Make Yourself At Home

By Sharon Naylor

August 12, 2016 5 min read

What could be better on a chilly night than cozying up in front of the fireplace with a good book or snuggling under a comfy blanket and watching Netflix? When heaps of snow and thunderstorms thwart your day at the park or night on the town, there's no need to mope around the house. These crafty do-it-yourself projects, inspired by the crafts of knitting and crocheting, will keep you warm, calm and collected.

One mission during wintertime is finding activities to keep us mentally and physically active and entertained. According to the Craft Yarn Council, which represents leading yarn companies, accessory manufacturers, book publishers and consultants in the yarn industry, knitting and crocheting are very popular winter activities, with many proven benefits. Mary Colucci, the Yarn Council executive director, says, "Winter is the most productive time of year for knitting and crocheting projects."

In 2014, the Yarn Council completed a survey that found that those who knit and croquet experience numerous benefits, including:

--Feelings of accomplishment.

--Improved mood.

--Reduced stress.

--Sense of confidence.

Besides the positive experience that knitting and crocheting bring, there are practical benefits to these activities, as well. Items like blankets and throws will up the coziness factor in your home. And Colucci notes they can also add a little excitement and color that will brighten your space without changing your furniture. And that extra color will go a long way to lift your spirits on those gray days.

"But what would I knit?" you might ask. Well, the options are endless. Among them are:

--Throw blankets. There are thousands of patterns to choose from. Plus, you can enhance and personalize them with hand-sewn monogramming.

--Quilts. You have full creative freedom here -- pick from thousands of fabrics, patterns and colors to create a truly customized design. Make them sentimental by sewing in an old, memory-laden T-shirt or your kids' baby clothes. Not only will you stay warm but you'll also have the warmth of treasured memories.

--Towels. Sew a monogram or other design onto a set of super soft, plush towels. When you step out of the shower and wrap yourself in that towel, you'll feel snug as a bug in a rug.

--Area rugs. Stepping out of bed onto cold tile will surely wake you up in the morning. Area rugs will keep your feet warm and even make you a bit more comfortable around the house.

--Pillow covers. Colucci says these are popular. Some pillow projects are quick and easy, such as iron-on designs. They add charm and personality to your furniture.

--Curtains. If you can hem fabric, you can switch out those wispy, summery window sheers for heavier, chill-reducing curtains. Tired of looking at the same window furnishing all year-round? Crochet a new pattern with richer hues and textures to transform your space.

--Scarves. Colucci says, "Scarves are the number one knitting or crocheting project, approachable for entry-level crafters to complete, and projects range from skinny scarves to larger 'super-scarves' that can be worn inside for cozy warmth while watching television or worn to go out." Knit a scarf, and you can walk out your front door with a new winter fashion statement.

Sure, you could always order new blankets or throw pillows or pick some up from Target, but why not fight a dreary winter day by learning a new craft and taking on a new project? Snowed in one Tuesday afternoon? No matter. You'll come away with something to show for it. Plus, no home improvement feels as satisfying as one you've done yourself.

So how do you get started? Well, you'll find free teaching tutorials online, or you could take a class at a local yarn shop, craft store or adult school. The Craft Yarn Council survey says that 67 percent of people look for new project ideas on the internet. Try the Pinterest website -- but just know that once you go on, you may never leave! You might not even have to leave the house to shop for supplies, either. Many find online shopping just as convenient and even more affordable than shopping in stores.

And these crafts aren't just do-it-yourself -- they're fun to do with others, too. Plan a crafting afternoon for friends and family. Everyone can work on their own projects, or you could design a group project. Can you say memory quilt? Alison Beckett, mother of four, says, "It was wonderful to introduce my kids to knitting. "They loved the challenge and were interested in doing other projects after our first. It certainly helped keep them occupied during shut-in winter days!"

While these do-it-yourself projects will certainly get you through the winter months, the end results will last for years, and the memories of making them will last even longer.

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