Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Everything I made everyone for Christmas

Christmas is over.  Boo.  The holidays are still lingering though - I don't go back to work until Tuesday because Scotland is hanging on to its bank holiday. Gotta love a country that starts the year with time off work.  After giving my laptop a well-earned rest for a few days, I'm back at the blogging, and I figured I'd end the year with some fun posts.  So, what's more fun than talking about a whole bunch of crafting for others?  Here's a big long list of all the bits and pieces I made in the run up to Christmas (eh, except for this hat and this one, since I already talked about them.)

baby christmas gifts dinosaur dress sewing knitted sheep hat gingersnap cardigan converse
Matilda's Wardrobe
I can't resist making things for small people, and my favourite of all the small people is Matilda Rooftops.  Since Sarah and I both have fabulous taste in everything, I knew she'd appreciate some handmade and thrifty goodies, plus I was taking advantage of Matilda being young enough not to care that she got clothes as gifts.  That's certainly not something I was impressed with as a kid anyway.

The dinosaur dress came about by accident - I'd bought a jersey dress for M a few months ago then found a dinosaur t-shirt in the charity shop.  Some uncharacteristic quick thinking took place and I figured the t-shirt could easily become a tiny dress by using the original one as a template.  It worked!  I didn't even need to fuss with hems - the neckline on the top and the dress were the same size and the bottom half of the top became the skirt of the dress.  I couldn't get over the cuteness of the whole thing when I was done and sent pictures to pretty much everyone, except Sarah, of course.  I've held onto the original dress in the hopes that I can repeat the success with more fun finds.

gingersnap baby cardigan knitted colour block christmas gift
I fell for the Gingersnap cardigan as soon as I saw it.  I do love a bit of colour blocking on children's clothes and I had the perfect mix of colours in my favourite Bergere de France Recycline yarn.  The pattern was another simple make, although this time I had to knit everything in sections and sew it all together at the end.  My usual method is to knit the whole body in one go but there was no indication as to which row I'd have to split the body for the armholes, but I took notes as I went and if I make another one I know what I'm doing now.

toddler baby sheep knitted hat mittens purple dinosaur toy nici christmas gifts
We already know how gosh darn cute Miss Matilda looks in a hat, and what makes a hat even better?  Sheep of course!  I used one of the designs from the Baable hat and a simple bobble hat pattern from Purl Soho and off I went.  The crown decreases were especially pretty and obviously I added a pompom.

The gloves were made using the Toddler Mittens on a String pattern, except I ditched the double pointers and just knit them flat then added the thumbs.  I do not like double pointers.  I do like i-cords, however, so they were dug out for that part.  I used washable Aran yarn for both accessories - originally I'd planned to do them in the same yarn as the cardigan but I didn't have enough left of any one colour to make this set, so I used some of Aldi's finest.  It was lovely to work with despite the low cost and I'm not snobbish about yarn anyway.

The dino toy was purchased to go with the dress, so he had to have a matching scarf made.  All it took was cutting a strip of remaining t-shirt fabric, winding it round his neck a couple of times and sewing it in place.  The jeans were bought in Sainsburys (Tesco?  I've forgotten already.) and the Converse I found secondhand but looking brand new.  I love that everything together creates a variety of looks, and I might be planning to repeat this gift idea in the future...

blogger secret santa hand knitted crocheted gifts christmas candles sweets
Blogger Secret Santa
Jenny at The Geeky Knitter organised a great swap this year.  I really wanted to join in with Janet's again but knew I'd only have time for one, so this was the winner.  My giftee was Philippa and she specified that she liked dinosaurs and Wonder Woman so off I went to look for some fun crafts to make up.  I also added a few other bits and pieces - Scottish delicacies including shortbread and whisky fudge, some bath stuff and festive candles.

crochet dinosaur santa christmas decoration washcloth knitted gift secret santa
Among my creations was a Christmas dinosaur for hanging on the tree.  I used this crochet pattern for the body and improvised the Santa hat.  It looked a bit more beanie-like than I was going for but I guess the colours make it obvious what it is!  Tam thought I was making a Nessie so we could call this part of the Scottish theme too...

