What's the most useful crafted item you've ever made and/or received?
March 21, 2018 4:41 PM   Subscribe

So my hands need to be kept busy right now and I'm sick of all of my current projects. What I would like to know is this: what's the most useful and beloved handcrafted/handmade item you have ever either made yourself (and kept by you or given away and then treasured) and/or was handmade by a friend or family member for you?

I'm kind of a hobby enthusiast: I can sew; knit; crochet; spin; make soaps, salves, candles, and the like; I'm super into woodworking; I can carve wood as well as build with it; I like gilding; I can't weave yet but I should be able to in a few months; I can draw and paint, I'm learning rosemaling/tole painting; beadwork and quillwork, leatherwork... basically no handicraft/hobby is off limits for suggestions.

But I do like my projects to be useful or appreciated and that's what I'm looking for -- the best handmade thing you own, what makes it great, and maybe a hint (or if I'm really lucky, a tutorial or some pictures) about how it was created. Thank you!
posted by elsietheeel to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (66 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
I treasure a beautiful turkey red quilt my close friend made for me almost 20 years ago. She chose the fabrics just for me. And I sleep under it every night 3 of the 4 seasons. I never take it for granted.
posted by primate moon at 4:52 PM on March 21, 2018 [4 favorites]

two items come quickly to mind.

1. a basic wool hat (or toque as we call them in Canada) that's made of good lightweight wool and has a fine enough weave to keep most rain out. I wear the thing a solid eight months of the year, or certainly keep it handy in my jacket pocket. I bought it at a yard sale almost twenty years ago now ... and later discovered it had been knitted by an old friend who I'd lost touch with.

2. a basic walking stick carved from what I imagine was a piece of driftwood. Nothing fancy about it. Just a cool piece of wood with the right shape, smoothed and polished and, like the toque above, it's been serving me for many years.
posted by philip-random at 4:53 PM on March 21, 2018 [6 favorites]

A wooden trivet for the kitchen. (My dad is a woodworker.) Even though we have heat resistant countertops, I still use it because it looks nice and works well and because he made it for me. It's bigger than you'd need for one pot, which is nice and I use it for cookie sheets too.

My mom sewed a bunch of potholders that I adore. Cheery colors and prints. Same with some fabric napkins. I use the potholders every day.
posted by purple_bird at 4:53 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a heavy flannel quilt my good friend made me and it feels like Home feels. I love it.
posted by Grandysaur at 5:00 PM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

My sister-in-law made me a bunch of crochet washcloths that I use when I rinse off face masks and other difficult to remove skin care items from my face. I love them. I use them all the time.
posted by shesbookish at 5:00 PM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Crochet afghan!
posted by 8603 at 5:05 PM on March 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

My great-aunt made me a bathrobe in my favorite color (burgundy) with my initials embroidered on one of the pockets, to take with me when I went to college.

I still have it. It's worn out, not wearable, and she's been gone for ten years next month - but I can't bring myself to part with my beloved bathrobe.
posted by dancing_angel at 5:05 PM on March 21, 2018 [4 favorites]

A good quilt, as mentioned above. Also, handmade ceramic mugs, if you have access to a wheel and kiln.
posted by amelioration at 5:06 PM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have several! I have a quilt on my bed that a dear friend made out of old flannel shirts. It's so simple - they're just cut in squares. She makes wonderful fancy quilts too, but who wouldn't just want to snuggle under the world's biggest flannel shirt?

Also a blue knitted stocking cap I have that's big enough for my huge head with some more to spare. I can pull it down to cover my ears and even my neck in the back. I could cover my face with it too if I didn't mind not seeing. It's the best thing and it makes me happy every time I put it on.
posted by fritley at 5:08 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I still have the afghans and quilts my great grandma made for me when i was a baby.
posted by notjustthefish at 5:08 PM on March 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

knit socks & mittens. I live in Maine, socks and mittens are useful, my knitting friends say they're pretty easy.
posted by theora55 at 5:14 PM on March 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

Simple, but useful: I use my dish scrubber almost daily. I don't use it for all my dishes, but just for scrubbing. My scrubber has nylon on one side and yarn(?) on the other side. It's one of these. Hmmm, nylon on both sides would be even better!
posted by hydra77 at 5:15 PM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have a friend who made me a hat herself that she knit (she also made me socks but they are not as awesome). It's the perfect color and she measured my head so it fits. I love it.

