The Procrastinator’s Guide to Crafty Christmas – Part Two (Craft Kits)

“JENNY!”

It’s okay. Just sit down for a min-

“CHRISTMAS IS IN TWO DAYS AND I DON’T HAVE A GIFT!”

 

Deep breath.  There you go.  We got this.

Welcome back to Part 2 of my series tailored especially for procrastinators like myself.  In Part 1, we discussed the different books you can purchase for the crafty people in your life.  If you’re looking to go a little above and beyond just a book – maybe you’ve got a crafty significant other or in-law and you want to make Christmas extra special – then you’ve come to just the right place.  I’m going to show you what materials you can purchase to  assemble your own crafty kits. At the end of this post, I’ll show you a perfect example of one I just received!

Just a quick note – you can find most of the items I’m suggesting at a chain craft store like Michaels or Jo-Ann.  Don’t forget to give your local craft stores some love too, though.  Here’s a shout out to some of my local Austin faves, like Stitch Lab (closing in February…sob) and Hill Country Weavers.  If you’re in the Tucson area, stop by Sew Hip and Birdhouse Yarns.  And if you’re spending New Year’s in Vegas, then you’ve got to check out Sin City Knit Shop.

Cross-Stitch and Embroidery

If you’ve got a cross-stitcher or embroiderer in your life, you have a couple of options.  You can’t go wrong with buying a counted cross-stitch or embroidery kit.  A word of caution if you are buying patterns or kits from a chain store – many (though not all) of these designs tend to be more traditional.  Which is TOTALLY FINE if that’s what you’re into, but maybe not so much if your crafty person is a fan of more contemporary, modern designs (like myself).    For me, the line between cute kitsch and “omg no never hanging in my house” kitsch is very fine.  Cross-stitch a deer?  Sure. I’ve cross-stitched a deer before.  Cross-stitch a hedgehog? But of course.  Cross-stitch a teddy bear or angel?  NO. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT $200.

If you’re not sure where on that line your crafty person falls, then let me suggest some patterns for you.  Don’t worry – you can purchase these as instant PDF downloads.  Just hit print and slip into your gift basket.

  • CozyBlue has gorgeous patterns that your stitcher will love.

foxy-pattern

whale-of-a-time

  • Satsuma Street has the most fantastic cross-stitch designs, and if I didn’t already have a ton of projects in my queue, I would download at least three of these gorgeous patterns like TONIGHT.satsuma-street

il_570xn-431255422_kmm5

To wrap up your craft kit, take a look at the instructions.  Does it recommend colors of floss to purchase?

And in case you’re like “….floss?  Huh?”

floss

The most popular brand (or at least, the one I always work with) is DMC.  Cross-stitch and some embroidery patterns will list what colors correspond to the pattern.  Pick up enough for your stitcher to use for the project, along with a set of needles and the cloth that the pattern recommends.  If it recommends Aida or evenweave, then no worries. That will be in the aisle with the embroidery floss.  You’re all set.

Knitting/Crochet

Picking out yarn is so much fun and I can spend a long time in the yarn aisles. If you want to buy your knitter or crocheter a pattern, it would be good to know what their skill level is.  But what’s great about a knitting/crochet kit is that you don’t even NEED a pattern, really.  Chances are your crafty person already has a list of projects and will welcome the addition of yarn to their stash.

What kind of yarn to purchase?  Luxury yarn is great to work with (and it spoils you), but it’s luxury for a reason – it can get pretty pricey!  If I’m being honest, most of the yarn I use and purchase is budget.  There’s pretty fantastic budget yarn available that does a solid job at mimicking the higher quality yarn.  The most popular budget yarn brands include Lion Brand, Caron, and Patons.  My personal favorite is Lion Brand.  I really enjoy working with their yarns and have made several larger projects with them.

scarfie

With Scarfie, you can make a scarf using one ball of yarn.  I have two in my stash waiting to be used!

homespun

Homespun is sooooo soft.  I used the Thick & Quick yarn for a project that ended up being a doggie blanket.  It’s so warm and cozy, and Apollo loves it.

Some other fun and trendy yarn is Michaels’ Caron Cakes and Jo-Ann’s Sweet Roll.  I have each in my stash and am excited to try both.

Sewing

I consider fabric to be a really personal choice.  Same with individual sewing patterns.  Certain kinds of fabric are really difficult for beginners (like jersey or silk), so you don’t want to overwhelm your crafty person if they just started sewing.  Unless your crafty person has been very explicit on what fabric they want (“I can’t wait to try those new Alexander Henry prints!”), then you really can’t go wrong with a gift card here for fabrics, along with one of the books I featured from part one.  Cute sewing supplies are also fun to stash in your craft kit.  Tula Pink Hardware  is a popular choice, though I don’t own any of these products myself.

Putting it all together

I’ll end this post with a pitch-perfect example – an early Christmas gift I received from Boyfriend yesterday!

