After a successful book tour, Sherri Lynn Wood is still making waves!

You may have met the multi-talented Sherri Lynn Wood on her cross-country tour to launch The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters this spring.

If you missed her, here are a few lovely recaps from events at Thimble Pleasures in Chapel Hill, NC; Sewingly Yours in Lewisville, NC; and Malaprops in Asheville, NC.

If you managed to catch Sherri on tour, then you may know that she received over 250 requests and 165 completed submissions for the ten test quilt scores in the book. You may have even seen some online or on display at recent shows like Modern Quilt Guild's QuiltCon in Austin earlier this spring.

Good news: if you happened to miss them (or if you can't get enough of them), you can join Sherri for a test quilt blog hop going on right now! Click the link above to see where test quilters will be showing off their variations of Sherri's test patterns, and get inspired to try one out on your own!

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Have you tried one of Sherri's patterns from The Improv Handbook? If so, we'd love to see your results!

Sherri Lynn Wood's Improv Handbook Tour: The Full Schedule

Sherri Lynn Wood is taking the sewing and quilting world by storm with her new book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. And now, she's crossing the country to help spread the word—and you can join her!

We kicked off the tour on Friday, May 8th, with a performance at Sew Modern in Los Angeles. Check out these bright and inspiring images plus a great recap from the event on Sherri's blog, Daintytime, here

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And of course, make sure you catch Sherri when she comes to a city near you:

Saturday, May 16, 12 - 2 PM, Conversation

Rosie's Calico Corner, 7151 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92115

Sunday May 17, 9 AM - 4 PM, Teaching

San Diego MQG, Quilt in a Day, 1955 Diamond St., San Marcos, CA 92078. Register in advance. 

Thursday, May 28, 7 - 9 PM, Presentation

United Church of Chapel Hill, 1321 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, (919) 942-3540

Friday, May 29, 6 - 8 PM, Performance

Thimble Pleasures, 225 South Elliott Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, (919) 968-6050

Sunday, May 31, 10 AM - 5 PM, Teaching

Triangle MQG, Durham Catering, 3710 Shannon Rd. Suite #117, Durham, NC 27707. Register in advance. 

Monday June 1, 5 - 7 PM, Presentation

Sewingly Yours (Triad Area), 1329 Lewisville-Clemmons Rd, Lewisville, NC 27023, (704) 575-9234

Tuesday, June 2, 4 - 6 PM, Conversation

Malaprops Bookstore, 55 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC, (828) 254-6734

Wednesday, June 3, 6 - 8 PM, Performance

Sewn Studios,3212 Madison Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45209, (513) 321-0600

Friday, June 5, 3 - 5 PM, Presentation

International Quilt Study Center and Museum, 1523 N 33rd St, Lincoln, NE 68503, (402) 472-6850

Saturday, June 6, 5 - 7 PM, Performance

Fancy Tiger, 59 Broadway St, Denver, CO 80203, (303) 733-3855

Sunday, June 7, 9 AM - 3:30 PM, Teaching

Front Range MQG, Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Exhibit Hall 3, 15200 W 6th Ave Frontage Rd, Golden, CO 80401. Register in Advance.

Tuesday, June 9, 10 AM - 12 PM, Performance

Scrap Apple Quilts, 144 W. Brigham Rd. #23, St. George, UT 84790, (435) 628-8226

And if you can't join Sherri as she travels from state to state (or even if you can!), you can be part of the action by following along on her month-long blog tour this May.

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters is Coming to a Shop Near You

The final piece in our fabulous lineup of spring releases is Sherri Lynn Wood's Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously.

For the quilter looking to break free from the confines of step-by-step instructions and predictable patterns, Wood (of Daintytime.net) brings a flexible approach to quilting that knocks traditional instruction aside. Instead, she presents 10 frameworks (or scores) that create a guiding, but not limiting, structure.

To help quilters gain confidence, Wood also offers detailed lessons for stitching techniques key to improvisation, design and spontaneity exercises, and lessons on color.

