by Joanna BrichettoNovember 2011
Let Martha be your guide
Martha Stewart’s Handmade Holiday Crafts is classic Martha. We all know what to expect by now: gorgeous design, perfect taste and inspirational photos pretty enough to eat. Culled from the pages of Martha Stewart Living magazine, this collection of handmade projects covers New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas. To demonstrate the depth of coverage, take a peep (or a crack) at Easter eggs. Martha details techniques like dip-dyeing, blowing-out, wax-resist, masked designs, natural dye, botanical patterns, silhouette decoupage, paper-napkin decoupage, marbleized, vinyl-masked, heat embossed and thread-wrapped. And how about napkin rings for Thanksgiving? Choose from clip-art leaves; acorns and ribbons; star-anise ties and feather wraps. The accompanying place cards (because Thanksgiving dinner without place cards is unthinkable) can be a “modern fold napkin with autumn leaf”; pomegranate with faux leaf; a gilded mini gourd; or walnut shells with tiny banners. There’s even more in store for Hanukkah and Christmas in this idea-saturated volume.
From Fiona Goble, the delightfully offbeat author of Knit Your Own Royal Wedding and Knitivity: Create Your Own Christmas Scene comes ’Twas the Knits Before Christmas. Based on Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem, it’s an adorable two-fer: two books in one. Look for clear step-by-step instructions on how to create every cast member and component of the story in knitted miniature—not just St. Nick and his rapid reindeer, but father, mother, baby, daughter, a big wreath, a sack of wee gifts, the moon and a woolen stocking in two versions: mini and life-size. The first chapter covers tools, materials, lingo, stitches and finishing touches so that even beginners may proceed apace. The book also doubles as a picture book version of the poem, illustrated with colorful drawings and trimmed photos of the actual, knitted projects in action. This sweet little book will be a treat for all knit-wits who’ve been very, very good this year.
TOP PICK FOR LIFESTYLES
Homemade: The Heart and Science of Handcrafts is a massive, must-have reference for those of us who consider ourselves even occasionally crafty. The sheer bulk of its 800 pages squashes competition from the Internet: Why bother with fragments of info on blogs and dubious websites when we can crack this baby open and find all the answers laid out with clarity and concision? With 25 books to her credit, author Carol Endler Sterbenz has distilled a lifetime of experience and enthusiasm into Homemade. Beginners as well as experts will find essential how-tos and hundreds of projects in seven categories: beading, floral arts, paper crafting, hand printing, decoupage, decorative embellishment (like glass etching, candle-making, embossing and more) and my favorite, children’s arts and crafts. Each is introduced with a historical overview and personal reflection, along with a “deep look at techniques,” materials and methods. Plus, nearly every page has at least one illustration or diagram by Harry Bates, whose meticulous graphic details bump the overall pleasure-to-read factor even higher.