Staying on top of things can be hard work. I love a planner and I love writing lists to help me track things, but I know they’re not for everyone! If you’re looking for something a bit less intense than a physical organiser or planner, how about a digital version? There are some great ones out there to suit different needs. Here are a couple of links; I can also recommend the GoodNotes app if you have an IOS device. Digital daily planner Weekly digital planner
Outdoor spaces can bring us joy, but during winter it can be hard to get that greenery in, whether you’ve got a garden or not. Having plants indoors can be beneficial to the air as well as your mental well-being. Here are some great plants that will thrive in your home during the winter months.
What have you been reading in the past year? Any stand-out favourites? I’m signed up to Goodreads, so I log what I’m reading and can then take a look back at the books I’ve read over the year. I’m in a couple of (virtual!) book clubs and it’s really nice to read things I wouldn’t normally pick for myself. However, my favourites from 2021 are firmly in my comfort zone!
Between Two Thorns – Emma Newman. As a fantasy fan, I fell easily into the idea of Emma’s Split Worlds. It’s intriguing right from the start and really keeps your attention throughout. Set in (pretty much) modern day, it flits between our world and a secret mirrored world, where immortal Fae hold power. Uprooted – Naomi Novik. Yep, it’s more fantasy! The setting is more traditional; think fairy tales and folklore, a simple village by some dark woods and tales of the local dragon…
Is 2019 the year you want to try something new and be more creative? There are so many different crafts with so many different books on each one, that picking a place to start can feel overwhelming; and so you just never get round to doing anything. Sound familiar? Well hopefully this list will help! I’ve scoured this here tinternet and found various craft books that I think are fantastic for starting out, but perhaps more importantly, keeping you motivated. There’s nothing worse than being put off something you’re trying to learn because you’re just not inspired. So, here you go, 8 books to get your creative mojo going. Some are craft-specific, some are all-rounders, all of them are designed to spark your imagination and keep that creative flame lit!
1. The Craft Companion
A good all-rounder, this one has some extras to keep you inspired! Along with a range of different skills to learn, the book includes a brief history on each craft, projects to try, plus it shows you inspirational makes from talented artisans. Even the titles of the different sections make you want to dive right in: fibre – stitch – surface – form. Go on, talk crafty to me.
Motivation value: 9/10 – background, ideas and projects all in one place.
2. Homemade (101 Beautiful and Useful Craft Projects)
Filled to the brim with creative ideas from and for around the home. There’s a lot about reusing and re-purposing in here, which I’m a big fan of. I nearly always start projects by going through everything I’ve already got in the house and seeing what I can use. It’s a great way to reduce waste and make use of things that you don’t use in their current form. The book is seasonal, so it’ll keep you going all year. As well as a variety of projects, it offers advice for practical and basic crafts, such as sewing and knitting.
Motivation value: 8/10 – it’ll get you looking at everyday objects in a new light.
3. Paper Craft Home
Papercraft has got to be one of the most accessible crafts around. There is so much you can do with a blank piece of paper! It’s versatile, affordable and simple to pick up. This book contains a range of papercrafting techniques for you to try out, before moving on to various projects. There are even some templates in the back to help you get started on some of the trickier projects, so no need to feel overwhelmed.
Motivation value: 7/10 – it’s a fun book for if you just want to get stuck in to something quickly.
4. Craft: Techniques and Projects
Fairly traditional in terms of layout, pictures and projects, this book is another good all-round source for those who don’t know which craft will suit them. There’s a mix of projects from simple to in-depth, with good clear pictures alongside the explanations.
Motivation value: 8/10 – there really should be plenty in here that you want to have a go at.
5. Everything Oz: The Wizard Book of Makes and Bakes
Whether you’re a fan of The Wizard of Oz or not, this book is an absolute joy. It’s filled with a wide variety of projects, both in terms of different crafts and skill level. Most are practical, some are just plain fun; I mean, I don’t know when I’d ever need giant paper poppies but this book makes me want to make them. Along with baking, sewing and papercraft projects, there’s a ‘beauty’ section which contains recipes for making a simple body scrub and skin tonic. Yes please.
Motivation value: 7/10 – a good ‘coffee table’ book, you’ll want to keep looking through this one.
6. Conscious Creativity: Look, Connect, Create
A ‘marmite’ book, I think, and you’ll know whether it’s for you if the title appeals! If you feel you simply want to bring more creativity into your life on a basic level, this book is for you. It will get you looking at your everyday world and really seeing it; colours, shapes, light, shade, texture. Your brain will open up and you’ll start noticing these things for yourself. Think ‘Amélie’ as she dips her hand into a sack of grain to see what it feels like… only it’s a book…
Motivation value: 8/10 – though it is more motivation and inspirational creativity than making.
