Will’s and Lauren’s main Christmas gifts this year were bean bag chairs, which I made. They were really fun to make and have been a huge hit around here.
They have also become, for me, an excellent reminder of my theme for change in 2012, which is generally to simplify, reduce waste and clutter, and to make or use what I already have for the things we need.
For these bean bags, I used Dana Willard’s awesome Rolie Polie pattern. The interior bags were made with some IKEA curtain panels I bought on clearance a long time ago (which I have used a lot for bags and pillow cover backs but still have lots left over). For the bag covers I used some very old faded cotton velvet drapes which which I overdyed turquoise blue and emerald green. The only things I spent money on were the zippers and the beans to fill the bags, which I found on sale locally. It felt so great to give them gifts that were thrifty and fun.
No packaging! No batteries! No assembly! Great for fighting!
Believe it. It is February 5th already and I am only now sharing holiday handmades with you! In fact, I am not really planning to share a whole lot of that because I have moved so beyond the holidays but posting here has not reflected that, so you will at least get photos of The Doll.
Throughout January, whenever I’ve thought about my blog, I have seen the word in my mind looking like this: BLAHG. Although I’ve continued to be busy with lots of fun projects—specifically baby sweaters for gifts, auction projects and a new dress for myself), I think the writing part of blogging has become less appealing to me, so before taking an extended leave of absence from this space I am going to try the “more images/fewer words” approach to posting—and hope that doing so will get me out of my rut.
Here is the doll I made for Lauren for Christmas. The tradition was dangerously close to peetering out in only its second year until Lauren told me two weeks before Christmas that I’d better “get busy” working on her doll. Okay then! I made it easy on myself by using the same pattern from last year: Wee Wonderfuls’ Kit, Chloe and Louise. I sort of love the idea of making her the same doll every year with different colored skin, hair, eyes and clothes. Would be cool to see after, say, ten years or so.
I also made socks for Kirk and both kids.
I was the recipient of some very lovely handmade gifts this year, which—if we are lucky—I will share sometime before summer.
We are headed to spend 10 days in Mexico soon and I am very excited about that. I am expecting to live in this skirt (which arrived today) whilst hoping to finish the above mentioned dress before departing. I am also planning to buy some stoneware and textiles while there. Yippee.
What was it I said about fewer words?
My Dad makes knives. For years he has meticulously crafted these beautiful objects, mostly for fun and sometimes for profit. Kirk is the proud owner of one, as are other family members and family friends.
And now Will has his very own knife. It was a gift made especially for him on his 8th birthday last month. By special request and made to fit his smaller hands. From Grandpa to Grandson. To say Will was thrilled to receive it would be an understatement. He is very proud and enjoys telling people all about it. “My Grandpa made this knife for me. Get it? He didn’t buy it, he made it!”
I made reference in a recent post, to working on a special project with my Dad. It was this sheath, or scabbard (not sure what the difference is). Participating in this part of the gift made it that much more meaningful. And it was a blast! I learned a lot about leather working (and thus added to my ever-growing list of ‘things I want to make and do’, specifically this. But I digress!). More photos of the process and the finished but un-dyed product here.
I have been feeling really grateful to have this work of art in our home and will cherish it for many years to come. It really is a family treasure.
A note about safety: Will is never allowed to use the knife without close and proper adult supervision and we continue to teach him about about the correct way to use it. The knife is kept in a safe and secret place in mine and Kirk’s room so we always know when it’s out.
A final note: if you are interested in having a knife for yourself or someone you love, my Dad does take custom orders. We are working on getting a Big Cartel site up and running for him, but in the meantime you can let me know and I will put you in touch with him.
Update: you can see more knives here.
When Will was 7 weeks old, Kirk and I went to visit my parents in Utah for Thanksgiving. We spent a day window shopping in Park City and I saw this beautiful locket in an antique store there. I loved it. He secretly bought it. I forgot about it. Then he surprised me with it on Christmas morning. It is truly one of my most special belonging and I wear it all the time. I should update the photos inside since they are about three years old.
All credit for this project goes to my mom, who made these precious clothes for Lauren’s Götz doll, Jessica. Her new wardrobe builders include a dress, a pair of pajamas, and a top and shorts set. Yeah, Grandma!
[A note about the pajamas/buttonholes. These were made with flannel from my stash after my mom’s arrival here. I finished the buttonholes on the front and promptly began crying (on Christmas Eve, no less) because I am so frustrated with the buttonhole maker on my machine. My mom soothed me, as all good mothers do, by reminding me that buttonholes don’t have to be perfect on doll’s clothes. But really it’s the principle—and she had to agree. I have a somewhat expensive machine and I shouldn’t have to hold my breath every time I make a buttonhole. I’d say for every ten buttonholes I make, I get four good ones. That’s just not right. I am thinking of trading it in for something different. Any suggestions? My machine is a Pfaff 2038 that Kirk bought me for my birthday two years ago and I like everything else about it but this is just driving me crazy. If anyone has the same machine and a similar—or different—experience, I'd like to hear about it.]
And finally, I made a set of festive oven mitts for my mom, using the pattern from Denyse Schmidt’s book. They turned out pretty cute. However I didn’t finish binding the bottom edges so they went home with mom sans binding and she will finish that part. How’s that for a kick in the pants? All I can say is, thank goodness for mothers who understand.
Sadly, my honey has not—until now—been the recipient of a gift made by me. He has asked for many handmade items over the years but I’ve been reluctant to invest a lot of time and money in anything for him because he can be a little…well, picky. (Sorry babe!) These socks were the perfect thing though. I barely managed to finish them on Christmas eve and wrapped them up (their tails were still not woven in but in knitting I consider a gift finished if you can give it without its needles still attached). He loves them.
In only two weeks they are showing gentle signs of wear. I had not made socks in a while, two years actually, since I made a pair each for my parents for Christmas. My own first pair wore out prematurely and the memory of this still smarts—they were so beautiful. In hopes of saving these socks from a similar fate, I reinforced the heel and ankle with this thread. I hope it will work. The pattern is Knitting Pure and Simple’s Men’s Heavyweight Boot Sock—a good basic pattern. The yarn is Louet Gems worsted—my most recent favorite. It’s so nice to work with and has superb stitch definition. I am planning to have a pair on needles for him at all times now.
I tried to make a pair of gloves for Will but it did not work out. I really screwed up the fingers—there were large gaps in between each one. So I unraveled them and cast off to make a fingerless glove. It’s okay. Not sure if I will make the mate or not. Again, Louet Gems worsted.
Although I had greater ambitions for my handmade gifts this year, I was ultimately pretty satisfied with those projects I was able to finish.
This was sort of a special project for me because when I was a girl, my mother made a doll for me each year for Christmas. (Perhaps you remember this post?) I decided it was a tradition worth carrying on and so proceeded with a little faith, a lot of excitement and Hillary Lang’s excellent Wee Wonderfuls pattern, Kit, Chloe and Louise. My girl likes her dolls with a bit more sophistication so I designed and embroidered a slightly more “glamorous” face (inspired by these gorgeous girls). In this photo, the braids have not yet been secured to the head—you can see the tell-tale pin head on her right side. I have also not yet finished her shoes (the first one I made looked a little wonky) and I think she’s almost cuter barefoot so the shoes have moved way down the priority list. I think she’s pretty cute and so does my girl. We are still working on a name for her. Her name is Lisa.
More to come, friends…