I also made my first washcloth, with a dinosaur design of course.  I love how quick and simple it was to knit up and I got to use some random DK cotton yarn I had in my stash.  Plus, the pattern name is awesome - T-riffic Washcloth, haha!

wonder woman fingerless knitted gloves christmas gifts secret santa blogger
The Wonder Woman fingerless gloves were exactly what I was looking for and I like that they're practical without being too obviously branded.  They're made with DK yarn and knit up flat before the thumb sections are made in the round.  I have a tendency to cast off quite tightly and I had to do the thumb part twice because they were cutting off circulation the first time around, but the second attempt went more smoothly and they fit much better after that.  Hopefully they'll get a bit of use when the freezing weather goes away.

christmas gifts knitted rib socks crochet monster vampire nosferatu stamped watercolour print
Crafts for a crafter
Tam might do different crafts from me, but he's still good at knowing when something is...well, a bit shit, so I feel the need to up my game slightly when I'm making for him.  The print was something I wasn't feeling too confident about.  Anything involving paints and mistakes that can't be corrected has a definite capacity for going wrong when I'm around.  I used (Tam's) watercolours and, after the paint dried, dug out my letter stamps and printed on the names of everywhere we went this year.  I knew I'd forget a few though and sure enough, Tam thought of at least three locations missing from it, but at least I got through it without making any spelling mistakes!  I'd recommend starting with the longest place names and working your way down to the shortest, thus ensuring you have space for them all.

crochet monster vampire nosferatu knitted socks basic rib mens christmas gift
Time for another crochet monster to add to Tam's collection.  I think this one is Nosferatu, so he sits quite nicely alongside the Grim Reaper and Cthulhu.  The pattern, like the others, is from the Creepy Cute Crochet book and I just discovered that the author has published some extra patterns on her blog that didn't make it into the book, so it's gonna take even longer to complete the collection now!  Maybe I should set myself a goal of making one a month this year...

Tam's one request when I asked about Christmas presents was a pair of knitted socks.  I had no excuses not to make them since I got a whole set of sock needles for my birthday, so I went to work.  I'm fairly certain they took almost as long to make as the sweater did, or at least it felt like it.  Double pointed needles feel so stop-start to me, which is definitely not my preferred way of working, but I did quite like the rhythm in the end, and they weren't in the slightest bit complicated to make.  I used the Basic Ribbed Sock pattern and the instructions were super clear.  Since it was my first pair, I went for some cheap yarn from Tiger, of all places, although I have a couple of skeins in my stash in more girly colours that I want to get around to using soon.

scented potpourri christmas fabric bags pouches sachets check floral gifts
Crafts for creatives
So, more gifts for creative people.  I kept things simple when I was making these bits and pieces, since I wanted to make something practical but pretty, something that a fellow crafter would be happy to use.  I had some fabric squares and ribbon offcuts in my sewing bag, along with a packet of festive potpourri that I picked up in a charity shop in the summer, so these wee scented sachets were a quick make.  I sewed the squares corner to corner (like folding one of those paper games in school) and left part of one side unsewn so I could turn the fabric right side out and fill them, before hand sewing them closed.  The floral one was my practice go, so I also got one for myself!

zipped pouch bag handmade christmas gift bird fabric
My mum got a bonus gift in the form of a lined zipped pouch to keep all her knitting accessories in.  I've make these before years ago but I followed this tutorial to make sure I kept the fabric facing the right way at all times - it's far too easy to go wrong when it comes to putting one of these together.

handmade tote drawstring bags crochet mandalas decoration christmas gifts
My mum, Tam's mum and his auntie all got the same main gift, with slight colour differences on each.  I used my tote-bag-to-drawstring-bag method to make the craft bags and bias binding for the handles then decorated them with crocheted mandalas.  4 ply yarn made them a bit more delicate looking, although sewing them all onto the bags took aaaages.  I'm not so patient when it comes to hand sewing so this was like torture for me, but the effect was worth it.  

handmade crochet mandalas tote drawstring bag christmas gifts
See?  Pretty and practical.  I got the heart print bias binding from Remnant Kings - it was the first time I'd been there in years and they had so much good stuff I had to really restrain myself from planning all the craft projects.

garter stitch knitted grey scarf pompoms faux fur
Teenage Approved
My cousin is almost fifteen and likes pretty much the opposite of everything I do, style-wise.  (Our opinions on various You-Tubers are definitely corresponding though.)  Still, I couldn't resist making her something and figured a simple scarf would be safe enough.  This one took 300g of chunky yarn, a whole bunch of garter stitch and an old furry cowl, cut up and refashioned into giant pompoms.  I think it worked out ok, especially when I saw an identical one in the window of Next a few weeks ago.  Hey, I'm trendy after all!  It's debatable whether she'd think Next was the definition of what's in style right now, but she did a good job of looking pleased with it all the same.

I'm glad I managed to make some time for handmade gifts this year.  I've been trying to buy locally and/or secondhand more recently but when it comes to gifts, it's hard to say 'I'm not getting you something you asked for because I don't want to give that retailer money.'  I try to stick to making useful things that suit the recipient's style, but it can be difficult to predict how much that person will like this thing, so really I just went with what I thought would work and hoped for the best.  The only thing that needs work with my method is carving out more time to make even better gifts next year...

Who else made handmade pressies this year?  Or get any good ones?


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