Holiday Gift Guide: Give the Gift of Books!

Running low on time and ideas for those hard-to-gift in your life? How about giving the gift of books?!

From Novel Living by Lisa Occhipinti

With a solid roster of books from the past year ranging from knitting compendiums to personal memoirs, we have a little something for everyone on your list: 

For the DIY Home Decorator:

Novel Living; BiblioCraft; The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers; Handmade for the Garden

For the Babysitters, Parents, & Others Looking to Keep Kids Busy:

Playful; Handcrafted Christmas

For the Avid Knitters and Sewists:

Unconventional & Unexpected; How to Catch a Frog; Living Color

For the Digitally-Inclined: check out our full selection of e-books on sale, available via Open Road Media, plus this trailer featuring STC Craft authors!

Don't see what you're looking for? Check out some of our past gift suggestions: Holiday Gift Guide: 12 Books for Crafters and Holiday Gift Guide: 15 Books for Sewists & Quilters

Knitters’ Favorite Valentine’s Day Gifts

Michelle Edwards' Valentines: Lelia, Meera, and Flory

What was the best gift you ever gave or received on Valentine’s Day?

Some of our authors share their personal favorites in a heartwarming roundup. Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

Michelle Edwards, A Knitter’s Home Companion 

The best gift I have ever received was due on Valentine’s Day in 1987, but arrived two weeks later: a healthy, robust gift of boundless love, my oldest daughter, Meera. Swaddled in a blanket I made for her, we brought her home. She gave us such love, joy, and wonder that soon we had two more daughters, Flory and Lelia. Each girl is our very special Valentine. (The story of Meera’s beautiful blanket continues in the first essay in A Knitter’s Home Companion.) 

Betty Christiansen, Knitting for Peace

For Christmas of 1997, I decided to knit my boyfriend, Andrew, a sweater. He and I had been dating for just under a year, and we shared many things in common, including an appreciation of the handmade. I thought if there ever was a boyfriend worthy of a sweater, he was it. Blissfully unaware of the “sweater curse”—and a little less careful about gauge than I am now—I bought my yarn and cast on. The sweater, knit in a beautiful sea blue and a complicated cable pattern, turned out several sizes too big for him. Still, he loved it and wore it proudly.

My best Valentine’s Day gift came just a couple of months later: an engagement ring. I’ve since learned all about the sweater curse, of course, and I’m happy to report that there are exceptions to that “rule.” And despite the extensive yardage required by the sweater, there was enough yarn leftover for a baby cardigan and hat. All three of our kids have worn them.

Melanie Falick, Weekend Knitting

My best Valentine’s Day gift started out as a present for a new boyfriend. We had been together since our first date in July, so when Valentine’s Day approached I decided I would surprise him by secretly knitting him a scarf. He didn’t know I could knit and, in fact, I really wasn’t much of a knitter. I went to The Yarn Company on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and stood in awe in front of shelves stuffed with the most beautiful yarns I had ever seen. I chose a tweed yarn from Tahki, made my boyfriend a scarf, and became fascinated by knitting: the beautiful fibers and colors, the techniques, the traditions, the way I could use it as a way to learn about other cultures and, in particular, about women. Since that life-changing experience over twenty years ago, I have written knitting books, edited a knitting magazine, and become the publishing director of the craft-book program at Abrams Books. I also married the boyfriend for whom I made that scarf. I thought that making the scarf was a gift for him, but it ended up being an amazing gift to myself. 

What is it that makes a handmade gift so special? Watch this video and get inspired:

 What was your favorite Valentine’s Day gift? Share in the comments below!

The Gift of Handmade from Our Friends at Open Road

A Guest Post by Laura De Silva, Open Road Media

Christmas Eve is only two days away, and December 28th is the final night of Hanukkah this year. Did the holidays sneak up on you, too?

Right about now, many of us are frantically wrapping up our shopping and finishing those handmade gifts we’ve been leisurely approaching until this week. If you, like me, still have a long way to go on that item—whether it’s a scarf, a hat, or (Heaven forbid!) a sweater—you might be cursing yourself for biting off a little more than you can chew this year.

If you’re running out of steam, here’s a little inspiration to help you make it through that last mile of yarn. Watch STC Craft’s Melanie Falick, Joelle Hoverson, and Andrea Price speak about the specialness of giving handmade gifts. Give yourself the gift of a moment with this video, and get back in touch with the reasons why we go to all this trouble in the first place:

I hope watching this video inspires you to share why you make handmade gifts in the comments. (Personally, I give handmade gifts because I love seeing my loved ones wear them—even when the weather doesn’t call for it!)

