Crafty Person’s Gift Guide | My Favourite Craft Books

Hey friends! I’m teaming up with Vernell today to share gift guides of our favourite craft books that are perfect for gifting to all the multi-passionate crafters in your life (or you know, for yourself). This will be a pretty varied gift guide since I dabble in various creative pursuits, and I know that you do too. Each title is a clickable link to the book at Amazon.

Gift Guide: best Craft Books to give as gifts.

Scrapbooking books gift guide

I haven’t bought any scrapbooking books in yeas, because my tried and true books written ages ago are all I need. With these in your arsenal you’ll have a great foundation for memory keeping information and inspiration.

The Big Picture by Stacy Julian

This book by Stacy Julian changed how I felt about scrapbooking, and helped me to let go of many of the perceived “rules” of this great hobby. At the end of it I felt more inspired and creative than ever. Stacy drew examples and inspiration from outside the traditional scrapbooking world, helping me to  really see the big picture.

Life Artist by Ali Edwards

When it comes to simple scrapbook design coupled with superb story telling, no one does it better than Ali Edwards. She breaks it down to the basics of photos and stories like no one else. Also check out her other books: A Designer’s Eye for Scrapbooking and its sequel focused on patterned paper.

The Inspired and Organized Scrapbooker by Aby Garvey and Wendy Smedley

As you know I’m a big believer in purging and organizing, and this book is one of my weapons! Aby Garvey is a professional organizer, and Wendy Smedley is one of the original editors from Simple Scrapbooks (sob). Together they will help you get your creative space in shape, and inspire you to get making!

Clean & Simple 2 by Cathy Zielske

I don’t own the original Clean & Simple, but I can highly recommend the sequel for scrapbookers looking for pure simplicity in their pages. Cathy knows what she’s talking about, and her scrapbook pages designs are timeless.

Design Secrets from BHG

This is another oldie but goodie. A special edition from the now defunct Scrapbooks etc. Magazine, this book breaks down design into various categories including composition, typography, and accents. It truly will help you build your design skills.

Yarn Crafts gift guide

This is a small section, since I mostly use patterns and tutorials I find online. But here are my top three.

Knitting in Plain English

This book will teach you how to pick a pattern that’s right for you, determining gauge, how to knit and purl plus instructions for fifteen additional pattern stitches,  working with more than one color of yarn, how to weave invisible seams, picking up dropped stitches (very important!), how to hand-wash and block your finished garment, plus much, much more.

Terrific Toe-Up Socks

A couple years ago my sister taught me how to knit toe-up socks. Spoiler alert: I have yet to make my entire family socks as I vowed at the time,, but at least now I have the skill! if you don;t have someone to teach you in person, this book is the next best thing.

Crochet Inspiration

This one breaks crochet down into important basics to know like granny squares, and flowers, as well as stitches like lace, shell and cluster. It also includes garments made from these basics.

Sewing gift guide

Sew La Tea Do

The perfect book for beginner sewers (which is what I am). You’ll find easy to follow patterns, as well as tutorials and techniques. Pattern variations for more advanced sewers are included too!

Seams to Me

I was gifted this book a few Christmases back, and I absolutely adore it. I literally drool over the pages while stroking them! You’ll get advice for choosing fabrics, and many other tricks of the trade.

Art & Drawing gift guide

This is my new love this year, and these are the books helping me to dig deeper into art and drawing.

How to Draw a Radish

This fun little book was written to help you while away the boring hours at work, but it’s a handy tool for working on your doodling. My son and I love using it together as drawing prompts. if nothing else the tongue-in-cheek humour  will crack you up!

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

A way more serious book, and one that uses a specific method to get you from scribbler to actual person who draws. I’ve been working my way through this one this year, and I can see definite improvement! I’ve certainly moved on from stick men only.

20 Ways to Draw a Tulip

After taking Lisa Congdon’s class at Creativebug in January, I had to get myself this books! it’s more than about drawing tulips, you’ll learn various ways to draw a variety of flowers. I love using this one when I’m in the mood to doodle all over my sketch book.

365 Things to Draw and Paint

This is a fantastic book to use along with your kids, or just by yourself if you’re looking for ideas for some art and making. My son likes to leaf through it, and pick a project for us to together. Sometimes he will choose a project to work on by himself as well.

Miscellaneous Crafts gift guide

The Creative Family

If you’ve heard of  Soule Mama, you’ll recognise this one. It’s full of simple and mindful ideas for being creative as a family, including ideas for celebrations, making simple toys, and lots of creative play for kids. It’s one I dip into over and over again.

