January is my favorite month. AND I’ve heard from others who feel the same way. It’s just a great month to play catch up. We’ve got a clean slate. The outdoors isn’t beckoning the way it is in spring. That means we spend more time indoors. And that means we can organize. There’s a reason for January being white sale month and catalogs appear filled with closet organizers. But in the world of retailers, this is also trade show month. There are gift shows all over the country but I follow the Craft and Hobby Association Show because that’s the one I’ve attended for many many years. Lately I haven’t gone, but luckily I still get all the email information. It’s a great time of year to take up a craft or go back to one you haven’t done for a while. Remember when needlepoint was such a big craze? Now it seems to be knitting.

Why make something when it’s so easy to buy it? Many reasons. It’s satisfying to make it yourself. You get to show off your project. It’s incredibly relaxing. And, I’ve found it’s a great way to diet! Yup, that’s right. Diet. I don’t know about you, but when I’m bored I eat. When I’m in the middle of a project I reach for that instead of a cracker and cheese. Keeping your hands busy making something keeps them out of the cookie jar.

The other day I was talking to a gentleman at the Atlanta Gift Show. Next stop CHA (Craft & Hobby Assoc.) What’s the big craft making a buzz this year? I wanted to know. A few years ago scrapbooking took over 60% of the show space. Then poof! Just like that it fell out of favor. I don’t know why this happens. I do know that in our celebrity crazed society if Angelina Jolie suddenly takes up knitting, you can bet the yarn companies will jump all over it. In a Nano second the world is covered with afghans. At Christmas time I met a woman from Wisconsin who knits. I asked her if I was correct in thinking that crochet is a Midwestern thing, mostly done by older women. She said as far as her experience goes, yes. She also said that in the Midwest there are two things that matter for recreation: no one misses a sports event and everyone crafts.

I love pottery. I collect it, to a degree. When I go to an art show I’m more interested in the pottery than paintings. I have a collection that isn’t highbrow. It’s pretty ordinary stuff that I just like and could afford. I rearrange the pieces from time to time sometimes displaying them all together on a shelf or using one here and there on tables. I use them to hold plants, or a pitcher to hold cut flowers. The thing about handcrafted items , they’re created primarily to be used. They’re practical. So what might you make for your home this winter?

Needlepoint was popular for a reason. The materials are easy to get. The designs are abundant. There are lots of things you can do with the object like framing it, making it into a pillow, covering a chair seat, and for the really ambitious, you can make a rug. Cross-stitch is needlepoint’s lowly cousin. Please not emails to the contrary unless you are Susan Boardman who creates samplers that are of museum quality. However, if you’re into recreating historic crafts, a sampler is a great idea for a cross stitch project. Knitting and crochet are great in winter because you do it in your lap. Think about it. Who wants a knit blanket of yarn in your lap in the summer? The range of colors and textures is such a turn on for these crafts and you can pick a small or large project,, beginner or advanced. The possibilities are endless. Quilting is an all time favorite that never goes out of style.. The cool thing about it is the variety of patterns, colors, fabric prints and sizes. A small wallhanging substitutes for a painting and cuts down on sound. A full quilt is the ultimate in achievement and it’s useful plus decorative. AND anyone who can sew a straight line can make a quilt. This is a win win craft.

You’ll find an abundance of patterns for any craft on-line and in books. Check it out. There’s no harm in imagining a project even if you never make it. Starting next week I’ll be offering directio