More and more of us are turning our hand to creative pursuits in an attempt to reconnect with a simpler way of life. Handmade gifts are increasingly popular, with recipients appreciating the effort that goes into a unique creation – even if it is a Christmas jumper with a wonky deer motif! Give it a go with our choice of the latest craft books…

We’re smitten with this duo from Sue Stratford’s Knitted Dogs & Puppies and the feline-friendly Knitted Cats & Kittens is packed with adorable patterns for pets that don’t need fed and walked. There’s a cute little Chihuahua with its own handbag carrier, an endearing loopy spaniel and a striped tabby, elegant Siamese and a host of other options that’d make great stocking fillers. There are many patterns suitable for beginners and it’s an idea way to use up leftover scraps of wool. At £9.99 for each book, knitted pets are much cheaper than the real thing and there’s no chance they’ll pee in your shoes.

How about making adorable mini-me dolls of friends and family? That’s just one of the ideas in Jane Bull’s Crafty Dolls. This simple step by step book contains brilliant ideas for both sewn and knitted dolls, with lots of cute accessories. £12.99 from Lots of us have the odd bit of fabric we’ve been keeping to do something with one day, so Debbie Shore’s Half Yard Heaven means that day has finally come! It’s packed full of pretty and practical sewing projects that all need just half a yard of fabric or less. Most of the twenty six projects – from cute owls to hanging hearts – are suitable for beginners and don’t take much time, so dust off the sewing machine. £9.99 from

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