My name is Amy. I love to make things: jewelry, crocheted scarves, baby blankets, dinner, a family. This journal is where I share my completed projects as well as works in progress. Practicing photography and writing about my everyday life keeps me focused on the present, which is a lovely place to be. Please join me anytime you’re so inclined.
We are in full swing holiday mode around here and I've been loving it. In fact, there has been very little stress involved in the preparations. This is a direct result of my decision not to give as many handmade gifts. Oh, we have nearly three gallons of coffee liquer infusing in the pantry, and there will be a batch of muffins later this week, and plans for peppermint bark, but not the crazy a-crocheted-hat-for-every-person-in-my-family kind of thinking that usually consumes my December.
Yesterday, I finished a huge project that I've been working on for several months, got the boys started on a holiday painting project, wrapped all the teacher gifts, and put together 80 holiday cards. And I was in bed before 11pm! It feels miraculous. I'm about to treat myself for my productivity by getting bundled up and doing some local shopping downtown, but not before I tell you about the wrapping paper we made.
I found the instructions in Kid Made Modern, an inspiring library discovery. Simply put: paint with festive, pearly colors on bubble wrap, press an opened brown paper bag (even I forget my reusables at the grocery store sometimes!) on top, let dry. Ta da! Holiday polkadot wrapping paper. So fun! And pretty! Nearly free!
A fresh display in my studio holds a a few recent creations. I made the bubble necklaces, bracelet and earrings; my oldest used his bead collection to create the necklace on the far right. I love the simplicity of his designs, which often feature amazing symmetry and thoughtful color combinations. To create this display, my husband collected twigs from a manzanita shrub - the bark is a lovely red - and fastened them to a leftover fence board. A little time, a bit of ingenuity, some love, that's all it takes to make a meaningful gift.
They are only slightly civilized. They revel in tearing their meat from the bone with their teeth. If they had a boat, they would sail it to distant lands in search of discovery. (One hopes that upon arrival they would show more courtesy than their ancestors.) They are immune to freezing temperatures. As brothers, they are quick to argue, but they always stand together in battle.
They are Mama's little barbarians. They are ready for marauding and mayhem.
And a much smaller hat - with the addition of a pair of braids - is ready for a friend's sweet little baby. I doubt she is a barbarian, but I figure this is the hat she wears when she's really belting it out.
[One of the reasons why I love making and giving handmade holiday gifts is purely selfish: it provides blog post fodder well into the New Year.]
With a mind towards frugality and sustainability - and an awareness that exchanging no gifts at all, well, sucks - E and I agreed to exchange something small and handmade at Christmas. (I can't wait to share the gift I received once it's hung in the rightful place.)
Old Navy had long sleeved crew necks on sale for $5, the little owl pattern was waiting in a file, and the embroidery floss was stashed in the appropriate basket. The only missing element was time to sit and stitch. In a season of so much making and baking, celebrating and working it's easy to get overwhelmed. To relax and breathe is essential. To force some decompression and create a bit of productivity my sister-in-law and I started what I hope becomes an annual tradition: a romantic movie, a bottle of wine, and our unfinished projects.
And here is the final result. A soft winter shirt featuring a snowy little owl. It's not as bold or as complicated as the other one I made for him, but that's OK. He wears it often; I love seeing it in the laundry basket, in the kitchen on burrito night, on him.
I'll just be honest. I began these hand warmers as a project from my stash for myself last summer. By my estimation they only took a few hours - stretched out in five and ten minute snippets over four months. As summer rolled into fall, I just didn't feel right about keeping them. Not when they coordinate so easily with Mom's birthday scarf from last year. And especially not when I recognized the possibility of completing a handmade birthday gift before Christmas, instead of well after the birthday festivities.
I was happy to wrap them up and send them on their way. Though I did enjoying staging this little self-portrait photo shoot. This lovely yarn is a luxuriously soft blend of silk and alpaca. Fortunately, I still have a skein left to create something special for myself. (Unless I decide to go for a three-peat next year!)
Three years ago, I ordered silhouettes of my two-year-old as holiday presents for his grandparents. At that time, the two year old depicted above was just a small bump in my belly. This year, I made silhouettes of our youngest to complement the earlier version of his older brother. It was remarkably simple. This project illustrates how the time/money balance has shifted in my life. For the price of ordering one silhouette, I had collected all the supplies (including the simple frames on super sale). Then it just took a few quiet moments at my desk with a sharp x-acto knife, some tracing paper, and a steady hand. You can find detailed instructions over here at Design Sponge. Further tips from Inchmark Journal were also helpful.
2010 has been a busy year of caring for my family and building our sense of home. There are changes and challenges in store for us in the New Year. I'm ready and waiting.
Thank you for visiting this space and sharing the creative journey with me over the past year.
We miss my brother and his family. A lot. Since we can't be there to visit more often, we sent facsimiles of ourselves in the form of small puppets.
We drew simple stick figure bodies under color photos of our heads, then I used the color printer to transfer the images onto ink jet printer fabric. With the sewing machine I sewed scraps of fleece onto the backs and didn't worry about hemming the bottom. Using a coupon from Michaels and supplies on hand, it was a very economical project.
I can only hope that we'll be on our best behavior in their house. (No mischief from the Oregon relatives!)
Years ago, at my first baby shower, a dear friend gave me a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar - surely one of my most beautifully illustrated children's book of all time. This past winter, when I learned of her pregnancy, I remembered this lovely Eric Carle print and a imagined cozy, lightweight quilt for her California baby. So my mom picked up a few yards of this fabric at The Stitchin Post in Sisters on the way into town one weekend. And I carefully folded it with the rest of my fabric while maintaining the best of intentions. There it languished. After the baby shower. After the delivery. Until a few weeks ago when I hauled out the sewing machine and got to work. (I presume this sweet girl is still small enough to be swaddled.) Regardless, this fabric is perfect for a young child just learning colors and animal sounds.
Eventually, I completed my mom's birthday gift. Only a month after the actual date, but as I've mentioned, she is patient and understanding. (As every mom should be, no?)
Row by row, this mango yellow scarf grew slowly. A few weeks ago, while relaxing and watching an episode of Planet Earth with my oldest child, he helped me by unwinding a bit of yarn for me every few minutes. I noticed that he was holding the yarn gently to his top lip, just under his nose; the incredibly soft combination of silk and alpaca seemed to tickle him just so in that particular spot. (It reminded me of another boy who once enjoyed the softness of a pussy willow, until it became stuck in his nose and had to be removed with the help of tweezers and a doctor.) I became absorbed in my work as M absentmindedly unwound the yarn, until I noticed that nearly the entire ball of yarn sat in a tangle on the couch between us. Once asked to rewind the yarn, he climbed off the couch and began tightly wrapping the yarn into something resembling a drumstick.
Finally, the scarf was finished. When I consulted the pattern for finishing instructions I discovered that my creation doesn't look much like the photo. Huh. I have a few skeins left of this yarn; perhaps I'll try again and read the instructions more carefully next time. Or maybe, so we won't be so mother-daughter matchy-matchy, I'll make one to match my pretty beret.
Every completed project must be appropriately documented, so I headed outside with the camera during a sunny afternoon. My arms aren't quite long enough for a self-portrait, and the timer didn't suit either. The solution? Hand the four year old the digital camera and show him which button to press.