Entertain from your bookshelf with these simple, elegant projects

If you're like us, you're in the midst of hosting --or frantically preparing to host-- friends and family this time of year. If you're also like us, you can't help but add a few little flourishes along the way. Here are some quick and simple projects from our bookshelf to help you add a little something extra to your home or holiday table. These also double as great host gifts!

Wrapping paper placemats from p. 77 of Victoria Hudgins's  Materially Crafted

Wrapping paper placemats from p. 77 of Victoria Hudgins's Materially Crafted

Garden to Table Place Settings from p. 138 of Jacinda Boneau and Jaime Morrison Curtis's  Pretty Prudent Home

Garden to Table Place Settings from p. 138 of Jacinda Boneau and Jaime Morrison Curtis's Pretty Prudent Home

Winter Garland from p. 155 of Livia Cetti's  The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers

Winter Garland from p. 155 of Livia Cetti's The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers

Vintage Ribbon Coasters from p. 62 of Rebecca Ringquist's  Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops

Vintage Ribbon Coasters from p. 62 of Rebecca Ringquist's Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops

No-Sew Felt Tree Skirt from p. 214 of Boneau & Curtis's  Pretty Prudent Home

No-Sew Felt Tree Skirt from p. 214 of Boneau & Curtis's Pretty Prudent Home

From our bookshelf:

Are you planning to add a little handcrafted flair to your holiday table? Show off your work online and tag @stc_craft on twitter and instagram.

 

 

Stuck on your holiday list? Give the gift of craft!

With time running down, there's still a chance to get some of our faves from this year for the folks on your list (or maybe just to treat yourself—who's looking!?) Check our list below for a little something for every kind of maker.

For the One Always Looking to Try Something New

For the One Who Needs to Relax (and Doodle)

For the Fabric Store Junkie

For The One Who Always Seems to Set Her Own Trends (and looks fabulous doing it!)

For the Novice Crafter, Nester, or General DIY Enthusiast

We hope some of these lovely books find their way to your bookshelf, or to a craft table of someone you love, sometime soon! You can find more of our books online here.

There's still time to add a touch of handmade this holiday season

Whether you're headed to visit family, planning a dish for a friend's New Year's Eve party, or staying home with the kids, here are some ideas for last-minute gifts to add a little handmade element to your gifting this year.

Last minute stocking stuffers (or gifts for the people you definitely didn't forget):

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Textile Bookends from Novel Living by Lisa Occhipinti

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Wool Rose Fascinator from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

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Pencil Holder Heads from Playful by Merrilee Liddiard

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Patterned Stationery Set from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

For the gracious host or hostess:

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Denim Apron from Cloth by Cassandra Ellis

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Wool Felt Oven Gloves from Cloth by Cassandra Ellis

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Antiquarian Animal Votive Holders from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

Gift toppers to add a little flair to your wrapping:

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Christmas Corsages from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

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Arts and Crafts Ex Libris Set from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

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Pocket Notecards from Novel Living by Lisa Occhipinti

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Needle-Felted Snowman from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

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Lavender Wand Sachets from Handmade for the Garden by Susan Guagliumi

Don't see what you're looking for? Try our posts from recent holiday seasons: 6 Quick & Easy Gifts to Complete in an Evening and 5 Handmade Gift-Packaging Ideas

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

Holiday Decorating with STC Craft

While some people rush to pick out their tree and pin up their stockings as soon as stores open their doors for Black Friday sales, some of us need a bit more time to get into the holiday spirit. With a potentially calm weekend ahead and only a few weeks left to the holidays, here at STC Craft we are looking to take a load off, cozy up, and get crafting--this time, for our homes!

Won't you enjoy these projects with us?!

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Pinecone Wreath from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

Secret Message Snowflakes from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

Tabletop Tree from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

Candy Stripe Christmas Stocking from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

Chenille Poinsettia Garland from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

For more holiday (and every day!) decorating ideas, check out these books:

Happy Weekend and Happy Crafting from your friends at STC Craft!

