If you were around Twitter or Instagram or probably all the other social networking machines at all yesterday, you might have noticed a flood of Christmas craft tutorials making the rounds – such as my own Retro Christmas Tree Mug Rug embroidery pattern and sewing tutorial! As I mentioned yesterday, that’s because Laura from Bugs and Fishes organized a whole mess of people to post a seasonal tutorial on the same day, to rejoice in surround sound crafty festiveness!
You should check out the rest of the tutorials, because there’s some seriously awesome stuff in there! I mean, dude, check it out:
Such a fun idea! I hope you all enjoy my tutorial and all the others as well – see Laura’s original Link-Up Post on Bugs and Fishes and get crafting!
YAY! I’m so excited to be taking part in Laura’s Christmas Craft Link-Up today! If you’ve never stopped by Bugs & Fishes, definitely check it out – Laura does such adorable things with felt and is an all-around crafty whiz, her blog is definitely worth adding to your reader!
Today I’m sharing a free embroidery pattern for a retro Christmas tree design. This tree is 100% based on a project from a 1965 issue of Stitchcraft magazine:
I’ve always loved this design, it’s just so very 1950s/60s and I’ve always wanted to do something with it. I can’t take credit for its ridiculous cuteness at all – I just wanted to recreate it in a modern way. The embroidery pattern is what I wanted to share with you all, and it can be used in a zillion projects. I quite like how the original pattern repeated the motif on a table runner, so cute for a vintage-y Christmas dinner, and I have plans to stitch one up for a tree ornament. But today I’ll show you how to turn it into a mug rug – perfect for snuggling up with Christmas treats and a hot chocolate!
In my Giveaway Day post the other day (go check it out, there’s still a few days to enter!), I promised to tell you about the gifts I’m making for Christmas this year. Other than one friend, I really only exchange gifts with my immediate family members: Mother, Father, Brother. Because there’s just the three people for each of us to shop for, we used to go all out on each other. For the last few years though, with the world being the way it is at the moment, and us all freely admitting we can barely get to all the stuff we already have, we’ve gone for a more low-budget handmade-or-thrifted approach.
I blogged about it last year, but the rules are that we can spend about £15 on each person, maximum. Last year I did fine with that part, but started working on my handmade presents way too late and panicked towards the end. Seriously, people, there were tears. It wasn’t pretty. I was smarter this year and although I’m not finished yet, I’m not really freaking out. Um. Mostly.
For Mom, I knit Brooklyn Tweed’s amazing Hemlock Ring lap blanket. It’s a classic. I made it actually lap-sized – perfect for when you’re sitting at a desk and catch a little chill. I didn’t want it to be too big and unwieldy for that purpose. I actually got this one done pretty early – according to my Ravelry project page, I finished it on September 20th. Hey, well done, self! Too bad I didn’t get the more difficult presents started right then. I could be taking a nap right now. But I digress.
Anyway, I couldn’t find any decent yarn that could do the job within the budget, so I had to spin it myself. This is undyed, navajo-plied bulky Corriedale wool, 500g / 550m (and I knitted up every last inch, just about) from World Of Wool* for about £8 or so. I thought it would take me ages to spin all the wool, but I enjoyed the process a little more than usual for some reason and it was spun, skeined and washed in under two weeks. Corriedale is a lovely wool – it feels very cuddly and woolly, but its slight sheen makes it feel a little fancy. As for the knitting itself, anyone who’s knit this pattern will tell you that it both knits up freakishly fast and is strangely addictive. That makes for a fast enough project that I kind of feel like Mom’s getting robbed!
So I’m also making up a jar of Vanilla Lavender Sugar Scrub (mostly using stuff found around the house), bought a vintage book from a charity bookshop (a couple of pounds), and still have to knit a hot water bottle cozy (from stash yarn). Of course I decided this morning that none of the available hot water bottle cozy patterns suit my mother or my yarn, so I have to make one up. You know, because I don’t quite have enough to get done in the next week and a half.
* It’s a WORLD of Wool. I want to go to there.