Boyfriend gift.png

Boyfriend did a great job in selecting treats he knew I would both need and enjoy.  I’ve been looking for a cute sewing box to store my materials but I dislike a lot of the frillier ones out there – so the one he got for me is perfect.  I always, always welcome a ball of yarn into my stash, and I’m really digging the color palette for this Sweet Roll.  Apollo chewed up my knit counter the other day, so the sturdier one that Boyfriend purchased will (hopefully) withstand the teeth of a willful dachshund (also if I, you know, actually store it somewhere other than my coffee table).  Boyfriend knows I want to start my craft business one day, so I’m really excited to dig into this book.  And finally, a gift card!  Thank you Boyfriend! You’re pretty awesome. 🙂

And that, my friends, is it!  Good luck with your shopping and let me know how it goes!  I’ll see you Monday! Happy holidays!

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The Procrastinator’s Guide to Crafty Christmas – Part One (Books)

Say what you will about procrastination and how it’s something that we all need to ~rise above~, but it can be a really effective motivating tool.  I mean, what? I never procrastinate, coworkers who accidentally stumbled across my blog.  But let’s be realistic here.  If your week is anything like mine, you are struggling to get four different deliverables out the door before Christmas, and then one of your clients is like, “Hey, how’s it going? Sooooo even though I’ve been seeing some version of this deliverable since SUMMER, I’m going to wait a week and a half until this report is due to make MASSIVE CHANGES because YAYYYY.  MERRY CHRISTMAS.”  And you are staying at work late and Christmas shopping has slid very far down your list of your priorities.

Or due to your job/election/XBox/dachshund farm responsibilities, Christmas just snuck up on you. Your girlfriend asks you when you’re doing your gift exchange and your mind is going, “Wait, when is Christmas? It’s-it’s in a couple of weeks right OH MY GOD IT’S SUNDAY.”

Assuming that the mother/father/girlfriend/boyfriend/friend/coworker that you are scrambling to get a gift for is crafty, I’ve got just the solution for you.  In this two-part series, I’ll help you get a gift pulled together in no time.

Let’s start with books.  Books are a perfect gift if selected with care, and assuming you live within a ten-mile radius of a bookstore, easy to purchase.  There are so many beautifully designed craft books out there.  Which do you choose?  Where do you start?  I’ll help you find one that’s just right. I own each of these books I’m about to recommend and love them. I’ll also tell you of my progress for each, because if your relative or friend is anything like me, they’ll wait three years to actually start a project in one of them.

Sewing

jansdotter

This book is gorgeous.  Lotta Jansdotter takes you through her design inspirations, which often come from her travels.  Her inspirations are separated by season and each season features some beautiful projects to complete, like pretty tunics and scarves.

Jenny’s progress – I’ve read it.  It’s sitting on my coffee table, so that’s a start.  No actual projects completed.

ishida

I bought Sanae Ishida’s book when I was on vacation in Arizona earlier this year.  I was having  a rough time in my personal life, so her book – about how she turned to sewing after a tumultuous experience at a start-up – really resonated with me.  The book is separated by seasons, and each season starts with a personal essay of Ishida’s progress in renewing her life and spirit.  She then offers simple, beautifully photographed projects to complete. Sample projects include yoga pants and an origami pillow.

Jenny’s progress – I bought fabric to make the yoga pants.  Four months ago.

walnes

Tilly Walnes presents simple sewing projects that increase by difficulty.  Each project teaches you a different skill and she provides very crisp and easy to follow instructions for the projects.  Projects include the skirt shown on the cover, comfy pajama pants, and pretty dresses.

Jenny’s progress – I’ve bought fabric for the pants and copied the patterns for the pajama pants.  Four months ago.

Crochet

madel

What really drew me to this book was the fresh, contemporary projects presented within it.  I probably speak for a lot of new crocheters that I get really bored of all the basic projects presented to learn a stitch.  You can only make so many washcloths.  Marion Madel presents scarves and hats for the beginner, all without making the effort too challenging or overwhelming.

Jenny’s progress – I haven’t made a project from this book in awhile, but I did make a scarf and attempt some of the smaller-scale projects, like the little pouches and cloche hat (which did not turn out well. Haha).

Knitting

bliss

If you’re anything like me, knitting is just a different LANGUAGE.  I grew up learning basic crochet stitches, but I only started knitting this year.  While I enjoy it, some of the concepts are challenging.  I bought this book to help me wade through some of the more head-scratching stitches.  It presents easy-to-follow guides on stitches that so far has been helpful to me.

For Future Crafty Entrepreneurs 

bonney

I’m reading this book now and I LOVE IT.  It’s chock full of advice from intelligent, badass women who are artists, entrepreneurs, and artists.  It’s been my go-to lately for inspiration.

I can go on and on, but these books are really my favorites and I think it’s a good starting point for your shopping endeavors.  Let’s meet back on Friday, and I’ll help you pull together some last-minute crafty kits for your loved one. I’ve just got to go to work now.  Oh, and I still need to get a Christmas gift for Boyfriend too.  🙂