5 Beautiful Crafts to Welcome Spring

It takes only the slightest bit of spring weather to temporarily turn me into a raving optimist. I don't get optimistic about politics, business, or my personal finances. No, my optimism is even more divorced from reality than all that: I get optimistic about my free time. For a brief moment each year, I believe that the amount of free time I will have will magically morph from "none" to "some."

And when I think I have free time, I start to daydream about making beautiful crafts for myself, my family and my home. During college, I had a job as a seamstress at a costume shop that made (we used to say "built") costumes for two theater companies. I've become a decent knitter. I did crewel work as a kid. So it's not inconceivable that, given materials, patience, and time, I might make something pretty decent. 

I'm not looking for fun stuff to do with the kids or to replicate the days of Holly Hobbie. In an ideal world, my home would be filled with unique handcrafted items with a slightly cool, modern edge.

Like these.


This cross stitch sampler comes courtesy of Alicia Paulson, whose aesthetic is beautiful (think of a Paris-in-the-1920s palette) but very different from mine. In this design she combines that aesthetic with a more modern sensibility by using black fabric, and I love it. Of course, I'd also probably go blind trying to do counted cross stitch on black. For those of you more intrepid than I, the pattern is available here.

This pattern, from The Purl Bee, is designed as a cowl. I love the different-but-related stitch patterns, as well as the color choices. In a wool/cotton blend, I think this would make a great shawl for those cool evenings at the beach. (In my imagination, I not only have enough time to knit large ambitious projects, but apparently I am also able to spend many evenings at the beach. Nice.)

These mitts come from the book Stitch Mountain, produced by Laura Zander of Jimmy Beans Wool as part of her company's efforts to sponsor the U.S. Ski Team. I know it seems nuts to be starting a pair of mitts on the edge of spring, but here's where my dormant realism creeps in: At the rate I knit, I'll have these done just in time for next winter. 


Japanese sashiko embroidery, in the traditional indigo and white, always looks so fresh and crisp to me. The example above is just part of a sampler available on Etsy, but there are tons of other traditional motifs. While it looks simple, there are 'right' and 'wrong' ways to handle every turn, crossing, and intersection, which is a bit much for me. The saving grace is that most kits come with the design printed on the cotton, in an ink that washes out. 

As for the quilt above, that too is courtesy of The Purl Bee. (They are geniuses over there, I swear). I have never quilted before, but that pattern looks simple enough, and beautiful enough, that part of me is tempted to try. Of course I'd want to make the quilt big enough to serve as a bedspread, which means adding some serious difficulty points.

The one craft project I'm likely to finish is not nearly so impressive as any of these, but it's easy and it's a crowd-pleaser. All you need are some white ceramic mugs and some Sharpies. Use the Sharpies to decorate the outside of the mugs however you want, staying away from the rim and the top inch or so. Then bake the mugs in the oven for about half an hour at 350 degrees, give them plenty of time to cool, and the Sharpie designs will bake on and become permanent. (Some colors will darken a bit as they bake.)

I'll probably be doing this with my kids the next time my husband is on a business trip. I think my mug will say "Mom's Hot Chocolate. Don't Touch." Deep down, it's still winter around here. -- Kimberly Weisul

March 26, 2014

Missed our last issue? Here you go:
We're Declaring Spring, Whatever the Calendar Says

If you liked this story, you might also like:
Making Stuff
Playing With Fire
Is Multi-Tasking Frying Your Brain?

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