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  • There is nothing more uninspiring than the drugstore Valentine aisle. Forget Hallmark this year and impress your Valentine with a love letter from their favorite author tucked inside a paper mailbox -- complete with a hinged door and quaint red mailbox flag.

    For this DIY-Valentine you’ll need the following materials:

    - 3 sheets of card stock
    - double-sided tape
    - single hole punch
    - paper fasteners
    - craft knife
    - pen
    - mini envelope and card
    - craft scissors

    Feel free to use this lovely template from her Craftacular Highness, Martha Stewart, if you’re artistically challenged like me or create your own version of the 3-D paper mailbox.

    Once you’ve assembled your mailbox, inscribe a note with a short quote or passage from your Valentine’s favorite author, slip it inside a mini envelop and deliver it to your “mailbox.”

    Hopefully, your beau’s favorite writer is someone romantic like poet, Pablo Neruda. You’ll have an easy time finding lovey-dovey quotes encapsulating your true feelings. But perhaps your Valentine is more into stark Russian prose. Not incredibly romantic but -- fear not! Your letter will just be that much more unique.

    I’ve chosen to use a quote from one of my guy’s favorite authors, Fyodor Dostoevsky, but you can borrow from any author that has meaning to you or your Valentine.

    On the small note tucked inside the mailbox, I wrote:

    We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at
    first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.

    Works every time. You're welcome.


    Short. Sweet. And completely unique. Your beau will appreciate your creativity and hey, you remembered their favorite author! Bonus points.


  • Contest is over! Thanks!

    Today's Five Days of Quirkmas giveaway is a Snowed in Survival Kit... aka, all of our crafting books. Spend those chilly Winter days huddled up working on crafts with your friends, family, and potentially, your cat!

    Microcrafts by Alicia Kachmar, Katie Hatz, & Margaret McGuire: A celebration of all-that-is-small, Microcrafts dishes out 25 projects no larger than a spool of thread. Micropapercrafting, microsewing, microcrochet, and even microgardening... there are lots of super cute tiny projects in here.

    Witch Craft by Alicia Katchmar & Margaret McGuire: Lots of spooky-yet-adorable projects fill Witch Craft, from marshmallow skulls to plush poison apples.

    The Museum of Kitchy Stitches by Stichy McYarnpants: Well, this isn't really a craft book. It's a showcase of hilarious stitched up projects.

    Creepy Cute Crochet by Christen Haden: Love amigurumi? Adore monsters? Perfect. You want this book. Creepy Cute Crochet contains more than 20 patterns for zombies, ninjas, Vikings, vampires, aliens, robots and more. 

    Knitted Icons by Carol Meldrum: Not happy with just crafting famous monsters? How about famous people?

    Crafting With Cat Hair by Amy Hirschman & Kaori Tsutaya: This hilarious, strange, and rather cute craft book will show you how to make projects using your cat's fur. Buttons, portraits, cat toys, picture frames... plenty of projects that you and your cat can make. Together.

    How can you enter? Just leave a comment telling us about your favorite crafting activity. Are you a knitter? Crocheter? Papercrafter? Let us know. I'll select one of you at random and send you a package full of books, as well as some sample crafts we've got around the office. Don't forget to leave your email address! I'll need to get a hold of you somehow, right?

  • On Small Business Saturday, I spent a few hours in a very large business, a Barnes & Noble to be exact!

    But in the spirit of “small,” I was there to facilitate some crafting sessions in support of Microcrafts, your go-to guide for teeny tiny DIY-ing. Barnes & Noble had set us up with some basic supplies and we came ready with a makeshift Christmas “tree” (lots of branches inside a vase) from which we hung many of the book’s crafts, including mini books, owls, houseplant macramé holders, quilled ornaments, and bottle caps.

    After signing all of the store’s copies of Microcrafts, we got down to our small business: making one of the book’s projects, little greeting cards and envelopes by paper-pro Larissa Holland. Only 2 inches in size, these cards and envelopes are perfect for adorning your Christmas gifts or for slipping notes of the non-text-message variety.

    All you need are some cardstock or wrapping paper and a little creativity! Well, and scissors and glue. Adults and kids alike enjoyed getting crafty amidst their book-shopping and Starbucks-sipping. Now if only the U.S. Post Office would let us mail these diminutive Christmas cards…

    Check out some more pictures from the event on the Quirk Books Flickr page!

