween. Even if the weather weren’t so unseasonably warm, it still seems a little too early to be hearing Christmas music. However, as someone who tries to make the majority of my holiday gifts, I admit that I begin planning early. Most crafters are probably familiar with that last-minute panic that hits you when you have one gift finished, 12 started, and 3 more yet to start, with only 3 days left to work on them (Right? Or is it just me?). That’s why, every year, I try to avoid said panic by starting my gifts early, and selecting projects that are fairly quick to make. This year, lots of people on my list are going to be recieving the “Yellow Harvest” mittens from the Fall issue of Vogue Knitting– they look great, knit up in a matter of hours, and most people can use a pair of mittens. If, like me, you like to start on your gift-making early, try looking at one of these books:
- Holiday Knits: 25 Great Gifts from Stockings to Sweaters: Last year I checked this book out, and liked the pattern for the “Tipless Gloves” so much that it’s become one of my most repeated projects. This book has a great variety of projects, making some perfect for starting now, while others are perfect for those harried last-minute, up-all-night knitting sessions. The variety of skill levels also means that there are projects for beginners as well as more advanced knitters.
- Hopefully everyone on your list bathes at least once in a while, so soap and other body care products are generally appreciated gifts (not to mention fun to make). If you have the time and inclination to make cold-processed soap (traditional, lye-based soap, which takes about 4-6 weeks to make), look at Making Scented Soap: 60 Fragrant Soaps and Bath Bombes to Make at Home. For simpler and faster melt and pour soap recipes, try 300 Handcrafted Soaps: Great Melt & Pour Projects. And if you want to get a little more adventurous and try making lotions, hair conditioner, or body scrubs, check out Organic Body Care Recipes: 175 Homemeade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin & a Vibrant Self.
- Making Vintage Bags: 20 Original Sewing Patterns for Vintage Bags and Purses: Purses, like mittens, are quick, relatively easy to make, and appreciated by lots of people. They are also very easy to personalize– different fabric, the addition of buttons, trim, or other notions make it easy to make several unique gifts from one pattern.
- If you still find yourself searching for some inspiration, take a look at Simply Handmade: 365 easy projects for every occasion. While some of the projects in here are a little bit kitschy, this is a great go-to book if you’re searching for a cheap, quick, and easy project but have no idea where to start.
If history is any indication, by mid-November I will be distracted by something (work? snow? good fiction?), and on December 20 will be frantically trying to figure out how to finish everything on time. If that happens, you’ll probably find me roaming the TT section of books (the crafting section, for those of you who don’t speak Library of Congress), or frantically reading all of the library’s crafting magazines, trying to figure out what to make (rather than admit defeat and actually buy something, of course!)
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