SMP Craft
2 Jun

Author of the Month: Isela Phelps of Loom Knitting Afghans

This month we sit down for a Q&A with loom knitting expert Isela Phelps, author of the bestselling Loom Knitting series, including Loom Knitting for Babies & Toddlers, Loom Knitting Socks, and new this month Loom Knitting AfghansShe is an active member of the online knitting community as well as the editor and publisher of Loom Knitters Circle, an online magazine for loomers. Find her blogging at and giving tips and tricks on her YouTube channel.

1. What’s your craft? My craft is loom knitting; it is just like knitting, except using a knitting loom instead of needles.

2. What project would you consider an all-time best? An all-time best project would probably be the little dinosaurs I created for one of my books. They were so fun to make and they were actually something that I wanted to keep for myself.


3. What project would you consider an all-time worst? My all-time worst project was a felted purse. It turned out too wide and the colors looked terrible once felted.

4. What tool or material could you not live without? I always have on hand some Malabrigo worsted yarn. It is my go-to yarn.

5. What’s your hidden talent? My hidden talent, well, if I knew what it was, it wouldn’t be hidden, hahaha. I don’t believe I have a hidden talent.


Beautiful images from Loom Knitting Afghans


9781250049841_FCWhether you’re new to loom knitting or a serial afghan knitter looking for some new exciting projects, Loom Knitting Afghans has lots to delve into from blankets featuring a variety of stitches and textures to blankets showcasing intricate cables and lace patterns. The projects are arranged from beginner to advanced so that new loom knitters can progress through the designs while learning and mastering techniques as they go. Isela provides clear, easy-to-follow instructions and shares hints and tips for how to choose the right loom and yarn for a project.

Barnes & Noble
Powell’s Books

Check out our June and July titles:
3D_LoomKnitting-100x140 3D_LoomKnitting-100x140

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1 May

Author of the Month Q&A: Cindy Cummins of Game Day

This month we sit down for a Q&A with sewing expert Cindy Cummins, author of Game Day. Cindy has been involved in the sewing industry for over thirty years—designing some of the first Serger patterns and writing numerous sewing books. She also started and leads Creative Chicks Productions, devising instructional and entertaining DIY sewing content for seamstresses worldwide.

1. What’s your craft? I love to sew, and have been sewing since I was young. Like many girls, I started with Barbie clothes and worked my way into sewing clothes for myself. I quickly learned that all my babysitting money could be turned into many more sewn outfits than my Mom could afford to purchase for me. Fast forward years later, I became a Serger sewing expert.

2. What project would you consider an all-time best? I don’t know that I have an all-time best project! I have sewn literally hundreds of items over the years— everything from lingerie, to swimwear, to bridal, to tailored clothing. If I had to pick something it would be from my early hand tailoring days, and a jacket that I created that won a prize in a Make It with Wool contest. I believe I was 18 at the time.

3. What project would you consider an all-time worst? Gee, I think all of us who sew have UFO’s (unfinished objects). Those would be pictures nobody wants to see—I’m sure of that. I know I have had several unsuccessful sewing attempts (I’m a pro with a seam ripper), so I can’t single any one thing out!

4. What tool or material could you not live without? My Serger(s). Notice the plural! Now that I specialize in knits sewing and Serging I would not know how to live/sew without a Serger!

5. What’s your hidden talent? I’m told I have great marketing vision and execution. Actually, I always tell people it is “smoke and mirrors” making everything look so good……lol! Seriously though it really helps to start with a great idea and bring it totally to fruition. Just like the Game Day book.

 Fun and inspirational images from Game Day

boot linersdoggy





Fleece is a super fabric available in a ton of colors, prints, and types—even team-licensed prints for favorite professional and university sports teams. And the time is right for a guidebook that addresses the super-easy sewing techniques needed to create your own “go team” spirit gear.

In Game Day, you will find over 50 easy projects designed for tailgating, kids, man’s best friend, and much more. You’ll always have something handmade to help you get your game on!

Buy the book now!

Barnes & Noble


Check out our May and June titles:

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3 Apr

Quintessentially Colorful: Will Taylor of Bright.Bazaar

This month we wanted to introduce you to our go-to expert in color, Will Taylor of the Bright.Bazaar blog—and new design book of the same name! Praised by design star Jonathan Adler as “a true talent with a keen eye,” Will guides you through making the most of the cornerstone of your life – where you live. Will posts almost daily on his Pinterest site; great examples below.



Also, check out a video where Will explains his color rules!



