Christmas Gifting

I’m still as busy as ever, making gifts into the wee hours of the night! For Lynden, my knight in shining armour, I’ve made a wool-felt dragon using a pattern I purchased from Handwork Studios.

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The pattern instructs to hand-sew the seams with a blanket stitch, which looks quite lovely. I, however, have no time for hand-stitching seams, so I took the faster route and used my sewing machine instead. Some day I’ll make a dinosaur from the same pattern, when I’m not crunched for time, and I’ll take the time to do a lovely blanket stitch seam.

DSCN0471Here’s what happens when you attempt to operate a sewing machine with a nursing baby propped on a pillow across your lap – your lines come out all crooked and uneven. Thankfully, my child isn’t the type to notice or care!

DSCN0492Almost a dragon! Time for the wings!

DSCN0497I did opt to hand-stitch the wings, because I was tired of trying to balance the baby while using the sewing machine, and because I really do like the hand-stitched look. Now all he needs is a face!

This project took two hours or so, with multiple interruptions by the baby and several silly mistakes that needed to be ripped back. If I had uninterrupted time to give proper attention to my task, I could get it finished in under an hour with no ripping back. Such is life!

In other news, Lynden has been drawing monsters and sea creatures like there’s no tomorrow:

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Momma’s Workshop

Boy oh boy, have I been busy these past few weeks! Once again, I did not start my Christmas gift-making in August. No, rather than learning from previous years, I put off my gift-making, getting started only as December closed in.

Once a place for sleeping, my bed has been taken over by sheets of fabric, balls of yarn, scissors, needles, felt, and wool stuffing. Each night I push myself until I can’t stand to keep my eyes open anymore, then I gather everything and put it away so the kids suspect nothing when they wake up in the morning.

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While the late start means plenty of midnight dates with my sewing machine, things are coming along nicely and I think I will get all of my gifts finished in time.

Several months ago I purchased a great book of toy patterns called Wee Wonderfuls, by Hillary Lang. When it arrived in the mail one day in July, my children flipped through and enthusiastically pointed out which toys they would like me to make for them. I filed their requests away in the back of my mind, and have dredged them out of the recesses of my memory now that the holidays are upon us.

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My first project – a teddy bear for Robin. I crafted it from wool felt that was purchased from Bear Dance Crafts, and got the bulk of the teddy finished in one night.

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He’s still in need of a face and clothing, but Robin’s teddy is mostly finished. The teddy bear has been joined on the shelf by two wool-felt mermaids, one with a fuchsia-coloured tail and brown hair for Lynden, and one with a lavender-coloured tail and blonde hair for Raina.

There have been several knitted projects as well, but their recipients might be reading this blog… so you’ll have to wait until after Christmas to see what I’ve crafted!

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The kids each wrote a letter to Santa. I was pleasantly surprised by their very modest requests. I half-expected to hear them ramble off a long list of things they would like, but they only asked for two gifts apiece. Lynden politely requested a sword and a hamster (his beloved hamster died last week), and Raina wants a pink shirt and a skateboard. Robin wants a train. After the letters were written, we talked about how blessed we are to have such abundance in our lives – healthy food to eat, a strong roof over our heads, a warm house to sleep in, a loving network of family & friends – and the kids told me all of the things they are grateful for. They were pretty thrilled when we made the trip to the post office to drop of their Santa letters!

Another Handmade Holiday

I can’t believe it’s already that time of year again. I feel as though I was *just* blogging about my holiday endeavours, but that was already a whole year ago! Yikes!

I’m really looking forward to the upcoming holidays. I’ve got lots of fun ideas in the works for handmade gifts! My knitting needles are flying, my sewing machine is whirring, my scissors are snipping. For several years, I have given handmade gifts for Christmas, but still purchased gifts too. This time around, I’ve decided to take the plunge and make it an exclusively handmade holiday. This mama won’t be going shopping! Not only do I have zero interest in being part of the consumer frenzy, but I have better things to put my limited money toward (such as saving for a down payment on our “forever farm”).

So far, I’ve completed a little bear with moveable arms & legs for Robin, made from an old flannel pyjama set of mine. I had taken several lovely photos of the little bear to share with you, but my kids got their hands on my camera and it is nowhere to be found. When the camera resurfaces, the bear will make its online appearance!

