Just about one year ago, Rose Pearlman and I began collaborating on simple, useful craft projects that could be easily made from inexpensive hardware store materials and that can serve a practical purpose in your home. In celebration of the past year of working together, we’ve designed a series of holiday gift guides that showcase just some of the ways that these humble crafts can become a part of a special holiday gift—or simply be the gift itself.
a simple potholder kit.
All of the gifts below use the tutorial Rose and I created for a butcher’s twine potholder. But if you’re not feeling crafty yourself, or you’re short on time, you can give the gift of a kit for a friend or family member to make a potholder for themselves. Here’s what you should include: a ball of 24-ply Cotton Butcher’s Twine, a pair of take-out chopsticks, a pencil sharpener, tape, and a square of sandpaper. (If you prefer to give the gift of knitting needles instead of chopsticks, a US size 8 or 9 would be perfect here.)
Tuck the supplies into a drawstring bag, and add a note pointing the recipient in the direction of the potholder and knitting needles tutorial. (If you’d like to recreate the tag we made here, this is the customizable rubber stamp set we used to stamp the url onto a piece of card stock.)
a cookbook’s companion.
Pair one of the year’s most beautiful cookbooks—like Jubilee from Toni Tipton-Martin—with a homemade potholder for a personalized twist on a holiday gift go-to. If a cookbook isn’t in your budget, bundle a homemade potholder or two with a favorite recipe from your own collection.
a gift to last a lifetime.
When it comes to longevity, the gift of a classic cast iron skillet from Field Company is going to be about as long lasting as you’ll find. Pair the skillet with a square potholder as shown above, or customize the tutorial a smidge to make a cover to slip over the skillet handle. Just measure the handle width and length and cast on enough stitches so that when folded in half, the potholder would fit snuggly over the handle. When you’ve finished knitting your rectangle, fold it in half length-wise, stitch up the bottom and side with a bit more butcher’s twine, and presto. The handle cover won’t be oven-safe of course, but it could be just the thing for getting that dutch baby to your holiday breakfast table.
a treat topper.
If you’re the baking type, consider the gift of a precious loaf of your famous cranberry bread or sourdough topped with a homemade potholder and you’ve ticked the boxes of comestible and useful in one neat package (not mention earning the status of bonafide gift giving champion).
inspiration for an aspiring chef.
I’m not sure there are any more appealing childhood toys than miniature kitchen implements that actually work. For child chefs in your midst, halve the size of your potholder by casting on just 12 stitches and knitting twelve rows, and you’ve got the perfect companion to a set of tiny kitchen tools, like this whisk and ladle from Acorn Toy Shop. (Mushrooms not required, but definitely encouraged!)
an empty canvas for spices.
This potholder is knit with humble butcher’s twine, which makes it all the easier to spice up. Paired with Diaspora Co.’s Single-Origin Pragati Turmeric and Single-Origin Guntur Sannam Chilli, you’ve got a present that’s anything but bland. Plus, once the potholder begins to show signs of its commingling with so much color, all it takes is a simple turmeric dye bath to turn the whole thing a beautiful deep goldenrod.
As always, we’re hoping these ideas serve as a guide in the truest sense of the word and provide a bit of inspiration for making a gift yourself, with the budget you have and the holiday spirit that best suits you. If you decide to tackle any of these projects on your own—for giving away or keeping close to home—we’d love to see! Tag @readtealeaves and @rosepearlman on Instagram and share with the hashtag #simplehandmadeholidayrmtl.
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