Recommend a craft to the craft-challenged daughter of Martha Stewart

Okay. It seems that something in my genetic code has suddenly come into bloom, and my body wants to craft. Problem is, I don’t have any skills or knowledge base. My husband, having mended some of his own socks a few times, has more crafting skills than I do.

My mother is the total Martha Stewart type. Last time I visited home, she supplied us with homemade bottles of Kahlua, neatly packaged in fancy fabric bags she designed and sewed herself; homemade candles with rose petals from her own rose garden embedded in the translucent wax; vacuum-packed stacks of goodies for our roadtrips. Every window in her house is covered with a warm-window quilt; her roses have won regional awards; her compost pile is the envy of the county.

To Mom’s credit, she did try to impart some of this knowledge to me while I was growing up; unfortunately, my interest only extended as far as “how do I make really good Kraft macaroni & cheese?”

So, here I am, several states away from MoMartha, and all I can do is crochet (badly, at that). I feel like creating stuff that is pretty. I need something tactile…

Anyone have recommendations of simple crafts I could learn easily and/or teach myself? I’d like to learn something fairly practical, i.e., knit scarves and hats to give to people, or sew things, uh, or stuff like that.

Come on, crafters! Impart your wisdom, and thanks!

I know the feeling. My mom is the craft Queen–sewing, needlepoint, crocheting, uphoulstering, sticking stuff onto other stuff–you name it. She made some crocheted clothes for my daughter, including a christening outfit with matching booties and bonnet that would probably support me in my old age if I were to put it up on Ebay.

I am the queen of half-finished projects.

I decided to learn to cook really well instead, and have never regretted it.

If you insist anyway, knitting is pretty easy, and anyone can knit a scarf. In fact, it’s hard not to knit a scarf, once you start knitting.

Since you already crochet why not traying to make lace. You can do doilies with the clothe center and lace around the edges that can also be turned into picture frames. If you can crochet a line you can knit a scarf. I have some friends who were recently “kidnapped” by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to go work in their sweat shop shaving goats, spinning yarn, and knitting/crocheting clothing.

If you are as truly hopeless as you say, cross stitch and needlepoint are both easy (follow the grid lines and make a pretty picture) and look very nice. Basically you will be given a pattern that shows you exactly where the given thread should go in a grid of cloth. It can be hard on your eyes though.

Thanks to cher3 and dorkusmalorkusmafia for your comments so far.

Cher3, I think it’s great that you learned to cook and made that your focus. I think that may be the direction I am heading, but I do still feel the itch to do something else outside the kitchen.

I probably should have mentioned that, though I can crochet a scarf or blanket-type thing, for some reason I’ve never been able to successfully negotiate a simple circle to start a hat (which is really what I wanted to do!) and also that crocheting seems to cramp up my hands a bit.

Is knitting at all easier on the hands than crocheting?

I would suggest starting with things that don’t take a great deal of time to complete small, startup projects–a long drawn-out project can kill your motivation in the early stages.

I would suggest candles as a starting point. Supplies are readily available from craft stores, and you can make something that looks nice fairly quickly, either using molds or by hand-dipping tapers. Also, it makes your home smell nice.

Soap is fairly easy to make as well, and there are decorative soap molds available. It does involve a caustic chemical, though–handle with care.

Of course, my personal favorite is brewing. I make mead–I spend about an hour getting ingredients, then another hour preparing the brew. Then I put it away for a month or two while it ferments and settles. That’s followed by tranferring it to a new jug and more waiting, then an hour or two to bottle it.

Rubber-stamping. You can make sets of notecards if you’re looking to craft gifts for others.

Quilting. If you can handle a needle and thread and scissors, then start with hand-piecing and quilting. Very easy to learn…it’s basically a running stitch for both piecing and quilting. If you can handle a sewing machine, then try rotary cutting/strip-piecing…you can make fairly elaborate designs just by stitching strips of fabric together, cutting them up and stitching together again. There are lots of basic quilting classes available at quilt shops and fabric stores.

