If, as the axiom goes, idle hands are the devil's workshop, might busy hands be made to order for Santa's workshop?
If so, Ol' St. Nick may have landed some new recruits Sunday.
Besides discovering homemade gifts and stocking stuffers, the 200 who attended the Holiday Craft and Vendor Fair at Hamilton Presbyterian Church in Whitehall were treated to lessons on making festive bows, candy-making, crafting quilted table toppers and more -- enough to keep idle hands busy throughout the holiday season and beyond.
Michelle Kirk offers these tips for bow-making:
• Start with wire-edged ribbon material layered repeatedly with the same size loops on each side of the center;
• Twist each time you reach the center so the front/top of the ribbon is always facing up to you;
• Cut the tails before making the bow and have them ready to put in the back;
• Attach all in the center with pipe cleaner and twist in the back of the bow, pulling it tight;
• After securing together, open the loops on each side and fluff a bit. Turn both tails to one side, together;
• To complete, use the pipe cleaner to attach to a wreath or make a loop to hang.
"They are great for packaging or for decorating railings and the outdoors on a lightpost, fence, or trees,'' the Baldwin Borough woman said.
She was co-organizer with Patty Heasley of the event for which the $10 booth rental fees went to the church missions.
The church's youth group also sold food, with the proceeds defraying costs for their 2014 mission trip.
Ms. Heasley, who was there on behalf of The Pampered Chef, demonstrated how to make cranberry crunch bark candy from vanilla- or chocolate-flavored almond bark, almonds, sweetened dried cranberries and crisp rice cereal.
A baking stone, microwave and a few minutes are the essentials for the holiday treat.
Nancy Boyd, who represented Quilters Depot in Castle Shannon, said making a home welcoming is as simple as a cut here and a stitch there.
Her demonstration of how to craft a seasonal quilted table topper in Christmas colors as a table accent began with hexagons cut from cotton material using a pattern or template.
One hexagon is placed in the center, with six hexagons surrounding it. Twelve hexagons surround that. Batting, a sewing machine and quilting complete the project.
The Bethel Park woman said she derives pleasure from the creative process and from giving the end products as presents to friends and loved ones.
"It is something a little more personal and different that you cannot go to a store and buy.
"It also shows that you care with all the time and money that it takes to create a one-of-a-kind gift,'' she said.
Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.