Remnant Rehab: Handmade holidays

Planning to make gifts this year? Start now (if you haven’t already)



Thinking about going the handmade route for gifts this year? There are plenty of ideas and tutorials online. If you need more help, take a class.

Believe it or not, Christmas is only a month and a half away. If you’re planning to give handmade gifts, it’s time to get started — if you haven’t already.

To be honest, I usually have grand plans of making presents for everyone. Then I scale back to just family. Then just immediate family. Then I realize it’s Dec. 20 and I haven’t made a single thing.

So don’t do as I do, do as I say: Check out these resources for handmade gift ideas today, get the creative juices flowing and you may be able to pull off a handmade holiday.

Handmade gift ideas

• Yarn Barn supplies your knitting and crochet habits. Don’t knit or crochet? They can teach you.

Yarn Barn has two classes coming up that could supply you with not only a new skill but also a finished, handmade gift.

The first is Last-Minute Mittens, a two-week class on Dec. 1 and 8. Using chunky yarn, whip up a pair of mittens for either kids or adults. The other is Sno-Buddies, a three-week class with sessions on Nov. 27, Dec. 4 and Dec. 11. Make a few knitted snowmen while learning shaping techniques.

The mittens class costs $22.50, and Sno-Buddies is $25, and both classes were still open as of last week. You must provide your own supplies. Sign up at or 930 Massachusetts St. For more information, call 842-4333.

• The Merc offers cooking classes year-round, but during this season, there are a few to help you turn your kitchen skills into gifting skills.

Make Your Own Gifts from the Kitchen will be offered Nov. 27 and will cover three categories: breakfast gifts, tamale gifts and sweet gifts.

Many people like to give away cookies for the holidays, and if you’re looking for some ideas, try All New Holiday Cookies and Candies on Dec. 11 or Dec. 12, or Gluten-free Goodies on Dec. 15.

Gluten-free Goodies is a hands-on class, so you’ll make the goodies; the others are demonstration classes where you’ll watch and get to sample the treats. All classes provide recipes.

As of last week, all of these classes still had openings. Cost of the classes ranges from $20 to $28, and there is a slight discount for Merc owners and seniors.

Find out more about the classes at the website,, or call 843-8544. To sign up, visit the Merc at 901 Iowa St.

• Lawrence Public Library is putting on a series of free classes called Thrifty Gifter, teaching you to make DIY presents.

Unfortunately, the classes were all full as of last week, but you can try putting your name on the waiting list if you’re interested; I’m told they opened up a few extra spots once they saw how popular the first few classes were. Read about the classes here.

But don’t fret — the library also has rounded up its DIY books in a display called “It’s fun to be a thrifty gifter.” Check it out at 707 Vermont St. or contact the reference desk at 843-1178 or to get on a waiting list for the Thrifty Gifter classes.

Online tutorials

On the Web, there are probably a gajillion craft tutorials, but let me just point you to a few sites I’ve found helpful.

• Sew, Mama, Sew! does a great service to crafters each year by posting its Handmade Holidays roundup.

Each day of November, they’ll post a theme such as Gifts for Pet Lovers, Gifts for Travelers, etc., with links to tutorials. They also list books of interest to crafters.

This is the sixth year Sew, Mama, Sew! has done the Handmade Holidays, so if you need more ideas, check the archives.

• Apparently,’s lucky number is 101. There are all kinds of lists of 101 tutorials there, including 101 Simple Handmade Gift Tutorials, 101 Handmade Ornament Tutorials and 101 Green Handmade Gift Tutorials, and that’s barely scratching the surface.

I can’t say I’ve vetted every tutorial, but I’ve checked out quite a few and think it’s a great place for ideas.

• It’s 2012, so I can’t go without mentioning It’s an online wonderland for DIY ideas. Search under the category DIY and Crafts, and you’re sure to find inspiration.

We’ll also be pinning ideas — including ones mentioned here — to our Go! Extra board.

• Shameless plug time: Perhaps in the two years I’ve been writing this column you saw a project you wanted to make, but you never got around to it. (No judgement — it’s the story of my life. Procrastinators unite!)

Well, now’s your chance. See past tutorials.

If, in a few weeks, you discover that you haven’t started any gift projects, fear not — I’ll list a few local places to get presents that are handmade, but not by you.

— Go! editor Katie Bean can be reached at 832-6361. Follow her at


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