Sunday, December 31, 2006

Keeping up with the Bloggers, and with Christmas Traditions

The Yarn Harlot, and other bloggers, have posted fabulous photos of their Christmas trees and their Christmas knitting. I, on the other hand, was too busy knitting to post anything. I tried taking photos of my Christmas tree, and they all turned out terribly. So, not to be outdone by the other photographer/knitters out there in blog-land, I decided to out-do everyone!! I took this photo through some "magic" lenses! When you look through the plastic lense, the lights on the Christmas tree look like hundreds of smiling snowmen!

In case you aren't impressed with that photo, here is my tree as seen through the mirror above our fireplace. Every year I put candles on the mantle and light them during the season. I particularly like to sit in the room at night, with only the lights on the tree and the candles reflected in the mirror. Then, I hum Christmas carols to myself. One year, I lit the candles for dinner in the adjacent dining room. I kept smelling smoke, and thought that the fire smelled nice in the fireplace. Finally, my daughter screamed that something was on fire!! A candle had burned down to the wooden holder, which ignited. The heat cracked the mirror from top to bottom! We gave the mirror wide berth for the next few days, until we could get a "mirror man" to come and remove the sagging mirror and replace it with a safer one!

Ever since I was a child, we have decorated our tree with cookies. I have kept the tradition alive for 35 years now, making cut-out cookies and decorating them with frosting. Each year I invite a friend or two and my children also invite friends. We spend the evening frosting cookies, spilling sprinkles and dropping frosting-laden knives on the carpet. the invitees take home their cookies and we display ours for weeks afterwards. I don't think many cookies actually are eaten, but we get great satisfaction and joy out of them. My brother was the master froster--he made gingerbread men into Green Bay Packers, Ghandi, Donald Trump, Gorbachev and others. [My first husband insisted on making anatomically correct ginger men and women] Here are some cookies from this year.

Before Christmas I complained that my children informed me that they would not wear the items I had been knitting for them. Therefore, I decided to knit random items and put them in a box from which family and friends could select an item that pleased them. If none pleased them, tough! Well, here is my basket of knit goodies. There are hats, scarves, neck warmers and ear warmers.

My friendly polar bear volunteered to model the items that have not already been posted. This cable knit beanie was not selected by anyone--yet. Therefore, I will send it to Dulaan or the local homeless shelter.
This jaunty tam was also not selected. Bear, however, is thinking about laying claim to it!

This Odessa hat, from Grumperina's pattern (without beads) was selected by my 15 year old!!!

Neither Bear nor anyone else were pleased with this alpaca ear warmer. I thought it was very seasonal with the raised pine trees on it.
I claimed the white alpaca cabled ear warmer! However, Bear seemed to like it as well.

Even though Bear seemed very, very cozy in this mohair multidirectional scarf, I gave the scarf to a friend. Haven't heard from the friend about how she liked it....... If she doesn't like it, Bear wants it back!!!
Surprise of all surprises, my 80 year old mother claimed this mini-poncho made partially out of Noro. It extends to the tip of the shoulders and Mom uses it inside of her jacket, as a neck-warmer/scarf. She really liked it!!
I made two of these hats from Charlene Schurch's "Hat's On" for my step daughter and her new boyfriend. They arrive on Jan. 4; therefore, I still have time to add the tassel and the polarfleece lining.

We had a great Christmas with my parents and both of my daughters. My brother, the one who suffered a stroke early in the fall, and his wife also stopped by. He is improving, but still has a long ways to go before he is fully functional again.

Everyone had a good time, that is, except Cosmic the cat. His Santa hat was much too embarrassing to wear, much less to have a photo of him posted on the blog!! I hope you were spared all embarrassing moments during the holidays and that your New Year is filled with blessings--fiber related and otherwise!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Homemade memories at Christmas time

My last entry bemoaned my inability to make just the right thing for my girls at Christmas time. I wonder how my mother did it. I am the oldest of five children, all at 3 year intervals. My parents never had much money so they always made presents for us. Our main times for acquiring clothing, including underwear and socks, were Christmas, birthdays, and other holidays. Each chrismas my mother sewed a new outfit for each of us, even matching outfits for our dolls. I remember the year she made me a felt circle skirt and blouse with tucks down the bodice. She made a matching outfit for my doll. She made us pajamas, with matching doll PJ's. She made my brother's GI Joe a Marine dress uniform, complete with red piping and tiny brass buttons. Even when I was in college and then an adult, she made complete outfits for each of us. My sister received a wool plaid pleated skirt, vest and jacket with lapels one Christmas--just what she wanted. the same year I received navy blue trousers, a blue and red checked vest and a white blouse--all hand made.
And, somehow, every year the outfits were a complete surprise!!! For all of us--I never knew what she was making for my sisters or my brothers. Of course, as we got older, one could predict she would make PJ's or bathrobes for the boys. No wonder my mother was always tired!!
When mom had grandchildren, she also made outfits for them, in addition to the ones for us. One year it was matching pink pajamas for the two grand daughters, PLUS hand made pink and white plush teddy bears wearing matching PJ's AND hats!!
And every year, what she made was just perfect in sewing skill and knowing what we would liketo wear wear. She was a loving mother and a genius.
I don't know how I missed her genes. I used to make PJ's and night gowns for my girls but once they got to high school I never could select the right color or style. I keep on trying but often I just am not on the same wavelength. Or, my inspiration comes too late to complete the object before Christmas day. One year I made my mother a lounging jumpsuit that was the ugliest thing ever to be donated to Goodwill after mom had bravely worn it for several years.
My father would also make homemade presents for us. One christmas he made us a ranch house style doll house with removable roof and walls. He found an old wallpaper sample book to accompany the doll house--we wallpapered and re-wallpapered the walls.
Another year, one in which money was really scarce, my dad found an old metal pedal car for my brothers. Problem was, it didn't have any wheels and it was rusty. He removed the rust, repainted the car and purchased new wheels. He kept the wheels in the trunk of the car--where he also put the bags of garbage every Saturday when he made a trip to the dump. (we lived in the countryside, with no garbage pick up service) As you can guess, by mistake, the wheels also got thrown into the piles of garbage in the dump. Dad drove back to the dump the next day to sort through the garbage, but wasn't able to find the wheels! No money to purchase new wheels. I remember my brothers furiously pedaling many, many miles in that little car sitting on cement blocks in the back yard. The car never moved an inch, but they had a great time.

I think I have some old photos of some of the garments my mom made for us. I'll post them in the future.

Meanwhile, I'm knitting away, not confident that I have chosen the right yarns, the right colors or the right styles!