Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Mama-mades

A few mama-made gifts managed to make their way from the knitting needles and sewing machine to the tree skirt this year in time for Christmas. The first (knit balls) found their way on my knitting needles early this year, accompanying my summer rides in the passenger seat (Nate even tried to get in on the knitting action, playing with the stray yarn yet to be woven in). I used the "Baby's First Ball" pattern in Melanie Falick and Kristin Nicholas' Knitting for Baby. I made sets of three balls for the littlest ones on our Christmas list.

The last of the balls were finished up during Audrey's costume changes as she performed shows this December. This was my first experience with the felting process (each ball was felted after being knit in order to close up any holes between the knit stitches - felting involves washing the knit item in hot water, causing the wool to shrink together). All three sets were made using yarn from Debbie Stoller's Stitch Nation collection. Jason was as eager to try these out as Nate, mentioning that they would be perfect for teaching our little guy some indoor baseball skills with no fear of broken windows.

While perusing a Pottery Barn Kids catalog one night this November for inspiration, I decided that Audrey and my oldest nephew absolutely, without a doubt, must have pizzas to unwrap for Christmas. Felt pizzas. With toppings. Wrapped in actual pizza boxes (thank you Eric and Debbie for donating the perfect gift boxes!).

I made these pizzas up as I went, tracing a dinner plate to get the right size for the pizza, playing around with crust until I found a method that worked for me, and free handing the toppings. The toppings include pepperoni (which Audrey refers to as tomatoes since we don't typically order pepperoni on our pizza), green peppers, mushrooms, and little white ovals of mozzarella cheese. The pizza has been a hit. What I didn't anticipate was the extra mileage the toppings would get as they become featured in other dishes Audrey concocts in her play kitchen, most notably soups stirred in some new wooden pots that Santa dropped off.

I love so many things about mama-made gifts. I love the creative process that begins with my idea and transfers to my kids' as they come up with ways to use the toys that I hadn't imagined. I love that I can work on them at home (or even book club), still spending time with those I care about rather than at a store by myself. I get an extra boost of accomplishment when I finish a project and cross a name off of my "to shop for" list. And, working on a project always seems to spark ideas for future projects, getting me excited about the next season or celebration. Ideas are already brewing for next year. Soon, after tackling a few organizational projects, I might just have to start a journal - a gift journal to keep track of my ideas for 2011. Oh, and did I mention Santa tucked a sweet new knitting book under my tree this year? Yes, I foresee a 2011 full of mama-made.

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