11/12/2022 0 Comments
Ghosts of Christmas Presents Past
I only have a small number of people that I give presents to.
So, as each of them are craft worthy, I plan through the year to make something special.
A few years back, I made myself a crochet scarf and loved it so much, I decided to make one each for my sister and sister-in-law. Colours are easy. Sue, my SIL loves shades of blue. Kris, my sister, loves reds and purples.
The yarn is Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball. Mindful Mauve for my sister in shades of cream, warm brown and purples. Healing Teal for my SIL in shades of grey, teal and blue.
The pattern is Diagonal Eyelets by Lion Brand and whilst shawl in a ball behaves like an Aran weight yarn, it's actually more like a 4ply so you get this light open texture that is soft from the cotton / acrylic mix. As a project, it crochets up in a few evenings, so definitely something you can whip up as a fast present for someone who is crochet-worthy.
For my brother and brother-in-law, that year, I decided that this would be the year that I taught myself to not just knit, but knit in the round with colour work.
Working with chunky wool, which is more forgiving and works up quickly, I knitted Christmas Tree Hats. I made two with the brown earth rib and loved them so much that I then made one with the red rib for myself.
The pattern is X-mas Trees beanie from Patternery.
So, not a bad start.
Then the following year, around August, I saw a kit to make a blanket. To buy enough yarn and make a blanket is a big investment. But, at the time, the yarn was half price so I couldn't resist.
The pattern was a 'tartan' throw by Deramores, in their chunky yarn. Much later, I found out that this yarn borders on super chunky and that is how I ended knitting from September to December, and creating two single bed sized blankets that then had to be 'embroidered' with the vertical stripes of the pattern.
This was the first Christmas of lockdown and in early January, my brother had to go to the hospital for a check up. My SIL went with him, but had to stay in the car. She took the blanket, that I made, with her to snuggle up in whilst she waited. I think that is the best recommendation for someone being knitworthy.
I added a leather tag that said 'handmade by Liz' and pasted the washing instructions for the yarn onto the rear of a gift tag as a way to pass them on.
Then onto last Christmas. I have no idea why, but I had the urge to make tea cosies. Hubby thought I had gone completely mad. He kept asking me if my siblings drank tea. But by the end of the knitting and sewing, he was just the slightest bit jealous and asking about having one made for him. Fox on a flower mound for my sister. Cat on a green hill.
As the Christmas Movie watching countdown continues, this girl's thoughts turn to what classics I want to watch between Christmas and the New Year, whilst I eat my body weight in chocolate and knit my latest blanket.
I'm not limiting myself to films for this one, I've a few TV classics that I also want to watch again.
And the Christmas TV line up hasn't been announced yet, so I'll be adding a few more along with suggestions from friends.
Let's see how good I can make this list.
On the watch list are:
5/12/2022 0 Comments
The Snowflake Project
This year, I had the urge to crochet some snowflakes.
I dived into my stash and found some white yarn that was sprinkled with glittery thread, from Poundland, of all places and on a visit to Faith and Fabric, bought a beautiful ball of pale, dusty blue, with silver running through it. The blue yarn is James C Brett Twinkle DK in TW18.
A number of years ago, I learnt one snowflake off by heart and would take a ball of yarn, a plastic crochet hook and a floss reel onto my flights to Munich for work. Floss reels are great because you can cut yarn with it and don't have to worry scissors on a flight or security.
I'd sit on the flight and crochet the snowflakes then give them to people as gift tags.
After I'd created 6 of that pattern, I knew I needed some more ideas. So, it was of to the bookcase for inspiration.
I grabbed out Caitlin Sainio's 100 Snowflakes to crochet and go to work.
The book is divided into different levels so whatever your crochet ability, there are patterns for you to work.
Nearly all of the patterns start with chain 6 and most have between 4 and 6 rows taking around 6yds of yarn. So, you can get a lot of snowflakes out a ball of double knit (8ply).
The book is out of print but you can find copies on all the usual sites.
30/11/2022 0 Comments
Why is an Advent Calendar so special?
As a child, my Aunt would be the one who brought us our Advent Calendars.
There was a shop called 'The Library & Music Shop', so called because it sold books and music ... I know, and they had Medici Cards. The Medici Society was founded in 1908 as a publisher of art prints and cards and I always thought that Medici cards were obviously the poshest because people would talk about them with that hushed voice of reverence.
The Advent Calendar theme would always be either religious or feature Father Christmas and the numbers would appear non sequentially so you had to hunt the number that you were looking for.
Each window would open to a drawing with the final one, the 24th December showing the manger scene. This always confused me because Christmas Day was the 25th. Never did get to the bottom of that one.
Advent calendars have their origins, as do many modern Christmas traditions, in Germany during the 19th Century. Just like Christmas trees, we, here, in the UK, embraced them.
My mum worked for a lovely couple who were German / Austrian and one year they gave me an advent candle. I liked sitting in the twilight and watching the candle burn down to the next number.
I treated a friend to one, as a present, one Christmas. They lit it, and promptly forgot about it.
Well, as you can imagine, it burnt down, past the next day and a few more days.
All I got was a complaint from them that it was a waste of time. Perhaps, occasionally, traditions are wasted on some people!
These days, you can have presents in your calendar.
Hubby has a tea advent calendar. It's a great way to try out different flavours and an excuse to take a little time for himself as he makes his cup of tea and sits and drinks it.
I have indulged in a chocolate advent calendar. Rather than just gobbling the choccies as I do with other things, I'm going to take a moment, each afternoon, and sit and eat my daily truffle.
Now that is a form of mindfulness I can cope with.
