Christmas crafting 2011

Last Christmas I swore that I would make small trinkets throughout the year instead of saving up for the December frenzy. I started well, I made 12 or do dishcloths by March and felt quite proud of myself. I absconded with several of them to give away to another perfectly worthy recipient with the thought that I could whip up a few more quite easily. Here is is the end of November and I only have 2 in my Christmas box, 2. Do you know how far 2 goes? Nor far at all my friends, no far at all. I decided to get on the ball.

Here are three more. That makes two large and three small but I’m not even close. I need to pull out the crochet hook and make some nylon scrubbies. I did plan for those a bit, I brought 10 yards of that stick-to-everything nylon over to Granny’s one Tuesday and cut while Boo entertained her to keep her out from under foot. It was a hoot to watch Boo try to figure out what I was doing. I need to use a larger hook this time, I nearly sprained my wrists with how tight I worked.

Mother Bear

A little over a year ago I heard about a charity based in Minnesota that sends crochet and knit bears to children affected by HIV/AIDS, motherbear.org. Most of the bears are sent to Africa, but there are a few countries outside of Africa that receive them. This fall I started making bears, here are two of the three I’ve completed so far.

I finished the third one yesterday and need to get the photo off the camera.

Super Secret Santa Sewing Update #4


I’m happy to report that my Christmas crafting 2010 was mostly on time. I delivered the table runner on time but didn’t have a good pattern in mind for the fiber I purchased so I made a gift certificate and presented it with the fiber. I also finished socks for Jason on Christmas Day. I didn’t wrap them but I did let him try them on so I knew how much further to knit. He only wanted another inch or two added so I have yarn leftover to make Boo a matching pair of socks or two.

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Fresh milled wheat

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law have a grain mill and grind fresh wheat and spelt for us but it has been out of commission for almost a month. Luckily, we had a small cache of flour. When I exhausted our supply it was rough. Boo and I have a whole wheat waffle every morning and were stuck with white flour (which doesn’t taste very good) until someone went to the market and bought whole wheat flour (which tastes slightly better than white bleached but not a whole lot).

Why do I tell you this seemingly boring routine? Because I was able to open a Christmas gift early this year. I have problems with delayed gratification and I’m great guessing, so I can’t be given any hints. My husband did a pretty good job of talking “smack” so I was pretty sure I wasn’t getting what I got. I was home when it was delivered last week, as was he. He was installing a new stove and a repairman was installing a long-overdue new furnace. He and Boo grabbed the package and ran to the bedroom to wrap it. He then debated with himself orally about whether to make me wait or not. Then he tried to have Boo carry it to me but it was too heavy so Boo pushed it on the carpet and I met him halfway. After he let me open it, he explained that he would have felt silly having it under the tree for two weeks with all of us going without fresh milled flour. I’m quite excited because I had fresh milled whole wheat waffles last week and now that the big mill is back in service, I can serve as a backup for the family when the other grinder is unavailable. I’m also excited to learn that I can grind rice into rice flour for my husband who can’t have wheat.

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Super Secret Santa Sewing 2010 #3

Well, planning will only get me so far. During nap time today I was able to knock out most of the male cardinal block. When Boo woke up he needed much comforting because I was running a sewing machine when he woke up so I didn’t hear him immediately. I don’t really know how long he was in his crib awake and unhappy. Once settled, I recalled that Grandma L. is able to put him in a highchair while she cooks and he seems content. I wondered if I pulled him next to me in his chair while I sewed if he would find it interesting. I discovered that he is only interested in watching me sew if he can have his own bits of fabric.

Luckily for both of us I accidentally sewed and cut the wrong pieces so I had some extras that I could give him. I sewed them into a small block when Jason got home and turned Boo loose. He toddled around with it like it was treasure. Then I was able to finish the first block. While looking it at I realized that I originally wanted it set on point but designed it square.

We had family dinner tonight, so when we returned home I started work on the female cardinal. I wisely cut all the background squares Thursday when I was cutting the pieces for male block. I changed the color scheme again, the picture doesn’t do the female justice, she’s got a little purpley-pink tuft on her head and the tail doesn’t look that dark. I went to work cutting and then piecing. I am so chuffed with the results, most of my points line up, the ones that don’t sort of look like tail feathers and perhaps it was on purpose. The blocks look as good if not better than they did in my head, which is saying something. I’m not the best with color and I’ve never designed a pieced pattern before. I looked at a lot of different pieced cardinals and then combined what I thought were the best features into my own. The only thing that I wish I had remembered was that I wanted the birds to be mirror images of each other rather than duplicates. I should have flipped the female on paper instead of thinking that I would remember. You’ll notice they are both facing to the left, not one left and one right, I’m not redoing it. What Granny doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

Now I have to rework the center blocks in my head because I designed everything in my head on point with triangles. Luckily for me I only have squares now, much easier, I hope. I also have a knitting project to do as well. I had planned a cowl, but tonight she asked for a Calorimetry like mine. I assume I can pick different colors. I’ll do that first and then the cowl if there’s time.