52 Projects

This book is subtitled “Random Acts of Everyday Creativity”, and presents 52 projects that you can do over the course of a year. The projects are offbeat and artistic, and include baking, memory keeping, mail art, and tons of idea ideas that make great gifts from the heart.

The Guerilla Art Kit

I’m guessing the name Keri Smith is is known to you. if not I recommend you first get her bestselling Wreck This Journal, before the Guerilla one. The art kit is a collection of ideas for helping you get your art out into the wider world in the form of  posters, seed bombs, stickers, installations and so much more!

So that’s it! For now. I think I will update this gift guide every quarter, as there are definitely more great craft books I’d love to share with you.

Let’s go see which craft books Vernell has in her gift guide!


Crafty person's gift guide : favoruite craft books to give

Sisters, Paper, Scissors | Crochet Market Tote

Sisters, Paper, Scissors - Crochet Market Tote-8

It’s Farmer’s Market season! To be honest, here in France it is always market season, we have a twice weekly market in my town, but this tropical  island girl can’t handle going during winter. HA! But now that the weather is glorious, I am looking forward to our weekly trips on Saturday mornings.

Vernell and I thought it the perfect time to whip up some market totes so we both tried this pattern from The Stitchin’ Mommy.

The pattern was really easy to follow. Definitely one to do in front of the TV. Instead of using different colours of yarn, I used some self-striping yarn instead, which gave my tote an interesting effect!

Sisters, Paper, Scissors - Crochet Market Tote-1

Here’s the strap in progress

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Sisters, Paper, Scissors - Crochet Market Tote-4

My bag came out super humongous though! I probably should pay more attention to things like gauge, but I’m just too lazy to be honest.

Sisters, Paper, Scissors - Crochet Market Tote-5

Because it is totally gaping at the top, I decided to make a string to tie it shut. I made a long chain, then did single crochet all along the length.

Sisters, Paper, Scissors - Crochet Market Tote-6

Which I then wove through the stitches

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Definitely made a difference.

Sisters, Paper, Scissors - Crochet Market Tote-9

I’m worried the strap will be too stretchy though, especially for carrying fruit and veg, so I’ll reinforce it with some kind of fabric. Most likely felt.

Head over to see Vernell’s version. She does pay attention to gauge so I bet hers will be super cute!

Don’t forget to check out and try this pattern. It’s great for beginners and advanced hookers.


Are your crafts passions, hobbies, or useful skills?

As multi-passionates we love being able to do various types of arts and crafts. And this is what might lead to us having way more stuff than we need, because we want to be fully equipped to do any of them whenever we want.

But we need to really examine what level we are at in each thing we love or practice. Is it a passion, a hobby or just a useful skill to call on when necessary? I’ve been examining my approach to various crafts and here’s what I discovered.


The Oxford English Dictionary defines a passion as

a. An intense desire or enthusiasm for (also †of) something; the zealous pursuit of an aim.

b. An aim or object pursued with zeal; a thing arousing intense enthusiasm.

What’s interesting to note is that this is the ninth definition of passion listed, and the word only started being used in this sense from 1638, whereas earlier definitions relating to physical suffering and pain (!!!)  were in use from 1188. The definition relating to love showed up around 1648. (I highly recommend reading the entire entry at And if you’re a real word nerd you need to buy The Meaning of Everything, and The Professor and the Madman).

As it relates to my creative life my passions are those activities that I can’t stop thinking about, that I wake up wanting to work on every day, and that have a permanent place and practice in my life.

For me that is without a doubt scrapbooking. I started scrapbooking back in 2000 and have never looked back. For a long time it was what I did all day, every day. It’s why I started writing my blog! And even though I no longer scrapbook as much as I used to I can’t imagine it not being a part of my life and creativity.

Scrapbooking is My Passion

I’ve streamlined my supplies, but I don’t see a day where I will say “meh, I don’t really scrapbook anymore, so let me get rid of all my stuff”. Nope, nope, never. Just thinking about it……I mean I just can’t even……. sorry, I need to go hyperventilate into a paper bag……..

Okay. All better.

Scrapbooking for me is a simmering passion, one that’s on a slow burn that will just always be there.

On the other hand, I have a current burning passion that is art, drawing and lettering. This is what makes me leap out of bed right now, and what I work on every single day.

House plants line drawing

I think it’s perfectly normal to have both a simmering passion and a burning heart’s desire. Not when it comes to romantic relations though, let’s be clear about that okay?

So what are your true passions?


an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation

When I was a child and people asked me what my hobbies were my answer was invariably “reading”. It seemed like a cop out though. so I bravely tried picking up stamp and coin collecting but never kept those up. And as far as hobbies go I think reading is a pretty good one to have don’t you?