A friend made me a nice drawing/watercolor of my state with a cool red star where I live. It's on my wall. It was a trade for a mossarium I made her. I love it.

My sister wove me a weird orange scarf with this crazy fiber that looks all nuts and is perfect for me and I get compliments every time I wear it. I know scarves are sort of overdone but the right scarf can be so right.

A MeFi friend made me a pot that he made on a wheel and I use it as my one kitchen jar to hold spoons and other kitchen implements in. It's the perfect color and looks great in my kitchen.
posted by jessamyn at 5:15 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

My son loves the quilt I made out of old jeans. Since the kids were little when I made it, I included interesting details like pockets and loops. We used it as a picnic blanket, but my son eventually commandeered it for his bed.
posted by FencingGal at 5:16 PM on March 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

The most useful thing I've ever made myself is a console table based on these instructions. I've had so many friends ask me to make them one.
posted by little king trashmouth at 5:16 PM on March 21, 2018 [4 favorites]

Not made for me specifically, but my father made a freestanding oak plant stand in high school shop class in the early 1930s fairly similar to this that is mine now. Obviously a good woodworker could do more with the basic design. I've loved being able to use it even in the smallest of houses/apartments over the years where plant-space was limited. Plus, well, Dad made it.
posted by ClingClang at 5:18 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

My aunt made me a couple of microwave bowl pot holders like this. I took one to work and I literally use it every single day to heat up my lunch. It's not only super useful, but she picked really cute fabrics and patterns, so it makes my lunch feel a little more cozy and pleasant, plus I think about her every time I use it!
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 5:22 PM on March 21, 2018 [17 favorites]

Useful crafts are my favorites!

I wove a couple of scarves that I wore a whole bunch. Weaving is great and I loved it so much (I want to pick it back up but I sort of hit the wall with as much as I could do with my small rigid heddle loom. I either need to buy a bigger one or buy a 4-shaft loom, neither of which are particular cheap & I don't have the space anyway. But weaving is awesome).

My mom was a seamstress & still sews a little. She put together a good set of throw pillows and a throw blanket for my couch and I use those every day (using them right now!). Pillows are super easy!

(That's not even to mention the broad amount of clothing that can be sewn! Things like pajama pants are super easy and forgiving if you know someone's general size.)

I've decorated (decoupage/etc.) storage boxes (one was an accordion folder & another was a box for for 7 in. records). I've also decorated blank books/notebooks.

Hats are always good. They may come and go in style, but I've had some good that were sewn from fabric (you know, rather than knitted/crochet).

Small ceramic bowls/dishes for things like change/keys/earrings/rings are also nice.

Don't under-estimate a good set of coasters, either. I've made coasters for people and they're always appreciated (and it's the sort of thing that you may or may not buy yourself but are always happy to have).
posted by darksong at 5:24 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm 71, so I've accumulated some stuff. I have a Scandinavian-style ski sweater knit by my mother when I was college age. I hate to take it out of the drawer because I don't want to discover the moths have gotten it.

I have a ceramic cup hand-painted by an aunt when I was about four.

I have a ceramic (fired-clay) dog made by my daughter when she was in elementary school.

I have a watercolor painted by a friend that was gift from my wife.

I use a small bureau that was unpainted furniture from Sears about the time I was born, painted by my parents.

My wife and I have a quilt hand-made by an aunt of my step mother.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:25 PM on March 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

A couple years ago I made my art-school-bound sister-in-law a drawing case. It's got a pouch for a miniature sketchbook, pens, and a pencil. The strap is elastic and wraps around to keep it small and easy to carry. I made up the pattern myself and honestly don't remember anything about how I did it, but if me and my lack of sewing skills figured it out a couple of years ago I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to rig up.

