What do you love to make? Whatever your favorite craft is, you can find a myriad of how-to books to help you develop your skills. But there are also insightful books about crafting that help us understand why we love to make the things we love to make. 

Be it bread or music, a scarf or a poem, rag rugs or twirly dresses, making things adds meaning to our lives. Space and time to create (whether masterpieces or not) bring us peace, joy, contentment, and satisfaction.

The books in this list encourage readers to think about the impact crafting has on our lives and the ways it develops relationships, changes our perspectives, and helps us understand new things about the world. Crafting in all its forms can create useful items, or art, or a combination of both; these books explore the impact of all that making.

Inspiring Books about Crafting

Knitting Pearls: Writers Writing about Knitting

By Ann Hood (editor)
Adult Nonfiction (746.432 H7611)

You’ll find essays in this collection from many different types of writers: poets, novelists, essayists, journalists, and memoirists. What unites them is the craft of knitting—how it transforms, heals, and connects generations.

Inspiring Books about Crafting

Why We Quilt: Contemporary Makers Speak Out: The Power of Art, Activism, Community, and Creativity

By Thomas Knauer
Adult Nonfiction (746.46 K729)

Paired with full-color photographs of 40 contemporary quilters’ work, the essays in this collection each answer the question, “Why do I quilt?” The answers illuminate how quilts are much more than items that keep people warm, but expressions of their makers’ individuality.

Inspiring Books about Crafting

Unraveling: What I Learned about Life While Shearing Sheep, Dyeing Wool, and Making the World’s Ugliest Sweater

By Peggy Orenstein
Adult Nonfiction (electronic)

When the 2020 pandemic hit, Peggy Orenstein took up a big project: not only would she learn to knit, she’d start from the ground up by learning how to shear a sheep and spin and dye the wool as well. This experience brings her new knowledge about climate change, women’s rights, and racial justice. It also confirms her motivation for starting the project in the first place—to understand how making things makes life more bearable.

Inspiring Books about Crafting

Quilt Stories: A Collection of Short Stories, Poems and Plays

By Cecilia Macheski (editor)
Adult Nonfiction (810.8035 M183)

Patchwork quilts are made from bits and pieces gathered from many different sources. This book is like the quilts the pieces take as their subjects: stories, poems, essays, plays, and other writings that are beautiful on their own, but read together create a seamed and crinkled image of the value of quilting in women’s lives.

Inspiring Books about Crafting

Quilts in The Attic: Uncovering the Hidden Stories of the Quilts We Love

By Karen S. Musgrave
Adult Nonfiction (746.4609 M9729)

This book features 30 different antique quilts, each with its own history about both the making and the research of its origin. The stories vary across North America and Europe, exploring the way social issues and individual personalities led to the creation of these beautiful, useful objects.

Easy Crafts for the Insane: A Mostly Funny Memoir of Mental Illness & Making Things

By Kelly Williams Brown
Adult Nonfiction (616.8527 B8121)

After a few good years as an adult, Kelly Brown hit a years-long rough patch that included divorce, family illness, depression, the 2016 election, and three broken bones. What got her through it (in addition to medication and therapy) was crafting. The book includes instructions for many easy, stress-relieving crafts, but the real highlight is Kelly’s acerbic, witty voice that helps her tell the details of her painful experiences in humorous ways we can all relate to.

Inspiring Books about Crafting

Art and Fear: Observations on The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

By David Bayles and Ted Orland
Adult Nonfiction (electronic)

This classic book on creativity examines how people who love to create but aren’t creative geniuses continue to make “ordinary art” despite fear, rejection, or frustration. Ostensibly about making paintings or sculpture, it is helpful to anyone who enjoys any art or craft and wants to be involved with that making throughout their life. 

Inspiring Books about Crafting

Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life

By Sutton Foster
Adult Nonfiction (745.5092 F811)

Tony-Award-winning actress Sutton Foster tells the story of her life’s struggles in relation to the crafts she made as she experienced them. Starting with counted cross stitch, which she calls a gateway craft, she moves to crochet, baking, gardening, and collage. Along the way, the items she crafts become a sort of tangible memoir, helping her make sense of her complicated experiences.

Inspiring Books about Crafting

A Life in Stitches: Knitting My Way Through Love, Loss, and Laughter

By Rachael Herron
Adult Nonfiction (921 Herron)

Recently revised in a 10th-anniversary edition, A Life in Stitches has become a classic of crafting literature. The essays explore the places where life and craft intersect: weddings and travel, loss and new babies. The book also includes a pattern for a knitted hottie (for keeping your hot water bottle warm!).

Inspiring Books about Crafting

Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater: Essays on Crafting

By Alana Okun
Adult Nonfiction (electronic)

Even if you don’t have anxiety, even if you don’t knit, even if your boyfriend never broke up with you while you were knitting him a sweater—if you’re a human being who likes making things, you’ll relate to this book. Not only does it look at the pleasures and frustrations of crafting, but it examines how knitting and other hobbies can help us deal with our mental health issues more easily.

By Amy S, Assistant Librarian