I spied this card on the Yarn Harlot’s gift guide and I’m just in love with it. (I also really like this one but only because I wish it said ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY.) I guess you could say there’s a bit of an anti-gift theme going on around here. I hate to seem like a downer. I really do love giving handmade gifts! This should be a safe place to complain and even laugh about the stress of holiday times.
>> I made a couple of pies for Thanksgiving which was exhausting on top of everything else. I feel like a total failure looking at this knitted pie crust. It’s so gorgeous, how could you eat it!?
>> Every knitter on the internet is looking for the Katniss Cowl. I swear I’ve never seen a more popular piece of knitwear. I wrote about the cowl before but here’s an interview with its designer Maria Dora about the unique piece that is quickly becoming iconic!
>> The big, bad sale weekend may be over but the time shop independent is NOT. Check the list (and add your own favorite). There are tons of small businesses with perfect, unique gifts for your friends!
>> I’ve watched this commercial six times. It’s still funny. If you get a package from me, watch out. Did you get the cozies?
>> If you need some knitsperation, Paper Mag has a list of their top 10 knitwear designers in the fashion industry.
Tags: apple pie, commercial, costume, fashion, fed ex, hunger games, hunger games costume, independent shop, katniss cowl, knit humor, knit joke, knit pie, knitting card, knitting humor, maria dora, PAPER MAG, pie crust, tilly flop
Holiday gifts are such a challenge for crafters. It seems like a no-brainer to make a gift but in the end it’s an expensive, time-consuming, soul-crushing experience. Sobs between sips of heavily-spiked eggnog, fingers crooked and bleeding after hours and hours of work. It’s not worth it. Sorry, family and friends. You’re all lovely people and you deserve great gifts but it’s just not possible.
My mom’s family is diverse and pretty large. I can’t afford to buy the kind of presents that they deserve for each and every one of them and I like to think that, since they are all grown adults, they buy themselves the things that they really want. I try to give everyone the same gift (so it’s equal) which presents another challenge. It’s really difficult to find something that they would all like and use or put in their homes. I refuse to give weird pieces of crap also known as “decorations” or “tchotchkies” because I don’t think I’d like to receive any. We don’t have the same taste and that’s ok, let’s just not pretend that we do.
So I like to gift them with food. Everybody likes to eat and generally everyone cooks or bakes at least enough to get by. Buying food gifts can get expensive (gift baskets, fancy chocolates, liquor) so I try to keep everything DIY. I’ll be the first person to tell you that DIY gifts do not mean free or cheap but when it comes to food, you can keep it relatively inexpensive while staying fun and thoughtful. Besides, DIY gifts are like a present for the gifter as much as they are the giftee. Making gifts is fun and rewarding even when it’s exhausting and all of your hair has fallen out.
Last year I put together these hot chocolate mugs. They were really fun and adorable and probably cost less than $5 for each mug. If you cut the marshmallows as I suggest below (using a biscuit cutter that’s just slightly smaller than the opening of the mug), you’ll be able to sip the cocoa through the marshmallow the way you would with whipped cream. It’ll be like a cloud keeping it hot and yummy. This is my favorite part.
While packaging everything up in this “I thought of you and hope you enjoy a cozy evening courtesy of me!” kind of way is lovely and gifty, the key to this present is the marshmallows. People that have never made marshmallows before think that they are witchcraft. They’ve never given any thought to where marshmallows come from (marshmallow trees?). They will be very impressed with you.
Here’s how to do it!
1. Make your marshmallows. While they’re setting up, put together the hot chocolate mix.
2. Line the mug with one of the little gift bags. Pour in hot chocolate mix to fill about 3/4 of the mug.
3. Now that the marshmallows have set, use the biscuit cutter to cut them into circles. Dust them lightly in confectioners sugar and place two or three over the hot chocolate mix. Close the bag and secure with ribbon.
4. Add a gift tag with instructions for the cocoa mix and maybe even include a recipe in case they want more.
Ta da! Merry Christmas!
Next week, I’ll be sharing a few more quick and inexpensive DIY gifts so stay tuned!
What’s your favorite DIY gift to give? How do you gift food?
* The mugs are the most expensive part of the gift. You can pick up adorable Christmas themed mugs at the dollar store or you can go all out and buy a hand-thrown piece on Etsy. Let your budget be your guide. (I used these CB2 mugs because I loved that they came with a little spoon. I believe they’ve been discontinued but here they are on ebay. $3 per mug! ) But this mug will become your relative’s new hot chocolate mug and when you see them next Christmas they will say, “Every time I drink hot chocolate in that mug I think of you!” Awww! Choose wisely.
Phew! How were your holidays? I’m still in a food coma! I can hardly believe I’m typing. Anyway, let’s start the week out with some eye candy, shall we?