Holiday Crafting Memories and a Recipe Treat from Susan Waggoner

Well, we've had our first official snowfall here in New York City, and it's beginning to look a lot like the holidays! We can't help but feel a little giddy at the thought of all of the upcoming baking and sipping and  time spent with friends and family. Excited as we are, sometimes we look up and realize the calendar is nearing dangerously close to a party or holiday commitment and we're feeling underprepared!

Fear not, Susan Waggoner, author of Handcrafted Christmas: Ornaments, Decorations, and Cookie Recipes to Make at Home, is here with a holiday memory and a delicious recipe to get you inspired and in the spirit! Here's Susan:

Forget Black Friday and the insanity of 5 a.m. store openings. To me, the day after Thanksgiving will always be the day Christmas crafting and decorating begin. My mother me this. Start your crafting and decorating early and it will be fun; wait until mid-December and pressure will steal away the joy.

The day after Thanksgiving, a card table would go up in the family room. My mother would already have a list of things she wanted to make for gift exchanges, and a stack of magazine pages with decorating ideas she wanted to try. My father would be called away from the football games for engineering and carpentry input, and we’d be off and running. As my mother got out supplies and decorations, my job was to make a list of all that needed to be replenished and replaced.

Over a dinner of hot turkey sandwiches and mashed potatoes, we’d plot our path through the craft stores the next morning. Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday would be our work days, and by the end of the weekend, we’d have a good start on all we wanted to do. We were ready for snow. We were ready for Christmas.

The card table remained up throughout the entire season. When the crafting and decorating projects were done, it became our wrapping table. My frugal mother did not believe in buying expensive paper or matching tags. She saved cards sent to us in previous years, bought tissue paper, glitter, tape, glue, and ribbon (never pre-made bows) and let us decorate our own packages. I loved going through the old cards and finding an image that was just right for the recipient of the gift - outdoor woodland scenes with deer for my father, chic modern-looking motifs for my mother, skating Santas or Beatrix Potter scenes for my sister, who eventually confessed, as an adult, to disliking Potter’s art.

After Christmas, the table was cleared and brought upstairs to our den, where it held the annual jigsaw puzzle Santa left by our stockings. I have no idea what became of that card table, but I know what became of the memories - I still have them.

So take time to start your crafting and decorating early. Make the most of every Christmas minute and you’ll double your stock of good memories.

Here’s a Christmas treat from Susan that you can make ahead and set aside for holiday gifts and parties, or snack on while you craft and decorate:

image (c) Lori Lange, 2011. 

Almond Roca

For this you will need a candy thermometer and these ingredients:

2 tablespoons water

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

Big pinch of coarse salt

1 pound whole roasted salted almonds (may substitute roasted salted peanuts or pecans)

 

First, prepare a pan by placing a silicone mat or bakers parchment on a clean cookie sheet.

In a medium heavy‑duty saucepan, heat the water, butter, both sugars and salt over low heat. I have found that the secret to making good buttercrunch is a slowed-down heating process. Cookbooks suggest this can be done in 15 or 20 minutes, but this makes it easy to scorch the mixture or end up with a grainy result. I spend 30 to 45 minutes on this and have always been rewarded with crisp, perfect candy. Start over low heat, stirring and scraping down the sides occasionally to make sure everything is blended and the nothing is sticking to the corners of the pan.

Fit the candy thermometer onto the saucepan, making sure the is not touching the bottom of the pan.

You are now going to cook this mixture until it reaches a temperature of 300° F. (150° C.). Raise the heat slowly at first, and more quickly as you near the end. Stir mixture and scrape the sides of the saucepan occasionally at first, more often as the heat rises, and nearly continuously when the mixture begins to boil and foam.

The minute the temperature reaches 300° F., remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the almonds and spread immediately onto the prepared pan. You need to work quickly, as the mixture begins to set up as soon as it’s off the burner. Use a spatula to spread as thinly as possible.

Allow to cool and set up several hours or overnight. Store in a lidded tin lined with a napkin or a lidded plastic container.