I’m excited enough that I can’t really contain it for as long as it would take to write an elegant intro: today’s a big day for us! It’s December 1st and the countdown to Christmas begins (I had a serious flutter of panic just before, oy vey) and it’s also the day we can begin to announce the plans we’ve been working on quietly in the background.
I suppose this post here marks the official beginning of Little Dorrit & Co., the name we — and when I say ‘we’, I’m referring to myself and my mother aka Chris (or Chrissy, as I like to call her, just ’cause it’s funny) as a design team — will be using for the little collection of embroidery patterns we’ve been working on. We’re very excited to have them almost ready to release on the world – and hope, hope, hope that someone out there will like them!
In the meantime, here’s a little Christmas pattern for you to stitch while you wait for Santa — I guess it’s a little taster of what our style will be like, but also an update of an idea we tried out last year, in cross-stitch, that just didn’t quite work out right. This embroidered illustration is based on the original Brothers Grimm tale of The Little Elves.
The Little Elves (the version linked there is slightly different than the copy we have, including its title, but is the same story) is a very short tale about a shoemaker “who, from no fault of his own, had become so poor that at last he had nothing left, but just sufficient leather for one pair of shoes.” He got all of his materials ready to start but, when he awoke the next morning, the shoes were all made up for him! They were so beautifully crafted that he was able to sell them and buy enough material for two more pairs. This continued until one night near Christmas, he and his wife decided to stay up late to see who was helping them. Much to their surprise, “in came two little mannikins, who squatted down on the board; and, taking up the prepared work, set to with their little fingers, stitching and sewing, and hammering so swiftly and lightly.”
So grateful to the tiny elves for all the work they’d done to help them, the shoemaker and his wife decide to make “a little shirt, coat, waistcoat, trousers, and stockings for each” – and shoes, of course – to keep their little elf selves warm. When the elves come back that night to work, they find the pile of gifts laid out for them in place of leather, and they sing and dance with pleasure. And swear never to do any more cobbler work because why would they once they had such lovely clothes? Anyway, it all works out rather well for the shoemaker as well; because of the help the elves gave him, he was able to build his business back up and he and his wife became quite prosperous.
The real Grimm tales are, on the whole, very odd and very funny, and often quite different than the versions that are popular nowadays. But The Little Elves is just sweet and perfectly Christmassy – a simple story about helping someone selflessly and getting some unexpected help in return. It’s really quite charming. So we chose to make this our freebie Christmas embroidery: The Little Elves and their gifts, looking rather dapper in their new threads, dontcha think?
We did ours in a selections of red and greens, of course, and silver and gold Anchor Lame thread (the best metallic ever, really, it’s lovely to use!) to give it that little extra magic for the holidays. (Click through to see bigger versions on Flickr.) We happened to have this gorgeous antique frame handy, but it was designed to fit nicely into a 12″ embroidery hoop without any resizing. We thought painting a hoop red or gold might look pretty, no? There’s a lot of stitching going on there, we love to cram as much detail as we can in — but if that wreath is a little more than you can squish in alongside all your other holiday crafting, you can always leave off the wreath and stitch just the elves and their gifts.
Update: we’ve made a new (clearer) version of this pattern. The pattern is laid out on one A4 sheet but was created to be larger, spanning an A3 (or two regular sheets of paper taped together). To enlarge it on your home printer, open the file in Adobe Reader (which is free!) and, in the print dialog, chose to ’tile large pages’, ‘scale’ to about 130% (or however large will fit on your paper / how large you want to stitch it), and ‘overlap’ by .25″ or so. The overlap doesn’t have to be that large, but is very useful for piecing the pages together. And because this is our first intended-to-be-enlarged embroidery pattern (and won’t be the last!), we’d be hugely grateful if you’d let us know about any downloading or printing problems you run into.
Download: The Little Elves – free embroidery pattern (PDF)
This pattern has been removed to be added the Little Dorrit & Co. Embroidery Pattern Shop in July 2014. It will include a color and stitch guide and a tutorial for making it into a Christmas wall-hanging! I hope you’ll come back then to check it out!
* U.S. downloaders, remember to choose to scale the pages when printing to fit letter size paper!!!