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Jesse Tree Update #3

This will be the last Jesse Tree update for this year. I’ve got a handful of ornaments cut out, but I just don’t see Boo being ready yet for getting them on the tree. I’ll have to do most of that and then make him cry when I let him hold it and try to put it on the tree. Stay tuned next year, I already have 20 or so patterns picked, designed, and printed out so we’ll work on them during 2011. It will be a fun project, if we do one a week starting in January, we should have them completed by June or so.

Since we’ll already be playing with felt, I think we’ll also work on his quiet book.

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Attack of the Deadlines

Yes, you read that correctly deadlines, there’s an s on the end of that word. I have things to do and I’m running out of time. There is a nasty cold going around this fall that people are saying takes up to three weeks to fully recover and I have it, one down two to go. A week ago Friday I started to feel poorly and it went downhill from there. I was so sick last week I didn’t even feel like knitting or surfing my favorite knitting/crocheting/yarn site or much doing of anything. I’m starting to feel a bit better, but my nose is sometimes draining on to my throat causing me to clear my throat constantly and sometimes I have time to grab a tissue before it drains. Throw in driving to the vet once on Sat, once on Sun and again today and all I can say is I’m behind before I even thought about getting ahead.

    Here’s the list:

  1. Sweater-was supposed to be finished on Saturday, would have been if not for the illness, current status: one sleeve down, one to go and then the bottom edge
  2. Podcast-I had time on my hands to get the first episode recorded, but who wants to hear me while I’m sick, I’m hoping to release the first episode Dec. 1, a full episode, not just an intro. I’d like a promo out by tomorrow but I’m not holding my breath for that one
  3. Jesse Tree ornaments-I have a handful cut out, but I need to sew them together and create a tree of some sort by Wednesday, I also have to put the advent boxes together and hang them so Boo and I can open them.
  4. Super Secret Santa #1-I purchased fabric before I fell ill, but haven’t cut any of it
  5. Super Secret Santa #2-I have yarn, I have a pattern but I need to finish my sweater
  6. Super Secret Santa #3-fiber just arrived today in the mail for me to spin then I have to knit it
  7. Super-Super Secret Project #1-I am fairly certain I don’t have time for this one, it’ll get done, just probably not in time for the Christmas

Are you behind? Are you ahead? What’s your secret?

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Holiday traditions

Do you have holiday traditions?
On Thanksgiving we usually went to my maternal grandparents. It was usually the biggest family gathering we had. One year we had 22 people in my grandparent’s small house.My mom, her two brothers, a couple of spouses, four grandkids, friends and a the grandparents gathered around one long table. It was fun trying to get the butter. I miss family Thanksgiving dinners. This year I stayed home, by myself, with my cats and a cold while Boo and my husband had dinner with his family.

Growing up, we usually cut down a fresh tree in the first or second week of December and decorated it as a family. I loved seeing the familiar ornaments year after year, my favorite were the engraved metal ones that my grandparents would get me every year. Eventually I began to dread those because I no longer went by Debbie, but I still have them and use them and cringe when I pull them out. I was always mystified by families who didn’t up a tree up until Christmas Eve or worse, put it up after the children went to bed. I thought, how sad, it’s a wonderful family activity. Then I had a baby last September. We put up a tree last year because I thought it would be fun for him to stare at the lights but it was work. This year I’m going to wait as long as possible and put the baby play yard gate around it. I may even commit the unthinkable and put it up after he goes to bed. Will that make him more curious about it? If we do put it up, it’s going up in stages, first the tree for a few days, then the lights for a few more and finally the ornaments but only the nonbreakable ones. Between the three cats and Boo there won’t be much of a tree if I don’t.
Does anyone know where I can get indoor barbed wire?

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Jesse Tree Update #2

Do you have holiday traditions that have been passed down from your grandparents, parents or other family members? Have you created new traditions with your family? A Jesse Tree advent calendar is a new idea to me that I began to research in this post. After reading and reading and reading and talking, we’ve decided to try this out during our holiday season. Last week I went to GR to find materials for our advent calendar. I happily discovered that Hobby Lobby had felt choices galore and on sale. I stacked and stacked and stacked until the pile was so large that Boo couldn’t resist touching and trying to peel stickers off of them. I was so excited to find as many colors in stock as I did. Boo and I are working on ornaments for our tree.
Here’s our plan so far:

  1. For creation, I’m making a globe. I didn’t like the idea of focusing on just one aspect of creation from Genesis 1.1-2.4.
  2. For Adam and Eve from Genesis 2.7-9 & 18-24, I’m making stick modernish people, so the woman looks like she’s wearing a dress. Not historically accurate, but clearly a man and woman.
  3. For the fall of man, I’m making a generic red fruit as depicted in Genesis 3.1-7 & 23-24
  4. For Noah and the flood, I making a rainbow, see Genesis 6-8.
  5. For the tower of Babel, I’m making a ziggurat/tower. Although the tower represents disobedience, without it we wouldn’t have scattered and developed all the cultures. This story is told in Genesis 11.
  6. For Abraham, I’ve chosen the Star of David because he became the father of many nations, more numerous than the stars., Genesis 12-15.
  7. For Isaac, I’m making a stone altar because he trusted his father and God, Genesis 22.
  8. For Jacob, I love the image of the ladder to represent Jacob’s dreams at Bethel of the stairway to heaven to remind Jacob that in time God would allow him to return home.
  9. For Joseph, I couldn’t use anything but his coat of many colors that became the physical manifestation of his brothers’ jealousy. Joseph’s story is in Genesis 37-45.
  10. I have a cute lion which will either represent the prophesy that a lion from the tribe Judah will rule or Daniel’s obedience and punishment of the lion’s den.
  11. For Moses, I am making two. A basket will represent his mother’s (dis)obedience by hiding him in the river and stone tablets to represent his obedience to God by talking to him on behalf of the people. See Exodus 1, 3, 19 & 20.
  12. For Samuel, I am making a candle to represent the lamp of God that was burning in 1 Samuel 3 when God first spoke to Samuel.
  13. For Ruth and Obed, I’m making a stack of wheat because she obeyed God and stayed with Naomi and allowed themselves to be redeemed by Obed after working his fields. See the book of Ruth for this story.
  14. For Jesse, I am making a sheep as he had many flocks his sons had to care for. In 1 Samuel 16, Jesse says he has one more son in the fields with the sheep.
  15. For David, I am making a slingshot to represent his obedience in the face of certain defeat when he went up against Goliath told in 1 Samuel 17.
  16. For Solomon, I am making a crown because he was a wise king, see 1 Kings 3.
  17. For Isaiah, who foretold the Messiah in Isaiah 9, I’m making a scroll with Emmanuel, God with us embroidered on it.
  18. For Jonah, I’m making a whale to remind us of the cost of disobedience with the possibility of redemption when we seek forgiveness. See the book of Jonah.
  • Pictures of finished ornaments and at least 6-8 more symbols to come . . .

I originally thought to glue them down because I didn’t want to invest too much time in something that may not stick as a tradition, but after seeing the sites I’ve linked below, I’ve decided to sew them by hand or machine depending on the size of the pieces. Serendipity has lovely ornaments that I looked at when deciding that my shapes would look like. I linked to the general topic rather than one post because the ornaments span five posts. From this gallery of ornaments, I found a slide show of ornaments (52 images). I’m considering sewing my ornaments down to leaves as well, but I’m not sold on the holly tree look. I love the stitching detail and the idea of the same base on each ornament to bring a unified look to my tree. I love the 3D and texture variety in materials of the ornaments I’ve seen, but for ours I like the simplicity of felt ornaments that will pack flat at the end of the year. I like continuity of materials from one ornament to the next. If I made one from modeling clay, my brain would want them all to be like that. I don’t have enough clay in my stash for that kind of project, nor do I have the time to make a 3D tree and hangers. I can almost guarantee that my ornaments won’t be sewn to leaves this year, but I’m making them to a similar size, around three inches high, so that in the future if I decide to create a base it will be easier.

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The holidays are nearing

How are you doing on your holiday projects? Do you have holiday projects? I’m behind, I’m always behind. I procrastinate. I’m procrastinating right now with a warm kitty on my lap and my blog on the computer. A podcast I listen to linked the Christmas Countdown Clock and I love it. If I had a separate computer to show it on, I’d run the clock all day. I like the design of it and it just might spur me on to work a little more productively.

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