Yes, I know that Christmas has come and gone. All but a few stubbornly jolly—or just downright lazy—individuals have taken down the decorations, put the furniture back in the living room, and reclaimed their homes from the seemingly endless Christmas season. It seems unfair of me to rifle through my pictures, unpacking all of the merriment again, just as everyone was feeling a return to routine and normalcy.

But, hey, it’s my blog.

So here are some of the handmade Christmas presents I created this holiday season. If you like what you see here, don’t be afraid to place an order now for next Christmas! (Because that’s probably how long it will take me to fill it…)

Weaving, Weaving, Weaving

One of my goals this winter has been to return to my weaving with gusto. I’ve missed the beautiful simplicity of my rigid heddle loom. The regular and predictable over-under of a plain weave. The way that white-on-white weaving never seems to disappoint. It’s a very fulfilling pastime, and because it’s a little bit of a strange hobby (how many people in their early 30s do you know who own and operate their own looms?), people really seem to appreciate woven gifts.

I started this past fall with a purple blanket.

100% Acrylic, 30"x48" finished.

100% Acrylic, 30″x 48″ finished.

I have to admit, I began with the full intention of donating this blanket to my daughters’ new preschool for their annual fundraiser. However, as I was hemming it, Honest Baby toddled in, felt the soft fabric, and immediately fell in love.

Sorry, St. Marks. This blanket belongs to my girl now. I promise I’ll make something for next year!

Sorry, St. Marks. This blanket belongs to my girl now. I promise I’ll make something for next year!

So the purple blanket immediately became a Christmas gift for my baby girl. Oops. Philanthropy was run over by maternity.

Right around Thanksgiving, I started on a project to make a couple of simple table runners for girlfriends of mine who had been helping me out with babysitting while I was finishing my dissertation.

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This was a truly fun project, as I got to weave with 100% cotton in a really tight weave (I’m an aggressive weaver, so I like projects that require high warp tension and hard beating—that’s what it’s called when you squish the horizontal strings down together).

This was also the first time that I took the plunge and cut my fabric in half to make two equal sized table runners.

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The first cut is the freakiest!

 

 

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You don’t know terror until you take scissors to the thing you had just created! It worked perfectly, however (not entirely square, but I’ll do better next time!). I have to keep reminding myself that weaving doesn’t make strategically webbed yarn. It makes cloth. Cloth that can be cut, sewn, shaped, and turned into anything at all, just like every other fabric I’ve ever used.

The result was two table runners, each 3' long.

The result was two table runners, each 3′ long.

Finally, I wove a turquoise blue wall hanging for my mother-in-law. She loves the beach, and has been looking for something to put in her hallway that reminded her of the ocean. This is 50% cotton, 50% acrylic.

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You can see in the side-by-side shot that, though it was woven to the same measurements as Honest Baby’s purple blanket (30”x 48”), after being washed (or what weavers call “wet finishing”—just a fancy name for throwing it in the washing machine to make the fibers tighten up and bind together) it lost about 10% in both length and width.

I am in love with the turquoise cotton on the warp (vertical strands). It turned out bright and beautiful.

I am in love with the turquoise cotton on the warp (vertical strands). It turned out bright and beautiful.

Also, because it was intended as a wall hanging, I made the hems a little thicker, so that her wall clamps had a good, heavy hem to hold on to. I was terrified that she wouldn’t like it (if Honest Husband is a Crafting Fascist, my mother-in-law is Mussolini!), but when I showed it to her this last week she couldn’t stop gushing about it (I had to specially order the warp yarn, so it didn’t even arrive at my house until after Christmas Day). Maybe it was all just a show for my sake, but I’ll take what I can get!

Glass Seahorse

Over Labor Day weekend, I was walking through an art fair held every year in my childhood home, Harrisville, Michigan. There, I saw a booth filled with canvases of pictures made from sea glass.

I stole the idea. Shamelessly.

Like I said, my mother-in-law loves the sea. I decided to make something beachy for her out of sea glass. I started by buying a pound of mosaic “sea glass” from a local crafting supply store (everyone asked me where I found the sea glass, but it’s really just etched mosaic glass in pale blues and greens. I found it pretty easily once I started looking for it, honestly, and those one-pound variety packs have enough shapes and variations that you can make just about anything). After fooling around for a bit (and having to Google what seahorses look like), I came up with a pattern.

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Then, I went back to the same crafting supply store, and bought a small shadowbox.

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Only problem was, the fabric backing was black. So I used a little iron on Stitch Witch (LOVE that stuff!), and made it a lovely grey instead.

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After that, it was just a matter of hot gluing and mounting it.

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My seahorse got a little chubby in the process, and I don’t like that you can see the shadow of the glue underneath the glass, but I think that this was a very successful project, especially in terms of cost and time. It was pretty easy and fast. About two hours total, and most of that was because I realized halfway through the design stage that I didn’t know what seahorses looked like!

Name Magnets

These were the last-minutest of the last minute gifts.

December 23rd, 6:30pm. My husband comes home from work, and we start talking about the plans for Christmas Day.

“So, you’re getting Josie a gift certificate?”

“Uh huh. Just have to get it printed off!”

“And what for Carlee and Nate?”

“—Carlee and Nate?”

“Yeah. We have to get them something.”

Silence.

“You didn’t know they were coming?”

“Oh, sweet baby Jesus.”

“Exactly.”

I had no time. But I had a whole bunch of felt. And some vinyl letter stickers. And poly-fill. And a pack of magnets. And a hot glue gun.

I could totally figure this out.

This has not been staged. This is just what my work table looks like right now at this very moment.

This has not been staged. This is just what my work table looks like right now at this very moment.

First, I placed a vinyl sticker on a paper index card and cut it out to give it some stiffness. That was my letter pattern.

Next, I traced each letter onto a piece of felt with disappearing fabric pen.

Then, I cut out two of each letter, selected which one would be the “back” and which the “front,” and glued a bunch of magnets to the back of the “back” side.

Then, I took about 3 strands of embroidery floss in a contrasting color (I just have a large multi-pack that I keep around for doing hems, little personalizations, embroidery on crocheted pieces, things like that. It’s pretty cheap, and it has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion!), and did a box stitch around the outside of each letter, carefully stuffing them with a little bit of poly-fill along the way to give each letter a pillow effect.

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And voila! Over the course of a few hours, I had personalized Christmas gifts that were bright, fun, a little bit educational, and that I could make while also watching A Muppet Christmas Carol with my girls.

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Score!

Please know, I did not come up with the felt magnet letters all by myself. I stole this idea as well, dear reader. For more detailed instructions and ideas, check out Hello Bee’s DIY Magnetic Felt ABCs. They also have much prettier pictures than I do.

All told, I’m pleased with the amount of Christmas crafting I was able to do this season while also finishing up my PhD and dissertation. Who knows? Maybe next year, I’ll be able to do even more! (But don’t count on it.)

Hope that you and yours had the happiest of holidays!

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