She uses it constantly--she's gone through several miniature sketchbooks, and I see her with it almost every time we go out. She even brought it on vacation with her last week. I'm not sure anything I've made has ever seen so much use and love.
posted by brook horse at 5:29 PM on March 21, 2018 [6 favorites]

My friend made me a pair of mittens--fine yarn, tight knit, fancy pattern. They are warm with lots of rooms for my fingers and practically waterproof. I've had them for years and they are the absolute best.

My father made me a wooden box for knickknacks. The sentimental part is that he made it out of aromatic cedar that he found on his own wood lot, but I pretty much love all the nice wooden boxes I have for storing useful things, so the handmade part is just the icing on the cake.

I do not have a handmade tote bag, but I have an insatiable appetite for tote bags, and if someone made me one I would love it, as long as it was sturdy enough to carry hardback books. There is no such thing as too many tote bags.
posted by gideonfrog at 5:30 PM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

I love handmade soaps, and as far as craft products go, it’s great that they get used up.
posted by advicepig at 5:42 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

My kid made me a great toiletries bag when she was 10 and I still use it years later. On my bed I’ve got an afghan made by one grandmother and a quilt made by the other. And I really love some fingerless gloves that my sister crocheted for me. My hands are frequently cold inside. And I work on the computer. It is so wonderful to have those great fingerless gloves available to help keep my hands warm when I have to work. Then she made me a laptop cover that matched my gloves, which was really sweet. What a nice question, OP. You have a good heart.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:44 PM on March 21, 2018 [4 favorites]

At some point, my mom knitted a large blanket for her mom, who died in the early 80s. She still has it on the back of her couch. (It's hideous 70s harvest gold and brown and in terrifying acrylic yarn, but let's overlook that.) Blankets/throws are a classic for a reason.
posted by praemunire at 5:46 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

A relatively small quilt that I use on the couch just about every single evening.

A pair of pot holders made by an aunt or grandmother of a labmate (who already had more than she could use, which is how I ended up with them) - but I think that is because they were given to me when I was in grad school and had something like 1 pan, 2 plates, 2 cups and one set of silverware plus an extra serving spoon to my name. Still, I used them for like 15 years, much longer than they should have lasted. (Moral of this paragraph: some of this may depend on the life stage of the recipient.)
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 5:47 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh yes, the bright acrylic blanket that my mother made for me in 8th grade "to take to college." Two and a half decades later and half a continent away, a real estate agent gently suggested that I remove it from my bed when showing the house. (I listened.)
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 5:49 PM on March 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

The two items I've been given that I really treasure (and would love to have more of) are a quilt (large, queen bed size - I also have smaller decorative quilts that are not large enough even to cover my lap and I don't really know what to do with those), and hand-knitted socks, which I love so much.

If I had a friend who made pottery/ceramics, there are a million useful things I would love them to make for me, but they are very specific, like, "I really need a container that has exactly these dimensions" or "I want a roundish container with a handle on each side" or "a plant holder that is this size and has drainage holes exactly here", etc.

Sometimes I think the greatest gift you can give someone if you are crafting for them is to actually ask them what specifications they would like for the thing, rather than it being a surprise. And actually that's kind of the same with the knitted things too. I like getting knitted items, but I LOVE knitters who let me pick out the yarn and pattern myself.
posted by lollusc at 5:50 PM on March 21, 2018 [5 favorites]

I agree with lollusc re. letting the recipient have opinions on/pick out the yarn and/or the pattern. I have collaborated with others on a few projects I made for them and I find it makes the project more fun for me as well. (And 8th-grade me picked out the colors on that acrylic quilt in my above comment.)
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 5:52 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I make small knitted squares. They can be used as facecloths, coasters, or other random things.

The handmade item I received that I the most is this pie carrier.
posted by greermahoney at 5:54 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Almost everyone says quilts, but have to say one of the best gifts ever from my notoriously great at gifting aunt and uncle was a wool quilt I received over 20 years ago.

Best thing i made? Ceramic bowl with felt on the bottom that I have used as a coin tray, ashtray, junk tray for decades.

Water bottle coozy that was hand woven is a treasured gift I use daily, in spite of it not being particularly useful.

