Tag Archives: Christmas

Gift knits

Word Lily knitsSince I’m starting to get back in the swing of blogging, I guess I’ll finally tell you about the gifts I knit for Christmas. This was a pretty slow Christmas in terms of handcrafted gifts.

I made Mom a pair of socks. With yummy BFL yarn.
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Kind of boring to knit, but very work appropriate to wear. And the nice hand-dyed yarn helped.

I crocheted a pair of legwarmers (and a matching earwarmer [Calorimetry], not pictured) for a sister-in-law, based on her pinning the pattern (and others like it) on Pinterest.
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I whipped up a crown and a mask for a young niece.
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(Wow, I just realized that of those pictured here, half are crocheted and half are knit. If you count the Calorimetry, the list skews knit, though.)

Happy Fiber Arts Friday / Finished Object Friday / Friday! I’m looking forward to catching up on sharing all I’ve been making and reading soon.

Christmas socks

We’re getting ready for Christmas around here, and here are just a couple things I’ve made as part of the preparations.

Word Lily knitsI was planning to knit fancy colorwork stockings (one for each member of the family), so we’d have one for the little guy, but after getting nearly half done with the first one, I ripped it out because I wasn’t pleased with how it was turning out. I’ve since practiced my stranded colorwork skills a bit, and I might be ready to tackle that gorgeous stocking again, but there’s no way I could get it done in time, and I still needed a stocking for him for this year.

When I saw this pattern, worked in worsted weight and not horribly ugly (which it seemed all the other stocking patterns I’d found were), I decided to just knit one. I knew I wouldn’t be thrilled with anything I found to buy, either.

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(Rav project page) It benefitted greatly from blocking (duh), and I’m happy with my modifications (the contrasting heel and toe, the loop for hanging). I think I’ll be happy to have a spare stocking in the future, too.

I also, in my colorwork practice, ended up with an ornament to commemorate the babe’s first Christmas.

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I actually started, along with the aforementioned colorwork practice, to make Flakey Baby Socks as a pair of socks for Asa. Instead, I tried the first sock on him before beginning the second, and while it fit, getting it on him required a wrestling match (kinda tight). There certainly wasn’t room to grow. That paired (heh) with the frustration I experienced with the afterthought heel and, well. I decided to just use the first one as the ornament for his first Christmas. As an added bonus, we’ll be able to remember how big/little his feet were at this point in time.

From this view you can see the snowflakes.

From this view you can see the snowflakes.

I was much happier with how this turned out after I’d blocked it. I shouldn’t be surprised, but blocking really is a wonder-worker in the colorwork realm. My tension looks so much better after this little thing had a bath!

It’s quite different than the simple brass ornament that commemorated my first Christmas, but I think it’s fun. Do you have an ornament from your (or your child’s) first Christmas?

Advent Tour: Christmas trees and me

virtual advent tour
[This is my first time participating in the Advent Tour, which is a little embarrassing. Why haven’t I participated in something so right up my alley before, I ask you?]

DSC_0048Growing up, we always went to cut down our Christmas tree. It was a big outing, complete on the best years with hot (burning hot!) cocoa and the scent of pines and firs. We always went the day after Thanksgiving. Finding the perfect tree was no easy task, but I was up for the challenge (as were my siblings).

For me, the perfect tree has always been almost perfectly conical. No holes for me, please! And also gigantic. If there was room between the tree and the ceiling — especially after the tree topper’s been added — there must be some mistake.

We had a tree when we could in college (me and my roommates). When I had my own apartment, I went and cut (not by myself) a tree. After getting married and seemingly always traveling over Christmas, we sometimes had smaller trees for practical reasons, but it has always been hard on me when we’ve gone that route. There’s just no substitute for a good tree! One year we didn’t have a tree at all, because our house was on the market and the realtor strongly recommended against it.

Three years ago we had 12-foot ceilings and we made the most of them with a gorgeous fir that nearly grazed the proverbial rafters.

Our Christmas tree in 2009. (Click to enlarge)

Our Christmas tree in 2009. (Click to enlarge)

I. Loved. It.

I was enraptured.

Since then, we moved to much smaller space, with more normal 8-foot ceilings.

This year, we have a 5-foot tree, a fir again, as has become our custom. It’s sitting on a box so as to be out of the little one’s reach. I’m pleased with our tree for probably the first year since that big one. Which might not seem like that long, but trust me, it is a long time when one’s tree sets the tone for the whole holiday season like it does for me.

It’s certainly not the perfect tree, and we didn’t go cut it ourselves (because no Christmas tree farms have fir trees within more than an hour of here), but it’s fitting.

Christmas tree 2012

Our tree this year, framed by one of the bookshelves.

What kind of tree do you have? What’s the most important aspect of your decorating when it comes to getting you in the Christmas spirit?

We have a mix of handmade (by us and by others) and not-handmade ornaments, a touch of a theme, but also many individual, personal ornaments. I’m not sure it tells a straightforward story, it does reflect who we are, I think.

Asa loves to just look at it, although he’ll gladly play with the ornaments too (all non-breakable).

Merry Christmas!

Looking forward to Advent

It seems weird to look forward to, to anticipate, a period of waiting and anticipation, but I am. This is Asa’s first Christmas season, and I look forward to sharing it with him. We got a new Advent devotional, with each entry tied to a song, so hopefully he will be able to appreciate that, at least a little. We’ll be getting our tree on Saturday (the day before Advent starts), and while the space constraints are many, we’ll be getting a real tree, and bigger than the ones of recent years (which were in the 3-foot range). I think we’ll be keeping most of the glass ornaments stowed away, though, and concentrating on the less breakable ones.

