Tag Archives: crochet liberation front

Interview with Lindsey Stephens of Poetry in Yarn

Every Monday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be interviewing crocheters.  Today’s interview is with Lindsey Stephens, a crochet designer and blogger.

I can’t remember how exactly I first came across Lindsey Stephens’ Poetry in Yarn blog, but I do know it’s been a staple in my Google Reader for quite a while.  Lindsey’s blog, unlike many crochet blogs that I follow, is primarily text based.  Lindsey is still able to capture my (relatively short) attention with her posts, and I hope you’ll check her out if she’s a new-to-you blogger.  Lindsey is also a crochet designer and can be found online on her website, on Ravelry (as Leebah and on her designer page), on Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube.

All pictures in this post are used with Lindsey’s permission and link back to the pattern page on Ravelry.

This post contains affiliate links

Lindsey Stephens.

Lindsey Stephens.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?

Lindsey: I had tried to teach myself to knit, and it was a huge failure. I couldn’t handle all those loops (although really it had more to do with trying to learn with a fuzzy boucle).  Anyway, my step-niece was visiting me and she was crocheting- she never had more than 3 loops on the hook at a time. I was like “I gotta try this!”

Though Lindsey is primarily a crochet designer, she does have some knit patterns like the Learn It, Love It, Knit It Lace Scarf.

Though Lindsey is primarily a crochet designer, she does have some knit patterns like the Learn It, Love It, Knit It Lace Scarf.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Lindsey: You know, I don’t think any one thing inspired me. I just like to mess around with stuff and see what I can do. Just kind of “I wonder what would happen if I try this…” And then I discovered that other people were interested in what I was making.

UC: You have a mix of self-published designs and designs published by yarn companies, magazines, and book publishers.  Do you have a preference for self-publishing or traditional publishing?  What motivates you to seek one form of publishing over another?

Lindsey: Each method of publishing has its own merits. I like self-publishing because I get to work with so many other facets of the production process like layout and editing.  Getting to work one on one with a technical editor is a great learning experience for anyone interested in designing. It’s also great to be able to have an idea and run with it- no approval or submissions needed.

“Traditional” publishing is a trade off. You can’t always keep rights to your designs, but you may get slightly more publicity depending on the company, as well as more money up front. (Up front is a relative term. I just received a check in the mail for a design I did for a publisher 17 months ago.) A self-published pattern might make me more money in the long run, but the funds only come in one purchase at a time.

One of Lindsey's designs from Crochet 1-2-3, the Chanukah Candle Pillow.  (c) Valu-Publishing.

One of Lindsey’s designs from Crochet 1-2-3, the Chanukah Candle Pillow. (c) Valu-Publishing.

UC: Your Poetry in Yarn blog is one of the few crafty blogs I read regularly that doesn’t rely heavily on visuals, and yet you have such interesting content all the time!  How did you get started blogging and how do you keep it fresh?  Why did you decide to primarily use text-based, rather than photo-heavy, blogging? 

Lindsey: I’ve been involved in public speaking through debate, acting, and my work as a teacher for years. I am a talker. It just seemed natural to me to “talk” to people by posting on a blog. And also, I’m lazy. I can easily type out a post while lying in bed. For photos I would actually have to get up.  (UC comment: You make excellent points, Lindsey.  I will try to remember them on the mornings when I’m leaving my apartment early to take pictures of projects for my blog before work!)

Blackberry Blanket, from Lindsey's self-published e-book, At the Bakery.

Blackberry Blanket, from Lindsey’s self-published e-book, At the Bakery.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?

Lindsey: *Looking down at my bookshelf*

The The Crochet Answer Book by Edie Eckman was HUGE for me when I was first learning to crochet. Couture Crochet Workshop by Lily Chin opened my eyes for looking at how to increase and decrease in more complex pattern stitches. Cool Stuff : Teach Me to Crochet is the book that I used when I was learning how to crochet. 

Aureate Vest, (c) Susan Pittard, published in Curvy Girl Crochet.