If I lived somewhere that normal housing was a normal size: shelving would be amazing!! But I don't (yet).
posted by love2potato at 5:55 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I used to make a lot of beaded jewelry (earrings, necklaces and bracelets) for handmade gifts. It's an easy hobby to learn that doesn't require a lot of equipment. Not super utilitarian but very much appreciated.
posted by jazzbaby at 5:58 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've worn the fleece robe my mom sewed me when I got my first college apartment daily in fall, winter, and spring for the past 13 years (I'm wearing it now!). She's also sewed pajama pants (wearing a pair of those she made, too), hats, pullovers, throw blankets, and a toddler snowsuit for various family members.

On my guest bed is the quilt my grandma made for me when I went to college. It's a twin, though, and is too narrow for my current bed. A few years later she wised up and started making the grandkids full or queen sized quilts. She also makes crocheted dishrags, and those hand towels that button over a drawer pull. A few years ago she went through a tote bag making phase and I have half a dozen I use for grocery bags, beach bags, library bags, etc.

Mr. Abeja Bicicleta's dad made us several coat hook rails that we put up in the bathroom, bedroom, and by the front door. We use them every day to keep coats off the backs of chairs and clothes that can be worn again off the floor. He also refinishes furniture he picks up at auctions as a hobby, and we have and use several of those pieces.
posted by abeja bicicleta at 6:11 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

A comforter with wool batting that came from the maker’s own sheep.
posted by lakeroon at 6:21 PM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

I also had a friend made me a very simple leather tote bag that has withstood the beating I’ve given it, because it was made with love and good leather.

Additionally, learning to work with leather means you can make belts and wallets and purses too!
posted by Grandysaur at 6:23 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Quilts are great, but the most useful things I've made for myself and given away are big, triangle shawls. I love shawls because they're like half a blanket and I use them as such. I mean I use them for their intended purpose and as lap blankets and they're pretty too. I knit and crochet them.
posted by patheral at 6:38 PM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Wooden spoons. I don't like handmade cotton dish cloths because they are inferior to commercial ones. They have to be knit or crocheted at a really, really small gauge to be decent.
posted by Aranquis at 6:46 PM on March 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

I’m also an omnicrafter, but I rarely make things for other people because I don’t feel they’re appreciated. This thread makes me happy, though!

The most useful things I’ve made for myself are wide scarves on a rigid-heddle loom in fingering-weight yarn — they’re just so much more wearable (and faster to make) than knit scarves. And as much as I love to make shawls (I seriously have at least 50), I just don’t wear them as often.

The most useful gift I’ve received is a white acrylic afghan crocheted by my grandmother. I had it on my bed for years — it’s white, so it’s classic, and it’s acrylic, so it’s indestructible.

I also love to receive handmade soap, preferably strongly scented.
posted by liet at 6:57 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I treasure the knit blanket my mom made me almost 20 years ago! It’s still going strong!

The group Octopus For A Preemie is on my personal list. They crochet little toy octopi for preemies to hold so that the preemies don’t yank out their iv lines and other tubes. Adorable and useful! I’ve make several dozen octopi so far merely for friends children and the babies love them!
posted by ticketmaster10 at 6:58 PM on March 21, 2018 [5 favorites]

My aunt crocheted me a throw blanket that is extra-long so that I can fully cover my tall self when napping. I crocheted my mom a cross body purse with a strap long enough for her even taller frame. So stuff that you can customize to fit you just right is great. I also have an apron that i embroidered (I'm not that crafty- it was a pre stamped design) but I like it.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:17 PM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

My friend made me these rad “Bam!” and “Pow!” fingerless gloves that I like for running in the fall. They are adorable and perfect and I look forward to a very specific weather every year so I can bring them out.
posted by charmedimsure at 8:19 PM on March 21, 2018 [5 favorites]

A cousin painted a kid-sized wooden chair that she got from a garage sale for my grandson. It is a beautiful work of art depicting an underwater scene. She got input from grandson as to what animals to include. It has a blue whale, crabs, squid and fish as well as an underwater vehicle and a diver in an old-fashioned diving suit. The color of the ocean is lighter blue gradually going to darker blue at the bottom of the chair legs.