One of my favorite things about her work is the adorable knits that her characters wear. The textures and details in the knitwear are fabulous. It seems like she takes any opportunity to add a piece of knitwear to her work. That is something I can definitely get behind!
Who are your favorite knitting artists?
I will not add to my queue. I will not add to my queue. I will not- Nope, I give up. Andi’s latest pattern, Aiken, is just jaw dropping! Gorgeous and simple. She really knows how to flatter. I love her style!
>> How do you feel about granny squares? Top Shop is selling a turtle-necked, long-sleeved granny square dress for $580. I’m not sure I can get behind it (coming from a girl with furry shoulders, I guess I shouldn’t throw stones) but I’m definitely giving the side eye to it’s “Hand Knit Crochet” title…
>> This is kind of incredibly disgusting but also probably cool? Anna Dumitriu makes quilts out of MRSA. She also needle felts little lungs and infects them with TB.
>> H&M wants to pay all textile workers a living wage by 2018. While I’ve really come to detest fast fashion, they have seemed to step up and take responsibility. I’m still sticking to my buy less (I’ve only bought a few garments, most made in the US, over the past few months!)/make more policy but good on them for working a little harder to make their industry better. They should hurry up!
>> It’s not news to any of us that hand knitting is undervalued. But this post is a good reminder that it’s still happening. (I also love that she uses the word makar to describe herself!) Don’t under-sell yourselves!
>> I don’t think I ever gave too much thought to this sweater on Mad Men (gosh, was that season two!? Feels like yesterday) but I was wrong. It’s definitely worth a look.
>> And goats wearing sweaters!
Hope you’re enjoying your short week and holiday if you’re state side. And it’s Hanukkah, too! Many days of latkah frying coming up! What will you be knitting on before your turkey nap?
Shopping for knitters is simultaneously the easiest and hardest thing to do. We love yarn but we’re very particular. We could always use more needles but interchangeable sets aren’t cheap. We’re always searching for new patterns but with the enormous variety of books out there, it’s tough to pinpoint which might be right.
I tend to advise against buying a knitter yarn (unless they ask for it) as a gift. Usually, we’re all on yarn diets. Of course, no one has ever given me a skein of yarn that I’ve refused. And it’s easy for non-knitters to become sheepish, dizzy, and dumbfounded at a LYS. But around this time of year I like to put together a guide for what knitters really want, those little things that will let them know that you really thought hard about them.
And, don’t forget, knitters always appreciate gifts that are handmade, local, and/or independent!
What gifts would you love to get this holiday?
I was just thinking that if you absolutely had to knit holiday gifts, although this doctor strongly advises against it, that my Olivia hat pattern would be the perfect thing to make. I know, sorry, shameless self-promotion but what are blogs for? It’s comfy and soft and, most importantly, it knits up super fast. Fast knits are what the holidays are all about, right?
>> If you weren’t able to make it to the Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting talk the other night, check out this blog post. It was really lovely and tons of fun. Ann Hood and Elissa Schappell are hilarious and it was a great non-formal setting. Ann walked in and yelled, “Yay! Everyone’s knitting!” Can’t wait to really dive into the book!
>> Interested in reading more about the costumes on Fox’s Sleepy Hollow? Obviously, you do. This show is your favorite! Check out Frock Talk. I feel like this show is something I invented while I was drunk and that is why I absolutely love it.
>> Everyone is going crazy over the unicorn sweater that Sasha Obama wore to a basketball game. The Obama girls always have great style. Would be a really fun knit!
>> The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary is TOMORROW. I’m pretty psyched, obviously. Check out this clip about the “happy accident” that became the most iconic piece of Doctor Who costume (Sorry, Fez, it is not you). Imagine being the knitter who make the Doctor’s scarf. Can that be me?
I’ll just have to pretend the WIP I’ll be working on while I watch tomorrow is an important piece of costume. What are you working on this weekend?
I’m a sentimental person but I hate the obligatory “What are you thankful for?” that happens this time of year. I’m not really spiritual so I don’t know who I’m thanking for some coincidences in my life. At the same time, I’m well aware that I can’t take credit for all of the happiness that’s come to me. I really like to refer to the way I feel as lucky. Somehow the stars have aligned and things are good. That being said, giving up knitting last week was really difficult for me. By Thursday, I was having dreams about binding off intricate and gorgeous color work sweaters. Reading blogs or looking through knitting books made my heart heavy. But at the same time, sacrificing a little bit made me think about a lot of things and, in the spirit of the season, I am pretty thankful.
First of all, I’m thankful that knitting is in my life. I’m not sure I’d have the little sanity left in my without it. After I picked up knitting ten years ago, I went back and forth, sometimes not making anything for long periods of time. Over the past three or four years, knitting has become a huge part of who I am. I know I kept returning to it because I’ve always loved making things, be it with pen and paper or words or lights and film, I’m a maker. This is the best way I can make things and I’m so grateful that I’ve found it.