BrightBazaar (2)

Structured around the different spaces within the home, the book breaks down the how, when, and where of using different shades and color combinations. Will’s fun and lighthearted approach shows the reader how to look around for color inspiration and how to start to incorporate colors into both the smaller and larger components of a room like walls, floors, furniture, fabrics, and accessories.

Taylor’s vibrant and easy-to-follow guide to color offers readers the confidence they need to perfect their color choices.


Barnes & Noble
Powell’s Books

14 Feb

Hello, Torie Jayne!

This month, we wanted to share a little bit about Torie Jayne, popular blogger and former fashion designer. Torie’s house is currently featured in the March issue of Style at Home, which you can read all about on her blog. The article includes loads of interior styling tips, space organization secrets, and gorgeous photographic spreads. Style










And for crafters who want to take their craft to a new entrepreneurial level, Torie’s new hot off the presses book How to Show & Sell Your Crafts is the perfect guide.

How to Show & Sell Your CraftsUsing highly-visual, step-by-step tutorials, How to Show & Sell Your Crafts includes helpful branding, selling, and merchandising tips that no serious crafter should be without. Using the workspaces, shops, salons, and “through-the-keyhole” profiles of some of the world’s most successful crafters, readers will learn the best ways to merchandise and sell their items online, at craft fairs, markets, pop-up events, exhibitions, and in shops. Plus, you’ll learn how to build a personality-driven brand, create a memorable blog or website, improve your photography skills, and analyze your results to help move your business forward into the future.

You start by learning how to optimize your workspace to improve creativity and profitability, then how to build a strong brand name and online presence across multiple social media platforms. Lastly, learn how to get your work out into the marketplace, engage customers, and use the insider secrets offered in this book to set yourself up for success and grow your sales!

How to Show & Sell Your Crafts


Barnes & Noble
Powell’s Books

30 Oct

Author of the Month Q&A with Jay Sacher

Once in a while we come across a book so simple and extraordinary that we can’t believe we survived without it.  HOW TO HANG A PICTURE: And Other Essential Lessons for a Stylish Home by Jay Sacher and Suzanne LaGasa is definitely one of those books. As such, we couldn’t resist sitting down with Jay Sacher to find out what inspired him…


How to Hang a Picture


Barnes & Noble



Q&A with Jay Sacher, author of HOW TO HANG A PICTURE

SMPCraft: I’m always curious when I come across an author duo – so tell us, how did you meet & why did you decide to write this book together?
Jay Sacher: For many years, Suzanne and I both worked at a publishing house in San Francisco. I was an editor and Suzanne was a designer, but we rarely if ever worked together professionally. We became friends over our love of art—making it, discussing it, seeing it. We both lived in Maine for two years, where the idea for How to Hang a Picture came up over a dinner conversation. Hanging art well is one of those things that’s a perennial issue for people, and it comes to the forefront whenever you move into a new place. It’s not rocket science, but it’s easy to overlook or misunderstand. Exploring this topic just felt like a great intersection of both things we love and questions we wanted answered.

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SMPC: People are definitely going to ask – can you really write a whole book about HOW TO HANG A PICTURE?  (i.e. Give us some insight about the surprisingly wide range of cool things you cover in the book.)
JS: We’ve always looked at hanging art well as a hallmark of personal style; it’s one of those little things that can make a big difference. What we found as we researched the book, talking to curators, gallerists, artists, home-décor experts, and just folks with cool style is that while there is no single “right” way to hang a picture, there are plenty of wrong ways—it’s one of the reasons we’re all so intimidated by the process, or why we tend to put it off to the last possible moment. Everybody has that pile of art sitting under their bed or in the closet, waiting to be framed and hung. We wanted to write a book that would provide some simple guidelines to follow so that you can develop your own style without ruining your wall or your art in the process.

We cover the basics of both aesthetics and mechanics—how do you determine the best height for hanging your art? What if you want to create a salon or gallery-style wall? How do you integrate your art with the furniture and lighting of a room, how do you work with color? What if you need to hang art on a pre-war plaster wall, or brick or cinderblock, how do you use picture-rail hangers? What’s the best way to tie picture hanging wire or fishing line? What if you want to hang something really heavy? How much should you worry about museum quality or archival frames and materials? And should you want to frame art yourself, we show you the cheapest solution that doesn’t sacrifice from the overall aesthetics of your art, a DIY-light approach of store-bought and custom-cut materials.

Along the way, we asked our artist and designer friends, and other people whose homes we admired, to send us photos of their spaces with art hung with style and verve. I used those to paint the watercolors, showcasing the various lessons in the book or simply to act as inspiration for your own style.

