"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Merry Handmade Christmas!

Basket Case Kitchen Set
I think we're all familiar with the crazy practice of Christmas in July, but it's not so crazy when you consider that you have about five months to decide upon, and make, all those handmade gifts for the holidays. I love giving handmade gifts whenever I can. I also love receiving them. Partially because they can be economical, partially because it makes me feel good to know how much love and attention goes into handmade products. They don't simply roll off an assembly line, mass produced in a factory where thousands, even millions, of the same design are spit out by machines.

The only part of gifting that makes me happier than bestowing a handmade present is returning to find that gift tattered and torn and used and abused. Why? Because that use and abuse tells me that the item was truly cherished, truly loved. I'd rather return to find an afghan falling apart than one in pristine condition as though it's been hiding in a drawer except when the recipient pulls it out because they know I'll be visiting.

A person who truly cherishes a handmade object (and the person who made it) understands that it won't last forever, and that the maker filled it with love, and that the best way to acknowledge that love is to use the item.

My mother, about thirty years ago, went through this crazy afghan-crocheting binge. I took several of those blankets with me, including one she made specifically for me, when I moved into my own apartment. I still have one of them. I will confess that it's currently packed safely in a box on the floor of my closet waiting for the day when I again have a larger apartment where I can proudly display that afghan (and use it daily). That blanket is one of my prized possessions, which is saying quite a lot when you consider I've become something of a minimalist.

On the opposite side, I have a friend for whom I made a beautiful baby afghan to celebrate the birth of her first child. I searched my personal library for just the right pattern and decided I wanted to cross-stitch an adorable Pooh design to match his room. I stood in the store, pattern in hand and picked out just the right fabric and scoured the rack for the correct colors of embroidery floss. Then I spent evenings and days off, whenever I could find a few spare moments, bringing the design to life. I washed it by hand, allowed it to air dry, and pressed it carefully so it would be pristine and ready for use by the first child brought into the world whom I would be honored to call not "my friend's kid," but "my nephew."

The "baby" is about to celebrate his eleventh birthday. The blanket already has. You see, that cross-stitched afghan has spent nearly all of its eleven years in a drawer. Hours of painstaking work, hundreds, maybe thousands, of stitches, and it has hardly seen any use. That breaks my heart. I begged my friend to donate it to Project Linus or to Children's Hospital so at least a child who needed it could use it. But she refused. Why? Because she didn't want it to get ruined.

If I had known it would never get used, I would have purchased a blanket for half what it cost me to make that one and the store-bought one would have been put to use. Fifteen bucks, fifteen minutes, done.

So why have I shared these stories with you? Because I hope to remind you to choose wisely if you're making some gifts and buying others this year. And if you receive any handmade gifts this year, I hope to help you understand that a handmade gift belongs in your hands where it will be used, not in a drawer where it won't.

The Whole Shebang Value Bundle (pot holders)

Anyhow, let's get to the point. It's time to decide what to make and what materials to buy. And I'd like to help if I can. My Whole Shebang Value Bundle is already a great deal at $24.99 for 18 patterns; that's six different kitchen sets. But I'm sweetening that deal for the month of July*. Use this link which will take you to my Ravelry store and automatically drop the deal into your basket. What's the deal? When you purchase the Whole Shebang, you will also receive my Basket Case Value Bundle, normally priced at $5.49, as my Christmas in July gift to you.

If you prefer, you may drop the two bundles into your basket separately and the highly intelligent Ravelry computer will do the rest. Unfortunately, there is no way for me to offer exactly the same deal automatically via Etsy, so I will do it manually in the back of the house. (That's retailspeak for, "I'll take care of it for you; don't worry.")

*Offer expires July 31, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. GMT.

Merry Christmas!


  1. Great deal, girly! I love seeing my gifts being used. Even if it means I have to repair a blanket every now and again. :)

    1. It makes me crazy when someone tells me they're saving it for their grandchildren. Gimme a break! I didn't make it for your grandchildren; I made it for your kid.