While I read every day, and can’t imagine a life where I don’t read (although that first year after my son was born I think I read absolutely nothing….oh wait there were all those baby books), it’s not a driving passion. I’m not leaping out of bed every morning to grab my book (although, now that I think about it…….)

My Favourite Books of 2015 - Callaloo Soup Journal-2

It’s something I enjoy, I look forward to doing it, and it has a permanent space in my life.

Other things I’d classify as hobbies are:

  • gardening
  • home decor and DIY
  • general handicrafts
  • photography

I enjoy all of these, but don’t feel the need to have all the best tools, supplies, or equipment to practise them, and they certainly don’t consume me like my passions do.

What are your hobbies?

Useful Skill

the ability, coming from one’s knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc., to do something well

1. proficiency, facility. 2. deftness, cleverness.

Skills are those crafts we can call upon when we need them for something specific. And my sister will disown me for saying this but for me this is sewing, knitting and crochet. (Sorry Vernie).

Handmade Gifts - Fibonacci Crochet Scarf - Callaloo Soup

I enjoy them very much and I am fairly proficient, and while they consumed me for a while, I later realised that I only knit and crochet at specific times, especially for gift making, or for home decor. I sew even less, and that’s usually only for mending or making very specific items for our home. I can start and stop projects over time without feeling like something is missing from my life. That’s why I made the decision to significantly reduce my yarn and fabric stash, and only keep a few skeins of the very best quality of yarn, and my favourite fabrics for making the few projects I do per year.

What would you say are your useful skills?

One thing that’s interesting to note, is that many of my hobbies and skills were at one time passions. Which makes sense, when we start something new we tend to go all in for a while. But it is perfectly okay to move a passion down to a lower level in your arsenal. It’s something you will always be able to call upon when necessary. It’s also perfectly okay to decide that something just isn’t for you and to stop doing it.

How would you classify all your various crafts? Let’s talk about it in the comments!




P.S. Need some help figuring this out? Get a free worksheet!

Passion, Hobby or Skill - A Free Worksheet at Callaloo Soup-01


Sisters Take on Pinterest | Crochet Wrap Bracelets

Sisters Take on Pinterest - Crochet Wrap Bracelet-6

With the busy season upon us we wanted to do a quick and easy project this month. Bonus: these crochet wrap bracelets make perfect stocking stuffers!

I followed the instructions over at 1DogWoof  pretty much exactly.

I made a chain that was long enough to wrap around my wrist four times, then worked backwards doing slip stitches.

Sisters Take on Pinterest- Crochet Wrap Bracelet in progress

Once I got to the end, I made a loop

Sisters Take on Pinterest - Crochet Wrap Bracelet-2

Then stitched the button on the other end.

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Now, wrap and wear.

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These take all of 10 minutes to make, so go whip up a bunch for gifts!

Let’s go check out Vernell’s version.




Sisters Take on Pinterest - Crochet Wrap Bracelet -Whip some of these easy wrap bracelets up for stocking stuffers.

Cute Non-Candy Easter Basket Ideas

Is it just me, or are kids inundated with candy just about everywhere? People will randomly offer my son candy wherever we are, be it the flea market, a restaurant or the supermarket. And don’t get me started on school events! Every holiday he comes home with a little goody bag of candy that was offered by the Town Hall! Now I love candy (ahem) and so does he, and we aren’t a candy free family, but in an effort to counteract all the external candy, I try to do non-candy treats for celebrating holidays at home (except his birthday, all bets are off then!)

For the last two years I’ve made sure his Easter baskets are completely candy free – he does get chocolate eggs from his grandmother, so don’t worry, I am not depriving him! Here’s a look at what I prepared on 2013 and 2014.



Easter morning 2013 (1 of 10) Easter morning 2013 (2 of 10)Notice the chocolate hen?


Garden tools, which he still uses two years later, erasable markers, and la piéce de résistance, his coussin-poussin made by me.

Easter morning 2013 (3 of 10)

I used a pattern that I found on Ravelry. He loved it!

Easter morning 2013 (10 of 10)

It’s still one of his favourite dou dous, and the one he takes with him most often when we’re going away.


 2014 Easter basket with chicks and eggsI went all handmade last year, and made him some crochet hens and eggs.

2014 Easter hen

Easter is only one week before his birthday this year, so I think I’ll opt for small handmade gifts again. Like maybe this turtle, and this mouse?

Do you give your children Easter baskets? What kinds of things do you include?





Getting Ready to Crochet!

Plan the work wotk the plan Crochet Gifts on Callaloo Soup-1


Now that I have somewhere to write it all down, my handmade gift list is under development! I’m starting off with the gifts I plan to crochet. I also want to do knitted gifts this year, and will add those to the list soon.

