Get Outside: Crafting

Click here to view Plant Craft in the SPL catalogI grew up in Highland Park, a neighborhood that knocks on the door of White Center, in West Seattle. It was a childhood spent outside. I had a wonderful sloping hill in my front yard that was perfect for rolling down; the grass was soft and filled with clover and daises. I’d spend a lot of my time playing hot lava monster with the neighborhood kids, walking to the local park a block away to see how high the swings could take us, enjoying quiet time alone making mud pies and daisy chains, or climbing in the giant tree that grew in the corner of my lot. There is something about the outdoors that brings that all back; our imagination shouldn’t cease at adulthood. Continue reading “Get Outside: Crafting”

Cool Enough to Craft?

pirate gloves from melynda.huskey via flickr

In (yet another) desperate attempt to convince my fiancé that my crafting habit does not make me a grandma stuck in the body of a 24-year-old, I dragged him to the Urban Craft Uprising  a couple weekends back.  After several bouts of whining about my obsession with craft fairs and his thereby compromised masculinity, he shocked both of us by deciding that some of the stalls were, in fact, freaking awesome.  Messenger bags made out of recycled bike tubes?  Sweet.  Hand-spun local-fiber yarn sold by hot women with tattoo sleeves?  Rocking.  Clothes, housewares, toys, jewelry, and art made from just about every recycled substance you can imagine?  This is why I have to leave my credit card at home.  Forget about your age, gender, or mortal fear of pink maribou – crafting isn’t just for little old needlepointing ladies with pince-nez glasses anymore.  Are you cool enough for these crafts?    

AntiCraft: Knitting, Beading, and Stitching for the Slightly Sinister
By Reneé Rigdon

anticraftSick of patterns dotted with hearts, puppies and rainbows?  This book is more about skulls and crossbones.  I bet the duct-tape corset was NOT in your grandmother’s repertoire.   For more naughty, disturbing, and just plain weird anticrafts, check out the website as well. 

Backcountry Betty Crafting with Style: 50 Nature Inspired Projects
By Jennifer Worick

backcountry bettyIf I give you a needle, are you more likely to end up making a trip to the hospital than a quilt?   Don’t worry – these crafts are generally of the non-pointy variety.  (Except for pinecones, that is.)  With clear, retro-styling pictures, this book has some great ideas whether you’re a dedicated backpacker or your idea of wilderness is your neighbor’s overgrown potted plant.  

The Complete Book of Retro Crafts: Collecting, Displaying & Making Crafts of the Past
by Suzie Millions

retro craftsFrom nostalgically sweet to retro-chic to just plain hilariously out-of-date, these crafts are as much about cracking a smile as cracking out the glue gun.  More than just a list of patterns, this book also celebrates the history and personal stories of these crafts in all their kitschy glory.  Plastic Flower Pixies, anyone?

May Question of the Month – an irregular series

bnr_askaquestionthumbnailThe reference librarians at Seattle Public Library are pretty darn amazing. They don’t know everything, instead they know where to find everything. As part of an irregular series of posts we salute the talented and dedicated reference staff at your local library. Names and other identifying information have been removed from the questions we showcase. Got a stumper?
Click on Ask a Librarian. It’s what we do.

cover-of-feltwork-bookI’m looking for information about the history of felt (fabric). I need enough info to prepare a 3-minute speech (so not a ton, just enough of a basic coverage of the stuff). I also need my info to be supplemented by lots of pictures. Which is where it gets difficult. So I’m looking for articles & pictures that detail the history of felt. I can either do this online or go to a library (capitol hill or downtown work fine). Know where I should begin? I need it by Sunday.

Thanks for your question about where to find images on the history of felt (fabric).

In addition to the sources already recommended to you, in a google image search we found the following website with images of feltmaking.

You might find more websites like this by doing a google image search for the words “history of felting.” Here are our search results for “history of felting.” We also have a number of books on feltmaking in our collection. Some of these books on devote a few pages to the history of feltmaking, and in some cases these include images. Here are some Seattle Public Library books on feltmaking.

Below is one that we had on hand here at the Central Library that has about 3 images:

cover-of-feltmaking-fabulous-wearables-bookFeltmaking: fabulous wearables, jewelry & home accents, by Hagen, Chad Alice.
New York : Lark Books, c2002.
Call #: 746.0463 H1214F 2002

Since many of the images on feltmaking are also about making Yurts, you could also perform a google image search with keywords on this or take a look at library books on this topic.

Thanks again for your question. Please let us know if we can help you further.

Yarn Anyone?

2629461357_6d8f37c115_mMaybe you have a relative who is a fanatical knitter or a friend who always has a ball of yarn in his or her knapsack? Or, am I describing you?! For more on this passion, let me share some info with you. Just like so many other crafts, there are web sites and blogs all over the Internet on knitting and crocheting. One of my favorite knitting sites is — a witty, stylized and cute site with patterns, coffeeshop chat and articles with knitting help.

Are you new to knitting or crocheting? The Lion Brand Yarn site includes Learn to Crochet instructions – one needs to keep scrolling to the bottom of the screen but the illustrations are easy to look at. Many knitting and crochet books, no matter what level of patterns covered, include a few pages of beginner’s tips and terminology.

Most local yarn stores – also referred to as your LYS – Continue reading “Yarn Anyone?”


In 1917, the West Seattle Branch of the Seattle Public Library had a Knitting Club, to help in the War effort. Girls would meet once per week, and while one of their members read out loud, they would knit socks and ambulance pillows out of sturdy wool. A Red Cross volunteer handed out the yarn, and shipped the finished articles to Europe for World War I soldiers.  If someone did not know how to ‘turn the heel’ of the sock, perhaps they had a book of instructions nearby, such as Longman’s Complete Course of Needlework, Knitting and Cutting-out by T. M. James, published in 1901. Ninety years later, sock knitting has become a much less common skill, but in the last 5 years, a renaissance in knitting has caused an explosion of new books, from instructional how-tos to fiction!
The socks those girls knitted for solders were probably black, but More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch is full of wildly colorful designs, Continue reading “Knitting”