Aureate Vest, (c) Susan Pittard, published in Curvy Girl Crochet.

UC: You’re both a Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) member.  What do you see as benefits of membership for aspiring crochet designers?

Lindsey: A CGOA membership can be beneficial regardless of whether or not you aspire to designing. You get a magazine as part of your membership as well as discounts with various companies. You also get discounts at the Knit and Crochet Shows. If you are interested in designing, CGOA has a mentoring program that can help.  

On the other hand, TNNA is purely a professional organization. That’s not to say we don’t have fun at trade shows, but we really go there to work. At a typical trade show I’m meeting with yarn companies, publishers, and other designers to discuss possible business opportunities.

Baby Bobbles Blanket from Leisure Arts #5267, Debbie Macomber Blossom Street Collection, Book 3.  (c) Universal Yarn.

Baby Bobbles Blanket from Debbie Macomber Blossom Street Collection, Book 3. (c) Universal Yarn.

UC: Since it is NatCroMo, can you share a favorite crochet memory with us?

Lindsey: My grandmother made lots and lots of crochet flower bookmarks that she would give away. She tried to show me how to make them once. First she showed me how to chain stitch, and I got the hang of that fairly quckly. Then she said, “watch this.” Well, the yarn moved and the hooked moved and all the sudden there was a flower on the end. She didn’t use terms like “double crochet” or anything like that. She just did it.  

UC: What are your favorite websites for crochet-related content and community? 

Lindsey: Hmm… I really enjoy Ravelry, but I find it slightly more knitting centered. Crochetville was the first crochet website I got hooked on. It’s great for crochet-centric information and groups. And I love the Crochet Liberation Front.

 

Thanks, Lindsey, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us!  Just a reminder that Lindsey’s blog, Poetry in Yarn, is one of tomorrow’s stops on Crochetville’s mega blog tour, A Tour Through Crochet Country.

International Crochet Day 2012, Part 5: Official Guide to Super Awesome Gift Giving giveaway

This post contains affiliate links.

I’ve been a reader of the Crochet Liberation Front blog and newsletter for quite a while, and last year I won my very own copy of The Official Guide to Super Awesome Gift Giving: (Or how to survive to the holidays without going insane) by Laurie Wheeler (also known as the Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front).  Reading through it really inspired me to rethink who is on my list of crochet-worthy people, and to plan my holiday crafting in advance this year.  (And to pledge to avoid holiday-induced insanity.)

As part of my celebration of International Crochet Day, I’d like to pass along this book to someone else before the madness of the holiday season goes into full swing.  Hopefully, this book can help someone else make peace with their creative urges as well as the preferences and interests of those on their gift list.

 

Giveaway

I’ll be giving away gently used copy of The Official Guide to Super Awesome Gift Giving: (Or how to survive to the holidays without going insane).  This giveaway is open to all readers on the planet Earth.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, September 19, 2012.

Holiday Stashdown Challenge – Week 1

Welcome to Week 1 of the Holiday Stashdown Challenge!  (For more details, read this post.)  This week is all about making “the list.”

Over time, my philosophy about handmade gifts has changed a lot.  I used to make gifts for everyone in my family and most of my female friends each year.  And then I heard about the concept of someone being “crochet-worthy” or “knit-worthy,” and now I’m looking at my gift making in a different way.

I’ll share a story that will help illustrate my point.  I usually make baby blankets for my friends when they are expecting.  I love handmade baby stuff from my own childhood and a blanket makes for a very personal and unique gift.  When MC’s friend was expecting his second child, I was all excited about making an awesome blanket for the baby-to-be.  But before I went yarn shopping, MC reminded me that I hadn’t really received a thank you for the blanket given to the first child, and that he hadn’t really seen it in use or on display.  He asked me why I wanted to spend all that time making something for someone who wouldn’t appreciate it.  I had to admit that even though I love making baby blankets, I would rather make them for people who want them, or even for charity, than for people who don’t appreciate my handiwork.  (Not to mention all the money I saved on buying yarn to coordinate with their decor!)