Every quilt made from one of Wood’s scores will have common threads, but each one will look different because it reflects the maker’s unique interpretation. Featured throughout the book are Wood’s own quilts (more on view here!) and a gallery of contributor works chosen from among the hundreds submitted when she invited volunteers to test her scores during the making of this groundbreaking work. For inspiration, you can check out some variations on her Rhythmic Grid score in this image gallery.

Sherri is also coming to a shop or guild near you! Check back later this week with more info on her in-store national book tour. First stop: this Friday, 5/8, at 6:30 pm at Sew Modern in LA!

And that's not all—all month long, Sherri will be making digital appearances on favorite blogs from Sew Mama Sew to Spoonflower. Check out the full list of blog tour participants here!

A World of Artist Journal Pages is here!

Next up in our list of spring releases is A World of Artist Journal Pages by Dawn Sokol!

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Art journaling is typically a private activity, but anyone who has ever journaled knows that there's no inspiration quite like seeing the work of other artists you admire. In this colorful and exciting new book, Dawn Sokol breaks into the journals of over 230 artists from all over the world to showcase a selection of over 1000 captivating pages.

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As an added bonus, behind-the-scenes interviews, plus a list of techniques and materials used for each page, give you a glimpse inside the minds and toolboxes of new and established artists.

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A World of Artist Journal Pages is available now, everywhere books are sold! Check at our gallery of sample pages and scoot over to Dawn Sokol's blog for Q&A outtakes.

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And enter to win a free copy by entering Dawn's giveaway before April 28 here.

Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops are coming to a bookshelf near you! PLUS a giveaway!

We're thrilled to share our new book Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops--and to tell you about a pretty fantastic giveaway!

Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops is based on the popular classes Rebecca Ringquist, embroideress extraordinaire, teaches around the country. For the novice or experienced embroiderer who appreciates the value of beautiful stitches but also likes to break a few rules along the way, Rebecca teaches everything from the “proper” way to form a French knot and transfer a design to a canvas, to new ways to stitch three-dimensionally, mix and match machine- and hand-stitching, and so much more.

Also featured are instructions for 20 innovative projects, including a cloth sampler designed especially for the book (and packaged in an envelope at the back), table linens, wall art, and clothing embellishments.

Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops is available today everywhere books are sold. To see more gorgeous photos from this book (all taken by the inimitable Johnny Miller), check out our gallery. (To see a few photos that Johnny took that we didn't have room for in the book, be sure to check out Johnny's site.)

For any New York-based readers, don't miss Rebecca's book launch gathering at The City Quilter (133 W. 25th St, NYC) on May 5th at 6 - 7 pm! More info.

Giveaway Alert: We're also thrilled to give all of you a chance to win this amazing embroidery gift pack--an awesome starter kit for the beginner embroiderer, or a great set of goodies for the experienced stitcher. *Three* lucky winners will receive this gift pack featuring the following items:

  • One Pack of Super Solvy Water-Soluble Transfer Material
  • One Sulky Transfer Marker
  • One Pack of DMC Embroidery floss
  • One Pair of DMC Embroidery Scissors
  • One DMC Embroidery Floss Organizer
  • Three packs of Clover Embroidery Needles
  • One Clover Disappearing Ink Marker
  • One Pack of Clover Flower Head Pins
  • One Pack of Weeks Dye Works Embroidery Floss
  • One Pack of Weeks Dye Works 2 Strand Floss
  • One Pack of Weeks Dye Works Perle Cotton
  • One Skein of DyedFiber Perle Tencel
  • One Dropcloth Sampler "Pysanka"
  • Three 3-month Creativebug subscriptions for you + some friends (check out Rebecca's classes here)
  • One copy of Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops
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actual package contents may differ slightly from the photo above.

To enter: just comment in the blog below (tell us why you should win!), andfollow STC Craft (@STC_Craft), Rebecca Ringquist (@dropcloth) and Clover USA (@cloverusa) on instagram between now and April 21st!

