Making gifts for people is nerve-wracking. Handmade gifts aren’t just made of yarn, or dough, or paint. They include a huge chunk of yourself. Your aesthetic. Your sense of style. Your time. Your hand cramps. Your complete neglect of your children. Your sweat. Your love.

If you give a handmade gift to a person, and they don’t like it? It feels like a rejection of you. It hurts. And it’s not anybody’s fault, all that pain. Sometimes, things just aren’t a right “fit.” But knowing that in your logical, rational brain doesn’t make the rejection hurt any less. Really, those who make pieces to give to others are the bravest souls in the world.

Or the stupidest.

Let’s go with brave.

Either way, I put myself out there like crazy this year! Back in September, I decided to re-learn how to crochet (something my mother taught me how to do about 20 years ago, that I hadn’t pursued in years).

After stitching up just a few (really, very wonky) samples, I dove in, mostly making hats.

I crocheted 3 for my daughters’ preschool’s annual fundraiser. (They sold for a whopping $5 each! Woo!)

Then, I started on hats for gifts. One for myself (really, it was was sample. But a cute one!–Mine is the orange). One for my mother, and one for my sister. I used really nice merino wool, and made us all variations on the same pattern.

Once the hats were finished for the ladies, I then decided to whip up some beanies for the men in my life as well. My brother, father, and brother-in-law (my husband doesn’t wear hats). So, again, I used a wool yarn, and made a slight variation on a single, simple pattern.

Impressed? Well, don’t be. Honestly, I never would have made all of these hats had it not been for terrible luck on my part. Back in October, I tore my left trapezius muscle, and wasn’t allowed to lift anything over 20 lbs. for two weeks. So, I mostly sat on my couch, doing nothing, with a sore shoulder/back. Then, exactly two weeks after that diagnosis, I went back to the same doctor (“Didn’t I just see you?” Yes. Yes you did.) only to be diagnosed with shingles. Two MORE weeks of sitting on my couch. Finally, I came down with a cold. A bad cold. And it didn’t get better. Right before Thanksgiving, I found out I had pneumonia. Guess what I had to do? You got it! Even MORE couch sitting. Even more crocheting. These gifts wouldn’t have been possible without me being miserable for about two solid months. So, silver linings, I suppose?

For a brief period in November (between the shingles and pneumonia), I decreed that it was the “Month of Scarves.” My wonderful husband bought me a new, Ashford 16″ rigid heddle loom for my November birthday, and I got to work, whipping up scarves for some very important people in my life.

The first was for my mother. I wove it using a beautiful Yak down/bamboo blend yarn, then used the leftover yarn to crochet her another scarf, in a pretty “seashell” pattern.

Then, I wove a scarf for my longtime friend, Emilee. The denim colors and simple pattern seemed like the perfect fit for her!

Using leftover acrylic yarn, I made three (so far) scarves for longtime friends who asked for something handwoven. These haven’t been shipped out yet, but I promise they’ll be on their way soon, girls!

The greatest joy my family experienced in 2016, by far, was the birth of my nephew, Lucas. Continuing in the family tradition, then, I wove him a baby blanket out of soft, washable acrylic. As you can see, I’ve been having a ton of fun with my new pick-up sticks too! New, interesting patterns and textures have been amazing to explore, and have broadened my experiences on my rigid heddle looms!

Finally, Lucas, his big brother Cooper, and my niece Olivia all got something designed and stitched up by their Aunt Rachel. These small cross-stitch patterns are part of my “Boss Alphabet” series that I’m designing and will hopefully have available for sale via Etsy soon. They’re only about 3 x 3.5″, and I was able to frame them up in standard 4 x 6″ photo frames. I probably shouldn’t think about all of the hours these small pieces took to design and make. But they were so fun, and look how cute!

All in all, in spite of the terrible health problems I had in the last two months, I’d say that the last quarter of 2016 was a success. At least from a crafting point of view (I’ll say nothing of the dumpster fire that is current American politics). This seems like a lot, but I’m already looking forward to even more crafty goodness in 2017!

(Also, if you received any of these gifts and you DON’T like them? Please, just lie and tell me that you love it. My self-esteem can’t handle the collective rejection espoused by ALL of these gifts!)

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