I also had the pleasure of winning a copy of The Official Guide to Super Awesome Gift Giving: (Or how to survive to the holidays without going insane) by Laurie A. Wheeler (also known as the Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front) last winter, and it was definitely an eye-opener!  Laurie gives some great tips about how to identify the best handmade gift projects for those on your list, and also advises you to feel comfortable about taking people off your handmade list if they don’t appreciate your gifts.

And, finally, if you need some moral support for editing or shortening your list, don’t hesitate to stop by the Selfish Knitters & Crocheters group on Ravelry.  Their tagline is “No more knitting/crocheting for people who don’t vote for your sainthood as a result.”  ‘Nuff said.

Ok, so on to my list.  I don’t think I have any family or friends reading my blog today, but if this describes you, here is your last chance to avert your eyes!

The List (or, it’s official now and there are 21 people on it!)

  • Mom
  • Dad
  • Dad’s partner
  • Sister
  • MC, my special guy
  • JP, my friend and former colleague
  • CG, my BFF from high school, who is an artist and very fashion-forward
  • OB and JS, two of my friends who are also my crafting buddies
  • JM, another BFF from high school, who is tougher to make something for since he’s more of a minimalist
  • RP and CA, my two colleagues and work buddies for the last four years
  • My great aunt and uncle
  • My cat, Mom’s dog, and Dad’s cat (that makes 21 people and 3 animals!)
  • My grandparents
  • My aunt and uncle (Dad’s brother and sister)
  • My two cousins (aunt’s sons)
  • My little cousin (my cousin’s son who will be 4 years old this fall)
  • My cousin’s wife (mom of little cousin)
  • My cousin (uncle’s daughter)

Now before you freak out, let it be known that the folks in my Dad’s family (the last six bullet points/nine people) will probably receive something really small, like a Christmas stocking or washcloth.  And, I’ve already finished a hat for my Dad and started a hat for JP.

A hat for my dad, finished back in March.

A hat for my friend, JP, started at the beginning of May.

But yeah, that’s still a lot of people…

I’m looking forward to seeing your lists!

(Note: I scheduled this post because I’m traveling, and since it is my first time using InLinkz, if it doesn’t work, just add your link in the comments section.  My comments are moderated so if this is your first time commenting, I will be checking in throughout the day to approve comments.)

Prompt for the next post on Tuesday, May 22 (If you need some inspiration): Let’s take a stroll through our yarn stash, to see if there are any suitable yarns in there for gift-giving.  Don’t worry about matching these up to projects or people yet.  Are there yarns you like enough to work with but are willing to part with as gift projects?  If you don’t have a large (or suitable) stash, where do you think you will be doing your yarn shopping?  Tell us all about the glorious yarns!

Interview with crochet designer, Vashti Braha

This post contains affiliate links.

I am so excited to share an interview with Vashti Braha today.  I first learned about Vashti’s work because, as you know, I love Tunisian crochet, and she has designed some amazing Tunisian crochet patterns.  I’m a devoted subscriber to her Crochet Inspirations newsletter.  If you love to crochet, you should sign up, too. Vashti’s newsletter somehow simultaneously looks at crochet with the fresh and inspired eyes of a precocious newbie and the wisdom of an ancient master.  Every time I read it, I am inspired to pick up my hook!

Vashti has been designing professionally since 2004, and is also a writer, a teacher, and publisher of her own designs (and of DJC Designs, Doris Chan‘s pattern line).  Her Designing Vashti blog won the Crochet Liberation Front‘s Flamie for Best Crochet Blog in 2010.  Vashti can be found online at her Designing Vashti website, her Ravelry designer page, her Designing Vashti: Crochet Inspirations Facebook page, and as Vashtirama on Twitter.  She also blogs at Vashti’s Crochet Pattern Companion and Toy Designing Vashti, and with several other crochet designers at The New Crochet Cowl Scarves.

All pictures in this interview are used with Vashti’s permission.

