Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hand-made Christmas Presents

For the past few years I've been primarily making my Christmas presents to give to family (instead of buying them). This year it was a little (actually, a lot) more challenging to find the time to work on projects with a 10.5 month old baby boy in the mix, but I did manage to pull a few things together.

For my sisters and brother, I made some mittens out of various bits of wool... or are they oven mitts? The inside of the mitts are sewn from felted hand knit sweaters (knit by my mother) that had been worn out. I felted (actually, the correct term is fulled) them by putting them in the washing machine with hot water and just a little soap. The outside cover for the mitts were sewn from scraps of wool left over from a neighbors sewing project. She had given a giant bag of scraps to my mother to use in her braided rugs (thanks Judy!), and my mom passed on to me the bits that couldn't be braided easily. The resulting mitts are a tad (actually, a lot) bulky. They'd be good for stationary winter activities where you don't actually need to use your hands, like, um, maybe ice fishing? Unfortunately, no one in my family ice fishes or spends much time stationary in general. For this reason, their gifts were accompanied by a note that said:

"Warmest mittens in the world or best oven mitts in the entire universe? You decide!!"

I made a series of patterns for different size hands and for the insides and covers:
If I ever make these again, I'll make the thumbs longer. I hand embroidered the cuff with a cross stitch -- this was born out of necessity as I couldn't fit that much material under my sewing machine foot! Even though they came out much bulkier than I would have liked, there was something very satisfying about creating something useful out of materials that were no longer serving their original purpose - sort of giving it new life. I believe in this day and age it is termed "up-cycling".

Christa's mitts:
Andrew's mitts (match his Johnson wool Jacket):
Jeca's Mitts (covers sewn from lots of thin strips):

Jeca trying out her mitts (turns out you can use them while walking a dog without too much trouble):
I made a gray and red pair for my Mom that I didn't get a photo of before wrapping them up.

Speaking of my Mom, she got some hand made birthday presents (this year we celebrated her birthday, New Years, and Christmas all on the same day, as I was away at in-laws for Christmas). I knit this hat almost entirely while in Illinois visiting the in-laws. I took advantage of the time Henry had playing with cousins and aunts and uncle and grandparents to crank out a knitting project I'd been trying to get to since the summer! This block hat pattern was designed by a very talented local knitter named Marci Harding. I love this pattern and have knit it many many times.
Mom trying it out on a New Years Eve walk:

Mom and Jeca were a little apprehensive about appearing in my blog, but I assured them that I was pretty sure that cousins Julie and Laura were the only people that actually read it (thanks, guys!)

I also gave my mom a Gyotaku shibori shirt for her birthday that I had printed and dyed earlier in the fall (at the same time I made a shirt for my sister Christa's birthday).



It's always a good feeling to give something hand-made, and it's sort of a double gift. A gift to me as I enjoy the creative process of making something with my own hands and imagination, and a gift to the receiver of the object, as well a little piece of my soul.


  1. What great Christmas gifts and love you mom as a model!

  2. Loved seeing all the thought, work and love that went into your creations!