Sewing. Not at all hard if you follow directions well. Lots of classes available, especially if you buy a machine from a dealer like Elna, White/Viking, Bernina.

Candy-making. Melt, pour…what could be easier!

Cross-stitch. Patterns are easy to follow, push needle in one hole, out another. Buy a small kit and have fun…also has advantage of being extremely portable.

Beads. It’s so easy to make a marvelous necklace, and there are hundreds of kits available to get you started.

I think so, yes…but I’m also a damn good knitter, and my crochet looks like a cat got tangled up in yarn. (BTW, I don’t have a cat, and if I did, I wouldn’t let it near yarn as I know it could be very harmful for them…but I can imagine the image.)

I’d agree that cross stitch and needle point (esp. the kind where the pattern is printed right on the canvas) are very hard to mess up. Small projects can be done in nearly no time, and presto - you’ve got something on display.

I have several friends who do the stamping/scrapbooking thing and they seem to love it. Also hard to mess up and looks nice when you’re done.

And if you’ve got a store in your area that sells basketry supplies, doing basket weaving is good. Starting kits have complete instructions and take you through step by step (and it’s mostly just a matter of keeping everything wet without being too wet.) Plus, they’re useful.

I recommend polymer clay, but then, I ALWAYS recommend polymer clay. It’s not hard to make something that looks good, and it’s fun. If you give a little kid a bit of clay, he will almost invariably either roll it into a ball, or roll it into a snake. If you’ve got enough hand-eye coordination to do those things, you can make polymer clay jewelry and sculpture. I heartily recommend hitting Michael’s or Hobby Lobby and looking for Hot Off The Press booklets by Kris Richards, whose work is absolutely adorable and very easy, or any book by Maureen Carlson, who makes the most amazing sculptures in super simple steps.

Don’t overlook general kids’ craft kits, either - there are all kinds, from soapmaking to needlepoint to tole painting, and the kids’ kits usually come with enough goodies to make a couple projects. That way you can “sample” a few crafts and see what trips your trigger before you make any major time or money investments.

Basic jewelry making is fun and easy. It’s also kind of addictive, and it lets you make very classy and personalized gifts.

You could learn to string really pretty beads on a necklace. And I mean really pretty beads–think a faceted garnet choker, with a small sterling silver charm in the center and an elegant sterling s-clasp, or something along those lines. Most of what you spend your time doing is choosing the components and coming up with the design. The stringing itself is pretty easy (I use sofflex as my cord), you can choose some pretty inexpensive materials without sacrificing aesthetics (I got a really lovely strand of poppy jasper for $4.00 recently) and everyone’s always impressed.

After you get used to that, you could start making earrings, which requires a little cold wire-working. It takes about 2 minutes to learn how to make earrings. Then you could go on to more extensive wire working for making jewelry, including making your own chains and coming up with creative ways to use pre-made chain or found lengths of interesting chain and beads.

I adore getcrafty.com. They’re sort of hip’n’crafty, as opposed to “My grandma made me this . . . in 1838.” Sooo, if you like this that are edgy and crafty, as opposed to grandma and crafty, check it out.

Examples of easy projects they have:

1.http://www.getcrafty.com/read/craft/features/giftwrap/index.html"]Gift Wrap
2.Glass Etching (I did this for graduation presents for my friends. They turned out really cute. I did glass coffee mugs.)
3.http://www.getcrafty.com/read/craft/features/homecanning/index.html"]Jam and apple butter and such (Okay, maybe not easy, but easier than, say, an afghan. And you can eat it! Always a plus.)
4. My personal favorite, T-shirt Underwear

You can always do [layered cookie mixes. The link is a Google search, since they’re so many differenet version of them, and the recipes ALL looked good. I like things you can eat. You can toss them in pretty jars you find in thrift stores (after boiling the jars, of course) and then slip pieces of watercolor paper or construction paper that you’ve stamped/watercolored/embossed/whatever between the parts of the lid and then tie a piece of raffia with a piece of paper attached that has the directions on it.