I knit a bath mat to fit the extra narrow space by my bathtub. Based on the double bump dishcloth
posted by goodsearch at 8:50 PM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

When we got married, as a gift we received a picnic basket that included a handmade quilt with funky patches on one side (gingham, little "picnic" bugs like ants and ladybugs, etc) and heavy denim on the back. This was before waterproof blankets became so popular. We keep the waterproof blanket in the trunk now for park days, and my kids sleep with the picnic quilt.

When my first child was born I asked a different family member to make a keepsake blanket. She used the extra fabric to make a matching teddy bear.
posted by vignettist at 9:31 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

My mom has made me so many quilts that they've almost turned from treasured possessions into clutter.

However, the one quilt that I would keep if I could only keep one is the "mystery quilt" we made together. We took a trip to a quilt shop together and picked out a palette of 6 (I think) fabrics and each made eight squares without the other one seeing them. When we were both done I added the sashing and borders and the "sandwich." Her friend machine-quilted it for us and it's such a beautiful quilt with so many happy thoughts.

Is there a memento you can make with another person? Sometimes the experience of making the thing together is the happiest part...
posted by bendy at 10:40 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a couple of coasters that I would love to have more of and seem like they could be made by a crafty person. They have a woven fabric of sisal or something like it on top and leather on bottom. I really like them because they absorb moisture from the glass and they don't slide around the table because of the leather backing. My favorite coasters!
posted by goodsearch at 10:41 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Nthing "blanket." At this very moment, I'm laying under a crocheted blanket made by my great-great aunt probably 25+ years ago. It's just pink acrylic-y yarn, but I treasure it, and it's been on every bed I've slept in since I was a child. Blankets rule.
posted by Charity Garfein at 10:42 PM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

The most useful thing I've ever made myself is this coffee cup cozy/wrist strap. I made it in one afternoon from one colour of leftover sock yarn and it was a delight every day I got my coffee on the way to work and could stride in with my hands free for my work pass and the door handle.
posted by escapepod at 11:04 PM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you want a hobby that never ends, knit tiny hats/bonnets for preemies in a hospital. The first time I was admitted to the preemie ward I was astonished that any child with a head the size of a ping pong ball could live. Of course, their tiny systems are taxed to keep them warm.
posted by Cranberry at 11:41 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

A small wooden tic-tac-toe game built by my grandfather is treasured and brought to family get togethers. It hides the pieces inside it’s drawer (along with an old photo of him).
posted by artdrectr at 12:01 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Have crochet hook, will travel (to a crafting workshop this weekend with my youngest daughter).
She keeps several afghans nearby. The vehicle will probably have the first one I made for her, a green block blanket with a variety of crochet stitches. This weekend I'm working on a "Turtle Beach" king-size blanket for my BIL and new SIL.

Back in my quilting phase, I made quillows (lap quilt with a pocket for folding into a pillow). I have Dad's on the couch with me.
My MIL's mom was an old-fashioned quilter, using scraps from sewing projects and cotton batting. We still have the wedding ring quilt she made for us, and another scrap quilt that see a lot of time on our beds.
posted by TrishaU at 2:41 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I reckon the best thing someone could make for me as a dog walker person is a cool leather or sturdy materialed 'walking belt' - so I can keep my hands free when I am wrangling my animals.

I had a belt like this for yeaaaars until it disintegrated and I can't find another one as good. It'd be cool to have a personalised one, with a zip section big enough for a phone, another one for doggie dump bags, another for house keys. Maybe another one that can fit a credit card and a few dollar bills.
posted by honey-barbara at 3:39 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Useful things I've made for myself recently (out of wood) include a charging station for all my family's 80 billion devices, a bedside table everything-holder (glasses, rings, phone/charger, watch), and many cutting boards and trivets.
posted by soren_lorensen at 3:52 AM on March 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

When I fool around with fabric, I make little fabric collages and then sew them up into zipper pouches which are great for pens/pencils, makeup, charging cables, etc.
posted by sarajane at 5:28 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

my eight year old still "uses" (curls up with and is comforted by) two handmade blankies made for her when she was born. One knitted with thick fluffy yarn, the other crocheted with more delicate yarn.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:52 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Pot holders and bowl insulators which are basically a slightly curved potholder for use under a hot soup bowl.
Wooden turned lamps and shelves
Small zippered bags for holding tiny items inside a larger bag
posted by soelo at 7:48 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Tote bags! One big and sturdy - bigger than commercial ones, and one smallish one that I like to use for lunches that is really pretty.
posted by ldthomps at 8:29 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Another vote for hand crafted tote bag. When my daughter was born, I had a custom bag made with the intent to use it as a quasi-diaper bag. It has lasted 13 years and now serves as my daily tote for work because it is so well made.

