How on earth did it get to be 21st December this quickly? I am, as horrible habit dictates at this time of year, rushing round feverishly wishing I'd started doing things/making things/remembering it was Christmas much, much earlier. It's never a great feeling, especially not if and when it involves heading out to the shops, where you're surrounded by other people doing exactly the same thing. At least when you're at home, you can stick on some cheerful tunes (the soundtrack to Sweeney Todd counts, right?) or a cheesy film to ease your fraying nerves.
If, like me, you're a dyed in the wool last-minuter, I have a few goodies that might prove useful. All you need to put them to work is your printer, plus a warm drink and/or something sugary to soothe you while it clatters away, taking care of the rest. No car-parking chaos, no elbowing rival shoppers out of the way and no having to listen to Last Christmas for the twentieth time in as many minutes. Sigh...
The little Christmas shop, which you'll find here, is in lieu of my not quite having everything ready for Etsy just yet, but wanting to share a few festive bits and pieces. Over there, you'll find these:
A whole selection of these:
And some pretty freebies to download, which are useful both for Christmas and occasions throughout the rest of the year.
And if you're expecting a present, card or other holiday offering from me . . . let's just call them New Year gifts, shall we?
So, just over a week ago, I spent a very happy afternoon in the company of the green gal, learning to crochet. It took several YouTube clips, a bit of patience and lots of peering over each other's hooks to see where we'd gone wrong, but by the time she left, we'd both managed to churn out the centre part of a granny square. As a lifelong non-knitter (I learned to do it when I was five and have never improved), I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and by how different it is to knitting. With the hardest part done, I finished up the square, started on another straight away and have a growing stack sitting on my desk, ready to be stitched together into a scarf for my grandma. Appropriately enough.
They're far from perfect, and I'm just using what yarn I have at the moment, but the fact I can whip one up in around 30 minutes, and without needing to check back on the pattern is highly satisfying. So far, I prefer them in solid colours, although I suspect this might change when I get some fresh wool. Despite the pretty colour combinations, I have learned that different weights and thicknesses of yarn do not make for good-looking grannies.
My favourite square so far was an experiment (not for the scarf - however unconventional she is, I'm not sure silver lurex thread is quite my grandma's thing) - a really soft, silver-grey cotton yarn, with a single row of silver round the outside. I'm not sure what to do with this yet, although am thinking of making a few more and maybe turning them into a neck-warmer, or possibly adding some linen and making a cushion.
If you have similar learn-to-crochet plans, I found this post on the Red Velvet blog really useful, especially the YouTube links near the bottom. Videos, for me, have made all the difference - watching someone (and being able to rewind, re-watch and pause a hundred times over) makes much more sense of the process than reading instructions or even looking at step-by-step photographs. Once the scarf is done, I'm planning to start a blanket, as well as learning more stitches, so I can (hopefully) read patterns before too long. It's daunting, but very exciting to be learning something new and quite alien to my paper and fabric-loving mind.
If you're already a crochet whiz (or a knitter) I have a quick question for you. A few weeks ago, I bought some really gorgeous Rowan yarn from Liberty. I can't find the tag, but it's cotton, very soft and beautifully dyed (I used it to make the apple-green square above). Clearly, such shops aren't the place for snapping up a bargain (this ball was £5), but is there anywhere you can recommend, either online or on the high street, for buying equally wonderful yarn at prices that won't melt my debit card? Any and all suggestions gratefully received.
For now, though, I am off to admire the thick and very lovely blanket of snow outside. However stressful the rest of the season may be, it's pretty much made my Christmas.
I'd love to tell you I was joking when I asked that question, but sadly it would be a lie. When Julie emailed to ask if I'd seen 'the amazing Tiffany Keys', I clicked on the link she'd (luckily) included, thinking it would take me to Ms Keys' website. In my head, Tiffers was an uber-talented artist, possibly a whizz with words, and someone I should undoubtedly already know about. Oh, for that low level kind of ignorance, rather than just a dull lack of sophistication!
Coming up over the next few days, I've got a fun freebie for you to download, some thrilling pictures of my granny squares (Be amazed at how lumpen they are! Gaze in wonder at their lack of actual squareness! Gasp at the mish-mash of yarn I've been using!) and a few last-minute goodies for Christmas. Look away now if you're feeling humbug-ish.
A couple of months ago, I made these small embroidered decorations for the December issue of Creative Steps magazine. What with there being a measly fourteen stitching days until Christmas, I thought I'd share them before we're all packing away the fairy lights and posting out thank-you notes.
You can find the patterns on the Creative Steps website, and a full set of instructions in the current issue of the magazine (try your local branch of Hobbycraft for single issues, if you're in the UK).
In the meantime, if anyone knows where the first two weeks of this month have gone, I'd like them back, please.
In amongst the usual piles of paper and fabric, my office is playing host to a couple of woolly projects just now. There’s this (which I can’t share fully just yet, but is far too deliciously-coloured to keep to myself):
And this, which I’ve got set aside for an educational afternoon with the lovely Green Gal later this week.
Thanks so much to
everyone who entered the Kitschy Digitals giveaway, and for your tutorial
suggestions, which have been duly noted on my long, long list of ideas (it also
includes a list-holder...). One of these days, I'll get round to picking
winners in a more creative fashion, but for now, Random Number Generator, do
Thanks so much to everyone who entered the Kitschy Digitals giveaway, and for your tutorial suggestions, which have been duly noted on my long, long list of ideas (it also includes a list-holder...). One of these days, I'll get round to picking winners in a more creative fashion, but for now, Random Number Generator, do your stuff.
Alexa! Drop me an email with your postal address, and I'll get the little
striped camera mailed off to you later this week. For
the rest of today, I shall be stamping, drawing, recycling and deciding whether
or not to share The Tale Of The Bird Who Stole All Four Calendar Cubes From My Office. (If it tries a return visit, I may
well be making something with feather accents tomorrow.) x
Congratulations, Alexa! Drop me an email with your postal address, and I'll get the little striped camera mailed off to you later this week.
For the rest of today, I shall be stamping, drawing, recycling and deciding whether or not to share The Tale Of The Bird Who Stole All Four Calendar Cubes From My Office. (If it tries a return visit, I may well be making something with feather accents tomorrow.)
...and I really need to get around to re-naming it.
I'm gathering together photos of my nephews to make a present for my Grandma. Any other explanation is too disturbing to consider.
On my photo-hauling travels, however, I found a few more things that fall into the 'forgot to post them here at the time' category, and realised they might be worth dusting off.
Looking at them now (i.e. under the influence of tinsel, fairy-lights and cinnamon-scented dish soap), I'm thinking they'd also work well added to a few special Christmas gifts instead of store-bought bows or tags. You could either make them simply as decorations, or add a brooch pin so they can be taken off and worn after the event. Find the original (and super-simple) tutorial here.
Also, don't forget, you've still got a few hours to enter the stripy-camera giveaway. I'll pick and post a winner tomorrow morning.