I've been meaning to get to this post since Christmas, but just haven't had the time yet. The little boys have been plagued with illness after illness since Christmas - colds, stomach bugs, ear infections, even a trip to the ER to celebrate the New Year. It's been insane. However, better late than never, I'm finally sitting down to do a round up of the holiday crafting of 2013.
This year I was determined to accomplish two things. Increase the amount of handmade gifts and to not have a major meltdown as a result of it. I'm thrilled to tell you I succeeded on both accounts. Not one single tearful, gnashing of teeth, toddler worthy tantrum and over thirty crafts made for gifting. I was the queen of calm this year. I actually enjoyed the gift making. Really enjoyed it.
So, without further ado, here's what I was up to during my absence from the blogging world.
I went a little mad with the accessories this year. Hats and mitts and scarves oh my! My favourite, I think, are the Lotus Mittens I knit for Mom. She almost didn't get them. I was sorely tempted to keep them all for myself. Such a pretty pattern! Oh! But I also loved Salt, the cowl I knit for J's girlfriend M and then there was the Give 'em the Slip Mitts I knit for Little Man's preschool teacher. He chose the pattern and the yarn for them and the purple Cafe au Lait mitts I knit for his other teacher. I also knit a pair of Cafe au Lait for M's stocking. J had requested an Inishmore Cap like I'd made for N last year - little did he know I'd been planning it all along! It's a great look for my big boys! I also knit a Fisher Cable Hat for G's boyfriend B's stocking. I had a slight issue with that one. Something went a bit wrong with the decreases and in the end I ripped back and reworked them using a online decrease calculator instead of how it was written and I couldn't be happier. It looked much more hat like and much less tea cozy like. A few other things that made their way into Christmas stockings were Amaranth, a headband I knit in linen, and Boot Candy boot toppers for G, a neck warmer using the Oats pattern for N and a simple garter edged toque for M. Phew. I think that covers the accessories...
I decided early on this year that I really wanted to make dance bags for three of our little nieces who all take dance classes and G had already asked for a new dance bag on her Christmas wish list so it was just a matter of deciding what design to make.
I had found the idea for the bag online, but of course decided I couldn't leave well enough alone and did my own thing. Two of the nieces are highland dancers so ghillies were a must on their bags. The third takes tap, but unfortunately my drawing abilities did not extend as far as tap shoes - they just looked weird, so I went with ballet slippers instead. The bags are lined with an 8" zippered pocket in the lining on one side and two gathered, elasticized slip pockets the width of the opposite side on the highland dance ones and on the ballet one has pleated slip pockets instead. I decided to do tie handles so that the girls could adjust the length if necessary. A magnetic snap closure finishes each of them off. I knit each little girl a pair of legwarmers to go with their bag, using Beanstalks for the two highland ones and Zeg Warmers for the ballet one. All yarns were hand dyed Patons Classic.
G's dance bag happens to be my latest test bag for Anna of Charmed Liebling. When Anna sent me the test request I knew right away it was a perfect dance bag. Roomy, lots of pockets and stylish. I'm really happy with how my Rhine Valley Bag turned out - and if you'd like to make one for yourself hop on over to Anna's site for more information.
Using a few old patterns I created to sets of pjs for gifting. The first set was matching Christmas Eve pjs for the little boys. I used an old Simplicity pattern for the flannel bottoms and an old Kwik Sew t-shirt pattern for the fleece tops that I appliquéd the bear shape onto to complete the look. The boys were so excited when I surprised them with them. Little Man was especially appreciative, telling me over and over how much he liked them and how soft they were.
The second set were again made using the same pattern for the little bottoms, but this time I modified to add a contrast cuff. (BF)G's were made using another Simplicity pattern. I took the easy route with the tops, choosing to purchase three black t-shirts and one orange one that I cut the sleeve extensions from and attached to the black ones. These pyjamas were a birthday gift for (BF)G, who's birthday happens to fall right after Christmas.
"Perhaps With A Bag to Put Them In"
I love that J's Christmas wish list had two requests that were handmade. One was that he wanted a set of dice for Dungeons and Dragons "perhaps with a hand knit bag to put them in" (the other was the Inishmore Cap) - it made this crafty mama's heart sing to read that I tell you! So I knit him a little dice pouch one evening while I watched the old classic "White Christmas".
Months ago I'd found the "Bowie Case" pattern on my favourite bag making site, Emmeline Bags. The pattern isn't by Janelle, but by a German designer, pattydo. Janelle sells it in her shop though and had high praise for the cute little cel phone clutch it makes, so I purchased it with the intention of making G and J's girlfriend M one for each of their stockings. I love this little bag, although it was a bit crazy as the instructions are in a German (with English subtitles) video. It went smoothly until I was trying to put it all together in the final step. Trying to watch where I was to do the folds, while reading subtitles all the while the video kept pausing and having to load because of a dodgy internet connection. Oh boy! But the end result is adorable. I so want one for myself!
Our youngest niece doesn't dance yet - she's just three - but I assume she gets dragged along to her fair share of dance classes and competitions, so I thought I'd make her the Playdate Back Pack from Fishsticks designs so she can take along some toys or books with her. A overwhelmingly pink, girly Barbie one (I'm so not used to overly girly anymore in this house being surrounded by menfolk! ha ha!). I think she liked it. She wore it most of the evening, Christmas Eve, after opening it.
Every year Santa brings an new ornament in the kids' stockings. This year I just couldn't find any that I liked. And given I was filling seven stockings now with the addition to our family of B (G's boyfriend) and M (J's girlfriend) I was having a really hard time finding a theme with that many different choices. So I decided to put my crafty little self to work and make them. I adore these little felt Santas and really loved making them. So much fun!
So there you have it. The round up! I may have left a thing or two off the list, but I think that's pretty much it for Christmas (and one birthday) 2013 crafting. I'm still so pleased with how everything worked out and how much I enjoyed the process. I'm already plotting and planning for next year, but for now, I've been enjoying doing a few projects for myself. It was brutally cold for a spell causing me to feel the urge to knit all things. I'll have to tell you about that another day though.