The middle of February is an especially brutal time to be a Chicagoan. This is when the winter wheat is separated from the winter chaff. It’s when you start looking at your friends on Facebook beginning to drink rosé on their patios and you’re grateful if it hits 40 degrees. Worst of all, you know it won’t truly warm up for another two and a half months. At least.
This is not to say there aren’t a plethora of indoor activities in the city. But this is also not to say that sometimes sitting in your pajamas in your house after the ninth inch of snow has fallen isn’t the worst, either.
The problem with this “nestle in and stay inside so as to avoid putting on real pants” maneuver is that eventually you’re going to want something to occupy your brains other than Netflix, before you and your kids start tearing down the walls. However, if you’re anything like me, long-term crafting might not be your thing. I have neither the time nor inclination to store boundless craft supplies, glitter,* yarns, threads, sewing supplies, pipe cleaners, etc. in my already limited city closets. When I have done projects in the past I ended up with so much extra … stuff** which I either stuff away in angst at the thought of all the waste I’m creating only to forget about it completely, or skip right to having minor heart palpitations at adding unnecessarily to the planet’s woes.
This is why my new project jam lately has been craft kits. Craft kits allow you to still be creative and craft, yet don’t force you to overbuy supplies you may or may not ever need again. These days you can find all kinds of kits: baking, sewing, knitting, building, modeling and more. Here are four of my favorites that go beyond friendship bracelets.
Do you remember these potholder looms from your childhood? Of course you do. Your grandmother probably remembers these from her childhood. The thing is, though, sometimes the classics are classics for a reason, and kids still enjoy the sensation of unpaid child labor making potholders that last so long their parents will ask to be buried with them. Word of warning: these things are a little addicting. Maybe these will be the next adult coloring books for relaxation?
Calm-down jars seem to be everywhere these days, but for good reason: they really, truly help kids who are prone to having big feelings and may need a little extra help in the “self regulation” area. When you shake them up, glitter falls down in the colored water and you watch it, much like a snow globe. The problem with these typically is that getting all the supplies for making just one calm-down jar is ridiculous and you’ll end up with 10 times as much of every ingredient than you’ll ever use or potentially want. Enter the calm-down jar kit. You get to choose the colors, bring only as much glitter as you absolutely must into your house, and wind up with a great mechanism for anyone in the house needing a bit of a cool-off. Since the kit only involves pouring, this kit is great for even the littlest crafter in the house.
String art is, at its core, some nails in a pattern, with string strung between them multiple times to make a cool-looking design. However, making the pattern, sanding the wood, nailing the the nails … it’s a lot of work if you’re doing it from scratch. There are, however, great templates available. This particular shop sends you the wood, template, string and a kid-friendly hammer so your kiddo can feel like they’ve really made the entire thing from start to finish. Brilliant!
This knitting-without-actually-knitting kit is a great way to introduce your kid to knitting without having to confuse or potentially frustrate them with full-blown knitting needles. This kit is easy and fun to use, and makes socks, hats, scarves and even some jewelry, and includes the first bit of yarn to get going.
Honestly, I don’t even know what to say about these except that I very, very, very desperately want to make these yarn unicorn kits myself and display them proudly in my own home. You receive the unicorn cardboard molds, string, and then just wrap, wrap, wrap until you finally get to gaze upon these magnificent creatures in their gloriousness.
*More commonly known as “the asbestos of the crafting world”
**More commonly known as “crap”