Homemade Christmas – Blatant BraggingJanuary 1, 2010
At some point this year I realized that this Christmas I wanted to make a significant percentage of my gifts. I got started early on my Dad’s.
I made my dad a vest. I’d made a similar one for my father-in-law a few years ago and it was a big hit. I used a washable wool for the vest and word has it that he likes it.
The other men in my life outside of my immediate family, were getting scarves if I thought they’d want one – in some cases I called my sisters to see. Younger teenage boys did not get scarves (my 14 year old son made it clear he would not want one), one brother-in-law given the option between a scarf and fatwood (resin-soaked sticks used to start fires – my traditional gift for him each year) chose the fatwood (with no hard feelings on my part), another brother-in-law said, through my sister, that he’d prefer a hat. The scarves were made from undyed highland sheep wool – gray or brown. The hat was made with the washable wool – hats need to be washed on occasion. All told, one vest, one hat, 5 scarves. I was given the highest compliment I can imagine from my nephew regarding his gift texted to his sister: “It’s a kick-ass scarf, and I’m gonna wear it drinkin’.”
I used the highland sheep wool (but off-white and also a moss green) for some other projects too along with some other pretty wool (a variegated yarn of blues and greens and one a fun watermelon color). I made felted bags for sisters and friends with these yarns. On 4 bags I also did some needle felting, something I started playing with this year. The watermelon and green bag hadn’t been needle felted yet – it ended up with 60’s type flowers on it – green on the watermelon side and watermelon on the green side. I also needle felted a little Christmas tree ornament for my husband – but no picture of that. It was ok for a first effort.
The last of my knitting projects were dishrags. I found 75% recycled cotton yarn to use. There was apparently some question among recipients about what these knit square things were. So, if you got one and you were still wondering – it’s a dishrag – use it.
When I spread everything out on my bed for the photo shoot I have to admit I was pretty impressed just by the number of items. Most of this was done since September (except the vest). It meant giving up Book Club for the fall – I needed my reading time for knitting.
I tried to make items for specific people, even the scarves. I thought about the width or color or pattern the person might appreciate. The necklaces too. I didn’t just make a bunch and randomly assign them to people, I considered the person’s style and coloring – do they like low-key things or more funky? Bright colors or earth-tones. When I was trying to make a necklace for one certain friend I ended up making 3 others first – they just weren’t her. I hope everyone ended up with items they like and they’ll use.
Usually I spend a significant amount of effort finding gifts and then a lot of money on postage since I live 1,000 miles from the rest of the family. This year was less expensive in the shipping area. But, I don’t think it was much if any less expensive than previous years. And while I didn’t shop much (a few tiny things – like midwest popcorn), I certainly spent more time thinking about each recipient because they were on my mind as I made each item.
Was making gifts greener than buying pre-made? The yarn and beads aren’t without carbon footprints. Those items are produced elsewhere and shipped before I ever see them. I do, however, try to buy all natural fibers for yarns (I assume the acrylics yield a certain amount of yucky by-products from their production). I try to buy fair trade/ethically produced beads whenever I can, some of those are incorporated into these gifts. In addition, I try to buy most of my beading and knitting materials from two local independent stores (although some do come from Hobby Lobby, I admit). [Oh my, looking up that link I just found I can buy online from Hobby Lobby, like I needed another online place to spend my money.] In the end, given the natural fibers and stones (and some glass, but I generally don’t use plastic beads) and the pretty light shipping boxes, I think it was a greener Christmas than past Christmases. And at least for me, it was also a more meaningful Christmas.