Vashti Braha.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?

Vashti: My earliest memories are of my Mom crocheting, knitting, and embroidering. I would sit with her for hours and try to untangle the yarn in her yarn basket while she crocheted on the couch. It felt very natural to learn how to crochet from her one day when I was nine. This was 1973. I remember thinking “Aha! Now I have the power to make anything I need to survive.” I was thinking of Tarzan, Gilligan’s Island, and Hodge Podge Lodge at the time–I imagined crocheting myself a hammock, tether, sack, or other survival item.
The first things I made were clothes and accessories for my younger sister’s dolls. (Her passion at the time.)

Although Vashti is primarily known for her fashion pieces, she also has fun, children’s patterns like the Teacher’s Gallon Friend classroom toy pattern.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Vashti: Until I was 30-something, somehow I never noticed that real people wrote patterns for crochet designs! I changed as a crocheter when my son was born in 1999. I set new challenges for myself, took on ambitious projects, and read new kinds of crochet books and patterns. I started noticing how each designer had a different style. That’s when I imagined what I might design some day.
Thanks to the new online crochet world that was developing at the time, I learned about the CGOA Chain Link conferences. At a conference in 2004, I unexpectedly sold my first designs and was on my way.

Vashti is one of the designers that contributed to the Pam’s Comfort Cables benefit pattern, available through KnitPicks. Here is her Brighid’s Willow block.

UC: You originally started your crochet career selling your designs to other publishers.  Now, you are almost entirely self-published.  Can you talk about that shift – what inspired it and what are some of the challenges and rewards you see as your own publisher?

Vashti: I became an independent designer and publisher due to a combination of factors. Freelancing (selling designs to other publishers) was not a perfect fit for me. Then, as the industry changed, I reached a breaking point with it. I’m glad to see that more recently it has been improving in some ways for freelancers.
I’m going to rant a bit now, and I’m only speaking for myself. Every designer is unique, so I don’t pass judgment how any other designer goes about their business. Also, a few of the issues I list below have improved since I started publishing independently, and I do still freelance here and there.
For years, the print publishing industry in general has been battling rising print costs, a rigid and bloated hierarchy of middlemen, and new forms of digital competition. Crochet publishing has also been promoting outdated assumptions about crochet and about intellectual property rights. Until very recently, I think every new crochet designer started out freelancing. As far as I know, being published (in a print magazine or book, or by a yarn company) was the only game in town.
Unfortunately, some time after I began designing, the publishers’ rising costs were being passed along to the designers: in other words, pay rates for designs started stagnating. I’d like to know if the amount paid to the production staff, the printing presses, the postal services, etc., was also flattening and drifting downwards!
Not only that, we designers were also supposed to work harder for the same or lower pay: write the pattern for 4 to 6 sizes instead of 1 to 3; provide schematics and stitch diagrams; add special tips and swatches in alternate colors; etc. All this, and still keep the pattern short!
Do you know what kinds of designs meet these requirements the best? The ones made of a few big squares. For a designer, that’s a rudimentary way to design a fashion item! It also limits the development of crochet’s potential. For the rest of the industry, however, this kind of crochet pattern seems to be the favored way to sell yarn. Well, I don’t go to the trouble to design something, and write up the pattern for it as clearly and accurately as possible (in 5 sizes, with diagrams, etc.) so that I can sell someone else’s yarn and lose all rights to my intellectual property as a bonus LOL!
I’m hearing from designers that with a few exceptions, companies have been slow to take the edge off for a pretty essential part of the industry, the designers! Instead, to add insult to injury:
  • Sometimes contracts have not been provided even when requested; if so, nothing is negotiable;
  • It’s breezily mentioned that your projects were stolen or given away;
  • Big and obvious project photography notes from the designer are disregarded so that the project is photographed inside out or upside down;
  • The pattern is redesigned without permission from the designer, usually by the tech editor (who can be quite surly!).
Yarn companies need designs to sell yarn. What are pattern magazines, leaflets, and books without patterns? But not just any patterns! New ones, distinctive ones; yet some publishers recycle the same design with no additional compensation to the designer. What crocheter wants to pay for a design twice? Even if the publisher changes the yarn, crocheters still know it — this means that good design matters to crocheters.
There reached a point when it stopped making sense to me to pursue freelancing. More crochet was appearing on fashion runways, and I was teaching trendy crochet design. I couldn’t see submitting trendy design proposals, then waiting 6 months to find out if they would be published 6-12 months after that, when I could publish them myself online in as little as a few hours. Almost every day a new way to publish and go directly to fellow crocheters presented itself. I remember when Etsy happened, and free blogging, and then…Ravelry!
I keep the proposal deadlines in mind of some of the larger publishers. So far, I’ve been preoccupied with my own learning curve -learning how to produce my newsletter, use SEO and analytics, understand Facebook’s latest changes, etc. Before I know it, a freelance deadline has passed me by, so I look to the next ones. A design of mine is in a new book, Simply Crochet: 22 Stylish Designs for Everyday. Another one is in a forthcoming Tunisian crochet book by Dora Ohrenstein.

