This is a hat I made for my daughter’s friend. I didn’t use a pattern just did a ribbed band, three rows of purl, a knit band, three more rows of purl, and then every-row decreases for the crown. I used Red Heart Boutique Treasure yarn and was unimpressed with that. Really I knew better than to buy yarn from a big-box craft store, but the color was pretty and I was weak. I gave the hat a nice soak in Eucalan before I gifted it, so I hope that took care of the itchiness. It did look cute on the recipient.
This was another gift I gave recently. We use 7 inch square flannel baggies (really kind of like tiny pillow cases) to make ice packs when my children get hurt. We slip a plastic baggie of ice into the flannel bag and hold it over the injury, and it miraculously heals 90% of real and imaginary boo-boos. I’ve made these as gifts before, and gave this one to my cousin for Christmas. I’m pretty sure it’s not fun to open a boo-boo ice pack as a gift, but hopefully it comes in handy in their home as it does in ours. Because boo-boos are going to happen anyway, right? And it’s nice to have a low-budget, no-chemical miracle cure that won’t hurt and might genuinely help too!
Today I’m sharing a couple gifts I made before Christmas. These were mitts I knitted (knooked) for my mother. They were for her birthday in November, but as is occasionally the case with handmade gifts they were a couple weeks late. (Because nothing says, “I love you Mom!” like exactly one knitted glove, right? Oops.) Mom was gracious about the wait. I made these out of sock yarn though the pattern called for heavier. I find that my gauge in knooking is often a little large when the pattern calls for ribbing or something with a lot of stretch. But these worked up quite nicely in the sock yarn, and they’ll be warm and washable. I used the Vineyard Lace Fingerless Gloves pattern and thought it was a good one, but wasn’t sure my choice of yarn showed off the design to its best advantage.
This is a long sleeve shirt I painted. I did one for each of my two nieces, personalized with their initials. I sketched the laurel wreath design on freezer paper, then cut it out to make a stencil. To make the letters I just printed off the lettering I wanted and traced them in good light. As always, I used Martha Stewart craft paint, which works very well and knit shirts and washes quite nicely.
I made printed napkins this year as holiday hostess gifts and gifts for friends. I bought several dozen cloth napkins from an eBay seller because I could not have made such nice napkins so affordably myself. I carved several simple Christmas tree and star shapes out of carving rubber, used a brayer to apply fabric paint to the stamps, and then transferred the stamps to the napkins. Stamping the napkins took a little longer than I’d envisioned, in part because I had to find space all over my house for several dozen painted napkins to dry and in part because the paint was messy business and I frequently had to stop to wash the stamps and the brayer, but I was pleased with the results. They are uneven and blotchy and very homemade looking, but I kind of like that about them. I kept a set for myself too!
I also helped the kids make reindeer napkins for their grandparents. The reindeer face is made by the side of my son’s fist, the eyes are Dorothy’s fingerprints, and red nose is Daphne’s thumbprint. I carved the date and the antlers out of carving rubber. Actually, because I’m an idiot, I first carved the date exactly as I wanted it to appear on the napkin, which of course makes it appear backwards when printed. Oops! But the second time I got it right. These napkins were a big hit and I will enjoy using them at my in-laws’ home during Christmas celebrations of the future.
I’m going to start this post with a confession: I sold my Yellowstone. I’m still having some mixed feelings about it, but I think it was the right decision. It needed maintenance that I wasn’t giving it, and it seemed we never had time to use it. It was sitting there in my driveway making me feel guilty, so one morning I decided to “declutter” it. It was gone within twenty-four hours to new owners who are going to be a better match for it. They have big, exciting plans for it involving plumbing and roofing solutions that were beyond me. I may take a little break and then decide I’m ready for the Scotty Serro I’ve been hankering after ever since I sold the red Fleetwing, but in the meantime I turned the spot in my driveway that used to be trailer parking into an outdoor seating area. It’s already gotten more use in a week than we’d spent in the trailer in the last year, so it was probably the right thing to do. I think.
Meanwhile indoors, I made lavender sachets for my mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother for Mother’s Day. I printed the kids’ photos onto printable fabric, then made little cotton bags to hold bulk dried lavender I bought online.
