Sunday, December 30, 2007

December 30

This beanie was meant to be adult-sized, but it turned out to be Lauren-sized. I immediately started knitting another one, intending to extend the stocking stitch by 3 or 4 inches before the decreasing starts, but looking at the photo now, I don't really care for the shape of the hat. So I think I'll abandon this pattern and return to one I used with success before Christmas.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

December 29

More stitched and embellished cards. Have I mentioned how much I love my new machine?

Friday, December 28, 2007

December 28

More scarves, and matching cards. A cool way to use up the little scraps of fabric leftover from a project (the cards, that is.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

December 27

The last present I unwrapped on Christmas morning was a letter from Josh. Along with his expressions of love and gratitude and other things too lovely for me to repeat here, he ended with a poem that sent me off to look under the soap in the bathroom.

There, I found another clue leading me outside under the tree in the front yard ... where I found another note telling me to look in the trunk of my car. There, I found a new sewing machine!!!!!!!!

We had such a frugal Christmas, because of Josh and I both losing our jobs earlier in the year. But he got a surprise bonus last week, and allocated all of it for a new machine for me. He made it clear that he had no idea what model I'd really like, so if the one in the box wasn't totally to my liking, we could exchange it. Which today I did.

I am now the very excited owner of a Brother Innovis NX-450, my first ever electronic sewing machine. It totally rocks!

I immediately whipped up a silk scarf (something my old machine would not have coped with). Goofy Josh decided to model it for me. He wished he had a pipe (and maybe a beret) as a prop but had to make do with spectacles.

Lauren did a slightly less comic modelling job, showing off the complementary brooch. I can't wait to sew some more!! I am so lucky!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

December 26

The light was perfect at the beach today.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

December 25

Here's Josh and I in our festive headdresses. We had 15 here for lunch, and we repeated last year's "cracker" icebreaker before the meal. I made my own Christmas Crackers which each contained a sheet of tissue paper plus various other bits and bobs with which each person had to fashion a party hat. You can see more of the crazy results here.

It was a really lovely day, despite a few hiccups like the washing machine breaking, and the power going out for more than an hour in the middle of cooking the Big Meal. But my handy husband hooked up the generator to the stove and I kept right on roasting (and later, he ordered a $20 part to fix the washer). For me, it was what Christmas Day is meant to be. Lots of cooperation, love, laughter, good food, friends, family, phone calls with those absent, and general warm fuzzies. Loverly.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

December 15

I am back in cyberworld after more than a week without internet. Wow, it was tough! I did manage to get some stuff done, including studying for my finals, planning the Christmas menus, making more gifts, and wrapping 23 loaves of banana bread.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

December 6

Last week Ian asked me to make him a hackysack. He and his friends are right into the 'sport' these days; they call themselves the Sack Tappers (you can be sure they get a lot of teenage male humour out of THAT.) I was delighted to oblige -- how often does a teenage boy actually request a hand crafted item? I took it very slowly because my finger still hasn't fully healed and crochet puts a lot of pressure on that particular spot. But tonight I tossed him the finished ball; he immediately put it into action and declared it to be great.

I used the only cotton I had (working from two balls to try to thicken it up -- recognize it, sister?) but it was still too thin. Next one should be thicker cotton, and a darker color. But all in all, we're both pretty happy with it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

December 4

Lola came over for some art play tonight. We had such a good time. It's been way too long since I played with glue and crayons.

Monday, December 03, 2007

December 3

Got the Christmas card designed (and 10 printed before I ran out of the right paper) today. I feel like a bit of a slacker for creating a strictly-graphic card with no hand work this year, but I'm forgiving myself, because my Christmas list is still really long. Despite having been making gifts all year, I still have to:
~ Print, enscript, and address 50+ cards
~ Make a tree (we're not buying one, and I have an idea, and a bunch of branches ...)
~ Make 14 more gifts for Josh's colleagues, plus a half dozen for Lauren's teachers and special people
~ Knit a beanie, decorate a couple of boxes, make a stupid sock creature, a doorstop and a bag for my Aus contingent (these need to be mailed, oh, next week at the latest)
~ Plan (um ....) design and make gifts for Josh, Lauren, Ian and half a dozen girlfriends here
~ Make pyjamas for us all (Christmas Eve tradition)
~ Plan 4-6 days of meals for when family is visiting; cook ahead whatever I can.

Oh yeah, and study for final exams, and earn some money. While, of course, caring for a house and family. Yeah.

Christmas cards with no handwork are fine by me.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Christmas Boutique

Last week I launched my 2007 Christmas Boutique, a virtual "store" where my family members (all 19 of them) could select their own Christmas gifts from the goods I had been making all year. As I said in my email to them all, "There's nothing worse for a handcrafter than to give a gift that the recipient doesn't want or like. It's bad enough to do that with a bought gift, but even worse, in my opinion, to spend hours making something that is a 'miss' rather than a 'hit'. It's embarrassing for everyone."

Here's how it worked. I gave them a url to go to, where they could browse through the photos and leave comments under any that appealed to them. I encouraged them to select more than one, and to feel free to pick any that others had already selected. This was not a 'first come, first served' scenario. I reserved the right to make the final decision, and figured I could make whip up another one or two items if any were particularly popular.

My goal was to (a) give people something they really wanted (b) learn more about my loved ones' preferences; after all, it's been 10 years since I lived in Australia and spent any meaningful time with them; some of them weren't even born when I left.

Well, my family embraced the idea with enthusiasm (whew!), and promptly cast their votes. There were a few surprises.

Children and grownups alike clamoured for the locked boxes, so I'll be scouring the op shops over the next few days for more wooden boxes suitable for this purpose. I've started knitting another beanie (index finger stuck awkwardly up in the air) and I'll try to make another couple of stupid sock creatures.

Nobody was interested in the batik placemats, which is fine, because I love them.

All in all, I am really happy with the response, and hope that my idea has reduced a little Christmas angst. Other handcrafters out there might like to try it!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

December 1

My new all time favourite dinner: Roasted Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza. I made it tonight and it was ohmygod delicious! If you're lucky, I'll make it again next time you come to dinner :-)

Crafting has been difficult in the past few days, with a finger bandaged up. But it's getting better quickly, so hopefully I'll be back at it tomorrow.