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

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


I’m Learning to Knit Socks

Knitting Update - Socks at Callaloo Soup-2

It's been a minute since I talked about my knitting hasn't it? I was going gangbusters, and even showed a friend how to knit with circular needles. but then in March I started working on some crochet stuffed toys and other projects, and put all my knitting aside.

I happened to chat with a few friends on Instagram a couple weeks ago about how sock knitting seemed so scary, and then I had a brain wave: "My sister is coming! She can teach me!" So when she got here I informed her that her raison d'etre for the trip was to teach me to knit socks!

Knitting Update - Socks at Callaloo Soup-1

 After completing the toe, I was knitting like the wind, and documenting my progress on Instagram. I had to get to the gusset and hell before she left in a week!



Vernell was showing me how to do the gusset and turn the heel, right up to the last minute. We were knitting in the car and at the train station! And I did it!

Knitting Update - Socks at Callaloo Soup-5

It wasn't entirely smooth sailing. I dropped stitches, got confused and lost along the way, and had to do some ripping. Good thing I had a great teacher by my side.

Knitting Update - Socks at Callaloo Soup-6

Now, I'll add a few more stripes, (hurrah for self-striping yarn!) then start my ribbing and cast off. I'll be posting the rest of my experience on Instagram, so you can follow there to see the final product. And then of course I need to make the other side!

Have you ever knitted socks?

Win a Knitting Class at Craftsy!

After my sister got into knitting a few years ago, she really inspired me to want to learn to knit properly. And because she is the best sister in the world, she gifted me with the Knit Lab class at Craftsy in order to help me do that!

My Knitting Adventure at Callaloo Soup-10

The class is led by Stephanie Jafael, and thanks to her I definitely got my knitting mojo back. In the class she teaches all the basic concepts, like casting on, and the basic knit and purl stitches. As you make the class project, a scarf, you'll learn other techniques too like lace knitting, buttonholes and finishing off. Plus she goes over knitting materials and tools as well as taking things further and knitting with unusual materials.

I enjoyed the class so much, I then signed up for her Knit Lab class for making hats!

My Knitting Adventure at Callaloo Soup-11

The huge advantage of Craftsy classes is that they are completely self-paced. You can watch the high quality videos at any time, and go at your own speed. If you need help, you can post questions in the class community, and the instructor will answer. One of the very best features is the replay option. If there is a technique you're struggling with, you can replay 30-second bits of the video on a loop until you get it! This really helped me out! In addition to the class videos, Craftsy also provides a library of videos with basic techniques that you can reference at anytime. I can't say enough about how great these classes are!

So much so that when they offered me the chance to give a class away, I jumped at the chance. So if you want to learn to knit, I am giving away the Knit Lab class to a lucky winner! Just follow this link and register over at Craftsy to enter. That's it!

Click here to enter the giveaway

Giveaway will close on April 15th, and I'll announce the winner a few days later. So, do you want to learn to knit this year? Tell me in the comments!


A Reflection on My Knitting So Far

A couple years ago,  I decided that while I enjoy many crafty and creative pursuits, and work on them all the time, I should choose just one to really work on and improve each year. In 2013 it was crochet. This year it's knitting.


I've knitted before. I learned as a child, and relearned again as an adult in 2002, but I was never able to do more than just a very basic scarf. Then my sister began knitting in 2011, and was making these awesome creations, including a stuffed giraffe for Kieran, and I knew I needed to jump back in! I played around a bit with it last year, but it mostly led to frustration and tied up yarn:


I think in my enthusiasm, that I jumped in at a level far beyond my capabilities. (Sound familiar, entusiastic crafty people?). That's when I decided to put it off until the new year.

In January I came up with a plan: I'd start with a very basic garter stitch scarf knitted flat. I figured that would help me get back into the rythym of knitting, and lay a good foundation. Because I am well aware of my tendency to get bored (ahem), I decided to use a good quality interesting yarn, so that I would be excited about whatever I was making. I found this Katy Infinity Cowl pattern and set to work

IMG_20140104_145249 IMG_20140107_174307

Before long I was zooming along, knitting every row. It became a kind of a meditation. Needle in, wrap yarn, pull over, repeat. Eventually, I was even able to knit while watching TV, something that always ended badly before. And then I was almost done, and I had the itch and wanted to cast on a bazillionty more projects. I started a scarf for Kieran in stockinette stitch, so that I could practice the purl stitch. It's still in progress, because the yarn is kind of "snarly" so I take lots of breaks not to get frustrated.

My Knitting Adventure at Callaloo Soup-10

And it wasn't long before I wanted another challenge. Vernell kept insisting that I would get the hang of circular knitting easily, so I figured what the heck, and jumped in.


Up-Down Infinity Scarf by Lanas Hilos

My two scarves are now complete. Oh, I made mistakes, there are some wonky bits in there that aren't obvious in the photos. But I did it!

My Knitting Adventure at Callaloo Soup-7
My Knitting Adventure at Callaloo Soup-7

More details on Ravelry

My Knitting Adventure at Callaloo Soup-1 My Knitting Adventure at Callaloo Soup-3

More details on Ravelry

Also. Vernell was right. Once I had some knitting confidence from the first project, I caught on to circular knitting more quickly than I expected.

Castonitis, as my sister calls it, has me totally in its grip! I am now working on the knitted version of the Fibonnci scarf that I made in crochet, as well as a hat to match my red scarf

My Knitting Adventure at Callaloo Soup-9

My Knitting Adventure at Callaloo Soup-11

Mountain Nights Toque by Bohoknits

I'm so excited by the possibilities! I have a very long list of projects I want to try, and can't wait to see where I'll be by the end of the year. Maybe knitting my own socks? I am trying not to get too much ahead of myself though. Slow and steady wins the race right?

Do you knit? If yes, do you have any tips for a beginner? If no, would you like to learn?