Good luck!

The fine print: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington D.C. who are 18 or older as of date of entry between April 14 and 21, 2015. To enter, comment on this blog post and follow STC Craft (@STC_Craft), Rebecca Ringquist (@dropcloth) and Clover USA (@cloverusa) on instagram from April 14 – 21, 2015. Limit one (1) entry per person. Contest ends at 11:59 p.m.ET on April 21, 2015. Three (3) winners shall be selected in a random drawing to receive an embroidery prize pack.Visit http://www.abramsbooks.com/RREW_STCblog_rules.html for full official rules. Void where prohibited.

Natalie Chanin is Back with Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns!

Today is an exciting day—Natalie Chanin, founder and creative director of Alabama Chanin, is back with the book fans have been waiting for: Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns

If you've ever dreamt of creating your own Alabama Chanin wardrobe (and really, who of us hasn't?), this exciting compendium takes the Alabama Chanin library to the next level, offering all the patterns from Chanin’s first three books on a convenient CD, plus instructions and patterns for new skirts, dresses, tops, and jackets, with illustrated guidelines for customizing the fit and style of each. 

Hand-sewists: this is a key guide to customization. This invaluable resource is bursting with information about the ins and outs of refashioning shapes, raising and lowering necklines, taking in and letting out waistlines, and other key skills for creating the wardrobe of your dreams.

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Chanin also provides guidelines for adapting patterns from other popular sewing companies to the Alabama Chanin style: stitched by hand in their signature soft, organic cotton jersey and embellished with swirls of stenciling, embroidery, and beading.

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For more inspiring peeks into the book, check out our image gallery. Or, get your hands on a copy today, wherever books are sold!

It's time to create your own Pretty Prudent Home!

Jacinda Boneau and Jaime Morrison Curtis, the creative and fashionable ladies behind the leading design and lifestyle site PrettyPrudent.com, are back with more of their inspiring advice for making beautiful things, food, and experiences for family and friends. We are in love with all of the charming yet modern projects, ideas, and recipes featured in their new book on sale this week, Pretty Prudent Home: Your Ultimate Guide for Creating a Beautiful Family Home.

Part design book, part DIY guide, Pretty Prudent Home offers us projects both simple and sophisticated, plus decorating ideas, party plans, and more, to inspire us to create a home both stylish and liveable, all interspersed with charming banter from these two long-distance BFFs. 

 

 

We've been crushing on so many of Jaime and Jacinda's adorable projects on these pages, and we're excited that we finally get to share to share them with you! Check out our image gallery for more sneak peeks from inside the book, read about their Pretty Prudent-inspired sale (and how you can win a $250 credit at Zulily!), and watch their adorable book trailer below!

 

Amy Herzog is back with Knit Wear Love!

Thousands of women--of all different body types--discovered Amy Herzog's straightforward methods and friendly advice for creating flattering, fashionable sweaters in her first book, Knit to Flatter. Today Amy is back with more real-talk for knitters in Knit Wear Love. This time Amy is addressing personal style: how we identify what we love best and then how we edit that down to what looks best on us and what we want to knit. Then come the patterns, in 12 sizes and 3 gauges, with a trove of customizable details that we can mix and match. Forget one size fits all, this is couture . . . made easy!

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For more smart and stylish sneak peeks from this book, check out our image gallery and Amy's Ravelry group. 

Drawing Is Magic: Grab Your Pen and Discover!

Have you ever been stuck with the problem of not knowing what to draw? Do you  feel a longing to create "something" that is yours alone? "Something" that you can explore and own?

In Drawing is Magic: Discovering Yourself in a Sketchbook, John Hendrix, professional illustrator (maybe you've seen his work in Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, or the New Yorker) and associate art professor at Washington University in St. Louis, takes you on an exhilarating journey of self-discovery and challenge. Pick up a pen and follow his prompts and you are on the path to finding your visual muse.

"Outfitted with your trusty sketchbook as a new lens, you're going to see your everyday life in a new way."