Vashti’s Slip Tectonics Cowl pattern.

UC: I love the Designing Vashti newsletter, especially how you share your inspirations and explorations of different techniques.  How did you decide upon using that format to share your adventures in crochet?
Vashti: Thanks so much! I feel honored when a crocheter is interested enough to say, “You may email me every two weeks.” It makes each issue a special occasion and I want to make the most of it. I have a sense of intimacy with my subscribers and this causes me to write about crochet in a contemplative way.

I chose the newsletter format for two main reasons:
  1. It’s the easiest and best type of “headquarters” I could create for people who want to know when I come out with new designs, offer classes, and other news.
  2. I made a commitment to my inner crocheter to do for crochet, and for fellow crocheters, what I wish were already being done. I like thinking about crochet. I get plenty of newsletters in my inbox about yarn, crochet, or knitting, and I always hope they’ll give me something to think about. My subscriber list has grown constantly since the first issue in October, 2010, so I’m not the only one out there who likes to think about crochet!
A great fringe benefit of the newsletter is that it disciplines me as a writer. I like finding out what newsletter topic inspires me every two weeks.

Vashti’s Rimply Tunisian Neckscarf.

UC: In the last few months, you have talked a lot about slip stitch crochet.  What do you enjoy about this stitch?

Vashti: It gives me a fresh new experience of crochet. I’m discovering a whole microcosm in the seemingly simple and limited slip stitch, sort of like the Horton Hears A Who! story, or like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. My inner crocheter is startled and fascinated — and amused that crochet books are still being published that state authoritatively, “The slip stitch is not for making fabric”! The slip stitch results in some amazing fabrics, but aside from that, scratch its surface and it reveals a lot about crochet itself.

Thirsty Twists Bathmat.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?

Vashti: I have a gazillion and couldn’t part with any of them! I love all of my stitch dictionaries, especially: the Harmony Guides Volume 6 & Volume 7, several published in Japan, and Robyn Chachula‘s new Crochet Stitches VISUAL Encyclopedia.

Undaria Flutter Scarf pattern.

UC: What are your favorite types of yarn to work with?

Vashti: I almost always like a z-twisted yarn (the plies of the yarn are twisted to the left) instead of s-twisted (twisted to the right). I crochet right handed, and my yarn overs don’t unwind a z-twisted yarn, so it doesn’t get “splitty” on me. I like how my really tall stitches look in smooth z-twisted yarns because the multiple yarn overs don’t make them look stringy. (UC comment: Doris Chan recently wrote a detailed blog post explaining the difference between z- and s- twisted yarns, if you’d like to know more.)

Lately I’ve been fascinated by alpaca. It’s hard for me to resist sparkly yarns, like silk and mohair spun with metallics and little sequins or beads. Handspun angora is a special kind of magical.

Tunisian Shakti Scarfythings.

