The Ideal Christmas Gifts for Kids Share This One Characteristic

Are there any kids on your gift list who are between the ages of 6 and 18? If so, I have a suggestion: Instead of giving them toys or candy, give them gifts that will teach them truly useful skills — skills that will engage them, keep them busy and provide them with a lifetime’s worth of benefits.


Why do I make this suggestion?


Lots of reasons.


As a freelance writer, one of the topics I covered most frequently in 2019 was the opioid crisis in the United States (which is on its way to becoming a global crisis). It’s tragic.


What I discovered in the course of my research about this crisis: The reasons for the crisis are numerous and complex. But, surprisingly, one of the things that most frequently drives people to abuse drugs is boredom.


Boredom!


And how do you prevent children and teenagers from becoming bored? That isn’t easy, is it?


Well, I can’t speak for everyone. But, as a teenager, I was not ever bored. Not ever!


Why not?


I wasn’t ever bored because there were lots of things I liked to spend time on. I enjoyed crochet, knitting, crafts, reading, journaling, writing stories, cheerleading, watching movies, playing with my pets, spending time with my family and friends, going out with my boyfriend and working as a waitress at a local restaurant. There simply wasn’t any reason for me to be bored.


When I felt like maybe boredom could be coming on, the first thing I would do was reach for my crochet hooks and yarn. Using drugs was something that never even occurred to me as a possibility. Sure, I knew people who used drugs. And there were people who offered me drugs. I had no reason to accept the offers. I led a full life without drugs.


Ultimately, the gift of a full life is the gift that we need to give to our children if we hope to see an end to the opioid crisis.


We need to spend quality time with our children. We also need to encourage them to seek deep, meaningful friendships with others. We need to empower them to choose friends who will encourage them to be their best selves.


We need to teach them to read for pleasure.


We need to teach them useful skills that will engage them and give them ways to express their creativity. For me, crochet and knitting were the two that did the trick — and they’re two that I highly recommend teaching your kids (because they’re easy, popular, the barriers to entry are low, and there are easily accessible supplies available in an abundance of places ranging from your local Walmart to the internet to local craft stores if you happen to have them). But there are zillions of other possibilities: gardening, cooking, painting, drawing, computer programming, playing a musical instrument, martial arts, team sports — the list is really endless.


Since this is a knitting and crochet site, and since knitting and crochet were such an integral part of my own engagement in childhood, I’ll finish up this post by making some recommendations for fantastic gifts that can point a child in the right direction of these specific skills. But, really, I think the most important thing is to empower your children to learn at least one useful life skill that is of interest to them. It doesn’t have to be knitting or crocheting.

Finger Knitting for Kids: Super Cute & Easy Things to Make

Finger Knitting for Kids book by Eriko Teranishi, published by Tuttle Publishing
Finger Knitting for Kids Book: Super Cute & Easy Things to Make by Eriko Teranishi, published by Tuttle Publishing

This is a truly adorable book filled with useful, easy-to-understand information aimed at kids. The book includes tutorials for finger knitting plus instructions for making bunches of super cute projects including scarves, hair accessories, home decor items and more. The projects are all appealing ones that I think could be good motivators for kids — particularly girls, but there are a few boy-friendly items too — to want to learn how to do finger knitting.


Learn More About This Book:

Amigurumi Adorable Collection

Amigurumi, an Adorable Collection: Heroes, Animals and Monsters to Crochet, published by Leisure Arts
Amigurumi, an Adorable Collection: Heroes, Animals and Monsters to Crochet, published by Leisure Arts

Amigurumi patterns are good motivators for younger kids to learn how to crochet — because what child wouldn’t want to have such fun toys to play with after they’re finished crocheting? And many of the patterns are easy ones, requiring only chains, single crochet, and slip stitch plus some shaping and finishing skills.


The book you see pictured here, Amigurumi Adorable Collection, gets my vote as being one of 2019’s best value crochet pattern books. There are bunches of fun, playful, adorable patterns packed into this book at a super affordable price. The patterns in this book are suitable for boys and girls, both. I think any child who’s old enough to crochet would be excited to have a copy of this book.


Learn More About This Book:

Crochet for Girls

Crochet for Girls book by Zess, published by Stackpole Books
Crochet for Girls book by Zess, published by Stackpole Books

If you’re shopping for Christmas gifts for one or more girls, I think Crochet for Girls by Zess is an excellent book to consider. This book will empower your girl(s) to crochet some fun, stylish new wardrobe pieces like sweaters, dresses, skirts, hats, leg warmers and purses. They’ll be able to enjoy all the satisfaction that comes from choosing suitable yarns and colors and then making their own garments and accessories.