It has one outside pocket that's fairly deep and wide enough to securely hold my phone, keys and things I need to easily grab but items won't fall out. The top is zippered although I rarely zipper it shut. Inside, there are 3 deep pockets that we initially measured to hold baby bottles but now is the perfect size for my wallet, small tablet, pens or make up bag. The 23 inch handles are made out of canvas so it's the right length to throw over my shoulder. The material is dark to cover stains and it's padded so nothing inside breaks.

I would love to have someone make an exact replica for me!
posted by IndigoOnTheGo at 9:04 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I try to buy things made by people locally. Here are my favorite categories:

tea mugs
incense holders,
little coin purse puches big enough to hold a credit card (i use these as wallets)
beaded or fabric lanyards (i wear a badge at work)
little dishes to hold jewelry
bags - shopping, crossbody passport n crap holder for travel
cloth diapers
cloth (menstrual) pads
winter hat
moisturizing lotion
posted by WeekendJen at 10:05 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

* Cotton pillowcases and homemade potholders that my (late) great-aunt made me. Used regularly, and I don't think I've ever come across more comfortable pillowcases.
* A crocheted afghan from my cousin. Cozy and warm!
* Crocheted dishrags from another cousin. Does an amazing job on dishes.
* Three winter scarves: one from a high school friend, two from a college friend, all three are gorgeous. One of the scarves from my college friend was knitted with scraps and he made it "Doctor-Who-length; the other was made in the color of our alma mater. The high-school friend's is simply gorgeous, a mix of dark purple and green with lovely tassels and oh-so-soft.
* Quilts and blankets from assorted women in the family. All used regularly.

The quilts/blankets and the potholders are the items I use the most frequently.
posted by magstheaxe at 10:13 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

When my mom was having chemo (many years remission now, whoo!) she would always get really cold. And she was SO OVER the pink everything that she was getting as a breast cancer patient, so she told everyone that HER cancer treatment support color was going to be purple.

I made her an argyle fleece lap blanket (similar to this one http://www.craftstylish.com/item/48844/how-to-make-an-argyle-fleece-throw) in white and purple, and added a backing layer of purple minky fabric, because it was fuzzy and comforting.

She LOVES that blanket. She sleeps with it on her bed every night and when she had knee surgery she brought it to the hospital with her to sleep with then, too. She travels with it. She likes it because it is very warm, the fuzzy part is comforting to pet, it's heavy enough to feel psychologically comforting, and I made it for her to meet her specific needs.

The item I've made myself that I use the most is this shawl (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/colors-of-love). Buying the yarn was an indulgence because it's a lot nicer than I usually let myself get, but it's a pleasure to touch and wear and the colors are absolutely beautiful. Because it's a rainbow, it matches like 75% of my wardrobe. Plus I'm really often chilly. The shape means I can wear it like a wrap or like a scarf. Since finishing it I've worn it on average probably 3 times a week in the fall and winter.
posted by oblique red at 10:27 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

ErikaB knit a hat for me about eight years ago as a headwarming gift when I was recovering from my collapsed lung incident.

I still have it. I've almost lost it a few times now, including having it fall out of my pocket one snowy Thanksgiving evening while I was walking a friend home. I was so full, sleepy and drunk I couldn't even remember which way we walked to her place from my friends place, so on the way back it was a literal drunkard's walk back to my friend's place... and it worked. I found the poor thing already stepped on a dozen times and mashed into the dirty snow, and I was so ridiculously happy.

I also "lost" it at work in that my irritating manager moved it somewhere in a giant commercial kitchen and building and forgot where. I was so upset I nearly quit my job - mainly over this manager's attitude about everything, not just the hat, and I would eventually quit later for this reason.