UC: You’ve had a variety of roles in the crochet industry – designer, teacher, writer, and now publisher.  What advice do you have for aspiring professionals?

Vashti: Each of us is designing our business and crochet lifestyle, as well as designing crochet patterns. Thanks to the digital revolution and to the multifaceted nature of crochet, we have more choices than it first appeared back when I started designing. I continue to be inspired by how each designer makes her or his own path with it.
The three things I’d most like aspiring professionals to know are:
1) Join up with others and compare notes. It’s easy to miss opportunities, or to be taken advantage of, or to lose perspective, because this is a solitary job for most of us in this industry. Find a fellow professional you can call periodically, just to chat about the biz. In addition, meet up as a group online. Crochet designers need to meet up with each other, separately from tech editors who also need meet up with each other for example, or teachers. Ravelry groups help make this possible, but they are public. It’s better if you meet privately (I speak from experience).
2) The designer creates new intellectual property. The designer and only the designer starts out with all rights to the property, unless she or he chooses to let others have some. No one protects this property better than the originator of it.
It’s easy to lose sight of this simple fact.
I wish someone had made it clear and simple for me years ago. I still would have sold some or all rights to some freelanced designs, but with eyes open.
I’ve learned that a huge amount of people seem to prefer to profit from other people’s intellectual property instead of create their own, whether they can pay enough for it or not. I’ve wondered, why is it so many people, when they could create their own stuff and then do anything they want with it? After having designed a lot, I’ve concluded that it’s because it’s actually really hard work to create something out of nothing all the time. It’s much easier if someone else does it!
So, I’d say to aspiring professionals: don’t underestimate how eager people are to legally take your property off of your hands, even while discounting its value. I’ve heard this from several publishers: “It’s just one design. What’s the big deal? Why hold onto it forever? You’ll have plenty more.” If it’s such a burden, why do they want it so much LOL?

3) Rather than feel flattered or important when given yarn to design with, I wish designers would expect it. Designers are already paid too little for a living wage. Yarn companies need designers much more than designers need any particular yarn. It should be the other way around: a yarn company is lucky when a designer chooses their yarn to design with, to blog about, or to recommend!

Sparkle Love Knot Lariats pattern.

 

UC: What are you planning for 2012 and beyond?

Vashti: I’m looking forward to teaching several crochet classes both nationally and locally in 2012. I love teaching and getting to know students, and am very patient. Some crocheters who have had trouble learning in the past just need to find a calm and patient teacher.

I post updates in my newsletters as classes are scheduled. I can announce the classes I’ll be teaching at national conferences as soon as the schedule is posted for the summer and fall.
My first local class this year is Introduction to Slip Stitch Crochet on February 4 in Sarasota, Florida. I teach Advanced Slip Stitch Crochet on February 11. In March, I’ll be teaching Tunisian lace and crochet jewelry.  I’ll teach more topics in April. These classes all take place at my favorite yarn shop, A Good Yarn in Sarasota, Florida (941-487-7914).

I want to try online classes too, though that might have to wait until 2013 or late 2012.

 

Eva Shrug Slip Stitch Rib pattern.

The Crochet Inspirations Newsletter has its own Facebook page that has been coming in handy. I originally set it up as an experiment with Facebook pages, but I go to it to scroll through the archived issues, to post follow-up info to an issue, and to answer questions.
For example, in the newest issue I talked a lot about my mannequin, Lindsay. Several readers emailed me to ask where I bought it, so I posted the link at the FB page. One week I forgot to include an important photo in the newsletter before I sent it out, so I posted it on the Facebook page for that issue. Come to think of it, I think I should remind my subscribers about the Facebook page.
Wow, Vashti, thank you for being so generous with your time, so detailed in your responses, and for offering some great advice for aspiring/emerging designers.

Handmade Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Handmade Gifts to Make

This post contains affiliate links.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In the U.S., the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) signifies the official start of the holiday shopping season.  In the spirit of keeping the holidays a little more handmade and small business and a little less mass produced and corporate, I’m sharing several holiday gift guides today.

