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 – Buying Handmade

Let’s face it, dear readers, try as I might, I won’t be able to make everything I had hoped to for this holiday season. Luckily, there are plenty of other folks out there who are making their livings as crafters and artisans, and I’m happy to be able to support them.

For Raina, I just couldn’t resist these items from Ontarian Etsy sellers:

A doll sling, for her babies! Raina loves her dolls, and I’m fairly certain she’ll love carrying them around just the same as mama carries babies. This beautiful little handmade sling is from SewFunky, by Tanja Mackenzie in Guelph.

A Leaf Baby! When I saw this, I immediately envisioned it hanging from Raina’s neck. She swoons over dear, tiny little things. I can’t wait to see her reaction when she discovers this wee precious babe on Christmas morning! It is from EvesLittleEarthlings by Eve Geisler in Guelph.

And of course, I’m still busily crafting away, trying to get everything finished in this last week that I have left. I said it last year (and failed to follow through), and I hereby declare it again – next year I’m starting my holiday crafting in August!

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?

Handmade Holiday – ROAR!

My oldest son, Lynden, is totally obsessed with dinosaurs.  He’s got dinosaur encyclopedias, volumes of dinosaur books, and an extensive collection of dinosaur toys.  Of course, all he wants for Christmas is more dino-related stuff.  So…

Yesterday I knitted up a dinosaur for him. I used 100% wool for the body and stuffed the dino with soft, fluffy wool fleece.  I can’t wait to see him open it on Christmas morning!

 

I’m offering these dinos made-to-order in my Etsy Shop.  If you’d like one for your own children, I’ll happily knit one up for you!

Handmade Holiday – Spinning Some Yarn

This year I’m trying to give everyone on my holiday list a handmade gift.  In this house, that usually means something crafted from wool or yarn.  I’ve been working on one particular gift since September, and finally making some good progress.  I won’t tell you who it’s for, or what the finished object will be, because most of my family members read this little old blog and I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise! But I will share the entire process with you.  Here we go!

The story of this project actually begins in Spring of 2011.  You may recall that I visited a friend’s farm for sheep shearing day, and came home with a lovely fleece.  The sheep was named “Morag”, and I must put in a word of thanks to her here, because that fleece of hers sure is a delight to work with.  In September, I began the process of blending some of Morag’s wool with another fibre (I won’t tell you what until after the holidays – don’t want to give it away!) with my hand cards.  Let me tell you, hand-blending these two fibres has been a long and tedious process.  Now that the carding stage is complete, everything else is going quickly.

Seeing the rolags pile up in my basket, blended and ready to be dyed, has been quite satisfactory.  The finished product is worth the blisters the carders put on my hands.

I was tempted to spin the fibre in its natural colour, but decided I needed to go ahead and dye it.  I don’t have much on hand right now, so I chose some food-grade dye hiding in the back of the cupboard and left the fibre to soak in a bath of vinegar and water.  I’d love to include a photo of the dye process itself, but my kitchen was too dark and none of the shots turned out well.

I mixed some red and blue for a lovely range of blue, navy, and dark purple.  After rinsing the dyed fibre and patting it with a towel, I set it out on the coffee table with a fan pointed at it to dry.  It’s still pretty wet in this photo, so the colours look a lot darker than they actually are.

Time to spin! I haven’t had a chance yet this Autumn to get my dear wheel out and spin up some yarn, so opening the case and setting her up was like reconnecting with an old friend.  Oh, sweet wheel, I do so love to work with you!

The kids were pretty excited to see my wheel out again, and clamoured around me to watch the fibre being spun.  Lynden used my phone to take this photo, and although it’s blurry, I do love it – it seems to me that the essence of the afternoon is captured quite well by a 5-yr-old and a phone.

The fibre is spinning up beautifully, I must say.  Some of the fibre had not quite dried yet, so there’s a lot more waiting to be done, but I can’t wait to set the twist and get knitting with it!  So luxuriously soft, just what I was hoping for!

I know you’re dying to find out what kind of fibre I blended Morag’s wool with, aren’t you?  And what will the finished product be? If you can handle the suspense, I’ll reveal all my holiday creations as soon as they’ve been gifted to the loved ones they’re intended for! Stay tuned!