  • Photo by Amanda Pinprick

    Sewing can be intimidating, but few basic tips can make that apprehension disappear. In this post I will describe a few topics that will not only help the appearance of a sewing project, but increase the durability and will help make things easier. Some of these things are topics I have wrote about on my own blog,, and some are new.

    1. Know Your Sewing Machine. All sewing machines are different. Whether you purchased your machine new or used, it's important to have a manual. Usually you can find it online if one did not come with the machine. Knowing the functions of the machine will help through any project. Also, it's very important to keep your machine properly oiled. The manual for the machine will say which parts need to be oiled and how to get to them. It's also good to have extra parts of the wearable items. For instance, the bobbin case. Over time the screw that adjusts the tension on the bobbin thread will move. Some sewing machine manufacturers tell you that you'll never have to adjust the bobbin tension, and that the bobbin case comes adjusted from the factory, but anyone who has had to adjust the tiny screw several times in a row and still not have the tension quite right, knows how frustrating it can be to fix a bobbin case that is not adjusted correctly.

  • When Jenn Erickson (Rook No. 17) emailed me with a link to her review for Microcrafts by Alicia Kachmar, Katie Hatz and Margaret McGuire, I was positively blown away. Instead of simply crafting what was in the book, she took Sarah Goldschadt's precious little owlies and made something entirely her own.

    An owlie mobile.

    "My girls had ½ days at school last week," she wrote in her email, "so we finally had time to slow down and spend two entire afternoons on our first project from Microcrafts. The girls chose the mini owls, and we turned both into mobiles. We’re looking forward to making more crafts from the book over the holidays.

    Jenn was kind enough to share her photos with us. Have a look at them after the jump, and be sure to visit her wonderful blog.


  • When I show people my miniature creations I often hear, “You must have a lot of patience!" I have no more natural ability to be patient than anyone else. Patience is a learned skill and we are all capable of learning. I don‘t have any special capacity for patience, but I do practice it quite often. As most of us already know - you get good at what you practice.

    I would like to share some of my own tips for cultivating patience while working on miniature craft projects. Three strategies that have been helpful to me in my crafting include letting go of expectations, being open to learning, and walking away. I hope that these suggestions will help to get you through the inevitable frustrating moments of crafting on a miniature scale.

    1. My first tip for practicing patience is to let go of expectations that your project will turn out perfectly. There’s nothing wrong with having high standards, but it’s also important to remember that crafting is about learning and having fun. When I let go of my ideas about what my finished project should look like, I am able to enjoy the process of creating without the fear of imperfection hanging over my head. Art projects tend to have a life of their own. Trying to force creativity into a fixed and rigid end product not only takes away the fun of creating it also sets up the perfect storm for frustration, disappointment and impatience. So, my first tip is to just have fun with your Microcrafting, and not worry too much about what your project will look like in the end.

    2. The second tip I have for practicing patience in creative endeavors is to remember that you are learning. No matter how many years I have been creating miniature projects I am still always open to learning. Every time I sit down to create something I know that I might learn something new in the process. Remaining open to learning helps keep my attitude enthusiastic. Patience comes most naturally to me when I am open to whatever might happen during the process of crafting. If I make a mistakes while in that open enthusiastic mode, I am able to view fixing them as opportunities to learn something new. Not only does being open to learning help you to experience patience, it also helps you to grow as an artist and crafter.

    3. One last tip I would like to share is that sometimes it’s best to just walk away. When I feel myself becoming frustrated or impatient with my project often the best course of action is to take a deep breath and set my creation aside for a bit. I seem to make most of my mistakes when I work on projects while feeling impatient or frustrated. When I start feeling like I should chuck my project into the trash bin it is usually a good idea to take a deep breath and do something else for awhile. When I return to my project after taking such a break I find a renewed happiness for the work and a fresh perspective on whatever was tripping me up. A break can go a long way toward keeping you from giving in to impatience and throwing in the proverbial towel.

    I hope that you all have a wonderful time creating your own versions of the projects from the Microcrafts book. I’m sure that practicing patience will help you get through any rough spots you might encounter and allow you to fully experience the joy of creating. Have fun Microcrafters!


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