7. The Wood Carver’s Dozen
Beautifully presented. Suitable for absolute beginners, it goes through tools, materials and techniques. The projects are for making everyday items that will look beautiful in your home. Everything is made using hand tools, so there’s no fear of having to invest in expensive equipment.
Motivation value: 7/10 – this craft is hard work but well worth the effort.
8. Mollie Makes: How to Crochet
Crochet doesn’t seem to be dwindling in popularity, probably due to the fact that you don’t need much in the way of materials and tools and it doesn’t take up too much space (yet. Wait till you get hooked. Pun intended.) This book is simple and clear, with great pictures and tutorials, making it easy to follow for the absolute beginner. There are a few simple projects and some trickier ones, so it should keep you going a while.
Motivation value: 7/10 – the colourful pictures and examples of what you can do with crochet will keep you coming back.
Oh, I do love stationery. In fact I find myself drawn to anything that looks like stationery even if, like this lovely lot, it’s not actually stationery. It’s just one of those inexplicably joyful things. Here are my favourite not-stationery stationery items.
Crayola make up. Available from ASOS. I want it all, not so much to use, just to make a display with and admire. How pretty would a shelf full look?
Library card socks. If you’re a book lover then you need to check out The Literary Gift Company – all your future presents will now come from here. You’re welcome.
Pencil pin badges. There are too many to choose from and they’re all fabulous. Find your own favourite on Etsy; I myself am quite partial to this one, from the rainbow-loving IpDipDesign:
Bookcase wallpaper. There’s a lot of book shelf wall paper & murals about at the moment, but I think this natural one from Wall Sauce is my favourite. Also, the company is called Wall Sauce. They do a good range, including ‘secret bookcase door’ and ‘bookcase & candles’.
Book lunch box. Even though I work from home, I want this lunch box from black + blum. It has a partition. It’s ACE.
When it comes to making notebooks and journals, I’m a huge fan of using upcycled materials for a number of reasons, which I’ll share below.
Take this map-cover book, for example. The cover paper is taken from an old map of Brussels. The map made a couple of A5 notebooks and there’s some left over to make smaller books; and every book is different. Sure, I could get specific maps of places of interest/print maps off and get consistent covers, making bigger batches of each book. But I don’t want that. I love that every single one of my map books is different- one of the reasons I love handmade is that you’re getting something unique!
Even if I’ve got more of a certain material, I still like to work in small batches, making a couple of each different book. I get inspired by the materials on hand, and having just a little of a lot of different materials really gets my creative brain going. The spine of the above book is has been upcycled from an old leather jacket; using it for just the spine allows the material to go further and enables me to use all those thinner, smaller sections of materials. Sure, I could buy new leather in bulk and make bigger batches of notebooks that were all the same; but the way I work means you really are getting something pretty unique!
Also, I like to use as many of the little scraps as I can. The above pocket book was made from an off-cut of soft grey leather; it had small slits all down the sides, but because I made small A7 books from it, it works fine for me! See the thin leather strap? That’s an off-cut from the same leather jacket used for the spine of the key print book. If I’ve got scraps left, I try and think how I can use them. Mostly they make my mini books:
I’ve put together a short video on this subject and you can find it over on The Craft Fantastic YouTube channel, or watch below. I’m still getting used to doing videos and this is less than perfect; but perfection’s overrated, right? Listen out for me getting my words the wrong way round towards the end 😀
To see my selection of hand bound notebooks, bullet journals, travel journals and more head over to my etsy store.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll notice my handle is @Guiwenneth – in fact, I’ve used it quite a bit for various things. So where did it come from and what does it have to do with The Craft Fantastic?
The name Guiwenneth comes from a book – of course it does! It’s taken from the ‘Mythago Wood’ series by Robert Holdstock. It’s all fantasy and forests and mythology and I’m not saying anything else; you’ll just have to read the books! Anyway, when I was thinking about my business, coming up with a brand, doodling logos, I named the mermaid I designed Guiwenneth. You should be able to see her, bobbing about at the top of my site. I guess you could say she’s my co-captain, as she was designed alongside my main logo of the little ship:
The Craft Fantastic – and intentional pun on the word craft. I loved the thought of my business being a new enterprise, setting off on an adventure into uncharted waters, so the name seemed to fit well. I’ve since designed a simpler anchor logo that works much better for my Etsy store, but I can’t ever get rid of the original boat – or indeed Guiwenneth, which is a good job as she’s tattooed on my ankle!
Finished this beauty recently! Handmade from sketchbook paper with an up-cycled leather-look cover (used to be a handbag), fancy hand stitching on the spine and a key closer attached with a suede cord that goes into a place holder inside.
First proper attempt at creating art/sculpture through book folding! Quite pleased with the result. I just did a very basic one, folding the top and bottom edges back to align with the spine, creating a point. I left a few pages free and simply tucked the pages round. Will be more adventurous next time.