"This sketchbook is a shiny new set of playground equipment. And you are a kind who can't play the wrong way."

So . . . 

Check out more pages from Drawing is Magic here. And head over to John's Tumblr to see doodles and drawings from his students, illustrator friends, and maybe even a guest post or two from us!

Materially Crafted From A Subtle Revelry's Victoria Hudgins Hits Stores Today!

Victoria Hudgins of the blog A Subtle Revelry is one talented lady with an impressive knack for creating easy and stylish DIY projects that bring joy to the everyday. Today she (and we!) are bursting with excitement because her charming first book, Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed, goes on sale. In it she shares her delight for crafting bundles of fun projects, and teaches us the basics of how to work with these essential materials fuss-free: paper, spray paint, wax, concrete, clay, thread, fabric, plaster of Paris, glue, wood, and metal. 

And proving to us that there is probably nothing she can't do, this mother of twins also created this delightful book trailer (in her spare time, we guess).

To see more pretty pics from Materially Crafted, click here. And, of course, you can buy a copy wherever books are sold. 

It's HERE! STC Craft's Spring 2015 Catalog Has Arrived!

We're thrilled to present our fabulous spring 2015 lineup! We're proud of this spectacular list of innovative and gorgeous books, and it's our pleasure to share them with you! Click here to see the full catalog.

We'll begin with a burst of ingenuity. Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops: A Bend-the-Rules Primer is a guide to embroidering free of traditional restrictions (and it comes with a cloth sampler for you to stitch yourself!). Sherri Lynn Wood paves the way for quilters to toss their rulers and templates and forge their own unique patchwork path in The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously.

Victoria Hudgins (of A Subtle Revelry) introduces Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed. Jamie and Jacinda, the ladies of Pretty Prudent, share a treasure trove of easy and budget-minded home decor tips and projects in Pretty Prudent Home: Your Ultimate Guide to Creating a Beautiful Family Home.

And some of STC Craft's bestselling authors are back with new books. Knitting superstar Amy Herzog follows up Knit to Flatterwith Knit Wear Love: Foolproof Instructions for Knitting Your Best-Fitting Sweater Ever in the Styles You Love to Wear and Natalie Chanin and the Alabama Chanin team add to their elegant clothing collection with Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns: A Guide to Customizing a Hand-Stitched Alabama Chanin Wardrobe, which comes with a CD that includes all of the sewing pattern for this book and the first three books in the Alabama series. 

If a creative jumpstart is what you're looking for, illustrator John Hendrix is ready to guide you with Drawing Is Magic: Discovering Yourself in a Sketchbook, and art journaling champion Dawn DeVries Sokol showcasess inspriation from around the globe with A World of Artist Journal Pages: 1000+ Artworks, 230 Artists, 30 Countries.

We're also excited to announce that Abrams has just launched a new gift and stationery line, Abrams Noterie. View their full catalog here.

Keep an eye out for more on these books throughout the season!

All books are available for preorder on the Abrams website or wherever books are sold.

And We're Off to QuiltCon!

We here at STC Craft have been very busy at the start of this year, working hard to shape up our fabulous 2015 lineup (More to come on that next week...)

In addition to prepping for some extraordinary spring titles, we've been making the rounds at plenty of shows. We hope any industry folks were able to catch the fabulous Amy Herzog previewing her new book, Knit Wear Love (out next month), in early January at TNNA in Phoenix. And same goes for any NY-area knitters: we hope you were able to stop by and meet some of our authors signing at Vogue Knitting Live in Manhattan last month!

Next up is the expansive (and growing!) QuiltCon event, put on by The Modern Quilt Guild, and beginning in Austin today! Will you be there? We're thrilled to partner with Austin-based Stitch Lab again this year, hosted at booth #216. We'll have books on sale, authors signing and displaying quilts, a special giveaway sweepstakes package with goodies from Windham and Aurifil, a preview of our spring books, and an advance launch of Sherri Lynn Wood's brand new book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters.

