As I mentioned a few weeks ago, our holiday making this year wasn't focused on a singular project, but rather a whole lot of different little things. It worked best for this year - for where everyone is at at the moment, for the time we had, and for the interests we all have. Not to mention, the varied gift list. The two weeks leading up to Christmas giving were busy days for making, with a factory in nearly every room, and - thank goodness - at least three (sometimes five) busy bees happily working on their tasks. Truly, I was amazed at how the energy flowed in those tasks amongst the kidst. Sibling peace and harmony in a family with five children is not something that's always present, to state the obvious. But united in the task of making something for someone, with a deadline to boot, these kids of mine rallied big time, and it was a delight to be a part of.
I tried to remember to stop when I could to take a photo here and there, but failed in many regards. My hands were often too busy or full or just plain messy to pick up that camera. But when I did, as you'll see below, there was no time for clearing a table to take a pretty picture. I kind of love the snippets of our busy days that are creeping into all four corners of each photo. They tell the story of this year's making!
And so...onto some of the gifts we made to share with friends and family....
Inspired greatly by our friend Lupine (and using her recipe), we decided to make play dough for all of the cousins. Given the quantity of the dough we were making (42 jars!), the knowledge that all the recipients were old enough to know not to eat the dough, and with a desire for lots of color, we skipped the natural dye and went straight for the treat of a large set of Chefmaster food dye gel. I wish I had taken a better photograph of the jars - and the colors - as each was labeled with the name the kids gave it. Cotton Candy was pink with geranium essential oil, Oh Christmas Tree had sage oil, and Sweet Dreams was lavender with lavender oil, and on and on. My favorite perhaps being Harper's Blood & Guts (when he got a little carried away with the red food coloring). We also purchased a few of these softdough sets, added some extra rolling pins, and divided all of that up to put in the bags as well. I loved this project most of all because it really was entirely child-driven. They needed my help with ordering materials, of course, and with printing the labels. But the rest was all them, and they did it beautifully.
Meanwhile, in my studio, for the very same cousins, I was busy making Moon Pants. A whole LOT of moon pants. I think I made a few of these in my sleep, though I'm not certain. Pulling quite a bit from my stash, it was fun dreaming up which print belonged with which child. And though these were a ton of fun to make and simple enough too, I wouldn't mind if I don't make another pair for a very long time. Yawn.
The same might be said for big needles and cowls in particular. I will be quite alright if my hands do not hold a size 15 needle for many months to come (maybe this is the moment I embrace sock knitting?). That said, I really did enjoy knitting each and every one of these, with great help from a few good audio books and some decent TV watching on my laptop (The Time In Between - a Spanish drama - for one, and also how did I miss that there was a Season 4 of Call the Midwives? Yeah. Three full seasons of those consumed while knitting these cowls! Indulgence!). Oh, and the cowls, themselves. They are the Drop Stitch Cowl and a few Spiral Cowls thrown in for good measure, both by SpiderWomanKnits. I knit them mostly in Malagrigo Rios, but there is also some Cascade Magnum and Brown Sheep Burly Spun in there. The Rios is my favorite, though it makes for a shorter (and more expensive, eek!) cowl. All lovely, though, and I think well received. Who doesn't need one more squishy cowl? Exactly.
And there was some more knitting. Hats for those nieces and nephews deemed too old for Moon Pants. These were made without a pattern, just whipped up in bulky and super bulky yarn. And I think I got the best prize of the year in handmade giving with that blue one up there. I was hesitant to add a pom-pom for my nephew - an eight year old boy, new to the family no less. But I had a hunch that he was a pom pom kinda guy. And his delight at opening that with its silly pom pom, and then wearing it all day long without taking his hands off the top of the hat? That's all a knitting gift maker needs, really. Just that one thing all season, and how lucky that I got it from that little guy! (Thank you, Keagan! Hats for you always, kid!)
There were some dryer ball sets sent out into the world this holiday season too! With a few decorated balls (thanks, Adelaide) and a few plain, directions on using them, and a tiny jar of lavender essential oil all bundled in a muslin bag. To my delight, the recipients actually knew what they were and were thrilled! Hooray!
Phew! I'm getting tired now. Are you? We're almost done here, hang in there. I had hopes of many rope baskets being made, but in the end, it was just one person who received them. My Mama, who has been not so subtly hinting about them since I first made them last spring. I'm glad she waited though, because I think she ended up getting the one I love most of all. Something about this shape is so pleasing to me, and I loved incorporating little pieces of fabric into it for the first time. There will be plenty more of that to come (and now I'm getting really excited about teaching how to make these at our Into The Woods retreat next month!).
And last but not least, the work of Papa and Harper. Sets of birch bark candle holders, bundled up with twine and greens and a golden acorn (because gold spray paint is just too much fun). I managed to squirrel a few more of these away for myself and I'm so glad I did. They're sweet and bright and I love them so.
And that, my friends, was some of the making we've been up to these past few weeks. I hope there is some inspiration for your future gift giving in there, or perhaps some ideas for snowy winter January days. Ah! Snowy, quiet January days - they're here! Whatever will we make next......