The majority of the patterns in this book are for girls’ sizes 4,6,8 and 10. I think the ideal age for starting to crochet is usually around age 6; and you couldn’t expect a girl much younger than 6 to be able to read this book anyway. So if you’re going to give this book as a gift to a girl, I’d recommend giving it to a girl between the ages of 6 and 10. It’s also possible that there may be some mature 5-year-olds who could enjoy success with crochet, although they would need major help with actually making a project.


This book would also make a great gift for a mom who wants to crochet clothing or accessories for her daughters between the ages of 4-10.


This book is simply delightful, and I think girls will really enjoy crocheting from this book. They’re also likely to enjoy wearing and using the projects they make from it. I wish someone would make a comparable book on Crochet for Boys…

Crochet Hooks

Any crochet hook or crochet hook set could be a good gift for a new crocheter who doesn’t already have the tools and supplies needed for crochet. If you’re totally, completely dead broke, a single aluminum crochet hook only costs about $3 and would be sufficient to help a new crocheter get started. Boye and Susan Bates are 2 of the most popular brands of aluminum crochet hooks. Either of these brands are great for beginners; both make sturdy enough hooks for beginners to succeed with. In general, a size H hook would be a good choice for a first crochet hook — or a size G, if your crocheter will be focusing mostly on making amigurumi crochet projects.


But, ideally, if you have the resources, it would be ideal to give your aspiring crocheter a set of multiple crochet hooks so s/he has the tools to crochet a broad variety of projects. A no-frills set of aluminum crochet hooks is still a budget-friendly gift. If you have a bigger budget for this particular gift, a set of sturdy ergonomic hooks, like Clover Soft Touch crochet hooks, would be an improvement over the simple aluminum ones. But any crochet hook that gets your gift recipient started is a good choice. S/he can always upgrade later.

Knitting Needles for Beginners

I think the finger knitting book I mentioned above is an excellent choice for beginners to knitting for a number of reasons. One is that it entirely eliminates all the stress around learning how to hold knitting needles and figuring out which knitting needles to buy (never mind the expense of knitting needles. In general, needles are pretty affordable, but the expenses add up if you end up buying new needles frequently.)


But if you want to buy knitting needles as a gift for a new knitter, there are 2 resources I recommend consulting. The first is our beginner’s guide to knitting needles; and the other is whichever pattern your beginning knitter will start with. If there’s a pattern s/he wants to make, the ideal knitting needles are the size and style of needles recommended in the knitting pattern.

The Best Yarn for Beginners to Crochet and Knitting

Cascade 220 Worsted Weight Wool Yarn
Cascade 220 Yarn

In general, the best yarn for new knitters and crocheters is smooth and either light or bright colored. If there’s a pattern s/he wants to work, buy the yarn recommended in the pattern.


Otherwise, if you have absolutely no idea which yarn to buy for a beginning crocheter or knitter, I recommend Cascade 220 as being one of the top choices you’d want to consider. This yarn is sturdy, affordable, virtually flaw-free and easy to work with. It stands up to insane amounts of abuse. It comes in a huge color palette, so you’ll be able to find the colors you need. It’s easy to fix mistakes made with this yarn. In short, it’s everything a beginner could possibly want in a yarn.


So there you have it: Those are my thoughts on the ideal Christmas gifts for kids. I welcome your comments, particularly if you have other actionable suggestions for how to empower kids to lead happy and fulfilled lives — or other suggestions for gifts that will help them do so.

Halloween: The Ideal Holiday for Beastly Crochet Patterns

Brenda K.B. Anderson’s pattern book, Beastly Crochet, wasn’t specifically intended to be a book of Halloween patterns. However, if you celebrate Halloween, October is a great time for crocheting the patterns in the book. That’s because this pattern collection is all Halloween friendly.

Beastly Crochet Book by Brenda K.B. Anderson, Published by Interweave Press
Beastly Crochet Book by Brenda K.B. Anderson, Published by Interweave Press


For example, let’s take the critters on the Beastly Crochet book cover (pictured.) If you look closely at their mouths, you’ll see these little monsters are stuffed with candy. They’re the perfect storage units for all the Halloween candy your little trick-or-treaters or party-goers might collect on Halloween night. Cute, aren’t they? You can crochet and felt them using the pattern and instructions given in this book.

If you want to make Halloween costumes for yourself or a child you know, this book has patterns you could use. There’s a super cute pattern for Sasquatch Slippers and Mittens, which I think might also work as bear claws. So you could dress up as a sasquatch or a bear if you make these. There’s also a vampire hat which could be the basis for an interesting Halloween costume.


The sweet skull hairpins are totally Halloween friendly. If those aren’t quite what you had in mind, you can check out bunches more knit and crochet skull patterns on our website. The link takes you to a list that’s mostly free patterns aside from the ones included in this book. The book also includes a sugar skull bag pattern, which I think is a little creepy — but I guess that’s the idea, right?


