Part of the fun of Christmas for me is the making of both gifts and Christmassy stuff. It’s an excuse to make all sorts of things. In the lead up to December, we were busy with lots of such projects, but because they were presents, I haven’t said much about them. Now – with Christmas well behind us – this is the opportunity to show what we were busy with in those autumn months.
I started my GiveWrap making in September with lots of fabrics spread around, and some very intriguing printed pieces from my cousin Polly. When I’m working with Polly’s prints, I sort them first into colours, and themes. These two predominantly blue GiveWraps mainly incorporate a mix of her human body prints. Her images are bold so I try to marry them up with fabric that has equally strong images – thus, in the top example, there are striking Japanese ladies from an old yukata, and some wonderful owly pieces too. The images in the lower givewrap are softer in colour and tone, and have accompanying softer fabrics.Other prints from Polly inspired work in different colourways. Her “little people” are all facing inwards here, dancing to the central tune, in a golden melange. It’s a particular favourite of both of us.This wine-coloured GiveWrap is at heart a worn-out cushion cover of Polly’s. I covered up the holes with bits of new fabric, and built up the edges.Later in the autumn, I made more GiveWraps. These blues, yellows and golds worked so well together that I got carried away and made two more similar GiveWraps.Another old cushion cover (this time an old green one of mine) got re-pieced here. The holes and stains were removed and I added some strong contrasting purple. Interestingly, this GiveWrap attracted more interest and likes on Instagram than any other that I have made.Lastly, I made a small red silk GiveWrap with my mother in mind. This to my mind is the best of the lot! I loved it – was sad to part with it – but my mother loved it too. And when a recipient loves the gift that is best of best!Off they went to new happy homes, bearing Christmas wishes and love!Apart from GiveWraps, there were practical things to make like the Christmas cake – here garlanded with our own gorgeous glossy holly.We also made jams and jellies. Here’s Stephen concentrating intensely as he pots up his chilli pepper jam.The finished products – chilli pepper jam and spicy harvest jelly – don’t look bad for Christmas presents, do they?I made two little Toft monsters this year as gifts. The patterns come from Kerry Lord’s brilliant flip book of patterns, Imaginarium. A mix-and-match pattern book to enable the crochet creation of just the monster you want. The other little monster I made is quite different – but that’s the whole point of a book with so many pattern choices!Different they may be, but they look like good friends, sitting here together.You may have read an earlier blog I wrote this autumn about our Seaview poppies … we collected as much seed as possible, and packaged it up to send off to friends and family, hoping to spread a little bit of poppy colour in other gardens.I made hats too. Some I forgot to photograph. But one I did remember to photograph was this pink two-eared beanie for my daughter. The pattern came from my beloved ancient (1977) Paton’s Woolcraft, and I knitted it using odd pink scraps from my stash. The scraps included some Rowan Kidsilk Haze so together with the alpaca pompoms, it was a fluffy hat!Just right for our beach walks …My son is fascinated (and most knowledgeable about) the periodic table. So what better to give him than periodic table pillowcases?! Stephen found the fabric on the internet, and I sewed them up. Does he now dream of the elements of the periodic table? …. I must ask him …There was the usual making as well. You might say, the bread and butter making. Wonderful to have a man around who makes all our bread.Stephen made some wonderful knits for Christmas presents. He wrote in an earlier blog about the blanket he knitted on his knitting machine as a present for his youngest daughter. That knit incorporated a knitted monogram of his daughter and her husband’s first initials: J and E. My cousin admired it especially because her two daughters share those particular initials. So how about some cushions with your daughters’ initials on them as a Christmas present for my cousin! Here is the maker man himself with his wonderful knitted cushions.He made two scarves for other daughters.
Stephen here: Here is one of the scarves I knitted about to be cast off the machine. For the technically mind it is knitted in 2-colour tuck stitch using every third needle with tension dial set at 10 (the largest possible stitch size) to give a lovely loose feel. The wool is Rowan baby merino silk double knit – in all I needed 100g of each colour. When washed carefully they came out beautifully soft, though somewhat narrower and longer than anticipated.
I also experimented with some Christmas designs. Here are two panels I knitted just for fun. The left hand one is of random snowflakes ( see the end of our blog Ellie’s Blanket for more details of this design) and the second is derived from typical Scandinavian Christmas designs and made using their traditional colours.Perhaps by next year I will have my own machine-knitted supply of Givewraps.
Katherine here: I’ve written so far about the pre-Christmas preparations. But there was one project we made that involved all of us who were here over the Christmas period.
One of my most treasured Christmas decorations that comes out every year looking sadder and more worn is the crib my children made when small out of toilet rolls, tissue paper, and a bit of glitter and trim. There’s only one shepherd these days, and one king has gone AWOL.I put this picture on Instagram, and a helpful virtual friend of mine from Nice suggested it was missing a Ravi as well. You don’t know what a Ravi is?! Well, a character from the santons of Provence, the Ravi stands amazed at the events taking place, with his (or her) arms in the air. So we got to work, and we got delightfully carried away. I made a Ravi, Stephen created a new king, and son James added a Cagador. (James knows this character as a Cagador having lived in Spain, but it is elsewhere known as a Caganer.) When the Cagador turned round and revealed his true intent, the King and the Ravi turned away, a bit giggly and embarrassed.But they all came together to make a much happier crib scene … Several other creatures and presents crept into the mix … but that’s life isn’t it? All can come to the manger …