by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
The season is here for coming up with Christmas gifts. I was a huge Tasha Tudor fan as a child, and I remember pouring over her book A Time to Keep: The Tasha Tudor Book of Holidays again and again and again. The November section says, “That’s the month we made Christmas presents.” Her beautiful watercolors on that page depict people weaving cloth, working with wood, and weaving baskets. We are past November now, so there isn’t much time before Christmas to be making things. But for those of you who can still squeeze in some time for gift-making, we have some interesting books that can help you make a variety of handicrafts.
Our library has a substantial collection of knitting books. Among our newest are Little Aran and Celtic Knits for Kids, Knitting with Icelandic Wool, and Metropolitan Knits: Chic Designs for Urban Style.
The Aran and Celtic knitting book features 25 patterns for babies and toddlers. This includes scarves, socks, mittens, and other items.
The second book sounds preposterously specific, but apparently Icelandic wool, or lopi, is a well-known type of yarn with wonderful qualities. This book contains 65 patterns for clothing items: mostly traditional sweaters but also hats and mittens.
Metropolitan Knits is a collection of sophisticated and classic clothing patterns. In addition to sweaters, it includes a few smaller projects: scarves, hats, and cowls.
If you prefer sewing to knitting, we have a really unique new book: Shadowfolds: Surprisingly Easy-to-Make Geometric Designs in Fabric. The book is basically an origami book for use with fabric. Customer reviews say the instructions make it easy to use. Projects in the book include a pillow, a book cover, a purse, and many other distinctive items.
For the jewelry makers, we have a new book called Chinese, Celtic & Ornamental Knots for Beaded Jewellery. The British author (hence the spelling of the title) explains how to create over forty pieces of jewelry based on knotwork and beading, with step-by-step photographs and diagrams.
If working with duct tape is more your speed, check out our new little paperback, Go Crazy with Duct Tape. Kids especially may enjoy making jewelry or covering a tin, a photo album, or a water bottle to make a customized gift.
Now maybe some of you are like me: none of these sounds like something I want to do. Every female in my family enjoys making some kind of fiber craft or other artistic creation: they sew, or knit, or scrapbook, or draw... and I just don’t. But I love to cook and bake. If making food gifts sounds more appealing to you, too, take a look at our large cookbook collection.
One gift-specific book we have is Gourmet Gifts: 100 Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion to Make Yourself and Wrap with Style. The author focuses as much on the presentation as the recipes, with hazelnut brittle wrapped in a faux bundle of letters, caramelized orange slices packed in small round tins, and jars of salsa wrapped in traditional Mexican tissue paper.
And if you don’t have time before Christmas (I’m with you there), stop in to look for these and other craft and cooking titles after the holidays. There will be plenty of winter left to work on fun indoor projects.