I aspire to Becky made gifts for most everyone on my Christmas list annually, but this year felt like the first in a while that I actually succeeded in doing that, beyond handing out jars of pepper jelly and pickles and jam. Although this year, I outsourced most of the jam to my friend Daniel the jam god. Between the great canning jar shortage of 2020 and the dire straights of most small businesses this year, it was a no brainer way to support one of my favorite local purveyors while also handing out handmade gifts. Not only is he able to source things like Damson plums, he may be one of the only people I know who is at least as picky about where his food comes from than I am. I know, right? I honestly don’t know why I haven’t outsourced to him before, but I’m totally doing it from here on out.
Having spent the better part of quarantine cleaning out my sewing nook in spits and spurts, I finally got it organized and set up as a working space for the first time in eons. Even before covid, I had intentionally cut back on some writing commitments, but when everything shut down last spring, I realized how much I enjoyed not working weekends and not juggling four jobs. I miss teaching cooking classes, but having all my afternoons and evenings free has been enlightening. And as things in real estate wound back up, I found ways to keep my weekends free – which meant more time for things like sewing. I was pleasantly surprised to discovered I enjoyed sewing again – maybe because working less meant I had the luxury of weekend afternoons free to spend hours at a time on a project or two. It’s amazing what one can accomplish when one can sit and focus on something for more than a few minutes. As I pulled these jumpers and pants together for my cousins’ girls, I realized I may have missed my calling as a designer for little girl clothes. The kittycat flannel was new, the orange polka dot flannel and lime green buttons came from the stash, the purple rickrack was discovered at The Scrappy Elephant when I took a carload of purged items out for someone else to use in their crafting. (Pattern for both jumper and pants are Simplicity 1568)
I also got super ambitious this year and decided to make a collection of fabric trees – I hadn’t done one in years, but I got this idea of little silver lamé trees and it went from there. I delved into a whole box of beautiful fabrics leftover from celebrations past – including scraps from Pat’s mom’s prom dress I inherited as part of Grandma Kilgo’s fabric stash as well as the previously mentioned silver lamé leftover from Edie’s fairy princess Halloween costume (circa Halloween 2003?), various party dresses and created a quirky little ‘celebration’ themed group of trees. I found them incredibly satisfying to sit and sew by hand, although I was reminded along the way how some of those delicate fabrics need more than an quarter inch seam allowance. Also, the next time I get really excited about a project involving silver lamé, can someone please gently ask me how small the project is and remind me how much I dislike working with that particular fabric? Because sewing that stuff is like sewing tinsel if I’m being perfectly honest. There’s a reason why that fabric sat in my scrap box for over 15 years. That said, I do love how my funky little trees turned out, sent out into the world of family and friends in groups of three, spreading cheer and a reminder of celebrations past and yet to come.
Last, but certainly not least of all my hand sewn gifts was a little stocking stuffer for my Edie girl. Scrunchies are back y’all – which is a trend I’ve been waiting on for at least a solid decade. I found some tutorials online for making my own using ponytail holders, not elastic and suddenly I had a solution for that batch of ‘non-slip’ but pure hair pulling rubber ponytail holders we bought a few years ago that have been languishing in our respective ponytail holder jars. It only took a few quick minutes on Christmas Eve to whip up a handmade gift for my girl, but it counts as a handmade mama gift, right?
This was also the year I figured out how to knit hats and realized how quickly and easily I could do them. I’m still working on that tricky gauge and sizing thing, but I’m getting closer and I realized hats are a really good project to get the hang of it. They are knit in one piece, in the round and start to finish can be done in a few short hours, are great stash busters and make fantastic gifts – on paper, all of my favorite things! I’m even considering knitting one for myself.
Last, but certainly not least are these beautiful watercolors Edie girl whipped up as gifts for various friends. I hope you know you are loved when you get original Edie art AND pickles from her personal stash or some of Pat’s stash of jam. Everyone gets pepper jelly, which I make in bulk, but if you found yourself with a jar of Curried Squash pickles or any kind of fruit jam on your doorstep this Christmas, know that is my family’s way of saying we wish you could be with us this year and we love you. You know who you are. xo