 

For more ideas for cozy vintage-inspired crafting and baking  from Susan's latest book, view our image gallery or order it online. 

 

Guest Post from Wendy Bernard + Creativebug Giveaway + Holiday Crafting - 5 Weeks Out!

With T minus 5 weeks until the holidays, we're back with more gifting ideas that you can get started on now. As a special bonus, we also have author and knitter extraordinaire Wendy Bernard here with words of wisdom on knitting inspiration, info on adding new stitches to your needlearts repertoire in time to create a holiday gift, plus a giveaway from Creativebug. From Wendy: 

I think it was just about 11 years ago when top-down knitting caught my eye.

I had started knitting again after a more than 30-year hiatus when I was expecting my daughter—grandma taught me when I was young and I never really knit after that. Of course, I knit my newborn one of those hats that resembles a strawberry. It sort of seemed like the right thing to do.

Fast forward to now. I’ve been so happily knitting and writing books that feature patterns that are knit down from the top: Sweaters, hats, you name it. For some reason, the idea that you start at the top and work your way down to the hem seamlessly made sense to me. And ever since I figured out how to do it and how to make patterns this way, I have wanted to share my ideas with other knitters.

Books will always be here with us, they are so wonderful: we can hold them in our hands and mark them up with post-its. They sit on our shelves and make us happy. The Internet has added another dimension for me, though. With streaming online videos growing in popularity, it is possible for you to take online classes that aren’t live, which means you can pop in whenever you like and follow along at your own pace. Creativebug is that sort of place and I’m so excited to tell you that I have a four-week course on Creativebug where I share with you how to knit two types of sweaters, from the top down, seamlessly!

What makes me even more excited is that my latest book, Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary shows you how to knit more than 150 stitch patterns not only flat, but in the round, and top-down as well. This means, as you watch my courses on Creativebug, you will be able to swap out the plain ribbing in these sweaters and insert other ribbings that strike your fancy. Same thing for the other parts of the sweaters: if you want to spruce up the otherwise plain stockinette stitch, do a little shopping in the book and insert another stitch pattern that you like even more.

Working with Creativebug.com was so much fun. The crew even came out to my home studio and hung out with my family for a day so we could share with you a little of my background and my love for knitting and crafting. You can watch the trailers and videos for a bit of background. And speaking of crafting: Creativebug isn’t only about knitting. The classes they feature range from jewelry-making to quilting to ceramics, and even working with leather. This new online genre is a great one and I hope that you’ll check it out!

And without further ado, here are more holiday crafting ideas at five weeks out from Wendy and some of our other 2014 books:  

Slouch Cap from Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard

 

Pleated Mittens from Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard

Breve Cowl from Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose

Heima Slippers from Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose

Cotton Scrap Rag Rug from Cloth by Cassandra Ellis

Metallic Leather Sling from Cloth by Cassandra Ellis

 

If the ideas above have your creative gears turning, but you're stuck on a step or technique (or maybe you want to learn something entirely new), why don't you go ahead and try out Creativebug on your own? Enter here for a chance to win a copy of Wendy's book, Up, Down, All-Around Stitch-Dictionary, 2 project patterns, and yarn courtesy of Blue Sky Aplacas. The best part? The prize package also includes a free six-month subscription to Creativebug, so you can take all of Wendy's classes, plus any other crafting courses that strike your fancy! But hurrythe contest ends in 4 days!

This Thanksgiving, perfect your table alongside your menu

When we're planning the holidays, the meal often gets the spotlight and everything else is on the backburner (literally!)

With only a few weeks until Thanksgiving, we have some crafting ideas from our 2014 releases that won't take too much of your attention away from the turkey, but will have your home looking as effortlessly festive as your main course. Take a look for some weekend inspiration:

Moveable Feast Table Runner & Napkins from Novel Living by Lisa Occhipinti

Vibrant Party Centerpiece from The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers by Livia Cetti

Wreath from The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers by Livia Cetti

 

Japanese Heraldry Coasters from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

Paper Towns from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

 Cuts of Meat Table Runner from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza