Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post-Christmas Awesome

I love Christmas. My family and I are relaxing slopeside at the lovely Tenney Mountain - skiing, riding, and, if you're me, knitting. Best Christmas present ever: a tiny Dell netbook from which I am currently blogging. This will be super-helpful for my part-time job at the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School. My brother is my Christmas hero.

The day before Christmas, I stopped by the local knitting shop to start a new project. In the months before Christmas I was knitting now I'm ready to knit for myself. I chose this pattern from knitty. I picked out the yarn I wanted...but sadly there wasn't enough for my sweater, so I had to make a special order. In the meantime, I thought I'd get a head start on a gift for a friend who is having a baby this spring. I found some really soft and fun yarn in the bargain bin - it's actually not so much yarn as fleece cut into really thin strips. I love it, and immediately started making a stuffed elephant. I like to give stuffed animals as baby gifts because, unlike clothes, they never outgrow them! For this friend's first baby I made a stuffed panda, so I wanted to keep going with the exotic animal theme :) My camera is back home, so I'll have to wait until later to show pictures. By the time I get home, I'm sure it will be done, and maybe I'll have gotten some work done on the sweater!

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Handmade Holidays, Part 1

This year, I want to give as many handmade gifts as possible. I feel like there's something so personal about a handmade gift...but it does take up a lot of time!

First, I had to get in the holiday spirit. So I made some Christmas stockings. Since this is the first Christmas that Keith and I will be living together, I thought it was suitable to have new, matching stockings.
This project reinforced to me the importance of planning out the WHOLE project before you dive in...I think it ended up being harder than it needed to be because I didn't think it through. The stockings came out smaller than I'd hoped (I seem to keep forgetting that seams make things smaller) but I'm pleased with the final product. Keith and I went together so we could each choose fabric for our stockings...mine is the green one (of course) and Keith, also predictably, chose one with penguins. My favorite, however, is the one we chose for Rufio...
Now, on to the presents...
I had planned on making Beth a paintbrush roll for Christmas, but I finished it early and got excited so I gave it to her for her birthday, which was last week. She was really excited! Up until now, she's been keeping her paintbrushes in plastic it will be much fancier.

My grandmothers are two wonderfully crafty women who will truly appreciate a handmade gift. They are each getting one of my snowmen, and I've made tote bags to hold them. I recently acquired a copy of a great book called "Sew What! Bags" by Lexie Barnes. The projects vary from very simple to "pro" difficulty, and the best thing about it is that it gives directions on how to make various types of bags without patterns, and great instruction on how to customize projects to your needs. It also gives lots of basic sewing tips, which are great for a beginner like me, but I suppose someone more advanced could just skip them.
Anyway, I used this book to make a collection of tote bags from various Christmassy fabrics.

This gift package went today to my Aunt Helen, a master knitter and crafter extraordinaire. She is 105 this year, and can't knit anymore because of her arthritis (a fact which bothers her to no end!)Usually I hate putting faces on my creatures, but I think this one came out pretty well.
I'm going to round out my gift bags with star ornaments and hand warmers, made from a pair of (sadly) defunct jeans and some scrap fabric.These aren't stuffed yet, because I haven't decided what to put in them yet. I got the idea and directions here, and they were remarkably simple to make.

Next up: a few manly catchalls for Keith and my dad, possibly from the other leg of those jeans...