Tag Archives: soap

She’s crafty – and she’s just my type

You that know we have a bajillion (roughly) craft programs at our many branches, right? No matter your skill level or interest, we probably have something that’ll butter your bread.

Me? Knitting is my weapon of choice, although last weekend I did try soap-making for the first time (I obviously know how to have a wild Saturday night) and I pretend I can sew.  Like any knitter (and Dumbledore), I love patterns. They’re fun to dissect and figure out, similar to a good puzzle. But even more, I love a well-written book about the details of knitting.

Maggie Righetti’s Knitting in Plain English is my top choice for “book every knitter should probably have in their personal library.” Righetti is sharp and wry, with chapter titles like: ” You Can Always Tell What’s Wrong with the Garment by the Way the Model is Posed or, Slender Five-Foot-Ten Models Look Good in Anything” or “Deliver Us From Disaster.” She covers every possible topic from choosing your needles and yarn to basic skills and fixing mistakes. Don’t ever let her catch you with your projects in a plastic shopping bag, either – it demeans the craft. Her Sweater Design in Plain English is another indispensable resource, should you want to make the perfect cardigan.

 Cookie A is a big deal among sock designers and knitters. Her Sock Innovation book is full of great now-classic patterns, but it’s the first 50 pages or so that are so invaluable. There are a number of options when it comes to the elements of a sock (Cuff-down or toe-up? Type of heel? Toe shape?), but after working a few patterns, most knitters will find they have a bias for certain design components (Cuff-down, flap heel, wedge toe). Cookie A covers it all, plus how to make those elements work for you.

Super Stitches Knitting is one of many, many stitch dictionaries. It just happens to be the one I favor. The book is well-designed and a great source of inspiration for when it’s time to step up your game from plain stockinette (not that there’s anything wrong with plain stockinette) to fancy cables or lace.

These are also fantastic resources:


– Jess, who has approximately five projects going at any given time


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Made With Love

Every year I have grand plans for all the homemade holiday gifts I plan on giving everyone, and often by the time December rolls around I’m in the midst of a full-on holiday freakout.  (It isn’t unusual for my family members to receive polaroids of half-knitted socks). If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few suggestions that might help you out, depending on how much time you have to devote to crafting:

Have two months, or close to it?  You have time to do practically whatever you want!  Knit a sweater, crochet a blanket, or design and make your own holiday cards

Have a month?  Drinks like limoncello or fragolino make festive gifts, and take about a month for the flavors to infuse.  Try the fragolino recipe in Olives & Oranges: Recipes and Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus & Beyond, by Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox. 

Have a weekend?  One Skein Wonders: 101 Yarn Shop Favorites, edited by Judith Durant, features quick projects that use only one skein of yarn.  There are projects for a wide variety of yarn types, so chances are good you already have something in your stash that you can work with. 

Have a day?  Homemade soaps or spa products make great gifts.  Get some inspiration from books like Natural Soapmaking by Marie Browning, or Organic Body Care Recipes: 175 Homemade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin & a Vibrant Self by Stephanie Tourles. 

Have a few hours?  Everyone loves cookies around the holidays, and even at the last minute they make a great handmade gift.  Books like The International Cookie Cookbook will help you find something creative enough to gift, but easy enough to whip up in a few hours. 


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