SMPC: Have either of you been published before?
JS: Suzanne has designed numerous books, and I’ve written a few pop culture/history/what-have you books, including most recently,  A Compendium of Collective Nouns (Chronicle Books & Woop Studios) which came out this past September, and a book on the history of the Lincoln Memorial, which publishes in 2014.

SMPC: Other than being authors and art-hangers, do you have day jobs & what are they?
JS: Along with her book design work, Suzanne is an art director at an advertising agency, and I’m an editor at the visual culture publisher, Princeton Architectural Press. I live in Brooklyn, New York and Suzanne lives in Portland, Maine.

SMPC: What in each of your backgrounds led you to knowing about and having a propensity towards the topics covered in the book?
JS: It comes down to a love of art. I’ve got the messy, haphazard artist’s approach, and Suzanne has an art director’s eye and love of precise detail—of things placed just so. Our tastes and skills meet on the common ground of both loving the emotional and aesthetic power of art. In the end, we both want the art on our walls to look good and do its job. This book was all about the two of us discovering the best, cheapest, and simplest ways to do so.

SMPC: If someone is moving into a new apt & has a variety of art to hang – what are the five tools that they should have in their toolbox?
JS: Measuring tape, sturdy fishing wire (much easier to use than the metal picture wire stuff they use on the back of frames), a whole boatload of various “museum-grade” picture frame hangers, clean hands, and somebody to stand behind them and tell them it looks like hell.

SMPC: Have you ever had any “art-hanging” disasters?
JS: Almost everything I do is a disaster at first go, but trial and error is the key. The biggest lesson I took away from this book is it’s essential to plan things out when hanging art. For instance, if you’re cleaning your glazing (the glass of your frame) just before you hang your piece, you might be tempted to dry it with a paper towel rather than be patient and let it air dry. But that will cause static electricity buildup and probably leave you with an overlooked piece of lint stuck to the inside of your glazing in the worst possible place.

Don’t eyeball anything. Don’t assume you know what’s behind your wall. Measure twice and cut once and all those Boy Scout clichés are the TRUTH.

SMPC: What is the most ambitious art-hanging project you’ve ever taken on or helped someone else with?
JS: I’m most proud of our work on the centerpiece salon-style wall in Suzanne’s home. Suzanne had a vision to use some reclaimed wood beams from a 19th century church to build a series of low slung shelves for her art and design books, with a salon-style wall showcasing some of her favorite art above it. We did it in the dead of winter, sanding the soggy muddy beams in the freezing cold on the roof, and planning out a wall of staggered art that stretches across about fifteen feet. An illustration of a portion of the wall is in our book.

SMPC: Do you have a favorite wall of hung art?
JS: Looking at the art in New York’s Frick Museum always makes me think of my dad as an art student at Queens College forty-five years ago, and the crazy floor-to-ceiling arrangements in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston are the best example of personal vision trumping any sort of art-hanging “rule” you’ll ever find.

SMPC: The pictures in the book are so great!  Who did those and are they based on real walls or are they made up?
JS: I based most of the watercolors on real life spaces from friends whose walls we loved and tastemakers we reached out to, the real spaces are all credited in the book. Others are amalgams of things we’ve seen or that speak to lessons we wanted to convey, but the majority are based on real spaces. Some of the rad folks who let us paint their homes include people like Christine Schmidt from Yellow Owl Workshop, the textile designer Lena Corwin, the artist Mike Perry, the design studio Wary Meyers, and Lisa Wong Jackson from Good on Paper.

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CAUGHT CRAFTING: SMPCraft’s Spotlight on NYC Crafting

SMPCRAFT #CAUGHTCRAFTING Thursday morning, Astoria, Queens. Accessorizing with a lovely temporary floral tattoo she learned to make from DIY Temporary Tattoos: Draw It, Print It, Ink It by Pepper Baldwin!



Father's Day is less than three weeks away -- Sunday, June 19th in the U.S. -- just enough time to start prepping for what would make dear old pops feel loved....What dad, what MAN, wouldn't want to get a bright red tool box full of homemade BBQ, bacon, and chili flavored chocolate? Or a handmade Paracord hammock? Does he play golf?--hand dipped tees? Does he like to hike? Enjoy nature and the great outdoors? How about homemade beef jerky? Or does he enjoy watching sports--Remote Control Cookie? What about beer? One of the coolest new items coming out of Japan is a Frozen Beer Slushy Maker by Kirin Ichiban that perfectly pairs with the DIY black and tan soap! Scroll and click for more homemade DIY Father's Day gift ideas sure to make pappy happy! Hashtag #SMPCRAFT #DIYFATHERSDAY!

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