Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our girl is 2

"There is only one thing necessary: to be what God wants us to be." (Thomas Merton)

Sophie has a dreaded between-Christmas-and-New-Year birthday, but we are trying to make sure it doesn't get lost in the holidays. This year Grandma and Grandpa hosted a party for her in Wisconsin, with the Manions also in attendance. 

Sam eventually got some "birthday spirit," but for weeks had been erasing the birthday cake on the dry-erase calendar. I knew he wouldn't want to share the felt birthday crown I had made for him (but thought would be used by both kids).

So I made her one of her own. I put a cupcake on it, and was going to do some stars and balloons, then decided to embroider "Happy birthday" in Chinese. 

You can see the Chinese characters a bit better in this photo. The cupcake is a little catty-wampus, but it works.

This was Sophie's first birthday with us and her first Christmas. I can't believe it's already been almost a year since she came home. It's funny that she's rarely smiling in photos, because she is a very happy little girl. Such a sweetie. And now, the terrible twos..

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Handmade holidays #2

"One kind word can warm three winter months." (Japanese proverb)
Looking back, I did actually make more gifts than I thought. This was a last-minute one for my Dad--a small felt bag for carrying candy canes when he is portraying a certain Jolly Old Elf. I just created my own pattern, and used felt from sweaters. Cost: $0.
My niece wanted an eyelash curler and some makeup, so I made this little makeup bag to hold her gift. I was so excited to make it out of something from my stash--a pair of silky boxers with a makeup print. I can't find the tutorial I used, but it was very similar to this one. I was pretty happy with how it turned out, but, boy, was that satiny fabric hard to sew! In retrospect, I probably should have lined it. Again, cost: $0. (Zipper was from my stash.)
Finally, I made a couple of these little mini-stockings out of felt to hold Borders gift certificates for my godchildren. Felt from sweaters, a few buttons, a little hand-sewing, and voila! Cost: $0.
Of course, the other handmade gift this year was little jars of raspberry jam made from raspberries from our back yard. I gave this to a bunch of people this year, wrapped in some fabric with a cute little tag. 
Nothing major, but these small, handmade items made Christmas a little more special. And all were free, or nearly free.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Handmade Holiday #1

"Not only is the Bible extensive in its teaching on wealth and poverty, but it is uncomfortably clear and plain. There is not the ambiguity and complexity that one finds in some other subjects ... The Bible is clearly and emphatically on the side of the poor."  (Bob Sabath)

Although I have little time for crafting--between a full-time job, freelance writing and two toddlers--I am still committed to making as many gifts as possible. Not only is it more meaningful and economical, but I am trying to be more committed to not buying into (pun intended!) the whole commercial culture of stuff and more stuff. So it's even better when I can make something out of something that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

One of my favorite media is felt from recycled sweaters, of course. And I've wanted to make some coffee cozies for a long time. It's a double environmental whammy because then you don't have to use a disposable paper one. I had the idea to make some with the ND logo for my South Bend friends. I was initially going to embroider it, but then decided to go with felt applique. I just used a paper cozy as the pattern, cut the outside, navy felt with pinking shears, stitched on the gold felt and appliqued the ND logo, which I had cut from navy felt.

Here's one being modeled on a Packer cup. Now I just have to make one for myself. I always forget to do that!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Stash-busting for charity

"There is no enlightenment outside of daily life." (Thich Nhat Hanh)

A while back, actually a long while back (BK-Before Kids), I started knitting up some of my stash yarn into hats, scarves and mittens, with the idea that I would donate them to a charity. Then they sat in a bag in my craft room for too long. This year, our giving tree at church had some tags that said "Women's knit hat" so I grabbed two, plus one that said "man's knit scarf."

My first women's hat recipient got this grey wool-blend hat with pink flower detail, plus matching mittens and a scarf. This flower comes from a tutorial from the first blogger I ever read. It's here.

This men's scarf was a stash-buster for a bunch of wool and wool-blend green yarns I seemed to have accumulated. I did straight garter stitch and a random color blocking with two strands of yarn. Then I added fringe. It was super long, so I hope it keeps its recipient nice and warm.

Sorry for the blurry photo. Here's a close-up. Ed had his eyes on this one, but I told him it was already promised to charity.

Finally, I knit a purple hat using Soule Mama's favorite hat pattern , but when I knit only 4 rounds of the pattern, it was way too short, so that one got tossed in the kids' hat basket. The second one, knit with 2 strands of worsted, was more adult-sized. I paired it with a scarf that combined a soft purple yarn (can't remember which) with the same purple wool.

Getting these projects off to good homes felt good! But believe it or not, I had three more possible sets that I wasn't able to finish in time for the giving tree deadline. Maybe next year...