Raina saw a picture of a mermaid doll and is begging for one of her own, and because Raina wants a mermaid doll, Lynden does too. I’ve been putting outgrown clothing aside to cut apart and turn into dolls, and as soon as I find a moment I’m going to get started. Raina’s also been asking for a teddy bear, because she lost the one I made for her two years ago and is rather heartbroken about it.

The adults on my list have some warm, fuzzy surprises coming their way, too, though they read my blog so you’ll have to wait until after Christmas to see what I have created for them!

What are you creating this holiday season?

Handmade Holiday – Garlands

My kids saw a photo on the computer of a garland someone had made, and are crazy about the idea of making holiday garlands to string around the house. So, in the spirit of a handmade holiday, I’ve collected our favourite garland-making tutorials for you to enjoy. When we’re finished making ours, I’ll be sure to share our finished product!

Lynden’s favourite type of garland is a felted-ball garland – here’s a great little how-to that results in all sorts of lovely – Felted Garland from MegaCrafty.

Because Raina loves anything to do with paint and paper, she voted on this lovely Leaf Garland from The Present Family, though she’d like to do snowmen and top hats instead of leaves. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

Here’s a beautiful paper-craft garland from Oh My! which I love, but realistically won’t get done in time for the holidays. This garland has made it’s way onto my list for something to do in mid-winter when we’re going stir crazy and we need a little something to brighten up the house – I’m thinking dinosaurs and fairies for the kids’ room.

I really love how into it the kids are about our handmade holiday, and how enthusiastic they are to create things with their own hands.  How have you been incorporating handmade into your home & holidays?

Fresh Start

Wow, what an amazing and crazy and busy holiday season! We had a fabulous Christmastime – a beautiful Winter Solstice celebration with friends, a gathering of family for nearly a solid week’s worth of togetherness and cheer, and some special time as a wee family unit of our own. We were so busy that we didn’t get our tree until three days before Christmas, and then didn’t manage to get it put up in the living room until Christmas Eve! We’ve never been so late in putting up our tree before, but we got it decorated just in time for our Christmas Eve dinner with my parents and siblings.

As much as I would have like to have made most of my gifts this year, I just didn’t start soon enough. I did knit a shawl for my grandmother and crocheted a little something for my brother-in-law, but otherwise I didn’t finish the gifts I had intended to give the children and ended up buying them a few things instead. I suppose their mama-made gifts will be special surprises on some random snowy day, sometime soon.

I was incredibly blessed this Christmas. Jae surprised me with a Kromski Sonata spinning wheel and 8oz of roving! Oh, how I have dreamed of owning a spinning wheel, and for so long! My new wheel is absolutely gorgeous and better than anything I could have hoped for. I spent half a day spinning up the roving and crocheted myself a hat – my very first article made from scratch, start to finish.

After crocheting the hat, I still have nearly a full bobbin of my handspun yarn remaining. Perhaps enough to make a matching hat for Lynden…?

Spinning my own yarn was absolutely the most satisfying thing I have done in a very long time, topping milking the goat and collecting farm fresh eggs! Now I’ll have to purchase hand carders so I can get to work on the three big bags of wool a friend gave me – they’ve been sitting in the closet for far too long!

This Christmas also saw a slew of new books enter the house. Some of my favourites include The Backyard Homestead, a guide to producing all the food you need on a quarter of an acre; Self-sufficiency for the 21st Century, a lovely photo-heavy guide to everything you can think of; Possum Living, a book about how to live well with almost no money; One Tree, a lovely little children’s book printed on recycled paper that talks about the importance of one little tree; and Grandfather Twilight, a beautiful bedtime tale for the kidlets.

So after a wonderful Christmas season, here we are in 2011. A fresh start, a clean page. I am determined to be more organised this year, and got started by making a colour-coded chart to post on my fridge listing each day’s tasks and the time frame in which to complete them. Monday is laundry day, Tuesday is cleaning day, Friday is baking day. And every day has time allotted for stories and crafts and free play with the kids. I’m hoping that this new chart on the fridge will help me stay on track without feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of things needing to be done around the farm.

And of course, I’ve resolved to be more present in the little day-to-day things with my children. This year I will find more moments of joy, more moments to laugh in, more moments of silliness and carefree abandon. And I will find a multitude of new ways to show my family how much I love them.

Happy new year, dear friends and readers!