Archive for the ‘knitting’ Category

Keepin’ it Real at Xmas

giftbasket

This year I tried to cut down on the holiday spending. One way I achieved this was by making gift baskets for several of the folks on my list. Here are the contents, as shown in the photo above:

1 jar homemade blueberry jam from local berries (this was my first attempt at jam making and I loved it – so easy!)

1 bottle U-brew wine (we make a big batch every year, though I confess I’m not sure if the grapes used in this batch were local; the wine is really good – my former winery-resident DH agrees, and it works out to about $4 per bottle)

1 box of homemade christmas cookies (thank you, Martha Stewart: one dough recipe makes a variety of cookies)

1 handmade knit ball-band washcloth (note for knitters: this looks great if you pair a solid colour for the “mortar” with a wild variegated yarn for the “bricks”, like a pink/yellow/purple variegated with a solid turquoise blue)

1 sample of natural soap (I didn’t make it, but it’s from a local soapmaker – Pacific Coast Soapworks in Victoria, BC); I bought their sample pack for about $10 and divided it up among the gift baskets

The baskets were filled with shredded christmas flyers from the newspaper; I saved them because they were coloured red and green and I just put them through my shredder. I decided to cover that with a sheet of tissue paper so the stuff didn’t fly around. The only thing I felt guilty about were the baskets themselves – I bought them from a dollar store. But they aren’t plastic and they are reusable! I made little boxes for the cookies from old christmas gift bags that I save, and I wrapped the soap and the dishcloths with raffia.

Each gift basket cost me very little to put together since I already had the jam and the wine, having paid for it long ago. The cotton yarn I used to make the dishcloths is $1.69/ball and I use half of each colour for one cloth. The cookie ingredients were inexpensive and I used some apricot jam for filling and some glace cherries leftover from last year’s baking, so I didn’t have to buy any fancy decorating stuff for them. The tissue paper was also a leftover from previous gift wrapping purchases. 

I feel really good giving these as gifts because I know I put alot of work and thought into them, they represent local and handmade items, and everything in them is recyclable, reusable, or (in the case of the soap and dishcloths) biodegradable. 

I haven’t added up this month’s budget tally yet, but I’m very sure I spent at least a couple hundred dollars less on gifts this year than I did last year. I hope to do even better next year: planning ahead would greatly facilitate this! I think that will be one of my New Year’s Resolutions.

Time for a Knitting Break

With all this heavy talk about money and lifestyle I thought it was time for something lighter. Inspired by finding more knitting blogs to coo over, and by submitting my name on the wait list for Ravelry, I’ve decided to chat about my knitting projects.

I found this wonderful pattern through a knitting forum in our online homelearning program’s “Village” (a place where parents and kids in the program can chat about all sorts of thing). I made my first pair for Husband as a Christmas gift. I hadn’t felted them in time for the Big Day but then decided that was better since he could help me custom fit them. When you felt something you put it in the washing machine and agitate it until it shrinks to the desired size (within limits, of course) and if you mold them while still damp they will hold that shape remarkably well. Here is the Before (left) and After (right) shot of Husband’s slippers relative to my own foot (I’m about a size 8 ane he’s a size 12 so they’re still big compared to my foot):

And here is what a slipper looks like in more detail – it’s espresso brown with a black sole (which you can’t see too well in this shot):

Husband was very happy with them and I was pleased, too. I’m knitting up a pair for myself in a lovely teal blue colour with a variegated turquoise body. It’s hard to predict what the colour will end up like when it’s felted, as it does fade, but my toes will be happy regardless!

Another project I worked on for Christmas giving was a set of felted coin purses. I forgot to take a Before shot, but here they are after being felted: The “flowers” and “stem” were crocheted before felting. They didn’t felt up as thick as I’d have prefered – I think I crocheted them with the holes too big (I’m a novice at crocheting still). In this photo I haven’t sewed them onto the purses yet. Fortunately I haven’t seen the recipients of these gifts yet so I’m not technically “late”. I still need to sew zippers into the top as well.

My current project is a Christmas gift for my Dad’s wife. I visited with them over the holidays and was knitting it there but didn’t get it finished. I’m trying! This was purchased as a kit from my LYS, made by the folks at Perl Grey. The yarn I’m using is a variegated teal/bluey-green colour which goes with my stepmother’s eyes.

Once I’m finished with that gift I’m going to knit up a couple of breasts. We got a wonderful donation from A. over at OolaWoola – a huge bag of lovely cream-coloured wool! After I’ve knit a few I’ll get going on my own pair of felted wool slippers before my poor toes freeze!