Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Christmas Quandary

For years, I've made Christmas gifts for my friends.  It started in college with some of those very ‘70s macramé hanging candleholders and continued when I was single and had more time than money. It became a habit. 
 I'm a little ambivalent about this, because I had a grandmother who made some very nice, useful gifts and some pretty awful ones, (yes, I’m talking about you, macaroni-covered box).  Every year, it was a crapshoot as to what was in the package wrapped in her signature style of mismatched pieces of re-used paper and ribbon.

 I try to stay mainstream with my crafty gifting, mostly making quilts or knitted accessories, and my friends always seem pleased.  Rule one, no macramé or crocheted teacup planters. Pinterest has made all this seem more normal. I mean, if a couple million or so people are making wine-cork baskets and ornaments and who knows what else, it must be cool, right? 

This year, being very busy with work, I decided to give myself a pass and just buy all my gifts.  Lately, my crafting time has become compressed to a week between finals and Christmas, and the cursing coming from my sewing room has been noticed by other family members as being less than festive.

However, I'm really not a shopper.  I generally plan one trip to a couple of 'independent stores that I really like, and then retire to a stack of catalogs, my laptop, and a nice toddy to complete my shopping and let UPS/Fedex do the leg work.
That worked well this year, much less stress, but I found that once the shopping was out of the way, I missed the planning and creativity of making gifts.  So I thought to myself, ”maybe just a few, small handmade gifts." 

These seemed to exactly fit that description:  festive, holiday-themed pot holders.  Very fun to make, used up scraps of fabric I (mostly) already had, and could be combined with other things I had on hand, like holiday-themed kitchen utensils, in a basket. Who doesn’t need new potholders?  Not me, that’s for sure.
 I liked the way the Christmas potholders had a little hand-pocket, so I adapted that idea to some plain rectangular ones.  This is a fun way to try out different quilt block designs. 
This year, I'm going to focus on small projects that can be finished quickly--instant gratification and I can use up a lot of the fabric I have in my stash.  In the meantime, I still have one large project that is almost finished.  I'll post that when I'm done.