Will you be at the show? Stop by and say hello!

There's still time to add a touch of handmade this holiday season

Whether you're headed to visit family, planning a dish for a friend's New Year's Eve party, or staying home with the kids, here are some ideas for last-minute gifts to add a little handmade element to your gifting this year.

Last minute stocking stuffers (or gifts for the people you definitely didn't forget):

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Textile Bookends from Novel Living by Lisa Occhipinti

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Wool Rose Fascinator from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

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Pencil Holder Heads from Playful by Merrilee Liddiard

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Patterned Stationery Set from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

For the gracious host or hostess:

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Denim Apron from Cloth by Cassandra Ellis

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Wool Felt Oven Gloves from Cloth by Cassandra Ellis

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Antiquarian Animal Votive Holders from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

Gift toppers to add a little flair to your wrapping:

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Christmas Corsages from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

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Arts and Crafts Ex Libris Set from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

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Pocket Notecards from Novel Living by Lisa Occhipinti

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Needle-Felted Snowman from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

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Lavender Wand Sachets from Handmade for the Garden by Susan Guagliumi

Don't see what you're looking for? Try our posts from recent holiday seasons: 6 Quick & Easy Gifts to Complete in an Evening and 5 Handmade Gift-Packaging Ideas

Holiday Gift Guide: Give the Gift of Books!

Running low on time and ideas for those hard-to-gift in your life? How about giving the gift of books?!

From Novel Living by Lisa Occhipinti

With a solid roster of books from the past year ranging from knitting compendiums to personal memoirs, we have a little something for everyone on your list: 

For the DIY Home Decorator:

Novel Living; BiblioCraft; The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers; Handmade for the Garden

For the Babysitters, Parents, & Others Looking to Keep Kids Busy:

Playful; Handcrafted Christmas

For the Avid Knitters and Sewists:

Unconventional & Unexpected; How to Catch a Frog; Living Color

For the Digitally-Inclined: check out our full selection of e-books on sale, available via Open Road Media, plus this trailer featuring STC Craft authors!

Don't see what you're looking for? Check out some of our past gift suggestions: Holiday Gift Guide: 12 Books for Crafters and Holiday Gift Guide: 15 Books for Sewists & Quilters

Holiday Decorating with STC Craft

While some people rush to pick out their tree and pin up their stockings as soon as stores open their doors for Black Friday sales, some of us need a bit more time to get into the holiday spirit. With a potentially calm weekend ahead and only a few weeks left to the holidays, here at STC Craft we are looking to take a load off, cozy up, and get crafting--this time, for our homes!

Won't you enjoy these projects with us?!

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Pinecone Wreath from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

Secret Message Snowflakes from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

Tabletop Tree from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

Candy Stripe Christmas Stocking from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

Chenille Poinsettia Garland from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

For more holiday (and every day!) decorating ideas, check out these books:

Happy Weekend and Happy Crafting from your friends at STC Craft!

Holiday Crafting Memories and a Recipe Treat from Susan Waggoner

Well, we've had our first official snowfall here in New York City, and it's beginning to look a lot like the holidays! We can't help but feel a little giddy at the thought of all of the upcoming baking and sipping and  time spent with friends and family. Excited as we are, sometimes we look up and realize the calendar is nearing dangerously close to a party or holiday commitment and we're feeling underprepared!

Fear not, Susan Waggoner, author of Handcrafted Christmas: Ornaments, Decorations, and Cookie Recipes to Make at Home, is here with a holiday memory and a delicious recipe to get you inspired and in the spirit! Here's Susan:

Forget Black Friday and the insanity of 5 a.m. store openings. To me, the day after Thanksgiving will always be the day Christmas crafting and decorating begin. My mother me this. Start your crafting and decorating early and it will be fun; wait until mid-December and pressure will steal away the joy.