Handmade gifts to make

This time of year, many crafters are using every spare moment to make holiday gifts for their loved ones.  Tracie Barrett‘s Gift Giving Guide on the Fibers by Tracie blog gives some great suggestions for quick-to-make holiday gifts and Fearless Leader recently posted a teaser for the Crochet Liberation Front‘s upcoming Official Guide to Super Awesome Gift Giving.

My personal favorite last minute crochet gift projects are scarves made with bulky yarns (or multiple strands of yarn), hats, and cotton washcloths.

For scarves and washcloths, I turn to my stitch guides for inspiration.  Don’t have any stitch guides?

Not sure how many stitches to start with?  This post in my Crochet 101 CAL explains how to use your gauge to figure out how many stitches to start with if you want to make a project of a specific size.

Some of my holiday 2011 washcloths.

Hats make wonderful, quick holiday gifts.  Some of my favorite crochet hat patterns:

Stocking Caps. (Photo (c) House of White Birches.)

I just reviewed 60 More Quick Knits, which has some great knitted hat patterns, as well as patterns for mittens and scarfs.  My favorite crochet mitten pattern, amazingly available in 8 sizes from infant to XL adult, is Heart Strings by Cathy Pipinich.

Amigurumi can make a fun gift, too.

Filled with great gift ideas!

Speaking of books I haven’t had a chance to review yet, there are three great patterns in Little Crochet: Modern Designs for Babies and Toddlers by Linda Permann that would make speedy children’s gifts: Cozy Crawlers Leg Warmers (6 mo – 2 years, and available here as a free excerpt), Tiny Tee Appliques to add to store bought or hand sewn clothes, and Beanie and Bonnet (in baby, toddler, and child sizes).  (Beanie and Bonnet errata available here.)

handmade gift bag can be a wonderful addition to a handmade or store bought gift.  These bags can be also reused, unlike conventional wrapping paper, making them more eco-friendly.Kathryn from Crochet Concupiscence has a great list of crochet patterns for bags in this blog post.  The Mel Stampz blog has a list of 50 templates and patterns for papercrafts gift bags.

Deborah Atkinson from Snowcatcher has excellent crochet patterns and tutorials in her Snowflake Monday posts.   (It would be great if you could contribute to her charity of choice, Bike MS, so that she can send you a PDF of her 20 most popular designs.)  These snowflakes would make great holiday decorations or embellishments for gifts.  Some of the patterns would also work well as a set of holiday coasters.

With all of this holiday crocheting and knitting, you may be running low on yarn.  So why not stop by your Local Yarn Shop to celebrate Small Business Saturday?  You can even register your American Express card in advance to get a $25 credit on your statement if you spend at least $25 at a small business on Saturday, November 26.  Your LYS employees are guaranteed to have some additional project ideas and maybe even a few new patterns or yarns for you try out.  (If you’ll be yarn shopping in NYC, check out my Visitor’s Guide to New York City Yarn Shops.)

If you aren’t in the mood for knitting, crocheting, or papercrafting, handmade food gifts are another option.  I like to make jar mixes:  I don’t exhaust myself with last minute baking, the mixes last longer and can be used after the holidays end, and the jars can be reused in the kitchen or for craft storage.  Nestle‘s Very Best Baking is a good site for finding classic gift recipes.  My favorite jar mixes to give are the classic Toll House cookies mix, the chewie brownie mix, and the hot cocoa mix.  For those who don’t like chocolate (and there are some of them out there), I like the pumpkin cranberry bread mix or the oatmeal chip cookie mix (substituting butterscotch chips, raisins, or craisins for the chocolate chips).  You can also check out the Best Cookie Mix in a Jar Recipes and Dry Soup Mix Recipes pages at Allrecipes.com for more ideas.  If you can’t find canning jars in your area, there are many online options for ordering these days.  Just remember that if you are shipping jar mixes, you need to be careful about packaging.

Enjoy the first gift guide, and feel free to share your favorite gifts to make in the comments!