Monday, December 27, 2010

Handmade Holiday Part I: What I Made

I hope you're having a happy Third Day of Christmas.  We're celebrating the Twelve Days again this year in the same manner as last.  I took this whole week off to be with the kids.  We had a busy three days of full-on Christmas festivities, so today I just did what I felt like doing--a little yoga, a leisurely breakfast, a hot bath, read the winter issue of Brain, Child, laid around quite a bit, walked to the mailbox in the blizzard.  One advantage of honoring Twelfthtide is that you can futz around doing Christmassy projects with absolutely no pressure.  Like this wreath that I made today, by gluing scraps of holiday fabric to a cardboard ring I had saved from the recycling bin some time ago.  There was no sign of Christmas in my bedroom/sewing room/office before I hung this up between the windows.

Now, onto the actual holiday crafting.  I did not make nearly as many gifts as I did last year or the year before or even the year before that (when I was too shy to post my creations here).  But I did make a few things.

For C, I made these felted mittens:

I made myself these same mittens as one of my first projects back a long time ago when I was a new knitter, taking an Instant Gratification class at the local yarn shop.  I still had the same pattern, and it was like a time capsule--tucked inside the plastic sleeve that protects the pattern was a sale flier from that same (and now--sniff, sniff--defunct yarn shop) and another scrap of paper that held the early concept sketches that C made for my engagement ring.  There was even a crumb of oatmeal from a hazelnut dream bar purchased at the bakery across the street from Water Street Yarns.  The yarn came from my stash--one hank of gorgeous teal wool I had bought at a local farm some time ago and two skeins of rainbowy mohair that I inherited from a friend who gave up knitting.  You can't tell here, but the result is a lovely iridescent (and hopefully you can't tell either that one mitten turned out noticeably larger than the other!).

E asked several weeks ago if I would get him a sleeping bag with cowboys on the outside and orange on the inside.  Then he asked every day if I had bought him one yet.  Of course I would never find anything so specific in the world, so I had to make him one myself:

I completely winged it (wung it?), running quickly into two different fabric stores in between watching a performance of The Nutcracker and going out to dinner (with the family waiting in the car in the freezing rain) and grabbing off-the-cuff lengths of fabric and the longest zipper in the store.  I had a leftover piece of polyester batting that was almost the right size and grabbed a second piece from a remnant pile at still a third fabric store to make it puffier.  I continued in wing-it mode all morning Thursday as the sewing machine flew at high speed while the kids played outside in the new snow.  It was thrilling, actually.  I like sewing this way--figuring things out and making them up as you go along--so much better than following a pattern.  It magically turned out to be just the right size for E, and the zipper was exactly the same length as the side of the bag.  Don't look too closely, though, or you'll see my seams are wildly crooked and the zipper looks horrendous on the inside.

After I finished the bag, I was finished.  I had a few other projects I wanted to get done that day--pajama pants for C, camera cases for each C and M, and something for Z to counterbalance E's sleeping bag, but I just couldn't sew another stitch.

I did, however, find it in me to fashion a Tomten for Z and a fox for M while watching It's A Wonderful Life Thursday night, as is C and my tradition on the evening before Christmas Eve.

I had to make something for them because I had already made an Emmet Otter for E:

I couldn't not do that after my friend beez (who is a consummate felter herself) wrote in the comments to my Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas post, "I think if I saw a felted Emmet Otter I would just melt and cry right there. Just thinking about it...yipes. You have to do it."  So I did.  I think he turned out pretty cute, too.  E likes to carry him around and play with him, and hold him when we read the book.  He wants me to make Ma and all the other members of the Frogtown Hollow Jug-Band and a house and a Christmas tree (perhaps Mrs. Claus will have to do those, too).  I figured some other iconic holiday book characters would be appropriate for M and Z.  I'm pleased with how the Tomten turned out, but the fox not so much.  He was very pig-like during much of his gestation and in the end turned out rather cartoonish.  I think I'll try another fox again some other time.  They were going to be ornaments, but our tree is already so heavily laden I left the hangers off and now they all hang out with the gnomes and trees on the window sill.

I had forgotten how enjoyable and satisfying needle-felting is.  I think I had burned myself out with all those birds and critters last Christmas so I needed a good long break from the needle.  Now I'm excited to make some more things (already have ideas for next Christmas!).  I hope you're enjoying your week after Christmas, whether you try to keep the magic going for 12 days, or already chucked the tree out to the curb.


  1. Everything looks great! You're inspiring me to try needle felting. I don't know why, but I find it intimidating. And I'm glad to hear that you, too, have a bedroom/office/sewing room.

  2. You might have just heard my gasp from there as I just set eyes on your perfectly adorable Emmet Otter.
    The funny thing is...I just watched that movie yesterday(!), checked my mail and saw your card today, and just now saw that little guy. Good work!! I can just see your little guys toting him around. I think your boys need some River Bottom boys too. Hmmmm.....I'm inspired.

  3. I write for a blog called GeekCrafts, and I just included your awesome Emmet Otter.



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