One of the fantastic things about this book is that the patterns are great for Halloween, but you can also use them at other times too. That translates to a great value for the time and money you spend on both the book and the projects. A big thumbs up to that!

Overall I really enjoyed this book, which tells you a lot since I am not someone who ordinarily enjoys crocheting skulls or creepy projects.

If you want more details about the book and its contents, I invite you to click here for my detailed book review.

See Also:

Imagical Seasons Crochet Pattern Book GIVEAWAY and Blog Tour

Updated 7-21-2015: — We have a couple of giveaway winners!

Maria commented,

I love the apron top of the volumen 2 and the boleros of volume 1. Both to crochet for mg niece. But in general I loved your designs!!

Maria, congrats on winning Imagical Seasons Crochet volume 1, the spring patterns!

Sara commented,

The headband and lace edgings are really cute! I like the pink lace top for girls, too.

Sara, congrats on winning Imagical Seasons Crochet volume 1, the summer patterns!

Maria and Sara, please be sure to check your email ASAP (including your spam folder, just in case.) I’m hoping to hear back from you before 7-23-2015 at midnight, Eastern time, to confirm your contact information and other details. After I hear back from you, I will forward your info to the book’s publicist so she can connect you with your copy of the book you won.

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the giveaway! Please know that I really appreciate your interest, and I also really appreciate the great response from all of you. Your presence here in this community means a lot to me and Mike!

Welcome to KnittingandCrochet.net, the First Stop on Alla Koval's Blog Tour for the Imagical Seasons Crochet Pattern Books

Hello everyone! Today is July 13, 2015 and you’ve arrived at the first stop on the blog tour for two of Alla Koval’s latest crochet pattern books. These books are the first two publications in a series called “Imagical Seasons: Crochet Couture for Kids 2-12.”

Do you enjoy any of the following?

  • Crocheting lovely baby blankets or coverlets
  • Crocheting gorgeous, feminine lace projects
  • Crocheting clothing or accessories for girls aged 2-12
  • Crocheting projects for warm-weather using spring or summer crochet patterns

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, I think you’re going to want to get in on this giveaway — and you’ll probably also want to take a closer look at these two new crochet pattern collections that offer you the opportunity to enjoy all of the above options.


Volume 1 of the Imagical Seasons collection is devoted to spring crochet patterns, and Volume 2 is devoted to summer crochet patterns. These books are delightful compilations of lovely, lacy projects including baby blankets, girls’ accessories, girls’ clothing, and components like lace edgings and motifs.

These books include helpful, detailed instructions including symbol crochet charts, schematics and written instructions. So whichever type of instructions you prefer, you’re covered.


Want more info about these books? Please be sure to take a look at my detailed book reviews and the product detail pages at Amazon.com:

What We’re Giving Away:

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Volume 1, Spring; and another lucky winner will receive a copy of Volume 2, Summer, compliments of the publisher and Alla Koval. The giveaway is open worldwide, except where prohibited by law. Winners in the USA and Canada can choose between a paperback copy of the book or a digital copy. Winners outside the USA will receive digital downloads. Winners are responsible for paying any taxes or duties that may be imposed in their country or area.

How to Enter the Giveaway:

The winner will be randomly selected from among qualifying comments on this blog post.

Want to win one of these books? Here’s how to get your entries in the drawings:

  • Take a look at my reviews and the Amazon product pages, linked above.
  • Come back to this page and leave a comment telling us which project in each book you’d be most excited to make!
  • To get up to two extra entries in the giveaway, you can post a link to my book reviews of the Imagical Seasons crochet books in your crochet blog, craft blog or personal blog — then leave an additional comment on this post letting me know where to find your links.

  • Be sure to include a functioning email address (one that you actually check!) when you comment — so we have a way to contact you if you win the book. If you enter your email address in the spot where our blogging software directs you to enter it, it will not be displayed with your comment. For your own privacy, PLEASE do not put your email address in the text of your actual comment.
  • Post your comment any time before July 19, 2015 at midnight (Eastern Standard Time.)
  • If all goes according to plan, we’ll contact the winners by email shortly thereafter — and I’ll try my best to announce the winners on the blog sometime the week of July 20th. I ask that you have patience if the announcement is not made immediately. I am pregnant, and it’s close to the time of my baby’s due date. If my little one decides to make an unexpected early appearance, there will be a delay in making the announcement. Thanks so much for your understanding.

More Highlights From the Blog Tour:

  • Click here to check out some insights crochet designer Alla Koval has shared about this brand new series of crochet pattern books — plus bunches of other interesting tips and tidbits that any crochet enthusiast will find helpful. Alla discusses a variety of topics, including tips for new crocheters, insights about what it’s like to write a book, and the scoop on some of her absolute favorite crochet resources. You won’t want to miss this!


