Christmas under control (for one gift, at least)

Before: re-purposed pillow

There’s lots of little things I’m making for my family – some food-based things, a mix CD, etc – but this the last properly ‘big’ handmade thing I’m making. And by ‘big’, I mean ‘potentially heading for disaster by biting off more than I can chew’.

Before: re-purposed pillow

This pillowcase belongs to my brother, made for him when he was just a wee thing (he’s a grown-ass man now). It was made for him by a family friend, date unknown at the moment (I’m assuming the late-70s / early-80s sometime, but I’ll have to find out more exactly soon), and clearly very much loved. He wore it all the way through!

Before: re-purposed pillow

Brother (“Attie”, for short) saved it for a very, very long time, but decided it was finally time to get rid of it several years ago. I snatched it up before he got a chance, knowing we’d be able to make something from it. I’m kind of hoping he forgot I had it. The original plan was to make another pillowcase, cutting what could be saved from the leopard print material and using it to patchwork something together. But I worried it would just continue to wear through. In the end, decided it should be made into a wall-hanging mini-quilt, to keep it as a special keepsake.

Before: re-purposed pillow

It wasn’t easy to save the fabric – the leopard print is slightly stretchy and I had to kind of fussy-cut to get 3″ squares to work with. The yellow-orange fabric was so worn it was practically see-through and not even yellow-orange anymore in most places! I had to use a lightweight interfacing behind those pieces to give them a little more structure and make it easier to sew. I bought the reddish-brown cord to match the leopard print, mimicked the black edging thing from the original (I’m sure there’s a sewing term for that, anyone know what it is?) and of course made sure the ‘Attie’ got carefully saved.

Before: re-purposed pillow

I’ve quilted it in concentric squares (no photos of that yet, just done this rainy morning) and will bind it in black. I’m not sure how to sign it yet on the back, but it will definitely include my information as well as the maker of the original pillowcase.

This one is pretty great, spending limit-wise:

Corduroy: £5 for a half-meter
Black cotton: free, luckily happened to have already bought it as a remnant just because it was there
Leopard print and yellow-orange fabric: free, re-purposed
Thread, interfacing, whatnot: free, from home supplies
(I’ll still need a dowel for hanging and something for the tag on the back, but I should be able to find that stuff around the house.)

Total: £5 and probably my best-idea gift as well as being the only one that’s not making me freak out. And that’s worth a million.

Little Elves – Free Holiday / Christmas Embroidery Pattern (temporarily removed)

If you’ve come here via google, or a bookmark you’ve saved, hi! I’m so pleased you stopped by. You’re probably looking for a free Christmas-themed embroidery pattern, and there’s nothing here now. The old pattern that was here has been tweaked and redesigned for regular freehand embroidery, and is now available — still free! — right here. Happy stitching! (updated: December 2, 2011)

Total Christmas Insanity: Spinning a Vest

Christmas present #2 and the one will most definitely be my downfall: a handknit sweater vest for my father. Not really that crazy on paper, but if you know about the rules, you’re definitely thinking that there’s no way I can do this for £10 (unless I already have suitable yarn, which I sadly do not).

Total Insanity - Christmas spinning

And you’re right, no way can I buy a man’s sweater vest worth of yarn for under £10. But I can, in theory, spin that yarn myself for under £10. This is undyed Falkland wool from the excellent Wingham Wool Work. I’ve never spun Falkland before but I needed something on the cheaper side and a quick search on Ravelry uncovered a ton of Falkland fans. Having spun up five bobbins and plied three so far, I’m definitely with them. Soft, buttery to spin, fluffy and sproingy when washed – yumyumyum.

Total Insanity - Christmas spinning

With three skeins plied and washed, I guess I should start knitting my ass off now but here’s the part that makes all this extra fun: I haven’t exactly sorted out a pattern yet. I’m spinning it to about a DK weight, and kind of have my eye on the Conservative (but Pretty!) Dad Vest by Julia Trice (Ravelry link). I’d have to do a little gauge fudging maybe, and figure out size-changing stuff. Which just can’t fail, of course, since I’ve never done any of that before. Oy vey. This one makes me really panic – ohmygod, what was I thinking?!

Total Insanity - Christmas spinning

If successful, this could be my best received handmade gift ever. I know this because every time I’m knitting around him, my Dad asks if I’m knitting him a vest. I’d love for it to finally be true. But at what cost? At what cost, I say?!

Totals so far:

Wool: £7.50 (if I use it all, the rules say you only need to count in the budget what you actually used, assuming you have a real use for the rest. Of course it’s always possible I’ll need more.)
Pattern: free (if I stick to my plan as it is now)
My sanity: I don’t even want to think about it. Wish me luck.

Total (so far): £7.50, subject to change.

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