Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Handmade gifts: the post-Christmas round-up.

This Christmas, I really wanted to make as many of the gifts I gave as possible, preferably using fabric and materials in my stash. The idea was to (1) spend less money; (2) give more meaningful gifts; and (3) use some of the heaps of fabric I have accumulated thus making room for new fabric!

Never mind that I have never been particularly good at sewing under Christmas deadlines in the past! This year was going to be different!

Result: Not too shabby, really.

Despite the fact that Christmas did not turn out quite as planned, what with the Bubonic Plague sweeping through our house, I did manage to finish making quite a few gifts, and I feel pretty good about the way it turned out.

In all, I made the following gifts (I didn't get pictures of all of them, unfortunately):

Velvet and cotton lawn scarves for two lovely work colleagues. So pretty. I must try to get pictures.

A tool-roll for crochet hooks and accessories, for my mom. These are easy to make, and you can really go crazy with fun fabrics. I made this on Christmas Day, because I am crazy like that.

Crochet hook caddy.

Handmade linen kitchen towels for my dad. They are bound with vintage bias tape and embellished with appliques of Echino bicycle and camera fabric.

Linen hand towels for Dad

A laptop sleeve, made from recycled Tintin t-shirts, for my brother. My brother and I share a love for the French comics that goes back 15 years and more.
My sister's birthday present, a country-music apron, just in time for X-mas! (Her birthday was in September, mind you. Not sure what I plan to do about her X-mas present. I'm running a little behind schedule, obviously.)

Krishna in handmade apron.

Reversible fabric headbands for my mom and Rebecca. (Note: I need to nake a couple of these for me too! They are awesome!)

I did not get everything done that I had hoped to do, but I did better at making gifts this year than I have in years past, and I feel pretty good about it.

I also tried to find some thoughtful second-hand gifts. I gave used books, vintage hankies, and vintage table linens as gifts, knowing that many of my friends would appreciate a well-loved, recycled item just as much (or, if they're anything like me, more than) a new item. In my mind, the fact that an item is retrieved from a dumpster actually adds to its value, and luckily I have some like-minded friends and family.

So you can imagine that I walked out of our friendly locally-owned used bookstore on Christmas Eve, thoughtful gifts in hand, flushed with a sense of virtue, and thought to myself, "Look how frugal I am!" Unfortunately, there was a $55 parking ticket waiting for me when I got back to my car ...

The moral of this story? If you want to be frugal, don't forget to pay the meter.

And now, besides a few IOUs, I will be returning to my regularly scheduled program of selfish sewing.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas: Pretty nice in the end.

Well, despite lingering coughs and tummy upsets, we managed to pull together a really fun Christmas morning. My little brother Harpal came up and spent Christmas eve and morning with us, providing a much needed dose of good health and energy.


My mom has apparently been crocheting for MONTHS, making hats and slippers for everyone, as well as these monster crocheted stockings, which we displayed against a not-so-attractive baby fence. These stockings can get a smile from even the sickest of sickos, because they are just so huge! And crocheted! And huge! My mother has a flair for the dramatic, definitely.

Crocheted stockings.

Joe is not quite old enough to "get" Christmas. He didn't really want to open presents, preferring to play with toys already opened and scattered around the room.  After opening up two toy trucks, he just wanted to be left alone with his trucks, thank you very much.

He did get a chance to try on some of Granny's crochet, though.

Joe in crocheted hat.

And then he spent the day in very serious, focused play. With his new fleet of toy trucks.

More serious truck play.

Joe works seriously with trucks.

This baby may not talk much, but he has a very serious work ethic. I couldn't get one smile out of him during this time - just looks of rapt concentration.

And now, we are all going to go convalesce. Happy Boxing Day!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas: Not turning out quite as planned.

So, my mom is in town this holiday season. I had ambitious Christmas plans. We were all going to visit Children's Fairyland to see the Christmas parade. We were considering checking out a local nativity creche, and maybe even going to Midnight Mass tonight at the beautiful new(ish) Cathedral of Christ the Light on Lake Merritt. And of course, I planned to post lots of blog posts with photos of our lovely Christmas decorations.

Well, as they say: God really had a chuckle this time.

First we all caught colds. Then Joe's cold turned to croup, a fun childhood illness that makes your baby sound like a barking seal all night. Then my mom got the stomach flu. Then I got the stomach flu. And yet another cold (or maybe the first cold had a second wind?). Now Steve has the dreaded stomach flu, I'm going through the hankies like you wouldn't believe (not only are they "greener" than Kleenex, but they are so much softer on a sore schnoz), and we're all wondering when Joe will start puking.

When I took Joe to the doc two days ago for his croup (at that point, Steve and I were simply sniffling a little), the nurse practitioner told us, sympathetically, "For the first three years of your baby's life, all three of you are going to be sick pretty much constantly all winter long."

Uh, yeah. We had already pretty much caught on to that, but still, it's nice to know that someone gets it.

So at this point, if we can rustle up a couple of presents, a couple of IOUs, and no one is actively barfing on Christmas morning, I will consider Christmas reasonably salvaged. If not, well at least we have each other, if not exactly our "health." Needless to say, no one is feeling particularly enthused about making a Christmas dinner.

The good news is that last minute Christmas shopping is just not possible. Nothing like lowering your expectations around the holidays.

Merry Christmas. Cough, cough, sniffle, bark.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas trucks.

