In the Stacks: New craft books

The holidays are coming and the time to start working on homemade gifts and decorations is now (if not a few weeks ago). We’ve been adding new craft books all year: here’s a little overview.


“Modern Holiday,” by Amanda Murphy.

Murphy offers 18 sewing projects to decorate your home with or to give as gifts. Half of the projects are quilts of various sizes, with themes of winter, gifts, trees, wreaths, and flowers that are shown in fun modern holiday prints, Christmas reds and greens, and winter whites, greens, and blues, though Murphy points out that switching the color palettes can take many of the quilts into other seasons altogether. The second half of the projects are purely decorative: stand-up trees, table runners, advent calendars, tree skirts, and pillows, many of which can be easily transformed from Christmas to other holidays or seasons with a color swap. Murphy finishes up with a section on basic quilting skills, but assumes basic sewing machine competence. With a list of sources for her fabrics and supplies, you’ll be picking a project and getting out the scissors in time to have a well-dressed holiday house. (Also see “Pillow Pop!” edited by Heather Bostic, and “Brave New Quilts,” by Kathreen Ricketson for more sewing and quilting projects.)

“Paper Blooms,” by Jeffrey Rudell.

This enchanting book will wow anyone looking for ways to turn paper into decorations for all seasons. Besides flowers (highly specific poppies, cosmos, alliums, dogwood, and more) you’ll find cattails, pumpkins, and gourds, all out of paper. No expensive or one-use tools are needed to create bouquets of sunflowers to brighten a room: if you have scissors, scrap paper of various colors, Exacto knife, Tacky glue, and wire, you’re all set. Rudell arranges the projects from easiest to most difficult, making working through the book a good practicum. Clear instructions and step-by-step photos, suggestions for papers to use for particular effects, a section of templates, plenty of advice to help you avoid common mistakes, and ideas for using the completed flowers in projects make this a book to come back to again and again.

“Stuffed Animals”, by Abigail Patner Glassenberg.

Thinking about giving a stuffed animal to someone but can’t find the right one? Create your own! One of the (many) strengths of Glassenberg’s book is that she doesn’t just give readers templates and instructions, but explains in detail how those are created. For instance, she details how to make an integrated muzzle, create an animal in motion, and make animals with moveable joints, so you can come up with your own perfect one-of-a-kind animal. Or, make one of the 16 animals, from fish to kangaroos (with a joey finger puppet), and yes, a traditional teddy bear, for which Glassenberg gives step-by-step instructions. She even shows how to add fun things like growlers and music boxes. (And see the author’s The Artful Bird for a variety of birds to sew.)

“Knit Your Own Dog: the second litter,” by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne.

The library already owns the first book, which includes dachshunds, basset hounds, whippets, and other pedigreed pooches, but along came the second litter and we jumped at the chance to knit Chihuahuas, Shih Tzu, Shar Pei, beagles, and still more. All are knit flat and sewn, often with pipe cleaners as well as stuffing to make them poseable. It’s unfortunate that there are no in-process photos, but the instructions are clear enough to make up for it. This is not for beginning knitters: each part is small (the largest dog is the Doberman Pinscher, and he’s only 7 1/2” long) and you’ll want to be comfortable knitting before trying something so diminutive. The authors recommend specific yarns to make the projects look as pictured, but also encourage knitters to substitute yarns to personalize their creations. (Also see “Knit Your Own Cat,” by the same authors if you’re more of a cat person.)

“Bewitching Bead & Wire Jewelry,” edited by Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott.

Itching to make bracelets or necklaces that you’ll actually wear? Pick up this beginner-friendly book and get started. There are several different basic methods addressed: elastic cord, memory wire, wire strung, knotted, and loop and chain jewelry, each with its own chapter and set of special techniques. Each Asian-inspired design has an enticing example photo, materials list, diagrams, and step-by-step instructions. (Looking for more ideas or different styles? Take a look at “Creative Beaded Jewelry,” by Carolyn Schulz, or “Bead Bugs,” by Amy Kopperude.)


Happy Halloween! Kids: come out to the Mendenhall Valley Library and wind your way through the Library Labyrinth!

And on Saturday (Nov. 2) come to the Douglas Library at 1 p.m. for a Snowflake Party, where kids ages 7 and up and adults will learn how to make 3-D snowflakes.

Have you always wanted to write a novel? November is NaNoWriMo (that’s National Novel Writing Month) and the library is here to help you get started. Bring your ideas to the Douglas Library on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. for a write-in.

For information about upcoming programs, or to place a hold, visit or call 586-5249.


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