We are a crafty bunch at East Side Books. Kim, otherwise known as “Krafty Kim”, is an experienced basketmaker and recently dived head first into knitting and felting. Diane is teaching cake decorating for the local 4H club this year, and is responsible for the wonderfully creative revolving seasonal decorations. Lindsay is a gift food queen (don’t get me started on last Christmas’ caramel popcorn gift box), and I have my Be Lovely Creations bags and bookmarks available for sale at East Side Books.
As you can tell, we are eclectic crafters. According to Wikipedia, the definition of crafting is “a skill, especially involving practical arts.” I see crafting as a way over the centuries that women have woven bits and pieces of beauty into their daily lives whether it be a touch of hand embroidery on a dish towel, a quilt pieced together from old clothes, or home made cheese making. Our Crafting Section at East Side Books reflects the eclectic nature of crafting with its depth and width of titles. It was great fun for Kim and me to search through the crafting books to pull a few titles to highlight in this blog. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to confess that there are a few of those books that won’t be mentioned because they have made their way to my own personal shelves. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
But I left many excellent books for the rest of you. One of my favorite places to start when checking out craft books are the volumes of “collected crafts” that are often referred to as “country crafts.” These types of books showcase a number of crafts. I find that looking at several different project ideas inspires me to head in a whole new direction using the skills I have and adding a few more from the instructions given. One excellent book of this type is called Traditional Country Crafts by Miranda Innes. The sections on feltwork and painted ceramic pots are especially cool. Another excellent volume is Classic Crafts edited by Martina Margetts. There are wonderful chapters on rag rug making and papier mache. I had no idea how creative paper mache could be until I looked at this book. Simple Gifts edited by Garden Way Publishing gives step-by-step instructions for making beautiful Shaker crafts.
If you are more interested in a specific crafting skill, check out our many subcategories within the Crafting Section. We have books on everything from Origami to Stenciling to larger sections like Quilting, Needlepoint, and Cross-stitch. If you are looking to make a special gift for a baby or toddler, check out A-B-C 1-2-3 Craft Book by Phyllis and Noel Fiarotta. It contains easy to follow directions and pattern for cloth alphabet and number books for young children. Kim showed me two beautiful basketmaking books called Handmade Baskets by Lyn Siler and A Modern Approach to Basketry by Dona Z. Meilach. Both made me want to leap into basketmaking. Our shelves contain a generous number of quilting, knitting, needlepoint, and cross-stitch titles. Although some of the volumes are older, they are an excellent resource for answering questions about technique, offer great patterns, and provide general creative inspiration. Quiltmaking by Hand by Jinny Beyer is a wonderfully informative book with excellent technical descriptions as well as large, clear accompanying step-by-step photos. For $9.00 you can purchase The Complete Book of Knitting by Barbara Abbey which will answer any question you will ever have about knitting. Despite the dated cover, this book has over 200 timeless stitch patterns and illustrated pictures demonstrating all the fundamental steps of knitting you will need to complete a project. Like knitting and embroidery, needlepoint and cross-stitch are making a comeback. Needlepoint by Hilary More has wonderfully creative and updated needlepoint projects. You can find the perfect cross-stitch gift to create in the beautiful book Inspirational Cross-Stitch by the Bucilla Design Group. (If you are looking for craft supplies, we suggest you swing by Sierra Cottons and Wools on Highway 395 near The Highlands. They specialize in stitchery of all kinds and carry excellent quality wools, cottons, and yarns as well as Barri’s wonderful original Bareroot patterns. If you have never been, you are in for a treat. Check them out at www.sierracottonsandwools.blogspot.com.)
I confess that I am a bit of a Grinch when it comes to the Christmas holidays, but even I fell headlong into our extensive Christmas Crafts shelves. It is never too early to start thinking about Christmas, and have I can guarantee you that we have the holiday books to help you create a magical December season. Again, don’t be turned off by books that seem outdated. I found some of the best HO HO HO seasonal ideas in The Spirit of Christmas series. These books have especially good food recipes such as cheese pockets with bacon and pecans, and sausage and apple appetizers. (I think I might have to throw a party!) Krafty Kim is a firm believer in the Christmas with Martha Steward Living series. The book I browsed through was published in 2002, but looked like it could have been from the pages of her current magazine. Whatever you may think about Martha, you have to admit that her style is classic and enduring.
The best piece of crafting advice I ever read was on a website of a professional quilter who sold wonderful and unique wall hangings. She said that the reason she made the kind of work that she did was because she lacked the skills to do more precise, detailed quilting: she worked with the skills she had. (Sounds like a decent life philosophy as well…) Following her advice saved me HOURS of crafting frustration. Accepting that I am also not a detail oriented person, I now choose projects that give me a little room. For example, when picking a knitting pattern I look for the magic words: NO GAUGE REQUIRED. Where do your strengths and weaknesses lay when it comes to crafting? Are you looking to improve your current skill set or head off into a new direction. Come in and peruse our Craft Section; be inspired and find the perfect craft project for you. If you need any assistance, be sure to ask our staff for help.
If you have a favorite crafting project, we would love if you shared it with us in the comment section below. Come in and show us your latest completed craft–we’d love to see what you have been working on.