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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide 2009: Supporting Crafters and Other Good Deeds


I've mentioned before that I'm a knitter, and this year my mom asked me if I wanted any knitty things. Well, no, not really, I have a lot (probably too much, considering how little I knit now), but I got to thinking -- if you're thinking about buying gifts for a crafter, what do you get them? While my expertise is in knitting and most of my suggestions are gifts for knitters and fiber-y types, you can apply the basic ideas below to any DIY type.

- My first gift choice? Books! There are always great how-to books for any skill, be it knitting, scrapbooking, crocheting... the sky's the limit. Some of the knitting books that I'd recommend for any level are Scarf Style, which has a great variety of scarves, and the all-mighty Knitters Book of Finishing Techniques. That book will save your knitter a ton of heartache and teach a lot of important skills. (I actually asked for it, and got it, a few years ago, and it's still teaching me new things.) If I had to pick one knitting book that I'd want this year, though, it would definitely be Knockdown Knits, the roller derby knitting book. I totally could use a Jammer beanie while I'm ducking and dodging through commuters this winter...

- Knitters love yarn and needles and other goodies, yes. But if you're completely in the dark about what your knitter prefers (double-points? circulars? worsted? sockweight? cobweb? merino? tencel? bamboo? turbo?), you really can't go wrong with a yarn store gift certificate. kpixie.com is one great online yarn store, with a lot of cute knitting kits, as well as a variety of gift certificate options available. That said, I highly encourage you to check out your local yarn stores -- they may already know your knitter's likes and needs! Plus, there's no replacement for getting to feel the yarn in person... If you need some help finding a shop near you, Knitmap.com is a directory of yarn stores, and even has an iPhone app for the knitter in need of yarn or needles far away from the LYS (Local Yarn Store).

- Even if you're not sure what yarn or needles to buy, you can be assured that your knitter needs something to put said yarn and needles in, especially for carrying around to KIP (Knit in Public).

A quick search on Etsy for "knitting needle roll" brings up lots and lots of options, and I found some cute ones! This black and white double-pointed needle organizer from knitonebeadtwo.etsy.com keeps those tricky needles in place -- I can't tell you how many multiple sets I've bought because one of the five has gone a-wandering. lenabrowndesigns.etsy.com has many options for needle rolls, including this 30 pocket (whoa) needle holder -- it also doubles as a paint (or make-up!!) brush roll for any painters or make-up artists on your list. And if you want a coordinating set, the knitting needle traveler and DPN Manager from thesilverpumpkin.etsy.com come in a sweet matching bird print.

And to carry around the yarn and needles... well, anything can be a knitting tote, technically, but there are bags designed with knitters in mind! I love the Scoot Scoot tote from roseknits.etsy.com -- you think I could fit my make-up in there? Maybe not all of it, but at least my travel stuff...
If you want to keep a big project in one place, the large knit project bag from yarnplaycafe.etsy.com will keep it tidy and adorable. For truly serious knitting, the knitting bag with yarn dispenser from debdonnellydesigns.etsy.com keeps yarn contained and organized -- many a knitter has dealt with a major yarn barf at least once.

Plus, when you buy off of Etsy, you're supporting an independent artist and handmade work, which will always make your crafter happy, too. It's amazing what you can find; I only scratched the surface for knitting goods!

- If you honestly and truly are really stuck, and your knitter has everything ever made for knitting ever and really doesn't need anything else ever and is begging you to "please don't give me any more yarn, I don't need any more", give your knitter a share or a whole Knitting Basket from Heifer International. This gift provides four wool-producing animals -- two sheep and two llama -- to be raised for their wool to be turned into not just yarn and knitted/woven goods, but income and hope.

- Finally, if you've got a crafter on your list, odds are that YOU'LL be getting something handmade back. And if you do, the best gift you can give your crafter is to appreciate it fully and truly. For real.


I am an aspiring crafter, as in, I always start project or have great ideas and never complete them. It's a common problem. My favorite part of the Japanese bookstore outside of the fashion magazines is always the new craft books section, where they always have THE CUTEST IDEAS EVER. I've always liked getting books as presents, they are always useful and not so invasive as more personal gifts like jewelry or clothing.

- Amazon can provide your lucky giftee with a whole package of Japanese-style craft books, all part of the Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts! series. There is Amigurumi, Woolly Embroidery (too cute!), Lacy Crochet, and Lacy Crochet that are so cute I could just eat them up. I saw a Japanese book of Scandinavian felt crafts at Fancy Tiger Craft in Denver earlier this year, Etsy seller FeltCafe has a copy for sale if you are as completely enraptured by that combination of greatness as I am!

- Although I may not be pumping out the craft projects myself, I do always recommend those looking for philanthropic causes to donate to check out our locally founded Kiva.org, where you can find small business owners in developing countries who need microloans. Many of these entrepreneurs are women working on collectives, on clothing, crafts, and cottage industries. The great thing about funding microloans through Kiva is that you get a 100% return on your money at the end of the loan cycle. I recommended Kiva to my father, who in turn took the proposal to his company for a company-wide microfinance program through the website, and now he maintains a whole portfolio of charitable loans he's cycled through for over a year, with 100% returns!

- Another resource that benefits crafty entrepreneurs is Global Girlfriend, an online shop with profiles of the craftswomen. Each item benefits the specific collective or group of women, be they victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking. Talk about value added! Who wants a random thing from the mall when you can say your tote bag (I like the funky recycled plastic market totes!) is helping women living in poverty in India?

images from amazon.com and roseknits.etsy.com

This post features Amazon affiliate links.

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