Each grandmother got a full set of all three kids to freshen their drawers.
We made cards to round out the gift, using the kids’ thumbprints to put petals on the flowers. How did people get Mother’s Day ideas before Pinterest?
It’s looking like full-time crafty Christmas around here! Baby Daphne has started removing tags from gifts and either eating the tags or sticking them to the hardwood floor. Not helpful. Let’s just hope that if any of the gifts end up with the wrong recipients, they aren’t awkward and can be easily switched back! For example, anyone over two would surely be disappointed to receive these tiny mittens I knitted.
My kids made snowflake ornaments out of craft sticks to give as teacher/leader/coach gifts. Using glitter with children is something I try to avoid on principle, but it went pretty well and I self-medicated with cookies after it was over.
This is the annual batch of homemade unscented soap for my brother, and another scented batch I made for myself and to share. I used cold process recipes from the book The Everything Soapmaking Book. I like to try different recipes every year, which is really completely useless unless I make a batch for myself because I’m sure my brother has no notion or opinion about the benefits of tropical oils versus olive oil, lard, or soybean shortening, though I think he appreciates the soap. This year’s batch is a blend of four different oils with some castor oil stirred in at the end for extra moisture, and mostly lavender scent in mine. Now it is curing in the basement playroom and makes the whole space smell nice!
Dorothy sews a lot these days. And by a lot, I mean I sometimes wish I’d never taught her and had not ceded a part of our family room and my fabric storage area to her needs. (Honesty!) But in the bigger picture, I’m very glad she enjoys it, is creative with it, and can envision and execute a project in ways that will serve her even better than the basics of hemming and button sewing. She likes to get ideas from two books I got her, Sewing School and Sewing School 2, both of which I heartily recommend. The instructions and patterns in the book are clear enough that she can trace, cut out, and follow them without my help. My favorites among her projects, however, are the ones she dreams up on her own. Like a cape for her baby sister!
Or an Olaf (snowman) costume for her brother. Seeing this project spread out on her sewing table before she put the carrot nose on DID give me pause, but then I recalled that she was sewing costumes for a theatrical production of the movie Frozen she, her brother, and their cousins had in the works. She’s very results-oriented in that she prefers to complete a project in one sitting than to bother with niceties of hemming or facings, but who can blame her?
Both big kids recently rediscovered the swirl-and-spin art kit. I loved seeing the line of brightly-colored squares waiting to dry, so I…
made them into a poster using Publisher and had it printed at Costco. We gave copies to both the grandfathers for Father’s Day and they were big hits.
I never got a great picture of the printed posters, but you can see it on the mantle behind my father-in-law in this snapshot. Both grandfathers were told the prints were for the garage (how much wall space does one have to spare, anyway?) but both chose to frame and hang them inside, making my little artists beam with pride.
I’ve been into zippered pouches lately. It all started with the purchase of a colorful zipper assortment from an Amazon.com seller, and then kind of took off. I’ve made medium-sized bags for my mother and mother-in-law, cute little boyish belt packs for a couple of Worth’s friends, a beach coin purse for myself, and this little zippered purse for a friend’s one-year-old. Somehow I only managed to snap a photo of this one. It’s fully lined with the same fabrics as the exterior and should be just right for stashing all her toddler sundries. Babies love bags, and zippers too.
I made another composition book cover like the ones I did as favors for Worth’s birthday party, this time covered in exterior decorator fabric and embellished with the recipient’s name. I like this as a gift idea because most anyone of any age could use a pretty composition book cover, whether they are headed to third grade or to a meeting.
I also got a little crafty with the idea of reusable gift bags. I saw these hefty vinyl bags at the Dollar Tree. They are the size of small gift bags, but made out of the same stuff as the reusable shopping bags. I laminated a gift tag and tied it to the bag with ribbon, then wrote the appropriate names in dry-erase marker on the tag. I’m hoping it can be regifted many times.
For Mother’s Day we used this Pinterest idea and decorated pots for the grandmothers. The big kids painted the sky and clouds, then Daphne lent her wee little footprints as the butterfly wings. I thought these turned out to be quite charming gifts and I liked that they involved all three kids.