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.)
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.
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...
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?