Tuesday, October 22, 2013

She's Crafty | Decisions, Decisions

It's that time of year again, when I try to make up my mind about what to make my near and dear for Christmas. Shall I knit? Crochet? Sew? What colors should I use? Should it be something useful? Should I make something that would be good for both male and female, younger and older? Or, should I choose something unique for each individual? Oh, decisions, decisions! 

The longer I take to make up my mind, the narrower my choices become. I'll need time to get done with everything before the big day, for instance, no IOU's allowed! This year I've waited so long (I know, it's not even Halloween yet! But, when you make things, you need lots of time), it will have to be something small (small things are usually quick to make), always useful (why else would I be making it?), good for anyone--younger, older, male, or female (this is the quicker route too!), but still personalized for each and every one (of course!) Oh, and I can't forget the most important criterion--it has to be something they will all enjoy...or, at least consent to wear...if it turns out to be something to wear, that is. Maybe I should wait a little longer (that is, run out of time) and just make everyone some cookies. Good cookies, like peanut butter kisses, peppermint twist candy canes, pecan pie tassies...Cookies are good, right? But, it will be just my luck that they will want both cookies and something to wear!

You know, if I could find the perfect thing to make for everyone, wouldn't the stores already be full of them? Uggg, the stores probably are full of them, whatever they are. So impersonal. Ah! But not when we make them. When you give someone something you've made, you give them much more than what can be bought at the store. You give them a part of yourself. Someone said this to me last year upon receiving something I had made: "Is there love in the stitches?" I said, "Of course! That's why I made it for you." I meant it, too. Those who will make something for you care for you in one way or another.

Scarves by Kaye for Malia, Frank and Senta
Last year, I started earlier, around the first of September. I was able to make some broader choices. I chose to knit: A seaman's scarf for my husband Frank, who's retired from the Navy; a little poncho for 3-year-old Layla, daughter of close family friends Lois and Andrew. Lois got my first attempt at making knitted lace, in a scarf. Andrew got felted slippers, and so did Senta, my older daughter. Malia, Senta, and a few friends got infinity scarves, knitted in what I hoped would be colors they liked. Even then, I didn't have enough time to make something for everyone I would have knitted for.

Senta's felted wool slippers

I know it sounds as if I'll never find that perfect item to make for everyone, but maybe I will. There are some great places to look. Some of my favorites are online and one of these is Ravelry.com. To my knowledge, there is no other place quite like it. It is a knitting & crocheting community. There may be thousands of people logged on at any particular time, from all over the world. Signing up is free and you can customize your searches for patterns--thousands of them--in many different ways. You can look for specific kinds of things to make, specify whether you want to knit or crochet, look for specific sizes, and prices--many patterns are free. You can even save your favorite finds and purchases in your own Ravelry library online.

Another great place to look for free patterns is an online knitting magazine called Knitty, which publishes several times a year and keeps archives of past issues with patterns, articles, and reviews of products designed for knitting and other fibercrafts. There are fewer patterns here, but they are well worth looking through because they tend to be unique, sometimes funky and fun, sometimes beautiful, and always well written. Patterns from Knitty are also  rated by the ease with which they can be made, which is a good way to avoid frustrating yourself with patterns beyond your current level of expertise.

One of the best places to look for free knitting patterns is the library. Our library has many books with patterns appropriate for gift-giving, and you can search for them online or at your local branch. You can look for knitting patterns for various items such as scarves and socks. Or, you can just try knitting patterns and look through all of them. Always try expanding your search to Link+ too, for lots more books to chose from.

So, what will I make those near and dear to me this year? Have I found that perfect thing? Well, I was reading somewhere recently, I can't remember where, that putting soft and fuzzy materials on one's feet could help a person feel less stressed (it was something about nerve endings and oxytocin.) Like hand knit slippers, perhaps? Good for everyone, younger and older, male and female, and easily personalized with favorite colors...

Nola's slippers pattern, right. Image courtesy of Ravelry.com

Oh, hey! What about adapting the free pattern Nola's Slippers I found on Ravelry? I could sport-stripe them on a gray background in Hogwarts House colors: Red for Gryffindor, blue for Ravenclaw, Gold for Hufflepuff, and Green for Slytherin. It might just be something Molly Weasley would make (she's my hero--fierce protector of her brood!) It's perfect! Now, if I could just learn that spell Molly used to set her needles to knitting on their own...Because there will never be enough time to knit for everyone I would knit for.

Until we meet again, stay crafty--Kaye


  1. My best friend made me a Gryffindor scarf for Christmas and I cherish it. I'm a scarf lady and I can't get enough, but I know the dedication and heart it takes to make the lovely gift.

    Your scarves are gorgeous, Kaye!

  2. Slippers are twice as useful: they keep your feet warm and you can slide all over the house in them!