The day after Thanksgiving, a card table would go up in the family room. My mother would already have a list of things she wanted to make for gift exchanges, and a stack of magazine pages with decorating ideas she wanted to try. My father would be called away from the football games for engineering and carpentry input, and we’d be off and running. As my mother got out supplies and decorations, my job was to make a list of all that needed to be replenished and replaced.

Over a dinner of hot turkey sandwiches and mashed potatoes, we’d plot our path through the craft stores the next morning. Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday would be our work days, and by the end of the weekend, we’d have a good start on all we wanted to do. We were ready for snow. We were ready for Christmas.

The card table remained up throughout the entire season. When the crafting and decorating projects were done, it became our wrapping table. My frugal mother did not believe in buying expensive paper or matching tags. She saved cards sent to us in previous years, bought tissue paper, glitter, tape, glue, and ribbon (never pre-made bows) and let us decorate our own packages. I loved going through the old cards and finding an image that was just right for the recipient of the gift - outdoor woodland scenes with deer for my father, chic modern-looking motifs for my mother, skating Santas or Beatrix Potter scenes for my sister, who eventually confessed, as an adult, to disliking Potter’s art.

After Christmas, the table was cleared and brought upstairs to our den, where it held the annual jigsaw puzzle Santa left by our stockings. I have no idea what became of that card table, but I know what became of the memories - I still have them.

So take time to start your crafting and decorating early. Make the most of every Christmas minute and you’ll double your stock of good memories.

Here’s a Christmas treat from Susan that you can make ahead and set aside for holiday gifts and parties, or snack on while you craft and decorate:

image (c) Lori Lange, 2011. 

Almond Roca

For this you will need a candy thermometer and these ingredients:

2 tablespoons water

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

Big pinch of coarse salt

1 pound whole roasted salted almonds (may substitute roasted salted peanuts or pecans)

 

First, prepare a pan by placing a silicone mat or bakers parchment on a clean cookie sheet.

In a medium heavy‑duty saucepan, heat the water, butter, both sugars and salt over low heat. I have found that the secret to making good buttercrunch is a slowed-down heating process. Cookbooks suggest this can be done in 15 or 20 minutes, but this makes it easy to scorch the mixture or end up with a grainy result. I spend 30 to 45 minutes on this and have always been rewarded with crisp, perfect candy. Start over low heat, stirring and scraping down the sides occasionally to make sure everything is blended and the nothing is sticking to the corners of the pan.

Fit the candy thermometer onto the saucepan, making sure the is not touching the bottom of the pan.

You are now going to cook this mixture until it reaches a temperature of 300° F. (150° C.). Raise the heat slowly at first, and more quickly as you near the end. Stir mixture and scrape the sides of the saucepan occasionally at first, more often as the heat rises, and nearly continuously when the mixture begins to boil and foam.

The minute the temperature reaches 300° F., remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the almonds and spread immediately onto the prepared pan. You need to work quickly, as the mixture begins to set up as soon as it’s off the burner. Use a spatula to spread as thinly as possible.

Allow to cool and set up several hours or overnight. Store in a lidded tin lined with a napkin or a lidded plastic container.


 

For more ideas for cozy vintage-inspired crafting and baking  from Susan's latest book, view our image gallery or order it online. 

 

Holiday Crafting: 1 Month to Go!

The lingering smell of firewood in the air and the ever-earlier holiday decor in storefronts can mean only one thing: the holidays are quickly approaching, and we're sticking with last year's vows to not wait until the last minute this time! To provide some inspiration from our own crafting wishlists, here are four really beautiful projects from Cloth by Cassandra Ellis that a bunch of us in the office have our hearts set on making:

Leather Journal fromCloth by Cassandra Ellis

Natural Leather Purses fromCloth by Cassandra Ellis

Wool Overnight Bag from Cloth by Cassandra Ellis

Linen Slippers from Cloth by Cassandra Ellis

Still looking for more inspiration? Check our post from last week: 5 weeks out, and our tips for decorating your Thanksgiving table. Looking for even more? How about our ideas from last year: 8 Quick and Easy Personalized Gifts to Make (and Finish!) This Weekend.