  • SPECIAL DEAL for Blog Tour Participants! — Buy the print edition for $24.95 and receive the digital download for free (retail value $19.95). To take advantage of this deal, use promo code IMAGICAL.
  • Best wishes to all of you with your giveaway entries! Can’t wait to see who the winners will be — and best of all, I cannot wait to see the fabulous projects y’all will be crocheting once you get your hands on these beautiful patterns.


    XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO,

    Amy Solovay

    Photo Credits: Book cover photos are courtesy of Alla Koval/IMagicalSeasons.com


    Disclosure: The publisher provided me with a review copy of these books. I’ve done my best to express my honest, carefully-considered opinion about the books on this page and in my review. There is no financial relationship, or for that matter any relationship, between me and the publisher, or between me and the author. The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.

Sneak Peek at a New Crochet Lace Pattern Collection for Girls

Girls Summer Crochet Lace Patterns
Girls Summer Crochet Lace Patterns by Alla Koval
Do you enjoy crocheting for a girl aged between 2 and 12 years old — perhaps a daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece or friend? Or perhaps your charity crochet efforts involve making beautiful things for girls in this age group.

I’m thinking those of you do enjoy crocheting for young ladies will be super excited to preview this sneak peek of a new crochet lace pattern collection for girls. These are all summer-friendly patterns that are ideal for both working on and wearing in the warm weather months. They’re beautiful, feminine designs that will appeal to little girls.

A Floral Crochet Lace Top Pattern for Girls From the Imagical Seasons Volume 2 Pattern Book for Summer
A Floral Crochet Lace Top Pattern for Girls From the Imagical Seasons Volume 2 Pattern Book for Summer

These finished projects would make fantastic gifts. It’s notoriously challenging to find suitable summer crochet patterns to use for making birthday gifts. If your beloved girl was born in the summer months, this collection is definitely worth taking a look at, because it offers many lovely gift-worthy project ideas.

These projects would also be useful Christmas gifts for those in warm climates. I’m thinking Californians and Floridians are going to get lots of mileage out of this book, because many of the designs would be useful year-round in warm-weather regions.

This book also includes a couple of gorgeous blanket patterns. Are you in need of a summertime baby shower gift, a summer coverlet for a girl’s bed, or a fabulous project for a Project Linus donation? If so, I think you’re likely to want to get your hands on a copy of this book.

Summer Crochet Baby Blanket Pattern from the Imagical Seasons Crochet Pattern Book, Volume 2, Summer
Summer Crochet Baby Blanket Pattern from the Imagical Seasons Crochet Pattern Book, Volume 2, Summer

I have exciting news for you: Coming up soon, you’re going to have 10 different opportunities to WIN a FREE copy of this book for yourself. You also have the opportunity to buy the book, if you’d rather not wait around to get your hands on a copy of it.
A digital copy of the book is available for instant download through Amazon.com,
or you can order a paperback copy to be shipped to you.

Want to “meet” the book’s author, Alla Koval, and find out some of the interesting insights she has shared about this book, her book-writing process and her favorite crochet resources? If so, I invite you to check out this designer interview with Alla Koval. I found it interesting to learn about her take on what it’s like to write a book, the latest trends that are influencing her design work, and her other favorite crafts and hobbies.

If you want to try to win a copy of the book for yourself, I suggest visiting here again tomorrow morning, July 13, 2015 for the first giveaway! We’re celebrating the release of this gorgeous pattern collection with a virtual book tour. You’ll be able to visit 10 different blogs to find out more about the book and how other crocheters like it. My fellow crochet bloggers and I be sharing the full scoop, including the following:

  • Bunches more project photos
  • A special offer you can take advantage of
  • Interviews with the author; you’ll find insights about some of her favorite crochet stitches and resources; her take on the latest developing crochet trends; helpful hints any crochet enthusiast can use; plus insights into her process for learning how to crochet, writing a book, pattern design, and more.
  • Book reviews with more details about the projects, and about what these patterns are like to work on
  • Not to mention, of course, the part I’m sure you’ll be looking forward to the most: the book giveaways!

You won’t want to miss this…


I’ll be your hostess at the first stop on the blog tour, and I’m kicking it off right here tomorrow morning at 8 am, Eastern time, if all goes according to plan.

Best wishes to all of you with your giveaway entries! Can’t wait to see who the winners will be — and best of all, I cannot wait to see the fabulous projects y’all will be crocheting once you get your hands on these beautiful patterns.


XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO,

Amy Solovay

Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of Alla Koval/IMagicalSeasons.com, and used with permission.


Disclosure: The publisher provided a complimentary review copy of this book. This is not a compensated review, and there is no financial or other relationship between me and the book publisher, or me and the author. I’ve done my best to post an unbiased review offering my honest opinions about the book and its pros and cons. The links included in this post and in my book reviews are affiliate links.

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