The winter holiday season is upon us (like it or not!) and for many, thoughts turn to gift-giving and planning festivities with family and friends. Whether you are celebrating the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, you have an opportunity to make this holiday season a handmade one with help from your library.
“Made by Hand” author Mark Frauenfelder explains the value of making things from scratch in his Huffington Post article, “The Courage to Screw Up: Why DIY Is Good for You.” Likewise, making gifts has a range of benefits. Typically, handmade gifts are more cost effective, they have a greater sentimental value for the giver and the receiver, they can be more personalized and unique, and they are often “greener,” having less environmental impact (including the absence of packaging). Most of us have experienced the satisfaction of producing something with our own hands and giving of ourselves to others through time spent on making a gift. It’s also rewarding to learn new skills via gift-making, and for me personally, avoiding the mall at this time of year ranks extremely high in the “meaningful” category. In this series of articles, three types of handmade gifts will be featured, starting with . . .
Warm Woolies – Felted, Knitted & Crocheted Gifts
Mittens, hats, purses, slippers, neck cowls and even pet leashes–there are a lot of small items that can be felted, knitted or crocheted for gifting. Whatever type of handwork you might elect to take up, it’s interesting to consider the benefits of engaging in the fiber arts; they go beyond the satisfaction of completing a gift project.
One winter holiday season I felted Christmas tree ornaments, working brightly colored wool roving into perfect small and dense spheres that were then embellished with beads and hung from embroidery floss. An easy extension of making such ornaments is encasing fragrant bars of soap in wooly shells to use for scrubbing. The instructions for both of these projects can be found in Heather Brack’s book “Felt Frenzy.” Trond Anfinnsen’s “Hat Heads“ is an excellent book to inspire knitting gift hats; it contains 50 fun patterns and has hints for creating your own designs. “Crochet Squared” by Marsha Polk has easy patterns for cardigans, wraps and accessories, many using novelty yarns to produce garments with the distinctive lacy gridwork stitching that sets the crocheted apart from the knitted.
There are a number of local shops that sell yarns and wool roving – look for them online or in the yellow pages. If you can’t DIY this season but would like to give handmade fiber gifts, consider visiting holiday craft shows and local art and craft shops. Happy holidays!
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