Ready to jump back into your project now? Needles up . . .

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays!


P.S. If you still need a gift for that friend who loves her Kindle, Nook, iPad, Sony Reader, or Kobo Touch, you can always get her one of the ebooks from STC Craft | Melanie Falick Books! Watch below to learn how to gift an ebook—a great last-minute gift that doesn’t require any swatching).


Knitting for the Camera! A Star is Born

Back in August Andrea Berman Price (author of Knitspeak), Joelle Hoverson (author of Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts), and I (Melanie) were each visited by a camera crew from Open Road Media. The crew's job was to film us talking about our passion for knitting and then create documentary-style videos with their footage (all of this part of our launch plans for our new digital knitting book initiative). Not surprisingly, each of us felt a little hesitant about our interviews and then self-conscious about the results. It was definitely a test of our self-confidence and groundedness. I asked Andrea to share her memories of the day she was in the hot seat. I'll share my story soon.

Cheers, ladies (left to right): my friend Melissa, Lily, Lisa, and Polly from Open Road, and me

You may not believe me when I tell you that even a florid extrovert can get nervous and tongue-tied when faced with a crowd or a camera.  I’m not sure I have ever been as nervous as I was on the day in August when the Open Road crew came down from New York to DC to capture me on pixels for STC Craft. 

The crew rolled up to my rowhouse in Washington, DC, just after 11am and began unloading black bags full of wires and lights in my living room.  I hid upstairs, I was so jittery. I let them have the run of the first floor to set up without me in the way. I identified the crew by their voices. I began to wonder: Were they knitters? Were they hungry? Could I connect with them? I was relieved they were all women, and highly competent. For some reason it seemed easier to talk about knitting on camera with a female crew; I felt as if they’d respect my passion for it rather than ridicule it. And I think they did.

The camera was set up in a corner, and a chair was placed in the middle of the living room floor. This was  going to be the hot seat.  The interviewer, sat facing me, next to the camera so I could feel like we were having a conversation, but I was mesmerized by the black lens. I rambled on about how I learned to knit, about patterns, why I think knitting is so great.  My hope was that there was a good editor back at the studio who could make this sound cogent in postproduction.  

“What’s your angle?” I had asked the producer a few weeks prior.  “Our angle is you,” said the producer.  Ack.   What is it about me that would be important to talk about? I could talk about teaching knitting, I could talk about pattern reading, and common pattern problems, but oddly enough for those who know me, I did not want to talk about me.

As friendly as the crew was (and they really couldn't have been friendlier), this was not like speaking to fellow knitters at a fiber festival, or my weekend knitting group, or to a group gathered at a yarn store event; the camera didn’t smile back.  I thought about what I really wanted to come out of the conversation. The message would be: The joy that knitting has brought to my life can be accessed and celebrated by all. A humble cause when you think about it, that a folk craft learned at a grandmother’s side, can fascinate, calm, and delight. I kept rambling, stopping, and asking the crew to let me re-take the questions.

This may seem a trumped-up aim for a humble craft, but I wanted to get across that knitting (and crochet) is a meaningful activity for so many reasons. We show love by making gifts, we celebrate friendship in knitting groups, we recognize the love in the connection when we teach others, and with those who taught us even after they are long gone.

I was tongue-tied all day long; the nervousness never left. How could I communicate this grand thought in a way that did not sound silly? If I was unfocused myself about what I wanted to say, how could I produce a cogent message with those lights in my face? By the end of the day, at least one of the crew talked about rescuing a long-forgotten project from the back of the closet. She tried on a soft, swirly shawl as we set up the last shot. I realized then that through all the fumbling and re-takes, that I might have hit the mark. I had chattered and pontificated all day, but my enthusiasm was (I hoped) inspiring a sometimes-knitter to reach for the needles and try again. Some of the comments I got from old friends on Facebook in the first days after the video released reinforced the feeling that the message had gotten through. The message was: pick it up again; knitting might just satisfy a vague need for centering, for creating, for connection. We popped a bottle of prosecco and the crew ran off to catch the train.  I was exhausted.  All I wanted to do was knit.

Click here to see Andrea's video.