After all, "you have this hunk of time," says Nancy Niero, 56, of Denver, who has a 20-year tradition of working on quilts to keep her hands busy while watching the Olympics. This year she'll be finishing up her sixth quilt. "You're going to watch the TV" anyhow, she says. "Why not craft?"
There are a variety of easy projects in red, white and blue to show support for Team USA. From scarves to bracelets, they're easy enough to do while also watching the athletes.
Laura Garofalo, 34, of Macomb, Mich., weaves bracelets out of colorful plastic lacing - a simple project she learned years ago at summer camp. She recommends making bracelets in red, white and blue, or any other team colours, and using the Rexlace craft lacing brand, which isn't too stretchy. It's sold at some national crafts stores and online.
Garofalo uses 14 feet of craft lace and the "cobra" stitch to make one bracelet from 7 inches to 9 inches long. Instructions for making the cobra and other stitches are available online at the Rexlace Club. Garofalo attaches the bracelets with six or seven links of gold-textured chain, which she buys online at M&J Trimming. Each bracelet ought to take a novice about an hour to make, she says. Pictures are at her Etsy.com store, shopelletta.
Stephanie Ciaglo of Waterford, Wis., will knit while watching the Summer Games.
"I have a double-wide chaise lounge that fits two," says Ciaglo, 37. "The other spot, for the other person, is filled with yarn."
Ciaglo recommends fashioning a patriotic "fringie" scarf, which involves pulling, tying and knotting a mass of yarn together. Nearly anyone can make one, she says, and they're great for using leftover yarn. She makes them in red, white and blue during the Olympics. See fiber and colour combinations at Ciaglo's Etsy shop, Rock, Paper, Scissors, Etc.
Ciaglo recommends using at least 12 to 15 yarns of varying colours, textures and thicknesses, and adding ribbon for more contrast. After deciding on the scarf's length, add 3 inches for each knot that's needed to hold the fibers together. A long scarf will need three knots (starting in the centre), while shorter scarves will require only two, she says.
Cut yarns to a similar length, and knot the strands together. Trim longer fibers but keep them uneven to add interest. Wrap, drape and style as you would any scarf.
Jodi Levine, a crafts editor at Martha Stewart Living magazine, plans to decorate canvas tote bags with fabric markers and paint with her sons during the games.
She also recommends inviting friends over for viewing parties and serving fresh-baked cookies decorated to resemble medals. Another easy snack: Dip pretzel rods in melted semisweet chocolate or white chocolate, then cover in red, white and blue sprinkles. Refrigerate about five minutes until firm, and present them standing upright in a glass for colorful flair.
Levine suggests tie-dying T-shirts in patriotic colours to wear while watching the games. Use a dye kit - the traditional method - or use Sharpie pens and rubbing alcohol for less mess. Martha Stewart shows how at her website, Marthastewart.com. The Sharpie tie-dye "bleeds in a really cool pattern," Levine says, and adds creative fun to a party.
A nighttime craft that's fun for kids is "painting" pictures in the sky using glow sticks. Wear dark clothing and turn off the camera flash. Then it's just experimentation, and trial and error.
To make an American flag, for instance, requires the hands of three people - each with one colour - working at the same time, Levine says. Or for something simpler, try photographing red, white and blue stars, squiggles and circles.