I’m thankful for how amazing and supportive everyone is. That means you lovely readers and all of my knitting friends. I’ve been complaining up a storm on Twitter (sorry, I’m Jewish. If something hurts, you’re going to hear about it) and not only has everyone tolerated me but they’ve given great advice. It really feels amazing that people I haven’t met in real life are asking how I’m feeling. You’re all fab. Of course, my family is always making sure that I’m not pushing it and Jon has been really strict so I don’t re-injure myself. As much as it’s driven me crazy, I’m grateful for that too.
And, as always, I’m grateful for my health. I’ve got plenty of issues when it comes to health but I’m really glad things aren’t worse. I’m so thankful that I’m not still having to take a knitting break. And if my wrists were still bad, if I had to get surgery or something (oh lord, knock on wood times a million), I’m thankful that I have healthcare and all of those things above.
I’d really be lost without my needles. And, as always, when times get tough, I know my friends will be there to help me through! I love the knitting community and I if it weren’t for you, I’d just be a crazy lady complaining about socks.
What’re you thankful for? (I mean, I have to ask.)
Thought I’d given up the gif? They’re back just in time for a little holiday present from me to you.
These socks would make a great gift, though.
“Didn’t you say you weren’t going to knit holiday gifts this year?”
It’s ok, it’s not like I had plans anyway.
It won’t be fair to just knit for one person. Ok, one more hat won’t throw off my schedule. I got this.
Wait. Chanukah is early this year?
Why do I even do this?
But I can only blame myself.
Miraculously, I somehow manage to finish just in time.
And everyone loves their gifts.
What are your holiday knitting plans? Did you start early this year? (No one will be mad if you buy them a Ricefield Collective hat instead.)
I just found this photo that I might have stolen from Amy’s Rhinebeck recap. I realized that I basically have zero photographic evidence that I was there at all. That has changed now! Here I am with Panda in her Long Sands cardigan and me in The Crash. That’s right! My sample made it back from Holla Knits just in time to be worn at Rhinebeck. I can’t tell you how many people caressed my shoulders that day and, honestly, I wasn’t even the slightest bit upset about it. My damned sweater is nuts.
>> Sheep in the small village of Grazeley, Berkshire are eating flowers off of graves in the churchyard and everybody’s upset about it. Come on, people, they’re basically being left a buffet. You should not be surprised!
>> My lovely aunt sent me this really weird commercial for walnuts. It’s kind of hilarious and totally bizarre so you know I’m on board. I want to knit you an afghan.
>> If you’re in Manhattan next week, you might want to RSVP for this event with Ann Hood on her book Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting. I haven’t read the essays yet (too busy knitting to read about knitting, I guess!) but it sounds like something I’d love and I’m excited to hear her speak.
>> Workers in Bangladesh are protesting the new minimum wage which still leaves them making 14% of what is considered a living wage. According to the ThinkProgress article, improving factory conditions would only cost consumers 10 cents more on each garment made in the factories. Think about that for a minute.
>> A fascinating article about vicuña garments – the most expensive wool on earth. It sounds like magic. I’d love to pet one in real life and see the shearing ceremony!
Hope I’ll be back to my needles this weekend. I can’t stand resting so long. What’re you working on?
It’s hard to help every time disaster strikes around the world but hearing about the enormity of the damage done in the Philippines is really shocking. The knitting community is always one of the first to jump in and make a difference. Often times it means monetary donations but we love making things for those in need. That’s something that I really love – we’re givers.
I just wanted to take a minute today and shout out some ways that knitters can donate to typhoon relief. There are a lot of wonderful people donating their profits for fundraising and I love that.
Osprey in Storm
First, Quince and Co is donating 10% of their profits today to NAFCON. I would definitely get in on that today if you’re not on a yarn diet. Apparently the wonderful people at Ricefield Collective suggested that charity so I’m sure they do great work.
Speaking of Ricefield Collective, if you’re not familiar with their amazing work, you should check them out. They are already doing great things helping women in the Philippines earn money by selling gorgeous (I mean seriously gorgeous) hand knit accessories. According to their blog, the storm missed them but Ricefield will be donating 10% of sales through Thanksgiving to send aid to the effected parts. They are also collecting toys which they plan to distribute through their networks in the Philippines.
Finally, Romi Hill is donating $5 to Doctors Without Boarders for each Brandywine and Sakaki pattern purchased. She’s used these patterns in the past to raise money for DWB after the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan and has already donated over $20,000 from the sales of these patterns. Pretty incredible.
Of course, there are many other ways to help. Donating money directly to reputable charities is always an option that I know a lot of people feel most comfortable doing. Unfortunately, in times like these, it’s sometimes hard to tell who’s doing the best work. That being said, it warms my heart to see how knitters are all coming together to help in the ways they know best.
Feel free to post with other fundraisers in the comments!