gifts

Christmas 2012 Recap

Before it gets so far from the holidays that the moment has totally passed, here’s a quick show-and-tell of what I made for my family for Christmas:

For my brother, a lap quilt …

High On A Mountaintop
High On A Mountaintop
High On A Mountaintop
High On A Mountaintop

… completely from stash other than the Kona Steel (or was it Iron?!) that I bought for the back. Named for a song by the glorious Loretta Lynn.

A pie-themed patchwork trivet for my pie-making father, packaged with other pie-related items …

Pie-related Trivet
Pie-related Trivet

Liberty fabric pillowcases, with tiny crocheted edging, for my mother …

Liberty crochet-edge pillowcases
Liberty crochet-edge pillowcases

… and I will be making a pair of these for myself for my upcoming bedroom redecoration as well. I also made her a bobbin lace butterfly …

Lace Butterfly

… and framed it. Those of you following my bobbin lace progress might have wondered where that disappeared to, but it’s only ’cause I was keeping it on the down-low. I’ve got a (huge) new piece of lace started now, but I’ll hold off on sharing new stuff until I’ve finished catching you up on a few more things!

There’s a few more photos of these projects over in my Flickr stream if you’d like more detail!

Time-out crafting

I still want to show you guys the gifts I made for Christmas, but since it kind of follows on from my semi-resolutions-y post the other day, I’ll show you some selfish knitting quickly first.

I said in that post that I am claiming 6 months of commission-free crafting (well – unpaid, friendly commissions, at least). And as I also said, this isn’t necessarily to make more stuff for myself, but mostly to have the spare time to explore some ideas I’ve had, catch up on projects I’ve started and had to set aside (I’m lookin’ at you, Sajou Sampler. I miss you!), etc.

But sometimes I will just make stuff for myself! Anyone who works for themselves in any capacity – full-time, freelance, or just starting out like myself – will tell you that the work will fill up the time you have. Betty Friedan said some stuff about this in relation to housework back in 1963 and it really struck a chord with me when I read The Feminine Mystique at university. Politics aside, certain tasks really will do that, extend to fill up whatever time you have available to give them. And when you do any self-selling, there’s always something else you could get done, something you feel behind on. You seem to always feel you should be doing more, no matter how much you were doing before. This is just the way it is, I get it and I totally accept it as part of the trade-off for the chance to try and do what I actually want with my life – though I happen to be feeling it especially hard this morning – but sometimes you really have to grab just a little time back for yourself.

So I made a drawer. I took an afternoon off a few weeks ago and went through my Ravelry queue, marking any project that could be done in a weekend. Quick, instant gratification projects, projects that aren’t even practical but would be fun to knit. I matched them to yarn in my stash, put each in a bag with the printed pattern, and filled up the drawer. I have set a goal for myself that I will do one of these projects every month, under the theory that it will force me to have at least one relaxing weekend just to myself, crafting-wise.

In time there will be some quickie embroidery projects in there too, but for now there’s just knitting and that’s what I really craved over the Christmas break. So here’s what I did with my time off:

Pink Loop
Pink Loop

I finally blocked the Pink Loop cowl that I knit in November. The yarn is Malabrigo Arroyo which is as delicious as you’d expect it to be, all bouncy and fat and squeezable. I had stashed only one little skein, just because it was lovely, so finding a one-skein sportweight project was tricky. The pattern is A Grey Loop by Helen G which was great – simple, quick, easily customizable. I basically just knit until I started to run out of yarn. Only thing is that I’m not entirely sure these long-loop cowls really suit me. Hmm.

Abra Alba Mitts
Abra Alba Mitts
Abra Alba Mitts

These are Abra Alba mitts by Matilde Skår and I have been smitten with this pattern since the moment I saw it. It would actually be great for leftovers, because you use so very little of each color. Of course I happened to have no DK-weight scraps, so I snagged myself an awesome deal in one of those Drops ‘Alpaca Party’ sales. I got the yarn – Drops Lima – for these for £6 and have enough to make, I suspect, two more pairs of mittens as well. I already put the leftovers back in the project drawer with new patterns. I can’t say how it will wear, but I loved knitting with the Lima, it’s both cuddly and a little rustic and is quite buttery to knit with. And the whole project took about, I don’t know, 6-ish hours total.

