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Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this before Christmas, stop reading now!  I mean it!  I will take the gifts back if you peek.  You know I’m not bluffing…just ask Kalen!

Last week, Kalen opened a bag he found and saw a gift.  Not just any gift — the gift he asked Santa for.  Now, both boys know the rules – you do NOT look inside containers that don’t belong to you, especially near the holidays.  We told him we were taking that item back to Target, and he’d better make extra sure Santa knew he wanted it!  We all like our gifts to be surprises, and he took it really well.  He’s told a couple of people already, in a very matter-of-fact voice, “I looked inside a bag and saw a present, but Mom and Dad took it back.”

Anyway, back to the main gist of today’s post.  According to Nicky, I am “the best gift-maker ever!” I’m not sure I agree with him (my talents are severely limited, after all), but it’s the best compliment I’ve gotten all month!

I’m about done with the gift-making for Christmas, and not a moment too soon.  I have one step left on one gift, and I’ll do that after dinner.  Then, it’s wrapping all evening.  Yay!  I love wrapping.

Some of the stuff I’ve been finishing up:

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This apron is for my mother-in-law.  The skirt is made from the backs of two button-down shirts, and the other fabric and buttons are from my stash.  The ties ended up too short, but they’re just long enough to tie a little square knot at the back, so I hope it will fit okay.  I think it’s quite pretty.

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Here’s the one that kept me up late last night, happily stitching away.  I made Dad some lounge pants (he likes to wear them in the evenings), and they looked so plain and boring.  Since Daddy is proudly USN, retired, the anchor seemed an obvious choice.

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These eyeglasses cases are the gifts from the boys to their grandparents.  I stole the idea directly from Pout on a Whim.  The boys drew their designs last month, and I’ve been embroidering them on the felt ever since.  These are Nicky’s drawings.  Grandma Julie is cooking, Grandpa Wayne is throwing a Frisbee (the boys love playing outside with him), Grandpa Bill is surrounded by musical notes, and Grandma Wanda is making a heart sculpture.

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The reverse sides of the cases show Kalen’s drawings: a camera for Grandpa Wayne, a dog for Grandma Wanda, Grandma Julie with a book (“The Dog Book”), and Grandpa Bill singing.  The cases are all lined with t-shirts from my fabric stash.  We’re all quite pleased and are looking forward to the grandparents’ reactions.

And on that note, I’m off to brave the holiday rush at the grocery store.  I need apple pie fixings…

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Lots on my mind today, but nothing really ready to hit cyberspace.  So, I thought I’d post a little tease of some of the holiday gift-making going on in the house.  Enjoy!

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Since we’ve now given my mother-in-law her birthday gift, I can share the handmade portion:

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The two green yarns were reclaimed from sweaters, and the third is a variegated cotton.

I used the pattern for the Easy Peasy Crochet Bag.  Well, the pattern itself isn’t all that different from tons of other bags I’ve made: crochet a rectangle for the bottom, then crochet in rounds up the sides.  However, she always uses three yarns held together, which makes every bag quite unique, and she includes the picot edging and twisted cord handles, neither of which I’ve ever done on a bag before.

The lining is the piece de resistance, in my opinion, mostly due to its reclaimed nature and the fact that it was fate that kept it hidden in the back of the linen closet and therefore out of the donation bin several years ago when I took its entire sheet set to Goodwill.  It is the exact colors of the yarns.  Pillowcase Kismet.

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To sew the lining in, I followed Future Girl’s tutorial.  I’ve hand-sewn linings into bags before, but this explanation is so clear and simple, and it created a much nicer finish than I’ve had in the past.

(And I must say, while I was upset at first about the need to give up plarn crochet because of my hand/wrist pain, I am enjoying the process of working with actual, fibrous yarn soooooo much more!)

My hand still isn’t at 100%, but I’m working on things a bit here and there.  In an effort to do something crafty this week, I decided to try my hand at these gift bows, made of magazine pages.  Easy peasy!  Not that gift bows are expensive…you can get a bag of dozens for just a couple of dollars, but I love the reused quality of these, and they’re so colorful.  Each one is completely unique.  And they look great with my favorite models.

A close-up of the bows themselves:

This first batch was made from an educational software catalog and one of those coupon magazines that come in the mail.  Apparently, Mom’s been busy over at their place and has knocked out quite a few as well!

I’m easing myself back into crochet, too.  I followed a link from one of my favorite blogs to a newish group on Ravlery, devoted to devotees of Lisa Gentry’s crochet and knit designs.  I wasn’t previously aware of Lisa’s designs, but she has some cute things, as well as the distinction of holding the world record for fastest crochet!  They hold a monthly contest in the group, and October’s contest is for Lisa’s design of a spiderweb and spider.  I adore Halloween.  I love decorating for Halloween.  I decided to use Lisa’s design as inspiration for a set of spiderweb curtains for our sidelight windows.  I’ll need to do about twenty of these small webs, soak them in fabric stiffener, then put them together.  (Still not sure how that’s going to happen.  I want them to be able to fold up, accordian-style, for storage.)  Of course, there will also be spiders.  But here’s what’s done so far.

I’m using Bernat Baby Coordinates.  Because I had it.  😉  And because I like the bit of shimmer the yarn has.  Thread would have been ideal, but I’m trying very hard not to buy anything new unless we need it.  Reminds me of a verse I read a couple of years ago:

Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do, or
Do without.

I’m not going to go too far, but “making do” seems particularly appropriate these days.

Upcycling: the process of using something that would generally be discarded to create a new, useful item.

According to Wikipedia, the term was coined by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things.  I like it.

For months, I’ve been meaning to buy acryclic wall pockets – one to go on either side of my monitor inside my enclosed computer desk.  Thanks to inspiration from the Upcycle group on Ravelry, I’ve been looking at things around my home in a new light.  Last night, a Honey Nut Toasted Oats box and some paper left over from my paper scrapbooking days came together to make this:

Cereal Box Wall Pocket

Cereal Box Wall Pocket

Much prettier than acrylic, don’t you think?  Cheaper, too.  Now I just need to make one for the other side.

My boys

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