28/11/2022 0 Comments
It's not Christmas without a movie
So, I'm trying to watch a Christmas movie each day between now & Christmas.
Yes, I want schmaltzy.
Yes, I want corny romance.
Yes, I want Die Hard!
62 = Total Watched To Date
November = 18
December = 44
The List watched so far:
On the list:
Tried but failed:
27/11/2022 0 Comments
A tree is a tree, is a tree, is a tree
As a child, I would go with my mum on Christmas Eve to the greengrocers and buy our Christmas tree.
It would be left in the garden until my father came home, then he would put it into a large bucket of sand, then the bucket into a decorative box that he made years ago.
On the front of the box was a paper cut tree on red paper that I think I made in Infant School. It got turned around in different directions depending on how big the tree was (so whether or not the tree was in the box or on the box).
There would be around 20 minutes of wobbling the tree to get it straight.
Now with our artificial tree, getting it straight involves playing with 3 screws in the base of the tree stand. Far easier.
As with most of the things involved with Christmas, my mother would save up the money to buy the tree from her part time job. The tree would be up only until the 12th day of Christmas and would always be taken down for the 6th January. The idea that it would be up any longer just didn't cross anyone's mind.
During these early years of my childhood, my maternal grandmother lived in the first house in our road. She always had an artificial tree, a silver tinsel one. I thought it was rather magical.
My parents' friend, who lived opposite us had a green tinsel tree which they always hung long silver strands of silvery tinsel stuff on and 'angel hair' to look like snow ... I think it was just some form of thin cotton wool. I always felt it very busy looking and was secretly worried that it might catch fire!
From our first Christmas together, hubby and I always had a real Christmas tree but back in 2016 we decided that it was time to move to an artificial one as we were having problems sources trees that hubby liked.
I didn't realise that buying an artificial Christmas tree would take us 3 months and visits to over 6 garden centres! But we found it in the end.
When we first got together, hubby and I bought a set of cheap baubles from Ikea (where we also got our first tree). As we travelled around together, we bought decorations to remind us of our travels and I also made hubby a decoration each year.
27/11/2022 0 Comments
Ghosts of Christmas Food Past
Last year I missed out on my Christmas Cheese order by a few days.
So, when I was able to order early, this weekend, I was reminded of how my mum paid the milkman a pound extra each week so that at Christmas she had a 'hamper' delivered with special Christmas food.
I think she would start around easter and it cost about £30 which, when the weekly shop was around £20 was a massive amount of money.
Although our milkman was Unigate, I found this ad from the period for Express Dairies which gives a taste of what you could save for. We used to go for the cupboard food bundle as mum would put away a few pounds each week with the butcher, in order to pay for the meat at Christmas.
There would be all the accompaniments for Christmas dinner; cranberry sauce, mint sauce, bread sauce packet (special because it was Knorr!).
A Christmas biscuit selection box - one each of savoury cheese for biscuits and sweet biscuits. A packet of Cornish biscuits (I loved their texture). The classic McVitie's Tunis cake ... a joy to behold with its marzipan fruits on top (see the link for more on this 1970s delight) and some glace fruit.
There would be tins of soup ... Always Baxters... I still think of these as being posh because of that. Tinned vegetables; including a tin of Heinz Russian salad, which was basically carrots, beans, peas and potatoes in salad cream .. in a tin!
A couple of packets of nuts would also be in there. Always KP. Always peanuts and a packet of either mixed nuts or cashews.
Then there would be the Bird's Trifle. That totally chemically created thing that had rock hard trifle sponges, strangely bright red coloured jelly, custard and a 'cream' substitute that was whiter than brilliant white emulsion paint. And don't forget the hundred's and thousands sprinkled on the top. It was supposed to feed a family of four, but in reality, it barely fed one person.
Elizabeth Shaw mint thins ... or matchmakers. And iced Gems. Those little biscuits with hard icing that could shred your mouth if you dared to chew them before having sucked them for 20 minutes to get them soft.
Tinned meat ... Tinned ham in that strange arch shaped tin and corned beef. Old oak for the ham and Princes for the corned beef.
And for the tinned fruit ... tropical fruit cocktail. The same as a standard fruit cocktail, but with pineapple. And talking of pineapple, there would be that tin of crushed pineapple that no one knew what to do with and lived in the back of the cupboard until Christmas next year when mum would make us eat it for tea one day because you legally couldn't have two tins of it in the house or the world would end.
Pickles were always a big thing in the box. Piccalilli, which was so yellow with no forbidden food colours that it almost glowed in the dark. Those mini gherkins that were so hard, along with silver skin onions, rock hard olives and maraschino flavoured cherries because, at Christmas every woman would be whipping up a dry Martini for her husband and popping a maraschino cherry into her Cinzano Rousso and lemonade.
There would be a crate of soft drinks ... Always corona because 'every bubble has passed it fizzical'. I would be allocated one bottle of limeade and one bottle of cherryade to get through the festivities. There would be masses of lemonade because ... Well, you need something to add to your Cinzano. Although I strongly believe that mum and her friends had basically lemonade with a dash of Cinzano so it looked pink and smelt exotic.
If mum had a bit extra money, she would go for the top tier hamper which would also have two bottles of wine; always a choice between Blue Nun, Black Tower and Matteus Rose (do you like Demis Roussou?).
There would be an advent calendar (paper ... no chocolates in it in the 70s), some paper chain papers to make up and a card from the milk man.
It was such a big thing opening up the box. We'd all sit round and ooh and hah as each item was pulled out from the shredded wood and put into little groups on the carpet.