A gift for a hedgehog

This is a gift for a little hedgehog who is going to need a scarf soon enough, so I can’t show too much just yet. I sure hope he likes it and I seriously can’t wait to send it to him!

I also did some pattern-development knitting over the break that I’m enjoying very, very much. Here’s a little sneaky peeky for you:

Sneaky Peeky 1
Sneaky Peeky 2

So, what selfish crafting did you do once your handmade gifts were finished, or maybe just as a treat to yourself during your time off?

Christmas Panic.

Every year. Every dang year. I try so hard not to freak out in the last week before Christmas – this year I even had gift ideas and plans all lined up months ago. But it happened anyway, things get in the way and you never get around to starting early. I hate the Christmas Panic, I really do. All the stressiness ruins my Christmas spirit. I’m trying really hard to just Ho Ho Ho through it and enjoy making these things for people that I hope will enjoy them.

To be fair, nothing I have to finish in the next week and a half is particularly difficult, there’s just lots and lots of little bits to do. And one big bit. But even that isn’t *difficult*. It’s not like thinking you might be able to knit a whole sweater vest in a week. (Based on a true story.)

Just in case anyone is looking who shouldn’t be (I doubt it, but better sneaky than sorry), here’s just a little peek of what I’ll be trying to finish in time for the big day.

Unfinished Christmas Presents.
Unfinished Christmas Presents.
Unfinished Christmas Presents.
Unfinished Christmas Presents.

And some other little things. And one thing I haven’t exactly decided on yet. Oy. Ho Ho Ho!

Are you freaking out?

Final Gift Round-up: Keepsake mini-quilt

No, I’m still not finished with my Christmas gifts (in the midst of a struggle with one, almost finished with the other) which is just totally absurd, but here’s one last gift I actually did finish on time that I’d like to show off.

Keepsake Mini-Quilt - Finished

There really isn’t anything else to say beyond the story I already told about this little mini-quilt for my brother – the rest of the finishing went exactly as planned, I didn’t run out of anything, and I wasn’t even panicking at the last minute.

Keepsake Mini-Quilt - Finished

I like that I made even the tag keep to the sort of squares-on-squares theme I had going on in the design. I’ve only made a few small quilts, but the signing of them is already starting to be my favorite part. I have a little format I’ve started using (though not on this one, due to the unusual partnership of this project – this label has both the original pillowcase sewer’s name as well as my own) and I like trying to make that tie in to the design in some way.

Keepsake Mini-Quilt - Finished

I can’t wait until my durn 2010 Christmas gifts are finally finished but I’m so pleased with how everything has come out so far.

Keepsake Mini-Quilt - Finished

Gift round-up: Russian sampler

Ok, next-to-last Christmas-related post, I promise, and this’ll be a short one – there’s not too much to say that I didn’t describe in my original post about this project.

Russian Sampler - finished & framed

Of course I used WAY more thread than I thought I would, but the price total didn’t actually go up, I just kept finding random skeins of DMC 321 all over the house. Seriously, it was like the house was producing them somehow – a couple in my embroidery box where I never keep floss, some in the box where I actually do keep floss, some in a little paper bag that must’ve been holding them for some reason. Freaky.

Russian Sampler - finished & framed

I realized at the very last minute – literally, the evening of Christmas Eve – that I had absolutely no idea how to frame embroidery properly. I started reading methods online and immediately freaked out. I had my charity shop frame, but none of the other supplies needed, and I had no idea how to stretch it properly or keep the glass away from the thread. Oy vey. But it came together, bit by bit, using only supplies found around the house (some high quality illustration board and acid-free double sided tape – some kind of shadow / reflection trickery makes it look a little lumpy in these photos, but I swear it looks smooth-smooth-smooth in real life) and, I hope you’ll agree, it all worked out reasonably well!

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