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At Shoestring, we're all about resourcefulness, and going DIY is the ultimate expression of creativity — with your time, with your talents, and with your cash.
Check out some of our Favorite DIY Websites, in no particular order, and their corresponding Twitter handles (where applicable), for inspiration and some hard-won how-to advice:
Born out of the Media Lab at innovation powerhouse MIT, Instructables is a DIY social network that covers the entire spectrum of projects — complete with step-by-step how-to directions — ranging from tying basic knots to building a loft for a large space to baking honey maple bread to sewing a felt bag. The site is easily searchable by category (featured along the top of the site), and includes slideshows, videos, and a questions-and-answers board. Instructables features both free and premium memberships. (Twitter: @instructables)
We've always loved ReadyMade magazine, and now, with the latest website redesign, we love that DIY-ers can search their entire library of archived projects for inspiration and detailed instructions. The ReadyMade forums allow registered users (it's free to sign up!) to chime in on what kinds of projects they'd like to see published, share projects they're working on, and more.
This community of nearly 700,000 indie types features more craft-oriented DIY projects. We love that Crafster was born out of a boutique in Shoestring's stomping grounds of Somerville, Mass., and we love the quirky projects and commentary featured throughout the site, too; like "measure twice, cut once...Meh. Just start cutting." The site also features an uber-useful city guide so DIY-ers can locate craft stores, fairs, and meetups in their area.
4. JUNKMARKET Style
The online community outcropping of the popular series of books by veteran thrift shopper Sue Whitney, JUNKMARKET is a site for which Shoestring staffers definitely have a softspot. The free "junkers" network entwines green living and frugality by helping members share their ideas and frustrations with turning trash into treasure, then show off their new and improved pieces. We love the "hot spots" locator on JUNKMARKET's website, which can help DIY-ers locate the best resources for materials (flea markets, antiques shows, salvage yards) near their stomping grounds. (Twitter: @junkmarket)
5. DIY Network
The hit cable show and companion website from Scripps (parent company of HGTV, among other home and design porn channels), DIY Network gets our vote because of their recent Blog Cabin project, in addition to their ample resources for the weekend warrior set. Blog Cabin leveraged readers' contributions, ideas, suggestions, and votes to create a custom home for one lucky winner of the Blog Cabin sweepstakes. Talk about embracing the web! (Twitter: @DIYNetwork)
The online companion to the Do-It-Yourself Decorating special editions from Better Homes & Gardens, this website offers free Arrange-A-Room tools for DIY redecorating and interior design, DIY project galleries, quick and simple weekend project plans, in-depth how-to tips, and live chats to answer your burning questions with their Team DIY. Love the magazines, love the site. (Twitter: @BHG)
7. Design Sponge
If you weren't design-forward before, you will be soon after soaking up the serious design and DIY knowledge so generously proffered by Brooklyn-based editrix Grace Bonney and her Design Sponge team. Shoestring's staffers are frequent haunts of the robust budget-friendly and DIY sections of this site, though we drool over each new D*S link in our Google readers. We could go on for days about their videos, podcasts, guides — even a scholarship contest — but we suggest you just subscribe and see for yourself.
8. Apartment Therapy
The original design blog for urban dwellers, Apartment Therapy is equal parts inpspiration for an attainable modern aesthetic and instructions for actual DIY projects. The products featured on their four-blog network run the gamut from curbside to museum collection, so it's fair to say they have ideas for every DIY-ers budget. (Plus, they frequently partner with covetable brands for giveaways and sweepstakes.) Their founder had us at 'hello' with this mission, "To connect people to the resources they need to improve their homes, while reducing their reliance on stuff." Amen. (Sadly, the Apartment Therapy team is Twitter averse. Sniffle.)
9. This Old House
Since 1979, the award-winning team at PBS has been leading the home improvement charge by inspiring and instructing DIY remodeling projects for millions of Americans. The companion website to the companion magazine of the hit show features a wealth of knowledge — including new media resources — for any intermediate to advanced weekend warrior. Bob Vila and his no-fuss guys are even on Twitter and Facebook! (Twitter: @ThisOldHouse and @BobVilaCom)
Quite possibly, when it comes to free e-learning for DIY-ers, we've saved the best for last. eHow may just be the search engine for acquiring new DIY skills. Just type in "painting" or "knitting" to yield hundreds of articles, resources, and videos and then scan to find tips for learning your particular skill set of choice. We recommend starting with the eHow Home & Garden channel for DIY tips on anything from stringing shells to create a custom windchime to building a small garden greenhouse or fieldstone fire pit from scratch. The DIY world is your oyster, and eHow just might be your oyster bed.
Story: Copyright 2009, Shoestring LLC. Photo: iStock.