Plan the work wotk the plan Crochet Gifts on Callaloo Soup-2

I have also chosen just one project to work on for myself this fall, a cowl pattern I found last year, and have wanted to adapt. I finally have all the yarn I need for it, so it’s on!

Plan the work wotk the plan Crochet Gifts on Callaloo Soup-3

Those are my scribbled notes so I don’t get lost in the process.

What crochet projects are you working on this fall? If you like to make hats, check out my crochet hat round-up over on Craft Foxes.



DIY Crochet Neon Hot Pads

Neon Crochet Hot Pads from T-Shirt Yarn-7

Did you figure out hot pads from my sneak peek last week? My original idea was to do coasters, but with the t-shirt yarn, they were bulky, and I figured that any drink placed on one would fall over. So hot pads it is! I chose to use the neon yarn because it is so summery, and added the grey edge so that it could be a bit more neutral. These are really easy to make, each one takes less than 30 minutes.

Neon Crochet Hot Pads from T-Shirt Yarn-1

You'll need two contrasting colours of t-shirt yarn and a large hook. I used a 15mm crochet hook (US size P/Q)

You might also want to use a stitch marker to keep track of your rounds.

Neon Crochet Hot Pads from T-Shirt Yarn-2 Neon Crochet Hot Pads from T-Shirt Yarn-2
Neon Crochet Hot Pads from T-Shirt Yarn-2Neon Crochet Hot Pads from T-Shirt Yarn-2

To start chain two.

Round 1: 6 single crochet (sc) in second chain from hook

Round 2: 2sc  in each stitch around = 12 stitches. Join with a slip stitch to first sc

Round 3: 1 sc in first stitch, 2 sc in next stitch. Repeat 6 times to end of round = 18 stitches. Join with a slip stitch to first sc

Round 4: 1 sc in first two stitches, 2 sc in next stitch . Repeat 6 times to end of round = 24 stitches. Join with a slip stitch to first sc

Round 4:  1 sc in first three stitches, 2 sc in next stitch. Repeat 6 times to end of round = 30 stitches. Join with a slip stitch to first sc

Round 5: 1 sc in first four stitches, 2 sc in next stitch . Repeat 6 times to end of round = 36 stitches. Join with a slip stitch to first sc using new colour

Round 6: 1 sc in first five stitches, 2 sc in next stitch. Repeat 6 times to end of round = 42 stitches. Join with a slip stitch to first sc and fasten off.

Neon Crochet Hot Pads from T-Shirt Yarn-6

These measure about 8 to 9 inches so, are great for teapots, kettles and hot dishes. I wanted to do a nice shot of them outside on our garden dining set, but the weather isn't cooperating with me this week. I can't wait to start using them!

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One last one:

Neon Crochet Hot Pads from T-Shirt Yarn-11

I'm super happy with these! I'll be posting more t-shirt yarn projects over the next few weeks. Like I mentioned Tek-Tek sent me a very generous sampling!

If you have any questions about the hot pads, please ask in the comments.


T-Shirt Yarn, Glitter Shapes Garland and a Winner!

Crocheting with Tek Tek T-shirt Yarn-1

The Portuguese company MC Traphilo, which makes tek-tek yarn sent me a rather generous sample of their yarns to try out. I’m finally getting started on some projects, and I just had to work with these neon t-shirt yarns first! I’m pairing them with grey for some summer themed projects:

Crocheting with Tek Tek T-shirt Yarn-2

Crocheting with Tek Tek T-shirt Yarn-3

Any idea what I’m making first? I’ll have a tutorial up next Tuesday, and plan to share lots more over the next couple of months.

In other crafting news I have a new tutorial up at Make & Takes, one I did with my little sidekick

Make a Salt Glitter Shape Garland with Kids by Francine Clouden-31

I came up with a less messy option for glitter, and we had a blast! We made a glitter shapes garland together, and hung it in his play space.

And I haven’t forgotten about my binder clip giveaway. The lucky winners are Claire, Maxime and MJ! I’ve sent you e-mails asking for your mailing adresses. Congrats!


P.S If you like t-shirt yarn, be sure to check out my written or video tutorial for making your own. I also have a t-shirt yarn basket tutorial.




DIY Crochet Boot Cuffs

Spring is on the way, but it's still boot weather for a while yet, so why not make yourself a pair of crochet boot cuffs to add some colour to your favourite boots?

Crochet Boot Cuffs Tutorial by Francine Clouden at Make & Takes-19

In my tutorial at Make and Takes you'll learn two useful techniques: ribbing and the linen or woven stitch, both are perfect for many other projects!

Crochet Boot Cuffs Tutorial by Francine Clouden at Make & Takes-7

Get the full tutorial at Make & Takes

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