I’ve enjoyed this little break between Thanksgiving and Advent this year; usually it’s one right after the other, which seems to add to the stress for me. The breathing room is nice, and I feel it’s allowed us to be a bit more intentional about things.

Shopping is started, although by no means finished, ha!

The little guy’s 7 months old today; hopefully I’ll get some good photos taken, to be able to share with you all tomorrow.

This will be our first year having a real, bonafide, Christmas morning with just us, without extended family. I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m excited to see how our traditions end up taking shape.

I guess this is a bit rambly, but I don’t have the brain function to focus intently on a more in-depth post, I guess. Have I mentioned that I’m counting down the days of NaBloPoMo? I’m scared that the end result of this little experiment will be burn-out, rather than enthusiasm. We’ll see.

Do you have your tree up already? Growing up, we used to always (go and cut our tree) on Thanksgiving weekend. I like the idea of doing it at the start of Advent — which is usually right after Thanksgiving, but is a bit later this year. (“Haven’t we been here before, Rocky?”)

How is Christmas prep coming in your house?

Boo Humbug by Rene Gutteridge

It’s Friday of Rene Gutteridge Week. I’m glad for the weekend, as always, but I’m also a bit sad to see the end of this special focus. There are, at least, a few more hours left, though. Later today I’ll post my interview with the author — and the giveaways of Possession, her latest, will remain open through the end of the day.

Rene Gutteridge Week 2011, WordLily.com

Word Lily review

Boo Humbug by Rene Gutteridge book 4 in the Boo series (WaterBrook, 2007), 192 pages

Summary
Lois Stepaphanopolis (great name, right?) has hijacked the community theater of Skary, Indiana (well, not literally) for her latest “genius” plan, twisting arms to get players and all. What’s the play? She’s re-written Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Thoughts
This is a slip of a book, and yes, it’s a Christmas story. Despite saying in December that I thought Christmas books weren’t really for me, I read this one in the days before Christmas and I quite liked it. I think a big reason why is that it’s not sickly sweet.

Rather, Boo Humbug is funny, as I expected of this series. Yes, it still has a message appropriate for Christmas.

The characters we’ve come to love are still very present, but this book is written from a fresh perspective.

The brilliance of this book is its use of the Dickens tale, both its distortion to the point of ruination in the planned stage play, and how it is paralleled (at least a little) in some of the characters.

I’m sad to see the end of this series, I want more funny books from Gutteridge.

★★★★☆

About the author
Rene Gutteridge (Facebook profile) writes both humorous and suspense novels. She lives in Oklahoma. She wrote plays and sketches before becoming a novelist.

Other reviews
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Merry Christmas 2010!

Our tree this year features exclusively handmade ornaments. They’re not all made by us, but many are. Some were made by talented family members, and some were purchased. We hope to expand on this idea in future years.


Merry Christmas!

Christmas ornaments

Before I fell full-bore into gift knitting (now thankfully done!), I was getting into the Christmas spirit by making ornaments.

Christmas trees


Click any photo to view it larger.

These are the first ones we made. Paul shaped and slipped the trees, and I strung my handspun yarn as a garland. I especially like the bit of sparkle and variation in the yarn, as well as the highlight the edges of the trees themselves bring. I love it when we find ways to collaborate in craft!

We may iterate on this idea more in the future.

Icicles


Again, click any photo to view it larger.

I pounded out quite a few of these; they’re kind of the unifying element on our personal tree this year. They come together really quick, too; I was getting four or so done in an hour. They’re a variety of lengths.

Here’s how I made them:

With a hook size suitable to the yarn (I used a G or H hook with worsted weight yarn), Ch — loosely! — a number approximating the desired length of your icicle. I had good luck with 18 or so. Any shorter than 14 I found less than ideal.

Working in the fourth ch from hook, 3 dc. Work 3 dc in each ch to end. Break yarn, weave in ends.


Icicle B prototype

This is an idea not fully come to fruition, I think. I like where it’s headed, but I’m not sure when I’ll have more time to devote to it.

I crocheted the stainless steel and threaded a bit of undyed combed top through it.

Have you made any ornaments this year?

The Christmas Glass by Marci Alborghetti

Word Lily review

The Christmas Glass by Marci Alborghetti (Guideposts, 2009), 304 pages

Summary
Intertwined with the story of a precious set of heirloom glass Christmas ornaments is the story of a family, full of difficult, hurting people.

Thoughts
I was skeptical when I saw this book was published by Guideposts, but it certainly exceeded my expectations.

Every chapter was from a new perspective. It probably wasn’t the best option plot-wise, but I quite enjoyed seeing so many different aspects from such varied (and contradictory) points of view. This aspect of the book actually delighted me.

I loved the different liturgies of this family drama! I was crying inside 100 pages. This book forced me to slow down.

From page 198 (Does this remind anyone else of War and Peace?):

“I was just thinking how much the same all families are. Not in looks or race or religion, but in how we act, how we treat each other, how we love — and how much damage we do in spite of the love.”

I loved the back story, the emigration from Italy, the description of the precious heirlooms. I loved learning how different individuals had come to be considered members of the family. And I loved the reconciliation, too. Oh, and it spoke to my love of tradition, as well.

I found this a touching, quick read. Not merely fluff, but pretty feel-good, at the same time. An excellent Christmas book. Many of the characters and relationships are familiar. But they’re not trite, not clichéed, in Alborghetti’s hand.

A sequel, Three Kings Day, is scheduled to be published by Guideposts in 2011.

This book was shortlisted for an INSPY award in general and literary fiction.

About the author
Marci Alborghetti has written more than a dozen books; this is her second novel. She and her husband live in Connecticut and the San Francisco Bay area.

Other reviews
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