I found my hat something like three weeks later in the official guest lost and found box. I was super happy to have it back because it was frickin' cold out.

It was one of the very rare things that survived and that I kept when leaving most of my stuff behind to go survive on my bike and figure out what was next. It's kept my head warm for many, many years now and is more than a hat. It's a reminder that the world isn't a bad place and that people care about me, and that I should take care of myself.

Physically the hat is a I believe a cable knit in a very unassuming medium brown with a white/ivory stripe around the crown. It's a good, stretchy size and I'm guessing in's mostly synthetic yarn because it handles machine washing and drying, which only shrinks it a little and forms it up nicely instead of turning it into felt. When unrolled all the way it'll cover my ears completely, and can be folded up for a thick, wide brim. If it's really cold and wet out I often wear it over a cap with a visor and let it slouch down over my neck and ears, held up out of my eyes by the visor/brim of my hat.

At first I wasn't in love with the color. To be honest? It's not a hat I would have picked out and bought for myself. And if I recall correctly ErikaB said she made it out of some leftovers or remnants that she expressed she wasn't super fond of, either.

But the color has served it very well considering I keep losing the darn thing in muddy snow and have had so many outdoor adventures. If it were a lighter color, it'd be irrevocably stained by now. If it were a darker color like a royal blue, a black or purple, it would have faded and looked ratty by now, and also look a lot more imposing.

As it is the hat is Platonically hat-colored and shaped. I could take a picture of it and submit it to wikipedia as the perfect entry for "unassuming, warm, plain yet functional knit stocking cap". It is the kind of knit hat a costume designer might choose or an illustrator might draw for a lumberjack, or a hobo, or a well-to-do and natty mid 20th century backpacker. It looks vintage and timeless.

I get a lot of compliments about it, and it's nice that it has a story and isn't just something I found in a thrift store.

Also, someone just sent me some vitamin E tea tree oil salve/balm and it's frickin' amazing and maybe they should sell stuff on Etsy or something.
posted by loquacious at 11:01 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I’ve made myself (many) carpenter’s squares. Easy to make, super useful (when woodworking) and you can make them look pretty nice.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:55 PM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

A lot of these things seem to also suit zero waste principles.

Fabric Based: Blankets, pot holders, seat cushions, tea cozies, slippers for sure everyday... reusable Menstrual liners! Portable sewing kit case.. Fabric grocery bag holder in the kitchen! See thru bags for vegetables/ to take to the market. BEESWAX reusable covers (an alternative to cling wrap), Sandwich bags etc. Portable party bunting (also for everyday decor is sooo festive and fun)
Body: soap, beard balms, salves etc of all kinds --- along with edible consumables
Wood: Wind Chimes! Shelf with eye hooks to hang my tea mugs along.
Leather: carved leather notebook cover (fits my standard notebook size so I can change it out when it fills up)
Ceramic: planter pots, kitchen scrub brush holder, change holder

Was once gifted a personalized balcony planter, with all the fixings to make various cocktails (herbs, fruits etc)
posted by abhardcastle at 11:08 AM on March 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh also Birdfeeder! Enjoy looking at it everyday!
posted by abhardcastle at 11:10 AM on March 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Dryer balls! I made them myself from a couple of old wool sweaters that I unraveled. They are infinitely useful and remind me of my favourite old sweaters every time I do laundry.
posted by Frenchy67 at 11:47 AM on March 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

All made for me by the same friend:

Knitted scarves and crocheted shawls; I use the former in winter and the latter in an over-air-conditioned office. Beautiful and useful.

A knitted draught-excluder snake (stuffed with old socks), which keeps adventuresome woodlice out of my bedroom.

Handmade juggling balls, the right size for my small hands.

... and I seriously covet the rug he crocheted for himself out of thick, heavyweight yarn.

Another friend made me a wooden brooch inspired by one of my favourite books. I love it and wear it.

And I am very attached to the many cuddly toys my mother made me when I was small; do you have small people in your life who might like a new friend?

I'm not so handy, but I made a Bascetta star for a friend out of 8" translucent plastic sheets, and fed a rope light into it; he seems very pleased with it as a talking point/table lamp.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:27 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

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