Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Gifts

Well, I finally got all of my crocheted Christmas presents done - hooray! The first is a felted crocheted baguette, makeup bag, and scarf, for my very good friend, Latanya, who lives in Dallas. I met Latanya 11 years ago this month, on a cruise to the Bahamas and Key West that my husband and I went on. The cruise was sponsored by the former Interrace Magazine. The various interracial couples and families in the group were seated together at dinner time, and my husband and I shared a table with Latanya, her sister, and another couple.

Most everyone in the group hit it off really well, so the second-last day of the cruise, the group members all exchanged addresses and phone numbers. A few weeks after I got home, I received a letter from Latanya. She had seen an article I wrote, that was published in Interrace, recognized my name, and wrote to ask if I was the author. That letter became the start of a wonderful friendship that has endured for 11 years, despite our living 1,200 miles apart, and keeping in touch solely through letters, emails, and the occasional phone call. Latanya is like an old soul who is wise beyond her years, and she has helped me through many a tough time in my life over the years. Her friendship has truly been a blessing in my life.

Every year without fail Latanya has sent me amazing birthday and Christmas presents that I unfortunately have never been able to adequately reciprocate for (although Latanya never complains). I wanted to give her something special for Christmas this year, and I hope these gifts measure up. Latanya loves pink as much as I do (I still have my pink baby blanket that my Dad brought me home from the hospital in as a newborn, and it’s my most prized possession!), so of course, all the gifts are pink!

Although the felted baguette was crocheted, the pattern for the bag was actually a loom knitting pattern. I bought the pattern from Isela Phelps back in February, and planned to make the bag as a present for Latanya's March birthday.I ended up breaking my right wrist in February (when I slipped and fell on a patch of ice downtown) and by the time my wrist was healed, and I felt up to working on the bag, I had learned to crochet, so I converted the pattern to crochet. As her birthday had already past, I just held onto the bag to give to her for a Christmas present. I used Paton’s Classic Merino Wool in Petal Pink, That’s Pink, and Old Rose for the main part of the bag, and Lion Brand Fun Fur in Hot Pink for the trim. The makeup bag was my own pattern. I just crocheted a rectangle, folded it in half, seamed up the sides, and felted it. I actually managed, with my mediocre hand sewing skills, to sew in a lining (a pink calico floral fabric), and a zipper. I sewed ribbon underneath the handles of the big bag to make them sturdier and to keep them from stretching.

The scarf is my own design as well. I crocheted a long chain (sorry, I can’t remember how many stitches!), and worked a ruffle of two double crochets in the first stitch, three in the second, two in the next stitch, and so on until I reached the end of the chain. I then turned the scarf over, and worked another set of ruffles in a second color through the free loops of the chain in back of the scarf. I then repeated with a third color. I used Bernat Soy in Raspberry (medium pink) and Sugar Cane (pale pink) and Caron Simply Soft in Watermelon for the scarf. This was my first time working with the Bernat Soy, and I loved it! It is so soft and silky, and has a pretty sheen. I liked the finished scarf so much that I was tempted to keep it for myself, but I restrained!

In case you’re wondering, the little boy in the framed photo in back of the scarf is my son at 6 months old (he’ll be 5 years old next month) when his teeth first started coming in. Isn’t he just the cutest?! When I showed my husband the scarf, he told me it’s not going to be warm. I told him of course not, Latanya is in nice warm Texas, she doesn’t need a big, thick scarf! He should know that, because he spent a good chunk of his childhood/teenage years in San Antonio and Houston! I told him, it’s not meant to be warm, it’s a fashion scarf! Men!

I photographed the scarf on this lovely built-in wood cabinet in the downstairs hallway of my 1949 Cleveland-area bungalow. Here’s another shot of it so you can see my Cherished Teddies (Enesco bear figurines) collection, which I started when I was teenager, and which has been so graciously supplemented over the years through gifts from my Dad (who unfortunately passed away a few years ago), one brother, one sister, and my husband.

The next Christmas present is a bath puff for my boss, crocheted in Lily Sugar N’ Cream in the Over the Rainbow color (and hanging from my Christmas tree for photo purposes!). I found the pattern for the puff

It was a fun, fast pattern. I started it on the bus on the way to work this morning, and finished it up earlier this evening. I bought a set of various fruit-scented hand creams, and a soy lotion candle (very cool – you burn the candle, then it melts into a lotion) in a yummy citrus coconut scent to go along with it.

Finally, I have a crocheted cloche and scarf for a coworker, done in a wonderfully soft, discontinued TLC Cara Mia yarn, that I picked up for a bargain on EBay. It’s an acrylic, wool, nylon, angora blend, in shades of tan and cream, and was so nice to work with! I’ve bought every color of it I could find on EBay, and have been scouring EBay for more. I found the pattern for the hat

The pattern called for a chunky weight yarn, and a K hook, but the Cara Mia is a worsted weight, so I used an I hook, and played around with the pattern until I got the hat the right size. I ended up redoing the hat at least 3 times before I got it to come out right. The trim on the hat is Paton’s merino in a chocolate brown color. The scarf was simple – just half double crochets with a shell-stitch border. I gave it to my coworker today, and was trying not to get into the present until Christmas, but her curiosity got the best of her, and she opened it, and loved it!

Now that the Christmas gifts are done, I can start working on some other projects for upcoming occasions. My daughter’s 10th birthday is in January, so I’m going to attempt to make her a crocheted cupcake pillow (as a surprise). I’m also finishing up a bib for my sister-in-law’s soon to be born baby, plus I have plans for a hat and booties for her as well. My mother’s birthday is coming up in February, and she’s been asking me to crochet her a poncho for the longest time, so I need to get started on that as well. Too many projects I want to do and not enough time to crochet!

My daughter is spending the night at her aunt’s house (my oldest sister), so with just one kid at home (my son), I actually had a nice, quiet evening, with some crocheting time! I love my kids, but they wear me out when they’re together! They are 5 years apart in age, and of different genders, so they don’t always get along so well. I know they love each other though – my son usually whines for his “Sissy” when she’s not home, and more than once I’ve seen them sitting quietly together on the couch snuggled up together under a blanket, watching TV. To be honest, I was not really planning on having any more kids after I had my daughter, and if I didn’t get pregnant with my son when I did, I don’t think I would have had any more, Now that I have him though, I’m thankful that my daughter has a sibling to grow up with. I grew up with my five brothers and sisters, and quite often they drove me crazy, and I often wondered what it would be like to be an only child, instead of being crammed in a tiny house with only one bathroom, and no privacy, but as an adult, I’m thankful for the friendship and camaraderie of having so many brothers and sisters.

I don’t know if I’ll have any more blog posts between now and Christmas, so if not, have a wonderful Christmas! Or Kwanzaa or Hanukah!


Christina said...

Laura, I love your gifts!! I especially love the felted bags. I haven't tried felting yet but it looks amazing.

I'm still working at getting my presents done. I am SO behind.

HobbyZu said...

You've been busy! Your gifts are so gorgeous, the recipients will be very pleased! :-)
Merry Christmas to you and your family.