Guest Post from Wendy Bernard + Creativebug Giveaway + Holiday Crafting - 5 Weeks Out!

With T minus 5 weeks until the holidays, we're back with more gifting ideas that you can get started on now. As a special bonus, we also have author and knitter extraordinaire Wendy Bernard here with words of wisdom on knitting inspiration, info on adding new stitches to your needlearts repertoire in time to create a holiday gift, plus a giveaway from Creativebug. From Wendy: 

I think it was just about 11 years ago when top-down knitting caught my eye.

I had started knitting again after a more than 30-year hiatus when I was expecting my daughter—grandma taught me when I was young and I never really knit after that. Of course, I knit my newborn one of those hats that resembles a strawberry. It sort of seemed like the right thing to do.

Fast forward to now. I’ve been so happily knitting and writing books that feature patterns that are knit down from the top: Sweaters, hats, you name it. For some reason, the idea that you start at the top and work your way down to the hem seamlessly made sense to me. And ever since I figured out how to do it and how to make patterns this way, I have wanted to share my ideas with other knitters.

Books will always be here with us, they are so wonderful: we can hold them in our hands and mark them up with post-its. They sit on our shelves and make us happy. The Internet has added another dimension for me, though. With streaming online videos growing in popularity, it is possible for you to take online classes that aren’t live, which means you can pop in whenever you like and follow along at your own pace. Creativebug is that sort of place and I’m so excited to tell you that I have a four-week course on Creativebug where I share with you how to knit two types of sweaters, from the top down, seamlessly!

What makes me even more excited is that my latest book, Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary shows you how to knit more than 150 stitch patterns not only flat, but in the round, and top-down as well. This means, as you watch my courses on Creativebug, you will be able to swap out the plain ribbing in these sweaters and insert other ribbings that strike your fancy. Same thing for the other parts of the sweaters: if you want to spruce up the otherwise plain stockinette stitch, do a little shopping in the book and insert another stitch pattern that you like even more.

Working with Creativebug.com was so much fun. The crew even came out to my home studio and hung out with my family for a day so we could share with you a little of my background and my love for knitting and crafting. You can watch the trailers and videos for a bit of background. And speaking of crafting: Creativebug isn’t only about knitting. The classes they feature range from jewelry-making to quilting to ceramics, and even working with leather. This new online genre is a great one and I hope that you’ll check it out!

And without further ado, here are more holiday crafting ideas at five weeks out from Wendy and some of our other 2014 books:  

Slouch Cap from Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard

 

Pleated Mittens from Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard

Breve Cowl from Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose

Heima Slippers from Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose

Cotton Scrap Rag Rug from Cloth by Cassandra Ellis

Metallic Leather Sling from Cloth by Cassandra Ellis

 

If the ideas above have your creative gears turning, but you're stuck on a step or technique (or maybe you want to learn something entirely new), why don't you go ahead and try out Creativebug on your own? Enter here for a chance to win a copy of Wendy's book, Up, Down, All-Around Stitch-Dictionary, 2 project patterns, and yarn courtesy of Blue Sky Aplacas. The best part? The prize package also includes a free six-month subscription to Creativebug, so you can take all of Wendy's classes, plus any other crafting courses that strike your fancy! But hurrythe contest ends in 4 days!

This Thanksgiving, perfect your table alongside your menu

When we're planning the holidays, the meal often gets the spotlight and everything else is on the backburner (literally!)

With only a few weeks until Thanksgiving, we have some crafting ideas from our 2014 releases that won't take too much of your attention away from the turkey, but will have your home looking as effortlessly festive as your main course. Take a look for some weekend inspiration:

Moveable Feast Table Runner & Napkins from Novel Living by Lisa Occhipinti

Vibrant Party Centerpiece from The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers by Livia Cetti

Wreath from The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers by Livia Cetti

 

Japanese Heraldry Coasters from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

Paper Towns from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

 Cuts of Meat Table Runner from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza