Get Cozy and Crafty with the DIY Collection at Elkridge

A pile of colorful skeins of yarn.


by Emily T. and Eric L., HCLS Elkridge Branch

In this dark and chilly season, creative activities like making and baking can light us up from within. Tapping into creativity is a proven mood-booster, whether you complete a masterpiece or simply enjoy the process. With the DIY Collection at Elkridge, find a trove of inspiration and tools to help you get cozy and crafty.

Love the warmth of freshly baked treats? Get creative with our fun seasonal cookie cutters or cupcake tins with our icing piping kit. Or, go big with specialty cake pans like Frozen’s Elsa, a magical castle, or a smiling dinosaur.

Or, brighten those long sunless hours with the glorious colors and textures of fiber arts. Our yarn winding and spinning kits are a meditative joy and get any project off to a smooth start. Try our knitting needles or crochet hook sets for stitching comfy blankets, hats, and more. Our fabric cutting mats and tools pair perfectly with our ever-popular sewing machines – and be sure to check out our excellent pattern and technique guidebooks, too.

With the DIY Collection, you can even try your hand at leathercrafting, tile mosaics, and more. Whatever you choose, we hope you’ll be basking in the glow of creativity! Anyone 21 or older who lives, works, or attends school in Maryland may apply for an HCLS DIY library card (instructions and more information here).

Emily is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at the HCLS Elkridge Branch. Because she is solar-powered, her favorite winter activities involve warm, sunny window seats and brisk walks outside if she’s feeling adventurous. 

Eric is a DIY Instructor and Research Specialist at the Elkridge branch. He enjoys reading, films, music, doing nearly anything outside, and people.

The Baking Bug

Cover of cookbook features a plum tart with luscious glossy fruit arranged in a swirl on a pastry shell, with a cherry in the middle.

by Kristen B.

My husband has a saying: When the going get tough, the tough bake. It certainly holds true that I have a tendency to stress bake. The precision of measuring and mixing, followed by having a tasty, tangible end product soothes me … as does eating whatever treat now sits on my kitchen counter (alas for the scale). Although I prefer sweet to savory, the occasional loaf of bread or cheesy rolls happens when I have the need to knead. Although I’m a frequent visitor to King Arthur Baking Company for recipes, their tried and true whole grain recipes are also collected in this book.

I like to try new recipes and often browse the cookbook shelves at the library. It’s how I came upon Great Pies & Tarts by Carole Walter, which has yet to disappoint (confession: I bought it). The blueberry pie always wins rave reviews, even if I trash my kitchen making it. This book also has one of the best step-by-step descriptions of how to make a standard American flaky pie crust, complete with photographs. With all the wonderful fresh fruit in season now (visit a Howard County farmers market), it’s the perfect time to make tasty desserts.

American pie crust you ask? As opposed to all the different kinds of pie crusts I’ve learned about on The Great British Baking Show. This show provides the perfect anecdote to anyone’s stress: it’s kind and funny and filled with every kind of baking, from scratch-made puff pastry to savory hot water game pies. If you’ve not visited The Tent, or if you need a little British humor to get you through the week, HCLS has several seasons available on DVD and via hoopla (also available via Netflix). It’s wonderful fun and perhaps a tad inspirational.

If you are already a fan (as clearly I am), and want to spend a little more time with GBBS, you can get the inside scoop from Mary Berry herself. HCLS has several of her cookbooks, and many are available on Overdrive. If you are interested, Chetna, one of the Season 5 contestants, published The Cardamom Trail with her favorite flavors from her home country of India. I found it tricky to follow from an American point of view, but it’s a gorgeous book to drool over (literally).

I wish you Happy Baking … though not tough times to prod you into the kitchen. Check out a cookbook and discover a new favorite treat, and maybe submit photos of your kitchen victories at createdwhileisolated.org, HCLS’ journal of our community’s wonderful creativity.

Kristen B. has worked for HCLS for more than 15 years, and currently hosts the Books on Tap discussion group at Hysteria Brewing Company. She loves reading, Orioles baseball, and baking.