Mom is in town now and in a couple of days we are going to do some major Christmas decorating, so hold tight for more X-mas posts. (We are last minute Christmas decorators in my family. I think it's easier to get into the "spirit" a little closer to the date, plus trees are a lot cheaper in the week before X-mas.)

Mom arrived with a suitcase full of GIANT CROCHETED STOCKINGS for everyone in the household!

Just wait: If these don't make you smile, you will want to have someone check your pulse.

In the meantime, Joe got his first gift yesterday from Auntie Krishna, Uncle Mikey, and Cousin Jaki: A giant dump truck full of "Mega Blocks" chunky building blocks. A more perfect gift for my truck-loving, building-block-loving baby boy does not exist.

(Well, okay, but they don't make giant garbage trucks full of Mega Blocks, unfortunately.)

Here is a low-quality shot taken with my cell phone this morning. Check out those dimpled knuckles!

Joe's first Christmas Gift, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hearing: Normal.

As I suspected, Joe's hearing is just fine, and his failure to say "mama" is not because he can't hear (more likely it's that he gets his point across really well by grabbing my leg and putting his hand down my shirt).

But you want to know what is not fun? Trying to keep your super active, super wiggly baby boy sitting quietly in your lap, wearing headphones, for 20 minutes. Yikes. This is the child who: Will. Not. Wear. A. Hat. He has a whole set of evasive maneuvers reserved for removing things from his head, including the very clever rub-ear-against-shoulder-until-earphone-comes-out-method.

For a minute there, the audiologist wasn't sure she was going to be able to complete the test. But I locked Joe in a straight-jacket-like bear hug, and we were able to get through it and get the news that, indeed, being able to hear a garbage truck from three blocks away probably does indicate normal hearing. In case you were wondering.

Interestingly, he never seems to hear me when I tell him to please not go up the stairs for the millionth time in the past fifteen minutes ...

Diagnosis: Selective hearing loss. I think it's hereditary, and he got it from his father.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another way to entertain your toddler while you sew ...

YouTube videos of garbage trucks doing their rounds.

Watching garbage trucks

This method may not lead to self-congratulation on what a great parent you are. But it is very effective!

(An aside: I bet you had no idea that there are tons of videos on YouTube of garbage trucks just picking up garbage cans and smooshing stuff, huh? Well, there are. And Joe loves them, in all of their boring, banal, trashy glory.)

I am working on a bunch of top-secret possible Christmas presents right now, so no photos of finished projects today. Hopefully I'll be able to dump a bunch on you at the end of the month.

Other things on my mind:
  1. My mom is coming down for Christmas! She has apparently been crocheting up a storm making stockings and gifts for everyone. I'm putting off doing much Christmas decorating until she gets here next week, since I know it will be more fun to do it with her. Excitement!
  2. Quilts, quilts, and more quilts! There are so many amazing quilts on Flickr. Checking them out is my latest internet time-killer. Meanwhile, I am making slow progress piecing my latest quilt, between working on gifts.
  3. Joe is getting his hearing tested tomorrow. Just to make sure that his failure to say "mama" isn't due to hearing loss. I would be pretty surprised if it is. After all, this is the kid who wakes up when a dog barks ... two miles away. Who wakes up and runs to the window to check out the garbage truck ... on Fridays at 5:20 a.m.
  4. Dental work. Don't ask.
  5. The sad, sad fact that my dogs abandon their house-training every time it rains. Again, the less you know about this, the better.
  6. The genius and subtlety of Kazuo Ishiguro's writing. I'm reading When We Were Orphans right now.
  7. The genius, and less frequently, the subtlety of Garrison Keillor. Steve and I have been listening to recordings of the News From Lake Wobegon in the evenings lately, and they are so deliciously funny and soothing. It almost makes me want to move to Minnesota. Sure the winters are rough, but I hear they have central heat there ...
  8. How, next year, I really want to make an awesome wool or felt (or wool felt?) Advent calendar with little pockets that I can stuff with toys or candy for Joe.
  9. But I'm glad that this year, Joe is still oblivious to Christmas and the materialism that goes along with it.
  10. World peace and stuff. Of course!
Hope all of my readers are staying cozy warm this season!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

If you look up "sewing mania" in the DSM IV, you'll find my photo.

See that heap of stuff to the left of my sewing machine? I am suffering from a pretty severe case of too-many-projects-mania over here. Just in that pile (and not including other piles scattered around), I see an unfinished tote bag, a basted and halfway marked quilt, a partially pieced scrappy quilt that I think I hate but I feel guilty about abandoning, cut pieces of Version #2 of the Learning Curves Dress, an almost finished skirt (just need to hem it!), and a couple pieces of a corduroy jacket I'm making for Joe except I'm worried it's too small. Yikes.

What's the solution to this chaos?

Why, cut out yet another quilt, of course!

Who needs "Joe logic" when you can enjoy "Inder logic"?
Also in the pike right are multiple possible Christmas gifts that I probably won't finish until tax season. I don't want to get anyone's hopes up, so I won't go into any detail on those. If you get a package from me in April, that's what happened. (I just hope it's not April 2021, but that's definitely possible too.)

My head is overflowing with ideas, and I want to start all of them! Right now!

Actually assembling, troubleshooting, and finishing a single item? Meh. Boring.

No. I MUST KEEP CUTTING!!! Muah-ha-ha!

But hey, that's what's so great about hobbies as opposed to a job. I'm allowed to ditch projects and start new ones willy-nilly, right?  Just because I feel like it ...

*Maniacal laughter muffled by ever-growing heap of fabric.*