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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Five Easy + Inexpensive Handmade Gifts

1. Custom Recipe Book.
You will need:
- 15 recipes (check Williams-Sonoma and Martha Stewart for ideas)
- A package of sheet protectors
- A 1" View Binder
- Paper

Compile your recipes, print or write them out, slide the pages into the sheet protectors, and arrange in the binder. Use the view pockets in the binder to make a cover.

2. Amigurumi Animal.
You will need:
- Yarn, in a few different colors
- A crochet hook
- Buttons for eyes/noses
- Stuffing

Amigurumi animals are not too hard to make, even if you've never crocheted before. You only need to know how to chain and single crochet. Here's a free pattern in English for a simple penguin, and a free Japanese visual pattern for a forest rhinoceros beetle. The Japanese visual patterns tend to be easier for me than the written-out English ones, and I don't read a word of Japanese.

3. A Simple Fabric Scarf.
You will need:
- 2.5 yards of fabric
- 1 yard of fringe
- Thread
- Scissors
- The free "Cozy Scarf" pattern available on Amy Butler's website.

4. Stuffed and Decorated Candy Boxes.
You will need:
- Ingredients for your recipes + a kitchen
- A candy thermometer (very important for candy making!)
- Wax paper
- Small paper muffin liners

Cut wax paper into circles and line the bottom of your tins with it. You may also wish to line the sides with a strip. Fill with muffin liners and put candy in each liner. Stuck for ideas? Try these: Chocolate Fudge, Peanut Butter Cups, Peppermint Sticks, or Golden Caramels.

The nice thing about candies like caramel and peppermint sticks is that the ingredients are inexpensive, being almost 90% refined sugar. Give them to all your relatives kids, then run and hide behind a rock.

5. Knit Hat
You will need:
- 1 ball of yarn
- 1 set size 9 double pointed knitting needles
- 1 US Size G crochet hook

This is an easy pattern for a beginning knitter. It's a pattern of knits and purls, very simple. And, unless you're making it for someone with a huge head, you probably only need one ball of yarn. The two best things about knit hats? They take a fifth the time of scarves, and they let you get comfortable with knitting in the round, which is essential for socks and handwarmers.

Happy crafting!