Maggie Nystrom: A Homemade Holiday With Craft Help From The Arcata Library – November 18, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November is a fascinating month with a couple of interesting holidays. This is important partly because the Humboldt County Library will be closed those days, including the Arcata Library. This year they are both on Thursdays.

First is Veterans Day, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010. The library will be closed all day in memory of all the veterans who have served this country.

Then in two weeks we will observe the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with turkey, football and shopping. The library will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26, to celebrate all that we are thankful for. We will be open Saturday, Nov. 27, our regular Saturday hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Between the two Thursdays when the library is closed we will have one Thursday when we will be open and full of monkey business. This will be the third Thursday of the month, Nov. 18, when we will have Share-A-Story Monkey Shines at 6:30 p.m. There will a short video from KEET-TV, some funny monkey stories and silly monkey crafts. Each participating family will also receive a free book, What Time Is It, Mr. Crocodile, where a bunch of monkeys cause no end of trouble for a crocodile. This program is co-sponsored by KEET-TV’s Ready to Learn Service and First 5 Humboldt.

With Thanksgiving coming up soon, we know that the big gift-giving holidays are coming along just as fast. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or the Solstice, December is a time for giving.

Are you thinking about making presents this year? It is not too late to start, as long as you are realistic in your planning.

Quilters know that to make a quilt big enough for a bed takes a long time. Fortunately, we have several books with quicker projects using quilting techniques. My favorite is Quilted Bags In a Weekend with some wonderful ideas for purses and totes. Whether you want to make someone an elegant bag for evening wear or a tote bag big enough to use at the Farmer’s Market, you will find ideas and instructions here.

Anyone who enjoys working with wood can find lots of ideas for presents in our woodworking books. A fun desk for a child’s room or elegant bookshelves for a study can be easy to build and gratefully accepted. We also have books on how to make fun toys, such as Ron Fuller’s The Art & Craft of Wooden Toys. From a pecking hen to a wiggling water monster, from a pull-along giraffe to an underwater jigsaw puzzle, this book is full of colorful ideas. The step-by-step guides will help you make handcrafted toys that will last.

Knitters and crocheters can find many projects for gifts in our selection. I like the bright colors and bold designs found in Jenny Kee WinterKnits. This is a great collection of sweaters from Australia’s leading knitwear designer. Whether based on animals from Down Under or the scattered colors of opals, the designs are fascinating. I am not a knitter, so I do not know how hard these sweaters would be to reproduce, but I would love to see one done.

If, like me, you are not a “handy” person in doing handicrafts, you may find that baking or fixing up food gifts is for you.

Susan Costner has a lovely book, Gifts of Food, with the recipes divided up by season. In the “gifts of winter” section you can find a recipes for Sugar Plums for the kids, doggie biscuits for the family pooch and pomander balls to scent the house. The recipes are easy to follow and her ideas for wrapping are good ones.

Kids really enjoy making gifts for family and friends. We have many good books on crafts just for children. Some of the ideas need a little help from parents, but all of them are fun. A number of the books are by age level, while others are themed around ethnic groups or parts of the world.

One of my favorite children’s crafts books is Holiday Crafts Kids Can Make. Many of the projects for different holidays, such as the candy hearts for Valentine’s Day or the leaf print decorated clay pots, would make good presents all year long. Then there are the Christmas crafts, such as making cinnamon ornaments that are long lasting and smell good. One thing that makes this book special is the number of pattern portfolios available. You can photocopy and enlarge the patterns for use in a number of cards, gifts and ornaments.

Remember, the library will be closed Thursday, November 11, for Veteran’s Day. We will also be closed Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26, for the Thanksgiving holidays, while we will be open on Saturday, November 27, 2010.

Come in for a family fun evening on Thursday, Nov. 18 for Share-A-Story Monkey Shines. The fun starts at 6:30 p.m.

Maggie Nystrom is the Branch Librarian at the Arcata Library, 500 Seventh Street. (707) 822-5954.