Or you can make big pitchers full of artificial flowers. I like, and it makes me feel silly that I do, coffee filter flowers. Use brightly colored ink or watercolors. Fold a coffee filter in at least quarters. You can get it wet at this point or leave it dry. Drag a paintbrush or drip ink over the filter. Once you’ve got it covered to your satisfaction, fold it open while still wet and lay it out to dry somewhere. Make however many you want, but start out with at least three to experiment with shapes and fullness. Once they’re dry, take a piece of at least 16 gauge wire about 20 inches long and bend it in half. Impale the center of the filter on the two prongs and bring the filter all the way to the bend. Push the filter up. If you want to use more than one, put those on now. Wrap florists tape around the wire and the bottom of the flower. Voila! You have created beauty.

That’s not really functional, but they look great on top of presents and the like. I really like to make artificial flowers, so if you’d like more directions, e-mail me and I’ll pass my craftiness around. Crafting is an art, which basically means you can’t screw it up. :slight_smile: I love that about crafting.

As a finale: [URL:“http://www.getcrafty.com/read/craft/features/bikini/index.html”] Knit your own bikini!](http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=layered+cookie+mix+gift) Now with thong bottom!.

Yeah, to craft is good.

whimper Last time I post with a low blood sugar. My parents should have named me “Chagrin” and just let nature take it’s course.

Bonsai! It’s nice, relaxing, can be done indoors, and you’ll always have a changing work or art. I’ve been doing it for 5-6 yrs now and adore it!

Wow! You guys rock, of course. This is the first time I’ve been able to check in on this thread, and am pretty jazzed that there are so many possibilities. I particularly like the polymer clay, sewing, quilting, and necklace making ideas. Gah, okay, I like them all. Maybe I will try something this weekend and post an update then.

Thanks again for sharing!

I find knitting easier than crocheting. I also like it, because if you’re doing a simple pattern, it gives you an excuse to veg out in front of the boob tube. “Oh, no, I’m not watching a re-run of The Simpsons, I’m making a lovely scarf.”

In college, some friends and I used to have a weekly poker night. Poke got to be too expensive, so someone in the group taught us all how to knit. Our poker nights morphed into knitting nights where we’d sit around, drink cheap wine, shoot the breeze, and knit our little hearts out. Good times.

I just took my first knitting class yesterday. It went very well and the instructor was great. However, I then got home and proceeded to make a mess of the three rows I’d done so far. My next lesson isn’t until next week so here’s my question for the knitters around here:

She taught me a long tail cast on but I don’t think I’m doing it right. Once I finish the cast on stitches should the tail be at the top or bottom of the needle?

The bottom.
If you hold the needle in your left hand, the tail should be slightly to the back and on the bottom of the needle.
(this is a set of illustrated instructions)

Not quite sure what you mean by top or bottom-up and down or beginning and end?

When you have finished casting on your required number of stitches, the tail will be hanging out of the last stitch. Then you turn the needle around, so the tail is hanging out of your first stitch, but hanging down. IOW, it hangs down at the bottom of the first stitch of your first knitted row.

Does that make sense?

I meant that the tail is closer to the point of the needle. So then once I start the first row of knitting it will end up away from the point. Does that make sense?

amarinth–thank you for the link.

I second the idea of lace. Tatting is a beatiful art.

You need to discover the driving force behind your sudden urge. Do you want to make “art” or do you want to go into production on a single item? Your reason for doing it should shape your decission.

If you just want to “express yourself” then look at what you enjoy doing and tie them together. I have combined my love of history with hiking, photography and aviation to produce historic tours.

I’m a needlepointer, and agree that it’s super easy to get started on.

PillowPhat – maybe you could just go to Michael’s or a similar store and wander around to see what looks like fun. They usually have kits that indicate difficulty level, and the one I go to has a pretty knowledgable staff who could let you know if you’re getting in over your head.