It’s a hoot

It is December, and I have vowed not to set foot in a store for the month.  I know, THAT is a hoot. Could I have set a more difficult challenge? But every year I say all of the Christmas shopping will be done before the end of November, and it never is. So there I go, wandering around the stores the week before Christmas with no agenda, no list, just panic. I buy useless items that quite possibly no one needs or even wants, and I end up spending more money than originally planned because I start worrying that what I bought will not be enough.

What is up with that? Time to take stock of my priorities, methinks. Nothing like a life change to help out with that whole idea, and we have had several, just so the universe makes absolutely sure we got the message. So, this year as you may have already gleaned we are going back to basics and learning some good old-fashioned handiwork skills. We are going all kick-ass little-house-on-the-prairie on Christmas gift-giving. So I completed my first felt project and ta-daaaaaa, here it is:

This critter is made from wool sweaters I picked up at Frenchy’s (famous Maritime thrift shop extraordinaire). I felted them by washing them in hot water with detergent, then put them in the dryer. Major felting revelation: 100 per cent wool works best. Everything I read indicated that as long as the fabric was at least 80 per cent wool, it would work, but the 80 per cent just did not felt up as nicely. Then I drew a simple pattern on paper, pinned it to the wool and cut him out. This would all seem terribly simplistic to a person who actually knew what she was doing, but as I am not one of those people I’ll go ahead and share the details. I sewed him up with quilting thread (probably a sewing faux pas), added the details and buttons from the beloved button jar. Then he got stuffed with leftover wool scraps and some quilt batting. Voilà! The wing is just pinned on as I was deciding whether to wing him, but I think it will be permanent.

I have to say that I am quite proud of this little fella. Now I am going to make another  because you just can’t make one.

Project #2 this weekend: sea glass jewellery

Yup, diversification is the answer to harnessing all this newfound craftiness, and what (other than maybe glass-blowing or wood burning) would be more diverse than jewellery-making? I have jars of beach glass just sitting around looking pretty, and we are always looking for excuses to go beach combing, so why not? My mom (who actually knows what she is doing) brought all of her tools and jewellery doodads up for me to try. The girls loved sorting the glass by colours, and I remembered how much I love to touch the glass, that sanded smooth coolness. This finished piece in the photograph is a little rough, but I just love this old piece of pottery and have been wanting to do something with it for ages.

It is not really something I can give away, but it was good practice as the pliers are a bit hard to get used to. I will do a few test pieces to see if I can master the art of the perfect twist.

Probably it is my own petty insecurities speaking up, but I wonder if anyone will LIKE the things I am making. Perhaps people really would rather get the things I buy in the store at the last minute. When I am at the mall I see everyone around me loading up their carts with anything and everything, and I find myself wondering if anyone really needs that stuff. Of course, I should not judge…perhaps they are shopping for the needy, to add to the Salvation Army’s hampers or the Be a Santa to a Lonely Senior program. But probably not.

My own experience tells me that we buy stuff because it makes us feel good. I have always enjoyed buying gifts, thinking about what I could get that would make each one of my friends and family feel happy and loved. This year I am trying a different approach. It makes me happy to create things, and I hope the care I feel for each person will enter into every project, each stitch or detail, even if it is a little off. It’s not perfect, it didn’t come from Wal-Mart, but it sure is interesting.


9 thoughts on “It’s a hoot

  1. Lilah says:

    Wow! I never knew my friend was so artistic! Both pieces are things I would LOVE! Nice work Steph! I am inspired, will you teach me how to make some too? Have a great week.

  2. Patricia MacDonald says:

    I’M GOING TO TRY FELTING NOW! I’M SO EXCITED! I DIDN’T KNOW YOU COULD DO THAT! I love all of these ideas, Steph. An idea i’ve tried: I got so tired of those ridiculous advent calenders with the yucky cheap chocolate so I got an idea from Simple Mom I think (one of your links anyway) to take an old frame (Mom brought it up from their attic last time she visited), tack some strips of wide wire ribbon to the back, and clothespin some numbered (1-25), folded card stock with a little Christmas activity inside it. Caelan has raced down every morning to open the next one. Today’s activity is making Christmas card spirals. So far, since we have focused on doing instead of buying we have really been enjoying this Christmas. We are busier, but less stressed. Plus we had a snowstorm Sat night so it REALLY feels like Christmas now1

    • Stephenie says:

      I laughed out loud when I read your comment. The “all-caps” made me actually hear your voice loud and clear, and I share your enthusiasm on the felting. It IS easy! And I love your advent calendar idea.

  3. Linda Campbell says:

    Steph, Your sea glass necklace is beautiful and on the weekend I saw your owl and it is so cute. I must admit I am impressed. When visiting you on the weekend there was so much excitement about this Christmas a different excitement than other years. You were showing me the things you had made, Katherine, only 6 years old was rushing me upstairs to show me homemade gifts she made for her little sister. Everything homemade even the gift bag. Daddy in the basement making wooden items. You all are having so much fun doing this and folks receiving these gift will feel the love that went into them. So proud of you all!!! Here’s hoping I get something “Homemade”!!!!! for Christmas. Mom

  4. Ngo Family Farm says:

    I think this is absolutely wonderful! I love your owl (definitely keep the wings 🙂 I’m also attempting to make all my gifts this year, mostly knitting things for the kids in the family. I, too, worry that they may not like these gifts as much as store-bought, but I don’t think we should let that stop us! It takes a lot more effort and thought to give something homemade, and I think people appreciate this more than you know.

    Happy Making,

    • Stephenie says:

      Thank you so much, Jaime. You are kind, and I am so happy to hear I am not the only person with “homemade gift anxiety”! Happy crafting to you, too. Stephenie


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